Unsung Reinhold tabbed as team leader

As most of the spring sports teams gathered in the Frank McGuire Room at the USC practice facility, Gamecock baseball coach Ray Tanner didn't bring one of his superstars with him to talk about the upcoming season.

Instead of an all-accolades athlete, Tanner introduced junior outfielder Steven Reinhold, a reserve player who is coming back from injury last season. The Waynesvile, N.C., native has limited stats at best, but the glowing words on his stat sheet say it all- Named captain for the 2007 season.

"It's a very prestigious honor to be elected by your peers to lead," Reinhold said. "We have great stars on the team with the Justin Smoaks, the (Arik) Hempys. It shows me they appreciate some of the little things."

Elected by his teammates, Reinhold was a unanimous selection on a team that starts the season ranked in the top 10 of almost every major collegiate baseball poll. The role is one Tanner is comfortable having Reinhold in, despite his time between the lines.

"He's one of those guys that he's going to be in a lot of those games," Tanner said. "He's been around this program for a while. I think he knows what to expect, and I think he knows what needs to be accomplished. He don't need a coach to explain it."

Reinhold, who was a member of USC's last team to make a run to the College World Series in 2004, is already giving some of that hustle Tanner has asked him for landing him a broken hand even before the season opener against Oklahoma next Friday.

"Asking me to lead by example would be the greatest thing he asks. He asks me to go out and hustle every play out," Reinhold said. "If some of the kids that voted me as a leader see me not hustling and kind of giving 50 percent, then they're going to think that's OK for them to do too."

Despite the setback, Reinhold smiles and laughs off the thought of not being a factor when the opening pitch is thrown out.

"I run with my legs," Reinhold said. "It shouldn't slow me down at all. It's kind of unfortunate timing, but I'd rather it happen now that a week before the Super Regional."

With back-to-back weekend tournaments to start the season, Reinhold is preparing himself and his teammates for the long road back to the College World Series.

"I was fortunate enough my freshman year to get out to Omaha and ever since then that's been the main goal to try and get back," Reinhold said. "Every time you put on the cleats that's the ultimate goal you're trying to work to. My personal goal goes with the team. If we make it out to Omaha, whether I hit .100 or start every game and hit .400, then it's a successful year for me. I definitely equate my goals with the team"

Those team directed goals are what Tanner admires about his captain, even if he is in the dugout.

"He's been here. He understands it, and I know where he wants to be at the end of the year," Tanner said

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