The South Alabama Jaguar Softball team enters this weekend’s series against conference foe Western Kentucky with a #25 ranking and a five game winning streak. They are also coming off of a big 12-5 win over #12 ranked LSU on Wednesday.
The Jags enter the game with a 28-5 record overall and a 5-1 mark in Sun Belt play. They have also won eight of their last nine games. Western Kentucky comes to town with a 17-10 record overall and a 6-2 mark in Sun Belt play.
Western Kentucky has been honored with three Pitcher of the Week honors this season. Emily Rousseau has been honored twice and Mallorie Sulaski has been honored once. They have 13 of the 17 wins for WKU.
Jaguars head coach Becky Clark realizes that WKU’s pitching staff will give them a chance to win this weekend. “They’re going to give us all we can handle,” Clark said. “We’ve got to do a great job of keeping things rolling right now. We’ve got to remain consistent and remember what got us results in the first place. We can enjoy the success we’ve had, but we’ve got to remember where it came from and stay locked in to it.”
The series gets underway Saturday with a doubleheader that begins at 4pm. Game two will begin 20 minutes after game one ends. The final game on Sunday will get underway at noon.
The series with the Owls will begin tonight with first pitch set for 5:30pm Central time with Brandon Boyle set to take the mound for the Jags. Game two has first pitch set for 3pm Central Time on Saturday with Jacob Noble taking the mound for the Jags. Then the series finale will begin at noon Central time Sunday with Jarron City taking the mound.
The 24th ranked Jags enter the game with a 22-4 record overall and a 5-1 record in Sun Belt play. The Jags pitching staff has a combined ERA of 1.96 with 47 strikeouts and 17 walks in 46 innings during the current winning streak. They have also held their opponents to a .204 batting average.
Offensively the Jags are hitting .330 with three doubles, four home runs, 33 RBI’s and 37 runs scored.
FAU enters with a 16-9 record overall and a 4-2 record in Sun Belt play. They are also coming off of a 6-1 win over Miami (FL) University and enter the weekend with a three game winning streak.
The Owls currently leads the conference in ERA with 3.02 and runs allowed with 105. They also have 205 strikeouts and 71 walks in 223 2/3 innings pitched this season.
All three games will be broadcast live on WNSP 105.5 FM and through their website WNSP.com.
The Jaguars basketball season may be over but Augustine Rubit continues to collect more honors. Rubit has already been named the 2012-2013 Sun Belt Conference Player of the Year by the coach and media of the Sun Belt and Sun Belt Player of the year from four different organizations including CollegeInsider.com.
Rubit has also been named to the Lou Henson All-America Team by CollegeInsider.com and All-District 24 First Team by the National Association of Basketball Coaches. He was also named to the fourth team All-Mid Major by College Sports Madness.
Rubit is the only representative from the Sun Belt to be named to the Henson All-America team which consists of 25 players from mid-major Division I conferences.
Aug was the leading rebounder in the conference with 10.5 per game and finished second in the conference in scoring with 19.4 points per game, both ranking in the top 10 in the nation. He also earned 16 double-doubles during the season.
The South Alabama Jaguar Softball team delivered a big win over a top 15 ranked team in front of an overflowing crowd of spectators Wednesday night at Jaguar Field. The #25 ranked Jags defeated #12 ranked LSU 12-5 on 15 hits in their first win over the Tigers in six attempts.
The 15 hits by the Jags were the most recorded by USA in a game as well as the most allowed in a game by LSU. It also tied a season-high in runs for a game which was also a season high allowed by LSU.
Haley Fagan had a career-best 4-for-4 performance. Farish Beard and Hannah Campbell combined to strike out 10 Tigers as Beard improved her perfect record on the season to 12-0. Beard pitched 4 2/3rds innings total with two hits and five earned runs with eight strikeouts. Hannah Campbell pitched 2 2/3rds innings and allowed two hits with two strikeouts.
The Jags scored first in the bottom of the second inning when a throwing error trying to force Fagan out at second base sailed wide and allowed Julie Moss to score. The Jags added six more runs in the third inning to make it 7-0 Jaguars heading into the top of the fourth inning.
Four more runs in the fourth inning began with Fagan hitting a solo homerun over the center field wall. Going into the top of the fifth inning, the Jags had a commanding 11-0 lead.
LSU would attempt a rally but the Jags would be able to limit it to five runs before adding an insurance run in the bottom of the frame for the final score of 12-5.
Fagan had three singles to go with her home run while Johnson, Moss, Meghan Collins and Britany Campbell all had two hits each with Johnson and Collins adding two RBI’s each.
The Jags return to action this weekend when they host Western Kentucky for a three game conference series. The Jags and the Hilltoppers will play a doubleheader on Saturday with first pitch scheduled for 4pm with game two following 20 minutes after the first game concludes. First pitch for game three is scheduled for noon on Sunday.
The Jaguars were greeted with a cool morning for their practice on Tuesday. The practice was marked with physical play in both position drills and team drills as the practice spanned over two hours.
Coach Jones said that the defensive line caught his eye in Tuesdays practice. “It was lively,” Jones said to AL.com about the practice session. “I thought the defensive front really stood out today. I thought the guys across there were playing harder and really put pressure on the quarterback and disrupted the run. I thought they played really well today and it was good to see them get after it.”
With the changes made on the defensive coaching staff in the off-season, the defense is still getting adjusted to the new members of the staff but their progress has been pleasing to Coach Jones. The offense continues to learn and perfect their understanding of the spread offense that was introduced last year by coach Matthews.
Jones praised the leadership he has on the team. He said that they continue to work hard as the number of practices remaining this spring are beginning to dwindle down. Jones said that they have practice on Thursday then a scrimmage on Saturday. Next week the Jags have Tuesday to practice then Thursday is in shorts prior to the Red-Blue Spring Game on Saturday.
“I think offensively, even though we’re doing some different things, I think the fact they have experience helps,” Jones explained to AL.com. “Our offensive line is working really hard. For the first time we’re going to have real depth there. I think we’ll go into next fall with 10 guys who can play once we get our injured guys back (Ucambre Williams, Shaun Artz). So I feel good about that. We’ve got some older receivers, some guys who have been around, some in their fifth year in the program. We’ve got a quarterback who started last year (Ross Metheny) and Brandon Bridge is coming along as well and we’re developing depth there and there’s a tight race. The competition is good.”
With only five practices left, which includes the spring game on April 6th, the Jags will try to get as much physical work in as possible. These will be the practices and scrimmages that will really lend themselves to good video for evaluating players prior to fall camp.
The Jags will return to the practice field on Thursday morning at 6am and again on Saturday for a scrimmage.
South Alabama defeated Southern Miss 3-1 on Tuesday, but it took an extra inning to do so.
The Jags and the Golden Eagles were scoreless through five innings but the Jags broke that scoreless tie when Jordan Patterson singled in a run in the top of the sixth inning. USM threatened in the bottom half of the inning but the Jags worked their way out of it.
USM threatened again in the bottom of the eighth inning but again the Jags worked themselves out of it. But in the bottom of the ninth a lead off triple then a hit batter put runners on the corners. THen a single to right field would score the tieing run. The Jags would again work themselves out of the inning to go to the tenth inning.
In the top of the tenth, the Jags would load the bases with no outs. Patterson would reach on an error by the USM shortstop. Then Nolan Earley followed with a single to center field. Then a passed ball would advance both Jags into scoring position. Then Dustin Dalken would draw a walk to load the bases.
Brent Mitchell would fall behind in the count but would work it back to even at 2-2 before he would drive a slider into left field to score Patterson and Earley to give USA a 3-1 lead. Then the Jags held off the Golden Eagles in the bottom of the tenth to preserve the victory.
Jaguar starter Matt Bell threw six shutout innings and allowed only three hits while striking out three with one walk. Dylan Stamey would allow two hits in two shutout innings while striking out four and walking one.
Kyle Bartsch allowed one run on two hits and struck out one to earn his third win of the season. James Traylor would strike out three with one walk and only one hit in one shutout inning for his first save of the season.
“Matt Bell was really good,” Calvi said. “They (USM) put the ball in play, and we played good defense behind him. Stamey was solid again for two innings, and did a nice job with four strikeouts. We went to Bartsch late, he’s our guy. He threw 44 pitches on Saturday, so he only had one shot to get it done and unfortunately he didn’t. But James Traylor did a nice job behind him. It was a team win tonight, a team pitching-staff win for sure.”
Bell had his longest career outing as a Jag on Tuesday night. He used two inning-ending double plays in the first four innings of the game to do it.
The #24 ranked Jaguars will travel to Boca Raton, Florida for a three game SBC series with FAU.
Many media outlets are reporting that two of the top FCS schools will be joining the Sun Belt Conference in 2015.
Appalachian State and Georgia Southern, who have combined to win nine FCS championships in football, will leave the Southern Conference for the Sun Belt. Both schools will join the conference in every sport except football beginning in 2014. The football programs will join in 2015 as they make the transition from FCS to FBS.
An announcement is scheduled for later this week by the schools and league officials.
The addition of these two schools will return the conference to 10 football members in 2015 with Arkansas State, Georgia State, Louisiana-Lafayette, Louisiana-Monroe, South Alabama, Texas State, Troy and Western Kentucky. Arkansas-Little Rock and Texas-Arlington, who will join in 2013-2014, do not sponsor football but will join in all other sports.
Appalachian State joined the Southern Conference in 1972 and has won or shared the league title 12 times, including seven of the last eight, with 20 appearances in the FCS playoffs. They commissioned a feasibility study two years ago about a transition to FBS. The result was that the program should seek membership in FBS.
Appalachian State won three FCS titles in a row from 2005-2007 under former head coach Jerry Moore and stunning fifth-ranked Michigan in the 2007 season opener, the first win for an FCS school against an AP Top 25 team.
Georgia Southern has won a record six FCS titles in 1985, ’86, ’89, 90, ’99 and 2000 and nine Southern Conference titles.
The students at Georgia Southern approved a $75 student fee increase to help make the move from FCS to FBS after the school announced their intentions to move to the FBS level last April. The university also announced a plan to expand Paulson Stadium by 6,300 seats.
Appalachian State would enter the Sun Belt with one of the highest average attendance for football. In 2011 a release by the NCAA showed that they led the FCS attendance records for the third time in four years with an average of 25,715 per game.
But they may not be the only schools added to the conference. It is expected that New Mexico State and Idaho may be added as football-only members of the conference. These two schools do not have a home as the WAC is set to dissolve this summer. This would expand the Sun Belt to 12 football schools and would make them eligible for a conference championship game.
Two weeks ago at the Sun Belt basketball tournament, Conference commissioner Karl Benson said that the majority of schools the Sun Belt was considering for expansion were in the FCS level.
On March 9th, Benson said about NMSU and Idaho. “They are in need of a conference and are being assessed. We are looking specifically for schools that will add stability and value. We also are exploring the possibility of football-only members, and it’s not just limited to NMSU and Idaho. We have created a lot of maps with different possibilities that would fit many of our needs including geography.”
But as the wheel of conference realignment continuing to turn, there is speculation that Western Kentucky may be the next Sun Belt school to defect from the conference for seemingly greener pastures in Conference USA. Only time will tell how this will eventually shake out.
South Alabama’s Julie Moss was named Sun Belt Conference Player of the Week for her performance for the Jags against Florida International over the weekend. This is Moss’s second Player of the Week honor this season after earning it on February 18.
Moss helped lead the Jaguars to a sweep of FIU by driving in 11 runs in the three games with four hits and a career high five RBI’s in the second game of the weekend. Moss’s grand slam in game three propelled the Jags to an 8-5 win.
Moss posted a slugging percentage of 1.091 and scored three runs of her own. She accounted for 14 of the Jaguars 29 runs over the weekend.
Along with Moss, Brittany Fowler and Farish Beard have both been earned weekly honors this season giving the Jags four awards in seven weeks with back-to-back honors on two occasions this season.
The Jags will be back in action when they host LSU on Wednesday evening at Jaguar Field.
South Alabama’s Jarron Cito was named the Sun Belt Conference Pitcher of the Week by conference officials on Monday.
City struck out a career high 11 batters while only allowing one unearned run on one hit in a seven inning complete game effort. He retired eight of the first nine batters he faced then retired the final 11 batters of the game. It was his second complete game of his career and the first by a Jaguar pitcher this season.
This is Cito’s second time to be named Sun Belt Conference Pitcher of the Week. The first was on April 30 of last season. He is the second Jaguar pitcher to be named Pitcher of the Week this season after Jacob Noble earned the honor on March 4.
The Jags swept Conference foe Arkansas-Little Rock in a three game series at Eddie Stanky Field. The Jags return to action on Tuesday when they travel to Southern Miss for a midweek contest.
The University of South Alabama announced the hiring of a coach to take over the Men’s basketball program on Monday. Dr. Joel Erdmann, Athletics Director at South Alabama announced the hiring of Butler associate head coach Matthew Graves as the Jags 10th head basketball coach.
Graves hopes to duplicate some of the NCAA tournament success Butler has enjoyed over the recent years. And Graves does not think that winning will take long for the Jags in the Sun Belt conference. That was his message tot he team prior to Monday’s new conference as well.
“We’re here next year to compete for a championship,” Graves said. “This is not a rebuilding process. This is not a reloading process. This is a process that we’re going to have sustained success starting next year. That is the goal from Day one. We’re going to put a team out there that everyone’s going to be proud of on and off the court.”
He replaces Ronnie Arrow who retired 10 games into the season as the programs winningest coach and the winningest coach in the Sun Belt after surpassing Gene Bartow earlier in the season. Arrow has since been overtaken by Kermit Davis of Middle Tennessee for the conference’s winningest coach.
Associate head coach Jeff Price filled in as interim head coach the rest of the season and led the Jags to a 12-8 record during his tenure and a #3 seed in the Sun Belt Tournament but fell to eventual champion Western Kentucky in the quarterfinals. The Jags then fell to Tulane in the opening round of the CollegeInsider.com Tournament.
Graves has been an assistant coach at Butler for nine seasons and was promoted to associate head coach in 2010. During both the 2010 and 2011 seasons Butler made it to the NCAA championship game. However they lost to Marquette in the second round of the NCAA tournament this season.
Graves played for Butler from 1993-1998 and was a member of the program’s first NCAA tournament team in 35 years. He was voted the teams Most Valuable Player as a senior by leading the team to a second consecutive tournament appearance. He still ranks in the top 10 in career 3-pointers and three throw shooting.
Graves did not know much about South Alabama until he got the first email from Dr. Erdmann about the opening. But he came away impressed with the peoplee and the facilities. “I didn’t know a lot about South Alabama except for that moment before I looked into it,” Graves told ESPN.com. “People ask why South Alabama? Why would a Midwest guy want to go to South Alabama. When I came down to look at campus, I was sold right away. I understood there was some history here, good tradition. The Mitchell Center is a phenomenal facility to recruit to.”
Dr. Erdmann was sold on Graves after the interview. “If you look at coach Graves’ background and the world that he has lived in over the past decade-plus, what they have been able to accomplish at an institution that is not too dissimilar from one of ours is nothing short of spectacular,” Erdmann said to ESPN.com. “The resume got him an interview. The resume and the accomplishments got him involved in the search, but the interview landed the job.”
“He is a man that when you get to know him, you will understand and appreciate why this decision was made. He is a tremendous basketball person. He lives the game. He understands the game. He knows how to teach the game. He knows how to recruit and he knows how to create a program that will have a sustained level of success.”
Brad Stevens, Butler’s head coach and Graves’ former mentor, is happy for him. “I could not be more thrilled for both Matthew and South Alabama. He is a terrific person and coach, who will undoubtedly bring great credit to the university,” Stevens said. “He’s an excellent communicator who understands what it takes to win at the highest level. We thank him for the 17 total years he spent at Butler as a player and staff member. He had a tremendous impact on Butler basketball.”
The news also excited the Jaguars fan base. Many were thinking that Price might get the position after what he was able to do with the program after Arrow’s retirement. However they believe Erdmann hit it out of the park with the hiring of Graves. Price has already been mentioned for other positions.
Price stepped into a difficult situation and did a good job despite losing probably the programs best shooter in Xavier Roberson to off-the-court problems and Freddie Goldstein to a broken collarbone. But the Jags managed to grind out wins but with their thin ranks and opponent’s attention on Augustine Rubit, the Jags could not get wins the conference tournament nor could they get a win in the CollegeInsider.com tournament.