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July 31, 2007

Rising programs: No. 9 Coastal Carolina

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    With fall workouts in the not too distant future, we continue our inside look at many programs around the country.

    In our latest series, we breakdown the nation's Top 10 Rising Programs.

    Though the top spot won't be unveiled until next week, we continue the countdown with one of the more surprising teams from 2007 - Coastal Carolina.

    The Chanticleers raised many eyebrows by tallying an impressive 50-16 record in 2005. After taking a step back in 2006, the Chants were back in business in 2007.

    Backed by one of the nation's most productive lineups, the Chanticleers compiled a 50-13 record and hosted a Regional for the first time in school history.

    After another successful campaign, coach Gary Gilmore and the Chants have set the bar even higher as they prepare for 2008.

    Rising Programs: No. 9 Coastal Carolina
    Why are they rising?
    Coastal Carolina made a significant statement in 2007, but is no stranger to success. The Chants made a huge statement in 2005 when they finished 21-3 in conference play with an overall record of 50-16. They also finished the year as the one seed at the Tempe Regional. Coastal took a step back in 2006 with a 30-27 record. But in 2007, the Chants were back in business as they ended the year as a consensus top-25 team. Though some will look at 2006 and suggest the Chanticleers are due for failure in 2008, that shouldn't be the case. Not only does Coastal return several key hitters, they also welcome back one of their best pitchers. There are some question marks, but the Chanticleers appear to be a program on the rise.

    2007 Year in Review
    After experiencing some setbacks in 2006, the Chanticleers entered the 2007 season with high hopes. Though many critics doubted the Chants during the regular season, Coastal also raised the eyebrows of many by beating Virginia twice and taking care of Nebraska on the road. Additionally, the Chants tallied one of the nation's most impressive conference marks. Coastal finished the regular season with a 17-4 conference record. They also put together an impressive overall resume, which helped them earn a Regional host for the first time in school history. The Chants had their season ended by in-state rival Clemson, but their mark was already made. Coastal ended the year with a 50-13 overall record. What the 2007 team accomplished will likely set the bar higher.

    What the future holds
    Coastal Carolina had one of the nation's most impressive teams in 2007. They must replace a few key components from that team, but should still be in good shape for 2008. The Chants have some holes to replace on the mound, but do return talented junior right-hander Bobby Gagg. As a sophomore, Gagg went 12-2 with a 2.57 ERA in 112 innings of work. He also struck out 84 and walked 27. The Chants also welcome back two-way talent David Anderson, who tallied impressive numbers both on the mound and at the plate last season. While Coastal hopes to create more stability on the mound, they're in great shape at the plate. The Chants welcome back the dynamic duo of outfielders David Sappelt and Tommy Baldridge. Sappelt hit .359 with 10 homers last season, while Baldridge led the team with a .383 batting average and 13 homers.

    Kendall's analysis
    As I was discussing with someone earlier today, it's always interesting to see which college baseball programs are on the rise. Even more interesting is the State of South Carolina baseball. Everyone is educated on Clemson and South Carolina, but looking around the Palmetto State, you also have Coastal Carolina, Winthrop, College of Charleston and a Wofford team that made the postseason in 2007. For such a small state, South Carolina grades out extremely well. Looking at the Chanticleers, the job coach Gary Gilmore has done is nothing short of amazing. Not only are the Chants considered one of the nation's rising programs, they're also starting to recruit at a higher level. Additionally, hosting a Regional in 2007 was important for their prestige on the national level. Though the Chants have some holes to fill in 2008, the future of the program appears to be alive and well.

    Kendall Rogers is the college baseball editor for Rivals.com. He can be reached at kendall@rivals.com.