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LEADING OFF

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Photograph by Chuck Solomon

IN THE SPRING OF THINGS It's a cliché that every team brims with hope when camps open—but the Cardinals, who hit the field on Sunday, won't scoff at that idea again. Despite losing ace Adam Wainwright to injury last February, they backed into the playoffs and won the World Series. Wainwright returns, as does October hero Chris Carpenter (center). Now that is reason for optimism.

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Photograph by Will Bratton

DOUBLE SHOT Despite taking a hit from Detroit's Joe MacLean, North Carolina's Joey Sankey was able to get the ball on net during the Tar Heels' home opener last Saturday. Sankey had two goals in an 18--8 win, a result that was no surprise. UNC is No. 6 in the country, and Detroit has never beaten a ranked team.

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Photograph by Gerry Melendez/The State/MCT/ZUMAPRESS.com

MAKING HIMSELF AT HOME It's his first year playing for South Carolina, and Chase Vergason made his mark quickly in the defending NCAA champs' season opener against VMI. He beat pitcher Coby Cowgill to the dish to score on a passed ball, giving the No. 2 Gamecocks their first run in a 2--1 win.