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June 26, 2013

Ripken leaving USC





Ryan Ripken, the son of Hall-of-Famer Cal Ripken Jr. who did not make the 35-man roster in his only year at South Carolina, will not return to give it another try. A source close to the program confirmed on Wednesday that Ripken is not going to return for fall practice, and is likely to head to a junior college.

Ripken came in during Fall 2012 after turning down a 20th-round draft selection from Baltimore, his hometown team and the one where his father played his entire career. He was trying to earn one of the team's eight walk-on spots but failed to get enough of a foothold in a race that had the numbers working against him.

Ripken struggled offensively and defensively in the fall and decided to use the redshirt year available to him during the 2013 season, and perhaps return in the fall to try to earn a spot then. A source told GamecockCentral.com earlier this year that Ripken was likely to transfer in December if he didn't feel comfortable about earning a roster spot for the 2014 season, but on Wednesday, Ripken decided to get a head start on his future.

A first baseman, Ripken stood to face another battle if he returned, since rising junior Kyle Martin took over the spot late in the season and played well. With the potential switch of shortstop Joey Pankake to another position, first base may have been shaken up as well - Pankake could play first, as well as left fielder Graham Saiko, and if Pankake moves to third, recruited third baseman Elliott Caldwell will have to find another spot.

Ripken's departure continues to open spots for the Gamecocks, who lost nine seniors after completing a 43-20 season and had one more player, Erik Payne, depart mid-season. Freshman George Iskenderian announced his intention to transfer shortly after the season ended.

Drake Thomason is not returning to the baseball team in favor of trying out as a walk-on wide receiver for the football team, and walk-ons Shon Carson and Ahmad Christian, while welcome to try out for the team in the fall, are unlikely to make it.



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