Volume 1 Issue 6 April-May 2014
The Official Stetson Athletics Magazine
TWO-WAY THREAT Softball senior Meredith Owen always wanted to pitch and hit in college, but only one school would give her the opportunity. Page 4
ADDING OFFENSE Baseball junior Josh Powers has performed well on the mound, but now he is getting to display his talents at the plate. Page 5
FIFTH-YEAR FRESHMAN Graduate student Rachael Farrell is playing her first year of sand volleyball, and loving every minute. Page 8
INTO THE HALL Legendary Coach Glenn Wilkes has been selected for induction into the College Basketball Hall of Fame. Page 17 Also Inside: Atlantic Sun Tournament Previews for Tennis and Golf Teams ...... pp. 6-7 Men’s and Women’s Basketball Season Recaps ...... pp. 9-11 Softball’s On-Field Inspiration ..... p. 13
About the Magazine #HootyHoo is a publication of the Stetson University Athletic Department. All rights reserved. Designed and edited by the Stetson Athletic Communications office, and Keith Allen. Photography by Jim Hogue, David Williams, PhotosInMotion.net, Jason Lemmond, Cecil Copeland, Stetson University, and Stetson Athletics. Printed by Independent Printing.
Meredith Owen Emerges as Two-Way Threat . . . . . 4 Josh Powers Adds Offense to His Repertoire . . . . . 5 Men’s and Women’s Tennis Tournament Previews . 6 Men’s and Women’s Golf Tournament Previews . . . 7 Rachael Farrell Makes the Most of a 5th Year . . . . . 8 Men’s Basketball Wraps Up 2013-14 Campaign . . . 9 Women’s Basketball Reaches New Heights . . . 10-11 Softball’s On-Field Inspiration . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 13 Tip of the Hat . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 15
#HootyHoo Schedule: Issue 1: Aug.- Sept. 2013 - Commemorative Edition Issue 2: Oct. 2013 Issue 3: Nov. - Dec. 2013 - Homecoming Issue Issue 4: Jan. 2014 Issue 5: Feb. 2014 Issue 6: April - May 2014
Stetson Spirit . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 16 Wilkes to Enter College Basketball Hall of Fame . 17 Commentary: The End of a Long Road . . . . . . . 18-19 Hatters Football Pointed Toward Fall . . . . . . . . . . . . 20
Volume 1 • Issue 6 April-May 2014
Meredith Owen Emerges as Two-Way Threat Remaining Schedule Date # Opponent Time APRIL 18 Fri. * Lipscomb (DH) 12:00 PM 19 Sat. * Lipscomb 10:00 AM 26 Sat. * Jacksonville (DH) 2:00 PM 27 Sun. * Jacksonville 1:00 PM 30 Wed. * at North Florida (DH) 5:00 PM MAY 1 Thur. * at North Florida 2:00 PM 7-10 We.-Sat. at A-Sun Championship TBA 15-18 Th.-Sun. at NCAA Regionals TBA 22-25 Th.-Sun. at NCAA Super Regionals TBA 29-J4 Th.-Wed. at WCWS TBA * - Atlantic Sun Conference game All times Eastern and subject to change Home games in bold and played at Patricia Wilson Field
In November 2009, while filling out her student-athlete questionnaire prior to signing a National Letter-of-Intent with the Stetson University softball program, Meredith Owen listed one of her collegiate goals as desiring to pitch and hit for four years in college. Little did she know what a pitcher and what a hitter she would eventually become. A double all-conference selection in 2013, Owen posted a 22-10 record in the circle and hit 11 home runs at the plate, and in the process emerged as one of the top two-way players in the nation. Now a senior, Owen continues to excel at both facets of the game. Already with a league-leading 16 wins and a teamhigh nine home runs, she has helped lead Stetson to a blistering 28-5 start and lengthy 13-game winning streak. Owen says her success on the softball field has been the result of countless hours of hard work and determination. In fact, the Jackson, Miss., native started late, trying the sport for the first time at the age of 10. Back then, she knew her skills were far behind those of her peers, who had already been playing for years. “At first, I was told to keep working on my throws and catches, so I did that,” Owen said. “Then I was told to keep working on my hitting, so I did that. I kind of watched myself progress through working hard. I knew if I just kept doing that I could hopefully get a Division I scholarship and make it somewhere and do well.” Owen also started pitching when she was 10, but it wasn’t until the later part
of her career at Jackson Prep that she started to see a lot of innings in the circle. “I played a lot of third base until my junior year,” Owen said. “After that, I pretty much pitched all the time, which was exhausting, but looking back now I see it was really good for me mentally. It taught me a lot of lessons.” However, it was her career .496 average and 24 home runs that made Owen an attractive recruit for some big-time programs, including Ole Miss, Mississippi State, Baylor, and LSU. “LSU was the No. 1 school I was considering because my mom and my aunt both went there,” Owen said. “I went to camps there, and I talked to the coach a little bit. It is so funny because they talked adamantly about my hitting, but they never said anything about my pitching. Although hitting has always been my favorite thing of the two, I am still a pitcher at heart, and I have loved pitching since I was 10. For me, it wasn’t worth giving up.” Along came Stetson and head coach Frank Griffin, who was also quite interested in Owen’s hitting abilities. However, he left the door open for her to get an opportunity to pitch as well, and Owen liked what she heard. “At the time, my pitching was not what it could have been, so he told me I had to work really hard if I wanted to pitch in college,” Owen recalled. “I just put that in my back pocket and started to work really hard from then on out.” “I thought she might develop as a pitcher, depending on her work ethic,” Griffin said. “However, I felt like she could
certainly hit at the Division I level, and for that reason I was willing to take the chance on her. It turned out her work ethic is outstanding, and she developed into a top-notch Division I pitcher. Also, we were right about her hitting.” The results have spoken for themselves. Every year, Owen has seen her batting average increase and her ERA decrease. She has become just the second player in conference history to record 50 career wins and hit 25 career home runs. She is currently the only player in the NCAA with as many as seven home runs and 14 victories this season. The most important numbers for Owen, however, are the digits in the wincolumn for the team. Not surprisingly, that statistic, too, has increased every year over the past four years. “For me, it’s always been just trying to find a way I can contribute to my team the best way possible,” Owen said. “If that’s pitching at the time, then I am going to go out there and pitch my heart out. If they need me to get in there and get an RBI, that’s what I am going to try and do.” Owen’s desire to pitch and hit for four years in college was not the only goal she listed on her questionnaire. She also listed playing in the Women’s College World Series. That has not happened for Owen, at least not yet. “I feel like the sky is the limit for this team,” Owen said. “The more we play, the more we mesh well together. We have a great team, and as long as we stay humble and stay hungry, I feel like we could go anywhere.”
Josh Powers Adds Offense to His Repertoire Hitting a baseball is considered by many to be one of, if not the most, difficult feats in sports. Asking someone to hit a round ball with a round bat while that ball is moving, sometimes at speeds well over 90 miles per hour, requires a skill few can master. Now imagine being asked to hit after not picking up a bat for two years. And not only being asked to hit, but hit in the middle of the lineup. Oh, and by the way, you’re also going to be asked to be one of the starting weekend pitchers. Meet Stetson junior Josh Powers, a local kid from New Smyrna Beach, who has successfully added “hitter” to his collegiate baseball résumé. A standout pitcher in his first two seasons at Stetson, Powers tossed 105.2 innings on the mound as a sophomore and posted an outstanding 3.41 ERA. But this season, he’s made his mark at the plate as well. Through Stetson’s first 34 games, Powers is hitting .289 with seven doubles and 13 RBI in 90 at-bats. Not too shabby for a guy who, prior to this season, hadn’t stepped into a batter’s box since his senior year of high school. “I hit in high school, but when I got here as a freshman our team was really good,” said Powers. “I hit during fall practice, but when spring came around they didn’t need my bat. It was the same thing last year.” Following the 2013 season, the Hatters unexpectedly lost several offensive options, and when Powers returned to campus after the summer, the coaching staff told him he would finally get a chance to hit regularly in 2014.
“I hit the ball well during fall practice,” he said. “Not as well as I would have liked, but I got the job done. The coaches thought I did a good job, and they put me out there.” Powers wasted no time in making an impression at the plate, collecting a pair of hits and two walks in Stetson’s season opener against Ole Miss. The next day, he had two more hits, including a double, and drove in a run. Suddenly an offensive star was born. “I just try to keep everything on the simplest of terms,” said Powers. “I get up to the plate and think about seeing the ball, and I hit it. I get lucky sometimes. I’ve hit probably six balls down the third-base line and the ball goes right over the base. Other guys hit the ball harder than me and hit it right at someone. I’m not scared. I’m confident in whatever I do. I’m not going to go out there and be passive.” In comparison to his outstanding 2013 numbers, Powers has struggled somewhat on the mound this season. He’s currently the owner of a 2-3 record and 5.02 ERA. But with half a season left, he knows that both he and the Hatters have time to turn their season around. “I think we have underachieved as a team,” he said. “We are capable of playing a lot better than we have. I feel like we come to the field ready to play, but sometimes it doesn’t go our way. But that doesn’t matter, because no matter what, we are going to go out there and compete.”
Remaining Schedule Date # Opponent Time APRIL 17 Thu. * Lipscomb 6:30 PM 18 Fri. * Lipscomb 6:30 PM 19 Sat. * Lipscomb 1:00 PM 22 Tue. at Florida State 6:00 PM 23 Wed. at Florida State 4:00 PM 25 Fri. * at North Florida 6:00 PM 26 Sat. * at North Florida 1:00 PM 27 Sun. * at North Florida 1:00 PM MAY 2 Fri. * Jacksonville 6:30 PM 3 Sat. * Jacksonville 6:30 PM 4 Sun. * Jacksonville 1:00 PM 6 Tue. Florida State 6:00 PM 9 Fri. * at Mercer 6:00 PM 10 Sat. * at Mercer 2:00 PM 11 Sun. * at Mercer 1:00 PM 15 Thu. * USC Upstate 6:30 PM 16 Fri. * USC Upstate 6:30 PM 17 Sat. * USC Upstate 1:00 PM 21 Wed. at A-Sun Championship TBA 22 Thur. at A-Sun Championship TBA 23 Fri. at A-Sun Championship TBA 24 Sat. at A-Sun Championship TBA 25 Sun. at A-Sun Championship TBA 30 Fri. at NCAA Regionals TBA 31 Sat. at NCAA Regionals TBA JUNE 1 Sun. at NCAA Regionals TBA 2 Mon. at NCAA Regionals TBA 6-9 Fri.-Mon. at NCAA Super Regionals TBA 14-25 Sat.-Wed. at College World Series TBA * - Atlantic Sun Conference game All times Eastern and subject to change Home games in bold and played at Melching Field
Men’s Tennis Targets Strong Finish at A-Sun Championship The Stetson University men’s tennis team is looking forward to this month’s A-Sun Championship as a chance to finish out the 2014 season on a high note. As of April 11, the Hatter men stood at 10-8 overall and 5-2 in A-Sun play, having defeated conference opponents USC Upstate, Mercer, Kennesaw State, Lipscomb and Northern Kentucky. Their five conference victories made them one of just three schools with a handful of A-Sun wins this season, heading into their final contest at FGCU before the three-day conference championship, scheduled for April 17-19 at North Florida. One of the highlights of the Hatters’ season thus far was seeing their doubles pairing of Laurynas Antropikas and Chester Espie crack the national rankings, as the duo was listed in the No. 78 slot for the week of March 25, by the Intercollegiate Tennis Association. “Laurynas and Chester join a very select few players in the proud history of the program to be nationally ranked,” associate head coach Christophe Noblet said. Antropikas and Espie’s biggest win of 2014 came on March 22 in DeLand, when the pair defeated No. 61 Yannick Zuern and Caio Gomes of North Florida, 7-6, 7-5. So far, Stetson has earned sweeps in matches versus Georgia Southern (Feb. 2), Northwood (Feb. 22), and Mercer (March 28). The Hatters have nearly swept Niagara (March 3), as well as NKU (April 5), beating both schools by 6-1 scores.
Hans Adrian Riseng
Women’s Tennis Gears Up for A-Sun Championship The Stetson University women’s tennis team is putting itself in a good position heading into this year’s A-Sun Championship Tournament, scheduled for April 18-20 at North Florida. As of April 9, the Hatters stood at 15-5 overall and 5-3 in the conference, having defeated A-Sun opponents USC Upstate, Mercer, Kennesaw State, Lipscomb and Kennesaw State. To reach double-digit win totals, the Stetson women reeled off 10 straight victories, a streak that broke the all-time program record and lasted from Jan. 19 (vs. Florida A&M) until March 14 (vs. USC Upstate). During the streak, the Hatters defeated three schools (FIU, UNC Greensboro and Illinois State), which they had never come out on top against before. “I told our team that anytime you place yourself in the Stetson women’s tennis record book, it’s a significant achievement,” said Director of Stetson Tennis Pierre Pilote. “To be first in any category is fantastic, and they should be proud of that.” Stetson’s 10-match win streak topped the nine in a row it compiled during the 1994 season. The Hatters also compiled three shutouts during their run, and one player (Diana Bukajeva) garnered A-Sun Player of the Week honors on two occasions. Bukajeva took home the award once in February and another time in March for her stellar play. To go along with their 10-match win streak, the Hatters have most recently compiled a stretch in which they have won five straight matches in an eight-day window, defeating four conference opponents March 28–April 5. Stetson finishes out the season with a nonconference match at UCF, before the conference championship in Jacksonville.
Women’s Golf Looking for Return to Top of A-Sun As coach Floyd Kerr and the Stetson women’s golf team get set to take part in the Atlantic Sun Conference Championship Tournament April 14-16 in Georgia, the Hatters need only look to the recent past for inspiration. It was just a couple of years ago that Stetson completed a run of three straight league tournament titles (2009-10-11), and Kerr said his 2014 team has much in common with those teams. “The three years we won the conference tournament, we were never the favorites going in,” Kerr said. “I think there is a lot to be said for that. When you play the conference tournament, there is a little bit different feeling when you go to the first tee.” The Hatters won’t be the favorites this year when they walk to the first tee at Pine Lakes Golf Club in Jekyll Island, Ga. Stetson will be the No. 4 seed in the tournament, behind Mercer, East Tennessee State and Kennesaw State. Kerr said that even though Mercer is the top seed going in, the team he thinks will set the pace is defending champion ETSU. “In my mind, East Tennessee, who won on this course last year, is the stronger
team,” Kerr said. “If East Tennessee gets out to a six- or eight-shot lead on the first day of the tournament, they will be very difficult to catch. If it is close after the first and second day, then anyone could win.” The Hatters will rely on a quartet of senior players, along with one freshman, to end a two-year dry spell at the A-Sun Tournament. Kerr thinks that all five players are peaking at the right time and all have a chance to play very well. “I am real pleased with where we are with regard to ball-striking,” Kerr said. “If we have a good three days up there, then it is possible for us to beat the three teams ranked ahead of us. I think we do have a chance to win, and I think the girls think we have a chance to win.” Senior Ryan Ashburn, who is actually fifth on the team in scoring average this year, has been the Hatters’ best player this spring. She posted consecutive top 20 finishes to start the spring season, averaging 3-over-par per round. Another senior, Mallory Viera, is second on the team in scoring average and is returning to a course where she finished fourth in the league tournament last year, posting an even par score for the event.
“For us to be competitive at the conference tournament, we will have to have four good scores every day,” Kerr said. “That is something we have been lacking, and has been our biggest problem this spring. We have not been getting four good scores. When you have to count an 80, you can’t beat good people.”
Men’s Golf With Nothing to Lose at A-Sun Tournament Dustin Dingus
First-year men’s golf coach Larry Watson doesn’t try to hide the disappointment he feels over the play of his team this year. The Hatters have struggled to play well consistently, but have turned in enough strong performances to hint at what is possible. “My outlook for this team is that we were 10th last year and we had great hopes that we would be improved this year, but we are young,” Watson said. “Improvement when you are young comes a lot slower. It seems like these kids sometimes get afraid of improving.” A perfect example of that slow improvement comes from the fact that the Hatters have had their two best team rounds this year in the second round of a tournament. Those two rounds, a 280 in the Boise State tournament in September and a 286 at FAU in late March, were both followed by less-than-stellar rounds. “If you look at our history this year, our first round is usually bad; then we have our best round of the tournament in the second
round,” Watson said. “That is actually the third time they have played a course, so they understand it better, their planning is better, and they always play better during that second round. For the Hatters to have a breakout performance in the A-Sun Tournament, it will take all five players giving their best performances of the year for three straight days. Stetson will enter the tournament ranked ninth in the league and in the Golf Stat rankings at No. 219. The two teams at the top of those rankings are Mercer and Kennesaw State, ranked 33rd and 35th respectively. The Stetson players who will compete at The Legends Club at Château Élan in Braselton, Ga., April 21-23 will be sophomore Dustin Dingus, freshman Dirk Kuehler, sophomore David Torres, freshman Zach Stark, and junior Matt Taylor. “I don’t have any expectations going in,” Watson said. “I just want them to go play. I just tell them to go have fun, because that is what they do best.”
Rachael Farrell Makes the Most of a Fifth-Year Opportunity
As a senior standout for The Citadel indoor volleyball team, Rachael Farrell had her postgraduate plans all figured out. She wanted to stay at her alma mater to begin her master’s degree while serving as a graduate assistant coach. But the best-laid plans often go astray, and when Farrell’s opportunity fell through during her final semester, she started contacting coaches from all over the country looking for an open GA spot. One of those coaches to receive an email from Farrell was then-Stetson head coach Tim Loesch. “Coach Tim got back to me and said, ‘We don’t have a GA position, but how would you feel about playing sand for a year to use up your eligibility?’” Farrell said. “I said, ‘Do you want to let me come play sand for a year? I would love to.’” There was just one small problem. Farrell had never had any formal sand training. However, she got to work right away and came down to Siesta Key, Fla., in June to play in a beach tournament with current Hatter Taylor Kennedy. That is when assistant coach Meghan Bryant got her first look at Farrell playing sand. “We actually had played The Citadel in indoor, so we remembered her,” Bryant said. “We had seen her in action. Actually, she lit us up that game, so we knew what kind of athlete she was. It was just a matter of seeing her play sand.”
It didn’t take long for Bryant to see Farrell’s potential. While many players have difficulty making the transition from indoor to sand, Farrell seemed to be handling it quite well. “She is an incredible athlete, she is very strong, and she obviously had very good training at The Citadel,” Bryant said. “It was interesting, because she was still learning the (sand) game, and you could tell how much she didn’t understand some of the basics.” Learning curve aside, Bryant was still impressed with Farrell’s ability to stay calm under pressure. “The thing that I really liked the most about watching her play was her ability to keep her composure,” Bryant added. “A lot of players get easily frustrated in sand when it is just two girls out there. Although she was making little errors here and there, she never let it affect her play. I thought that was awesome.” Soon after that tournament, Stetson made a formal scholarship offer to Farrell, which she eagerly accepted. There was just one more small problem. “At that point, I had not been accepted (to Stetson) yet. I had not even come to visit,” Farrell said. “In a span of about three weeks, I applied to Stetson, got accepted, found an apartment, moved down here, and started taking classes.”
Logistically, things were falling into place for Farrell. But how would she handle fitting in with her new team and experiencing her first extended training in sand volleyball? “I did not realize how different playing sand was,” Farrell said. “I felt like the fall was a huge learning curve for me. I was really thankful that sand was a spring sport, because where I am now is nowhere near where I was in the fall. The girls have taken me in and helped me learn how different everything is. It has been a blast, and I love it. I really wish I had another year that I could play.” Farrell is making the most of her one season of eligibility, going 8-6 with teammate Julie Bassett at the No. 2 and No. 3 positions. Farrell credits Bassett with teaching her a lot of the nuances of the game itself. The pair have helped lead the third-year Stetson sand program to its most successful season to date, with a 14-2 record through April 8. “I feel really honored, really grateful for this opportunity,” Farrell said. “I have grown up always being on a sports team, so going to school and not being on a sports team just seemed like such a crazy concept to me. I was so thankful to even just be around the girls, so to be able to contribute on the sand with the team is a very humbling and amazing experience.” Farrell and the Hatters will look to capture the Atlantic Sun Conference Championship April 18-19 in Fort Myers, Fla. Although Farrell was not part of last year’s team that came within a few points of the title, she is already immersed in the determination this year’s squad has to accomplish its goal. “I know it would mean the world to me, and the whole team,” Farrell said about winning the A-Sun title. “The returners have been working since the end of conference last year. This team is the most driven team I have ever been on. From day one, it wasn’t, ‘Oh, I think we can win the conference,’ it was, ‘We are going to win the conference.’ Every day, we are coming out and putting in everything we can, working on every aspect trying to get better. We know when it counts we are going to finish it.” The Hatters will be the No. 2 seed for the double-elimination tournament and will face No. 3 seed Jacksonville to open the event. UNF is the No. 1 seed.
Men’s Basketball Wraps Up 2013-14 Campaign
The Stetson University men’s basketball team capped off the 201314 season with its second straight trip to the Atlantic Sun Tournament. The eighth seeded Hatters took on Florida Gulf Coast in Fort Myers as head coach Corey Williams’ team squared off against the Eagles in postseason play for the second time in as many years. FGCU took the A-Sun Tournament rematch with the Hatters 77-55, putting an end to their season and Williams’ first as Stetson head coach. During his initial year at the helm of the Hatter program, Williams saw many highlights from his team, including a three-game conference win streak, as Stetson downed ETSU, USC Upstate and Kennesaw State during a one-week stretch in mid-January. Williams’ club also compiled A-Sun victories over Lipscomb and Jacksonville en route to securing a berth in the postseason tournament with their five total conference wins. During the 2013-14 campaign, Stetson saw great contributions from its senior class of Willie Green, Raymone Andrews, Aaron Graham and Hunter Miller, who, as a unit, averaged 35 points per contest.
Leading the way was Green, who netted 13.5 points per game, while Andrews was tops in assists with 116. Graham led the Hatters in 3-point field goals as he converted on 40 of 120 attempts, while Miller dished out 67 assists, second on the team to only Andrews. Some significant milestones were also reached during the season, as Graham became Stetson’s all-time leader in 3-pointers, finishing his career with 246. He also reached the 1,000-point plateau, and was the 32nd player in program history to do so. Meanwhile, Green became just the sixth Hatter with 100 or more blocks in a career as he finished the year with 41 and his career with 162. Looking ahead toward 2014-15, coach Williams has much to build on for his second season on the Stetson bench, as he saw two of his young stars win A-Sun Newcomer of the Week awards this past year. Both Brian Pegg (Jan. 20) and Kentwan Smith (Feb. 3) were given the honor within two weeks of each other. The duo averaged close to 9 points and more than five rebounds per contest, while each played in at least 30 games. Pegg led all Stetson players with 189 boards, while
Smith was second with 157. The Hatters will welcome in Jonathan Joseph (Orlando, Fla.), Grant Lozoya (Westlake, Calif.), Divine Myles (Mobile, Ala.), and Wyatt Sikora (Key Largo, Fla.) as freshman newcomers next fall. Sikora is the younger brother of current Stetson player Kyle Sikora.
Awards • Atlantic Sun Newcomer of the Week: Kentwan Smith, Brian Pegg • Atlantic Sun All-Freshman Team: Brian Pegg • Atlantic Sun Academic All-Conference: Hunter Miller • Capital One Academic All-District: Hunter Miller
Individual Accolades • Aaron Graham set the school-record most career 3-pointers with 246. • Aaron Graham became the 32nd player in school history to score 1,000 career points. • Willie Green became the sixth player in school history to record 100 career blocks.
Women’s Basketball Reaches New Heights in 2013-14
Amber Porter A school-record 27 wins, a lengthy 16game winning streak that ranked among the nation’s longest, and the program’s first-ever NCAA postseason victory highlighted the historic 2013-14 Stetson women’s basketball season. With a squad of just four returners and six newcomers, head coach Lynn Bria and her staff went into the season uncertain on how well the team would perform. “If we get better every day, I think we will have a chance at the end,” Bria said prior to the season. “I don’t know how good we are going to be early, but I think the more we play together, the better this team is going to get.” The Hatters weathered a tough travel schedule for the preseason WNIT before picking up some momentum with a 90-74 win in the home opener vs. Indiana State, followed by a 77-63 road win at BethuneCookman. The victories signified that the young Hatter squad might be gelling faster than expected. “I am very pleased with our progress,” Bria said after the Bethune game. “Honestly, I am pleasantly surprised. We have come along a little further than where I thought we would be at this point and time. However, our main goal is to be a good team in January and February, and we just have to keep improving.” After a poor outing in the next game at Florida State, the Hatters made their first major statement of the season, scoring
101 points in a 35-point road win at Florida A&M. Freshman Brianti Saunders netted 30 points en route to A-Sun Player of the Week honors. The team showed just how good it could be on offense, topping the century mark for the first time in 24 years. Stetson carried a long home-court winning streak against nonconference opponents into its Dec. 17 game against Charlotte. The 49ers had defeated the Hatters the previous season in Charlotte, and Stetson was looking to even the score. It was also the Hatter debut for Myeisha Hall, who completed her one year of residency at Stetson after transferring from Old Dominion. Hall’s 12 points and key offensive rebound with a minute left helped Stetson come away with an impressive 83-81 victory. “I don’t think we would have won this game without her,” Bria said about Hall after the victory. “Myeisha just came in and made some big plays for us.” After waiting 24 years for a 100-point game, it took Stetson just four contests to do it again, this time with a 103-72 victory over Murray State in the Hatter Classic. Stetson survived a scare from Nicholls State in the second game of the tournament to complete a challenging nonconference slate with an 8-4 record. “If somebody would have said (before the season) we would be 8-4 I would have said you’re crazy,” Bria said. “They have really meshed well together. We still do
some things that show our youth and show that we haven’t played together very long, but overall, we are much further ahead than I thought we’d be at this time.” Stetson’s lone senior, Sasha Sims, was instrumental in the Hatters’ hot start, leading the team and the league with an 18.2 points-per-game scoring average. The Hatters opened Atlantic Sun play at Fort Myers, and despite a sluggish second half that cost the team a victory, the Hatters learned from their setback and began one of the longest winning streaks in school history. The Hatters zipped through January with wins over USC Upstate, ETSU, Mercer, Kennesaw State, UNF, Jacksonville, Northern Kentucky and Lipscomb, and then cruised through February and early March with wins over the same teams. In addition, different heroes seemed to emerge in every game: • Amber Porter scored 28 points at Kennesaw State • Jama Sharp hit seven 3-pointers against Jacksonville • Cherisse Burris registered 18 points and 12 rebounds in a come-from-behind-win vs. UNF. • C.J. Coddington recorded her first career double-double at Lipscomb. • Myeisha Hall netted 17 points at ETSU. • Brianti Saunders scored 20 points at home vs. Lipscomb.
Women’s Basketball Reaches New Heights in 2013-14 Even Bria herself helped inspire one comeback, smashing her clipboard on the scorer’s table and cutting her finger in the process. She received a technical foul from the official, but her team shook off its sluggish play to rally for the victory. “If it takes me getting fired up and getting a bloody finger, I have a lot of fingers,” Bria quipped. “I have more fingers than boards.” More often than not, however, the Hatters were clicking on all cylinders, and their unselfish play led to a balanced attack and high-scoring games. “We are just a confident team right now,” Burris said during the season. “We are not selfish with the ball. We pass the ball around and look for the open man. We like to score for each other, so it is really good that we are all in sync.” All told, Stetson ran its winning streak to 16 games, which ranked as the fourthlongest streak in the NCAA and smashed the old program record of 11 straight victories. The Hatters had placed themselves in the exact position they hoped for: a winner-take-all showdown with FGCU with the regular-season title and the No. 1 seed and home-court advantage for the conference tournament at stake. In an epic game that featured 10 ties, 17 lead changes, and a grueling five-minute overtime, a late foul and two free throws sealed a 1-point win for FGCU. “I thought we battled, and I thought we played extremely hard,” Bria said. “I am not going to lie – That was a really tough way to lose the game.” The Hatters settled for the No. 2 seed for the conference tournament, but after earning a quarterfinal win over Kennesaw State and a semifinal victory over USC Upstate, Stetson was once again playing a winner-take-all game against FGCU. This time, however, the game was contested on the Eagles’ home court. Despite a 6-point rally in the final minute of regulation and another comeback in overtime, the Hatters fell 2 points short of repeating as conference champions. “We never gave up,” Bria said. “We don’t have anything to hang our heads about. It was a great game. It was just a little bit of a better game for them.” During the Hatters’ semifinal win over USC Upstate, Sims became the program’s all-time leading scorer when she collected her 1,571st career point.
“It’s unbelievable what she’s done,” Bria said about Sims. “She’s a good kid to coach, and she’s a great team player. She probably could have gotten [the record] a long time ago if she were more selfish.” The Hatters earned a berth in the WNIT, marking the team’s fourth straight season in postseason play. This time, however, Stetson would not leave emptyhanded. Sims scored a game-high 20 points and the Hatters’ defense held Miami to 29-percent shooting in a historic 70-63 win in the first round of the WNIT. “I thought it was a great game,” Bria said. “We executed well. It came down to a few big plays. I’m really proud of our kids to come down here and get a win, and it’s really good for us and good for our program to finally win a postseason game.” Stetson would fall short in its WNIT second-round game at USF, bringing its historic 2013-14 season to a close. For a team that had to reinvent itself in the preseason and gel together as quickly as they did, and then to come within mere points of a regular-season and postseason championship, the journey was nothing short of remarkable. “I never dreamed that after losing six seniors, these kids would do what they did,” Bria said. “At the beginning of the year, I thought we would be somewhere in the middle of the pack, and maybe have a chance at the end. When you look at the body of work, they did a great job.” Sasha Sims
Team Accomplishments • Set the school record for most wins (27), most conference wins (16), and most road wins (13) • Participated in the A-Sun Championship game and in NCAA postseason play for the fourth straight year (NCAA: 2011, 2013; WNIT: 2012, 2014) • Earned first-ever NCAA postseason victory, 70-63 at Miami on March 20 • Posted a school-record 16-game win streak Jan. 9-March 1 • Compiled 15-game home-court winning streak from Feb. 28, 2013-March 1, 2014 • Posted a school-record 16-game conference win streak from Jan. 9-March 1 • Posted a school-record eight-game road win streak from Jan. 16-Feb. 22 • Tied the school record for most home wins in a single-season (14) • Set the school record for most wins in a twoyear period (51), three-year period (74), and four-year period (94) • Reached the 20-win mark faster than any other team in school history (25 games) • Went undefeated in the month of February for the first time ever (8-0) • Averaged 79.3 points per game and had five players average in double figures • Set school single-season records for most points (2,774), field goals (965), 3-point field goals (226), free throws (618), rebounds (1,485), blocked shots (178), and games played (35)
• Sasha Sims finished her career as the school’s all-time leader in points (1,617), blocks (147), field goals att. (1,365), minutes played (4,070), and games played (135). She did not miss a single game in her career. • With 129 blocked shots on the season, Amber Porter set the school single-season record (smashing the old record of 72), and recorded the second-highest single-season blocks total in A-Sun history and the fifth-highest blocks total for a freshman in NCAA history. • Head coach Lynn Bria earned her 250th career victory and her 100th victory at Stetson.
• Three first-team all-conference selections: Sasha Sims, Amber Porter, Jama Sharp • A-Sun Freshman of the Year: Amber Porter • College Sports Madness Mid-Major Freshman of the Year: Amber Porter • Two A-Sun All-Freshman team selections: Amber Porter, Brianti Saunders • Five A-Sun Players of the Week: Sasha Sims-3x, Brianti Saunders, Amber Porter • Eight A-Sun Newcomers of the Week: Amber Porter-5x, Brianti Saunders-3x • Two A-Sun All-Tournament team selections: Cherisse Burris, Jama Sharp
Softball’s On-Field Inspiration
Kelsey Waters On Feb. 16, the Stetson softball team donned their pink jerseys to help raise awareness for those fighting cancer. While there were a number of survivors in the stands, there was one on the field, serving as an inspiration for all of those touched by the deadly disease. “I actually was so in shock that I don’t remember what my first thoughts were,” said Hatter freshman Kelsey Waters, who recalled the first moments after finding out she had cancer. “It didn’t really register until the drive back home when I looked in the rearview mirror and saw my dad crying in the front seat.” Waters, a Hawthorne, Fla., native, made that long drive back home in September 2011, in what was the beginning of her junior year of high school. Her diagnosis was papillary thyroid cancer, a growth on the thyroid gland in Waters’ throat. “I was at a softball tournament in Sarasota, and I started running a fever and then became really pale,” Waters remembered of her initial symptoms. “Then when I got back home, I had a super-sore throat, and I thought it was strep, but after going to the doctor’s office to check it out, they thought it was meningitis.” After some rigorous tests and an eventual ultrasound, Waters was given the news that no 16-year-old athlete would expect.
“I remember my mom sitting behind me on the table, and she just started rubbing my back,” Waters said. “My mom told me that I turned around (after hearing the news) and said, ‘I don’t know why this is happening, but God has a reason.’” With that reason still yet unknown, Waters and her family braced for what lay ahead, which included frequent hospital visits in the months to come. “The cancer was sitting on top of my thyroid in a nodule-type form,” she explained of her condition. “In my heart and in my gut though, I knew for a 100-percent fact that I was going to be OK. I can’t describe it, but I just knew I was going to be fine.” With a positive attitude and a loving and supportive family by her side, Waters went in for surgery the next month so she could begin taking her first steps on the road to recovery. “I did not know this until after the surgery, but there was no way to tell where the cancer had spread, so it was all in the dark until the doctors went in and looked at my thyroid,” Waters recalled of her situation. “It could have spread into my voice box, throat or my lymph nodes, and there was a chance it could have even made it into my bloodstream.” Fortunately for Waters, the doctors found that the cancer was contained to
just the thyroid, and she knew she would be able to make a full recovery. Still, the process took a toll on not just the 16-yearold patient, but those who cared for her. “Seeing how bad all of this tore up my parents and my friends, I realized that I needed to be strong for them,” Waters said. During her recovery, that strength was fed by the love and support of not just her immediate family, but by her second family. Members of the Keystone Heights High School softball team as well as her travelball club came out in full force to show their support and appreciation for their battling teammate. “A lot of donations had come in from my friends to help pay for gas, food and medical treatments,” an appreciative Waters remembered. “My travel-ball team made T-shirts, stickers and cancer bows with my number on it. They were my second family, and they helped so much, just by being there, supporting me and telling me that it was going to be OK.” By February Waters was feeling well enough to get back on the field and prepare for the season ahead. Even though her recovery was a relatively short one, that didn’t mean it was without significant side effects. “It was just so tiring because of the process that I had to go through, which included going on a special diet for radiation treatment,” she explained. “After the radiation, I was able to start trying medicines which would replace the hormones that my thyroid would make. That’s where it became interesting, because if you are on too low of a dose you become very lethargic, and if you are on too high of a dose, you will be super hyper.” Despite everything she had gone through that season, Waters was healthy enough, but, more importantly, strong enough to contribute to her team in a big way. The then junior batted .549 and was named a Junior Class All-American en route to helping lead her Keystone Heights team to the state semifinals later that season. Fast-forward two years, and Waters has traded in her high school’s red, white and blue uniforms for that of Stetson’s green and white threads, knowing she has beaten the odds and in the process proved to herself what she is capable of.
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Tip of the Hat: Griffin Earns 600th Win in Stetson Dugout
It’s a Girl!
Stetson University head softball coach Frank Griffin’s 2014 season has been a historic one. In his first game of the year, he won his 800th career game, making him just the 40th coach at the Division I level to accomplish the feat. No. 800 came on opening day (Feb. 7) at Patricia Wilson Field, when Stetson defeated Michigan State 4-1 during the Stetson Lead-Off Classic. The majority of Griffin’s 800 wins have come in DeLand, where he compiled 574 wins heading into the 2014 campaign. 225 were earned at Winthrop, where he served as head of their softball program 1983-89. Through April 8, the Hatters have compiled a 28-5 overall record and a 12-2 mark in the A-Sun. Griffin won his 600th career game as head coach of Stetson on April 5 at Northern Kentucky, with a 8-0 victory over the Norse. “I have been very fortunate to be able to recruit the kind of athletes to win those games,” Griffin said of his milestones. “I also have been very fortunate to have had the kind of coaching staff to help win those games, and right now I am blessed with both.”
Congratulations to Hatter baseball coach Brian Pruitt and his wife, Megan Pruitt, on the birth of their daughter:
Faye Doris Pruitt Born: March 20, 2014 at 4:30 am 8 pounds 1 ounce
Honor Roll (February-April) Women’s Basketball A-Sun Freshman of the Year...............................................................Amber Porter Mid-Major Freshman of the Year.........................................................Amber Porter A-Sun First Team All-Conference............. Amber Porter, Jama Sharp, Sasha Sims A-Sun All-Freshman Team...................................... Amber Porter, Brianti Saunders A-Sun All-Tournament Team....................................... Jama Sharp, Cherisse Burris A-Sun Player of the Week.................................................. Amber Porter (March 3) A-Sun Newcomer of the Week.Amber Porter (Feb. 3), Brianti Saunders (March 3) Men’s Basketball A-Sun Newcomer of the Week........................................... Kentwan Smith (Feb. 3) A-Sun All-Freshman Team...................................................................... Brian Pegg A-Sun Academic All-Conference..........................................................Hunter Miller Capital One Academic All-District.........................................................Hunter Miller Lacrosse A-Sun Defensive Player of the Week.................................Caili Guilday (March 24) A-Sun Player of the Week.................................................Danielle Horgan (April 7)
Softball A-Sun Player of the Week............................................ Jessie TenBroeck (Feb. 10) ..........................................Courtney Brandt (March 24), Jessica Griffin (March 31) A-Sun Pitcher of the Week........................... Meredith Owen (March 10, March 24) Lead-Off Classic All-Tournament Team........................Meredith Owen, Demi Meza Hatter Invitational All-Tournament Team..................Sarah Read, Jessie TenBroeck Stetson Classic All-Tournament Team........................Courtney Brandt, Demi Meza Baseball A-Sun Pitcher of the Week............................................. Taylor Cockrell (March 10) Men’s Tennis A-Sun Player of the Week.................................................... Nathan Debut (April 9) Women’s Tennis A-Sun Player of the Week.............................. Diana Bukajeva (Feb. 12, March 12) Sand Volleyball A-Sun Pair of the Week.............................Tiffany Creamer, Kristin Lind (March 11) A-Sun Pair of the Week......................Savannah Byl, Catherine Coston (March 11) A-Sun Pair of the Week..........................Jordann Dierickx, Maren Rygh (March 11)
STETSON SPIRIT Stetson Alma Mater Dear Alma Mater, Smile Upon Thy Children; Gladly We Greet Thee, Altogether Lovely; Peace Be Within Thy Classic Halls And Temples. Hail, Alma Mater Dear Dear Alma Mater, Tenderly Thy Children Gather And Bring To Thee Gracious Salutations; Comrades, Your Voices Lift Once Again In Chorus, Hail, Alma Mater Dear.
Stetson Fight Song Stetson U will win the game, Listen to our cheer, GO HATTERS! Shout the glory of your name, Spread it far and near, YEA HATTERS! Alma mater praise to thee And our teammates true, GO HATTERS! Marching on to victory Let’s GO, HATTERS, GO!
Stetson Cheer Razzmatazz Razzmatazz Hatter Hooty Hoo We are STETSON Who the heck are you? Hullaballoo Hat Knuckle Flim flam flop We are STETSON And we can’t be TOPPED
Glenn Wilkes to Enter College Basketball Hall of Fame
Already a member of the Stetson University Sports Hall of Fame, legendary men’s basketball coach Glenn Wilkes will be inducted into the National Collegiate Basketball Hall of Fame in November, as announced by the National Association of Basketball Coaches, late last month. Wilkes roamed the Stetson sidelines for 36 years, leading the Hatters to an unparalleled era of success. During his 36year coaching career, which came entirely at Stetson, Wilkes won 552 games and achieved 27 winning seasons. Joining Wilkes in the Class of 2014 are Grant Hill, Darrell Griffith, Shaquille O’Neal, Zelmo Beaty, Dale Brown, Gary Williams and Howard Garfinkel. The group will be inducted Sunday, Nov. 23, in Kansas City, Mo., as part of a three-day celebration of college basketball. The Wilkes era began in DeLand during the 1957-58 season and ran consecutively through the 1992-93 campaign. He led the Hatters to a schoolrecord 22-win season first in 1969-70 and then again in 1974-75. Wilkes also took Stetson basketball from the NAIA ranks to the NCAA Division I level.
In addition to his accomplishments on the court, Wilkes served the basketball community by sponsoring the first coaching clinic in the South, the first basketball clinic for boys, the first basketball clinic for girls, and the first officials’ clinic. He is also the author of seven basketball-related books, including Fundamentals of Basketball Coaching and Basketball’s Three-Point Shot. Wilkes’ experience and expertise were not just coveted at the collegiate level, as from 1994 to 1998, he worked as an advanced scout for the NBA’s Los Angeles Lakers. The longtime Hatter head coach is also a member of the Florida and Central Florida Sports Hall of Fames and in 2000 was given the Central Florida Amateur Athlete Lifetime Achievement Award. The National Collegiate Basketball Hall of Fame is located in the College Basketball Experience, next to the Sprint Center in Kansas City. In 2006, the first class was inducted into the newly formed Hall of Fame. That class included the game’s inventor, James Naismith, and possibly its greatest coach in John Wooden.
Commentary: Assistant Athletic Director Ricky Hazel
With the 2014 NCAA Men’s Basketball Tournament now in the record books, I wanted to take a minute to send out some thanks. While March Madness is a national phenomenon, attracting the attention of both casual and die-hard collegebasketball fans from all walks of life, few know what it takes to put on the event. For me, serving as the Tournament Manager for Orlando was an 18-month odyssey, and would not have been possible without the hard work and dedication of literally hundreds of people. The journey to Orlando started in the summer of 2012 when Stetson Director of Athletics Jeff Altier informed me that we had put in a bid, along with the Central Florida Sports Commission, to host in either 2014 or 2015. He also informed me that, if we received a bid, I would serve as Tournament Manager. We found out in November of 2012 that we would indeed host in 2014, and from that moment on, my life became centered on the NCAA basketball tournament. Let me take a quick step back before going on. I have worked in college athletics for more than 20 years now, but I have never worked at a school that has been fortunate enough to send a team to the NCAA’s biggest show. With that said, before
embarking on this journey as Tournament Manager, the last time I had even attended an NCAA tournament game was in 1987, when I was a junior in college. That year, my alma mater, Alabama, had its best season ever. They won the Southeastern Conference regular season and tournament titles under coach Wimp Sanderson and earned a No. 2 seed to the NCAA tournament. I was on hand as that team -- which was led by All-American Derrick McKey and standouts like Terry Conner, Michael Ansley, Jim Farmer and Mark Gottfried -- easily dispatched North Carolina A&T and New Orleans in the first two rounds, earning a date against Providence College in Louisville. At that point, few outside the fledgling Big East Conference knew anything about the Friars, their head coach or star player. Of course, the head coach at Providence in 1987 was Rick Pitino, and the star player was Billy Donovan. I followed the Tide to Louisville, fully expecting an easy victory over Providence for a date with topseeded Georgetown. Instead, Donovan put on a shooting clinic and led the Friars past Alabama, and then over Georgetown into the Final Four. Ironically, three of the principal characters from that first NCAA experience played a part this time. Pitino was here with his
defending champion Louisville Cardinals, Donovan was here with his top-ranked Gators, and Gottfried was here with his North Carolina State team. It was 26 years before I attended another NCAA tournament game. Last spring I went to Philadelphia, along with James Stem from Stetson, and Jennifer Lastik and Brent Nelson from the CFSC, to observe operations for second- and thirdround games. There I witnessed Florida Gulf Coast’s victory over Georgetown for the start of the #DunkCity phenomenon. I had seen FGCU’s last loss before the tournament, against Stetson at the Edmunds Center just a couple of weeks earlier. But our focus in Philadelphia wasn’t on the games, it was on the event itself. Jen took hundreds of photos and took detailed notes as we questioned the tournament staff in Philly, which was being run by Temple University. We spent much of our time looking at the setup of the facility, signage, hospitality, and all of the other little things that go into hosting this event. By the time we went to Philadelphia, our local organizing committee had already been formed and started meeting. Hosting the event would be a partnership between Stetson, the CFSC and Orlando Ventures, which operates the Amway
Commentary: The End of a Long Road
Center. We began the push to sell tickets for the 2014 tournament even before the 2013 championship started. Over the summer, the NCAA hosted a Tournament Managers’ seminar in Indianapolis. During the two days at the headquarters, we went through the Tournament Manager’s manual with a fine-toothed comb. We met with and heard from all of the NCAA Men’s Basketball Championship staff, people who spend all of their time, 12 months a year, planning for March Madness. We were able to put faces to the names of the people we would work with in preparation for the tournament. The guidance and insight we received during that seminar, and in the months that followed, were invaluable. In addition to pushing ticket sales, much planning went into hosting the tournament in Orlando. Community leaders in Orange County came together in support of the event and helped by providing many of the hundreds of volunteers who worked at the tournament.
It was truly a team effort that went into hosting in Orlando. The list of people who contributed to the success would fill up three pages. While I can’t mention them all, I do want to mention several members of the Stetson Athletics staff who had a huge hand in making the event run smoothly. First and foremost is Jamie Bataille, who served as Media Coordinator. Few other jobs were more thankless or filled with more headaches, and he dealt with all of it with poise and a positive attitude. Special thanks to women’s basketball coach Lynn Bria for understanding why Jamie could not be with her team for the A-Sun Tournament. Others on the Stetson staff who were heavily involved and did a great job included James Stem (practice coordinator), David Weisser and Chet Hesson (band and cheer liaisons), Glenn Brickey and Adam Deimling (training support), Kevin Jurenko and his crew (locker rooms and laundry), Jeff Higgins (ball kid coordinator), and Jesse Tucker and Laura Mason (credential distribution), as well as Drs. Bruce Rankin and Mark Hollmann for giving of their time. Others associated with Stetson who helped out, either leading up to or during the tournament, include Lisa Browning, Dan Forcella, Charlie Franklin, Stacy Turner, Ernie Peterson, Virginia Sheppa, Natalia DiFerdinand and Dr. Ben Goss.
Thanks also to the staff from the CFSC (especially Jen Lastik and Kyle Sturley), the great staff at the Amway Center, all of the student volunteers we had from both Stetson and Full Sail, and the many great professionals from across the state who volunteered to come to Orlando to lend a hand. Also, thanks to Director of Athletics Jeff Altier for having the faith to put this project in my hands and his guidance throughout. It was quite a ride and one that has forever changed the way I will look at March Madness. Next year, the NCAA tournament returns to Florida, as Jacksonville hosts the second and third rounds. Their crew was on hand in Orlando for the first two days, and I wish them nothing but good luck as they embark on their journey toward March Madness. Ricky Hazel (left) and Jeff Altier (right)
Hatters Football Pointed Toward Fall
Cole Mazza The Stetson football team completed spring practices earlier than most any other team in the nation, and that was totally by design. While the work the team got in during the 15 spring practice sessions was important, it is the work the players will do in the weeks and months ahead that will have the largest impact during the fall. Stetson coach Roger Hughes said it was no secret that his team did not match up well physically against the other teams in the Pioneer Football League last year, but he hopes the gap will be much closer in year two. “Our greatest area of improvement has to be off the field,” Hughes said. “With the age of our kids, we should see exponential improvement in strength, size and quickness. “We designed our offseason, and our spring practice, to maximize the physiological changes we are going to see. We emphasized speed enhancement early, and now, after spring practice, we are focused on making their strength more functional.” On the field during the spring, the focus was on simplification of schemes. The result, from an offensive standpoint, was more yards and more points scored during the spring game. “We had to weed out the schemes that don’t make sense,” Hughes said. “When you are practicing against yourself, you can be lulled to sleep by what works.
Basically, if you’re not running something that you can run against your best opponent, then you are wasting your time.” Specifically on the offensive side of the ball, the focus was on running the ball more effectively and protecting against turnovers. Results from the spring game indicate that the run game is better. Combined, the Hatters averaged better than 4.6 yards per rush attempt in the spring game, up from the 3.0 yards per attempt last fall. The battle against turnovers is still a work in progress. There were four in the spring game – two for each team – but two of those came on the first two plays of the scrimmage. “With the exception of the sloppiness that we started out with, with two turnovers on the first two plays, we did a better job protecting the ball,” Hughes said. The one thing spring practice, and the spring game in particular, showed is that the Hatters now have four quarterbacks capable of leading the team. All four played well in the spring game, and the competition between them, according to their coach, is making them all better. Returning starter Ryan Tentler had the best game among the four, but the gap from first to fourth was not very wide, with backups Jonathan Jerozal, Blake Plattsmier and Louis Pappas all posting solid numbers. Tentler ran for 70 yards and a touchdown while passing for 160 yards and two scores for the White team, while Jerozal threw for a pair of scores while completing 11-of-18 passes for the Green. Plattsmier, who rushed for 60 yards, and Pappas both threw for 142 yards. Beyond the quarterbacks, who accounted for 122 of the combined 283 rushing yards, Hughes was also happy with the progress his running backs have made. “I thought our running backs ran more physically than they have in the past, and that meant they were breaking more tackles,” Hughes said. “Jerami Singleton had his best day, and I was happy with the way Cole Mazza and Mike Yonker ran the ball.” At the end of the spring, it is that duo, Yonker and Mazza, who are at the top of the depth chart in the backfield with Tentler. Rob Coggin and Darius McGriff are the projected starters at receiver, while Austin Marks is atop the depth chart at tight end.
The offensive line is mostly the same as it was at the end of the season, with Griffin Vari at left tackle, Fletcher Eldemire at center, and Blake Manning and Matthew Wawrzyniak on the right side. The lone change is at left guard, where Tyler Magill finished the spring as the starter in place of Patrick Fogarty, who missed all of spring drills following offseason surgery. On the defensive side, the front three for the Hatters are Davion Belk, Billy Walsh and Morris Eguakun. The linebacking corps was hit by injuries, but Ignacio Madrid and David Lazear hold down two spots, while Devyn Jessmer and Ryan Gildea come back from injury to compete with Joseph Morris. The secondary returns with Donald Payne, Ryan Powers and Chris Atkins back as the leaders. Glenn Adesoji is at the corner opposite Atkins, while the second Dawg Safety position is wide open due to injuries. For the rest of the spring, and through the summer, the Hatters will be focused on conditioning. Almost any day of the week, you can see players on the practice field doing conditioning and agility drills, in addition to some yoga. “I think there is a greater sense of urgency among the kids, because they now know what they have to do in order to have a chance to win,” Hughes said. “They have seen the really good teams in our league, and they have a better sense of what they have to do to compete in the Pioneer League. Hopefully we will continue growing as we go.”
Date Aug. 30 Sept. 6 Sept. 13 Sept. 20 Oct. 4 * Oct. 11 * Oct. 18 * Oct. 25 * Nov. 1 * Nov. 8 * Nov. 15 * Nov. 22 *
Opponent at Warner Florida Tech Mercer at Birmingham-Southern Butler at San Diego Jacksonville at Davidson at Campbell Marist (Homecoming) at Morehead State Drake
Time TBA 7 p.m. 6 p.m. 1 p.m. 6 p.m. 5 p.m. 6 p.m. 1 p.m. 1 p.m. TBA 1 p.m. 1 p.m.
* - Pioneer Football League game Home games in bold and played at Spec Martin Memorial Stadium