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Himes, Floyd decide to leave Virginia baseball

In hopes of finding programs that would give them a better chance at attracting pro offers, two of Virginia baseball's top young players are leaving for other schools.

Rising junior Mike Floyd, the Cavs' starting center fielder for the past two seasons, will play for South Carolina in 2001. Rising sophomore Ben Himes, a starting right fielder in his first year, chose to head to Texas A&M.

For Himes, a native of Austin, Tex., the decision to leave was based on his desire to play for a contending club in his home state. The Aggies advanced to the College World Series in Omaha, Neb. in 1999 but had a dissapointing season in 2000, finishing with a record of 23-35.

Playing at Virginia, "wasn't the best situation for me," Himes said. "I missed Texas first of all. And [Texas A&M] has a great chance of making it to Omaha."

Virginia coach Dennis Womack will no doubt miss Himes, who showed signs of blossoming into a great power hitter. He batted .316 and led the team with nine home runs. Womack said Himes' move was the best decision for a player looking to make an impression on pro scouts.

Related Links
  • Official athletic site for Virginia baseball
  • Official athletic site for USC baseball
  • Official athletic site for Texas A&M baseballl

    "Virginia is not a good place to develop a pro baseball player," Womack said. "We want to help players become better students. Baseball takes second priority to that."

    Although the Cavs had three players sign contracts with professional teams this summer, Virginia players do not have a long-standing pro history. Since 1990, only seven Cavaliers have been picked in the first 10 rounds of the Major League Draft.

    "If I wanted to be a pro player, I wouldn't choose U.Va.," Womack said. "You want to go deep into the South or to the West. That's where the weather is better. I never tell players we're going to make you into a pro baseball player."

    While Himes was given a release to transfer by the program, Floyd needed to resort to an appeal process in order to get permission to leave Virginia without NCAA penalties. Had a non-athletic panel not granted Floyd his appeal last month, he would have had to sit out a year before playing for his new team. As it stands, Floyd will be able to compete with the Gamecocks immediately.

    A resident of Severna Park, Md., Floyd batted .323 last season with 25 RBI. Now he will be heading to a rising South Carolina club that boasts Baseball America's National Coach of the Year, Ray Tanner. Last season, Tanner led his team to its first-ever SEC Championship and a school-record 56 wins.


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