Starting on Friday, the Jaguars will be hosting the Sand Dollar Classic with games against Central Arkansas, Houston Baptist, Jacksonville State and Alabama State. The Sand Dollar Classic is the first of three tournaments being hosted this month by the Jags.
Also be the first game with the new scoreboard at Jaguar Field, so get your tickets now and cheer the Jags on to victory!
Come out to Jaguar Field for the game tonight, first pitch is scheduled for 6pm!
The win was the largest ever for the Jaguar program in postseason play.
The Cajuns opened the scoring early on a loose ball in the goalmouth following a throw-in. Just 1:35 after the Cajun’s score, Rio harded headed home a cross shot from senior Alyssa Mayer. Sophomore Charde Hannah put the Jags ahead with her team-best eighth goal of the year in the 29th minute on a breakaway from sophomore Steffi Hardy.
Sophomore Ashlynn Jones recorded a second-half brace. She opened the scoring in the second half in the 57th minute on a breakaway by taking a long pass from senior Nini Rabsatt-Smith and putting a low shot past the goalkeeper.
Then just over four and a half minutes later Jones took a pass from freshman Jemma Purfield and put in the left side of the net to put the Jaguars up 4-1.
The fifth score for the Jags started with junior goalkeeper Sarah Hay gathered in a Cajun free kick then distributed it to Purfield who found Jones in the middle. Jones would pass it off to senior Jordan Duncan who slipped it past the defender to sophomroe Danielle Henley who would put it in the net from just inside the 18-yard box past the goalkeeper who was rushing the ball.
Sophie Haywood slit two defenders and found Duncan who put it in the net int he 76th minute. Junior Anisa Patterson finished off the scoring in the 84th minute off of a deflected ball from junior Nikki Shirtcliffe.
South Alabama has scored 16 goals in the last three matches. In the game, 13 of the Jaguars 16 shots found their target with seven of them coming in the second half.
“I thought we did well,” head coach Graham Winkworth said of the teams play. “We started off a bit slowly, getting used to the change in surface, but I thought the girls handled it very well. Overall, I was pleased with the result and the performance wasn’t too bad at all.
What pleased me is the level of play didn’t drop once we made a number of changes,” Winkworth saod. “I thought it was good that we were able to get everybody some playing time and we continued to play attractive soccer even after making a lot of changes. It just shows that team is not about whoever starts the match, but it’s a squad game and I was really pleased with the squad overall today.”
“Appalachian is a very good team,” Winkworth said of their next opponent. “They have a lot of depth and use a lot of numbers. They work extremely hard and are well-coached, so I think it will be a very tough game.”
The top seeded Jaguars will face #4 seed Appalachian State on Friday at 3pm for a spot in the Championship Match on Sunday against the winner between #2 seed Troy and #6 seeded Georgia State.
Scelfo Named To Watch List; Fico, Campbell Competing for Akron; Three Women Golfers Earn Academic Honors
Jaguar center Joseph Scelfo has been named to the 2015 Rimington Trophy Fall Watch List on Wednesday. The list includes 63 individuals, which included only three from the Sun Belt Conference, who were recognized by the Rimington Trophy Committee.
The award is presented annually to the most outstanding center in NCAA Division I-A college football. It is named after consensus first-team All-America center Dave Riminington at Nebraska in 1981 and ’82.
Scelfo was also named to the preseason all-Sun Belt team by Phil Steele publications and as a preseason second-team All-SBC by Athlon Sports this summer.
He is entering his second season as the starter for the Jaguars at center. He was one of two lineman to start all 13 games as the Jaguars earned their first bowl invitation to the inaugural Raycom Media Camellia Bowl.
Scelfo, a 6’1″ 295-pound junior from Bogart, Georgia graded out at 80 percent or better following six of the teams outings. He also earned the teams highest grade five times. He also earned an 88 percent after the Jags win over Troy, which was one of two games he earned the coaches offensive line award. He earned an 87 against Bowling Green in the Camellia Bowl. He also paced the team against SEC opponents when he earned an 83 against South Carolina and 81 against Mississippi State.
The finalist for the award will be announced on December 7 with the winner being announced at the Rococo Theater in Lincoln, Nebraska on January 16, 2016.
Three Jaguar women golfers were named to the 2014-2015 Women’s Golf Coaches Association (WGCA) All-American Scholars.
Elisa Axelsen, Ingrid Hagen and Madison Connell each earned their distinction after maintaining a 3.50 GPA and participated in half of the team’s tournaments.
This marks the fourth consecutive season Hagen has earned the honor, while it was the first time for both Axelsen and Connell. It is also the 10th consecutive academic year the Jags placed three or more students-athletes on the WGCA Division I All-American Scholor Team. In all 15 Jaguars have been honored 39 times as WGCA All-American Scholars since the 2005-2006 academic year.
Axelsen had one top-10 and two top-20 finishes this season while Hagen earned three top-20 finishes in her senior season. Connell competed in seven tournaments in her freshman season.
Jaguar assistant softball coach Rachelle Fico and former Jaguar Hannah Campbell, who is now a graduate assistant at USA, are competing with the Akron Racers of the National Pro Fastpitch this summer.
Currently Akron is third in the NPF standings with a 12-12 record trailing the league leading Chicago Bandits (17-6) and runner up USSSA Pride but the Racers have one eight of their last 12 games.
Fico is 1-0 in the circle in her only appearance this year when she faced Dallas Charge on July 1. She struck out four with only one walk while allowing one earned run on four hits in a complete game effort. The 9-1 win marked the largest margin of victory for the Racers this season.
Campbell is 0-2 with six strikeouts and a 6.24 ERA in four appearances. She has allowed 11 earned runs on 18 hits in 12 1/3 innings pitched. Her first appearance came on May 30 in Akron’s season opener against the Pennsylvania Rebellion when she entered a scoreless game in the fifth inning and allowed five earned runs on three hits in 2/3 of an inning before leaving the game. Akron would lose the game 6-3.
Fico finished the 2014 season with an 11-7 record with a 3.59 ERA and 55 strikeouts in 23 appearances. Campbell was 5-6 with a 5.78 ERA and a team-high three saves in 23 appearances.
The CBS Sports Network is broadcasting an unprecedented amount of coverage for the 2015 NPF season. They will also air the NPF Championship at the Hoover Metropolitan Stadium in Hoover, AL on August 14-18. Additionally Jaguar fans can watch the Racers in action against the Rebellion on August 10-11 on CBS Sports Network.
Jaguar baseball right-hander Ben Taylor was selected in the seventh round of the 2015 Major League Baseball First-Year Player Draft on Tuesday by the Boston Red Sox. He was the 201st overall selection in the draft and just the second pitcher taken by the Red Sox.
Boston chose Tayler with their seix pick in the draft which was the sixth pick in the seventh round.
Taylor was a first-team All-Sun Belt Conference selection as a relief pitcher this past season with a 6-3 record, 1.48 ERA and seven saves in 25 relief appearances. He struck out 68 batters with only 13 walks in 42 2/3 innings pitched. In his 13 appearances against SBC teams he was 4-2 with three saves and a 1.12 ERA while striking out 44 with only six walks in 24 innings.
Taylor finished his senior season ranked fifth in the conference in saves and tied for fifth in wins while helping the Jaguars to a 3.22 ERA which was tops in the conference, held opposing batters to a .242 batting avarage as a team and the most strikeouts in the conference with 474.
“It’s unbelievable,” Taylor said. “It’s been a dream of mine to play professional baseball my entire life. I can’t put into words what it’s like to now have the opportunity. It’s huge to become a part of an organization with as much tradition and history as they have, and I just want to go in and make them happy and provide for the team. It’s crazy to think that I will be putting on the same uniform that so many other greats have through the years.”
“I made the transition from starting pitcher to the bullpen during my two years at South Alabama,” he said. “I’m not sure what the Red Sox are going to want me to do in the organization; I might be a starting pitcher again. But during my time at USA, I had a change in mentality that made me a better pitcher. I have become more ferocious on the mound with more of a bulldog mentality – just getting after guys and using my stuff with confidence. That’s something Coach (Mark) Calvi and Coach (Bob) Keller have really helped me with. They have helped make me a much better pitcher.”
The Jaguar Softball team finished ranked #23 in the final USA Today/NCFA poll and #28 in RPI. Florida repeated as the National Champion after defeating Michgan twice in the best of three championship series.
Sophomore Chloe Rathburn who helped lead the Jaguar team to the Sun Belt Conference championship this past season was granted her release from the team after the season because, as she told the USA Vanguard student newspaper, that she wanted to play somewhere closer to home. She posted on social media and it was reported last week by the St. Louis Post-Dispatch that she has transferred to Missouri in the Southeastern Conference.
Rathburn, a catcher and infielder, regularly served as the Jaguars designated player. She helped the team to a 40-13 regular season record with a .371 batting average and a school-record 53 RBIs while earning first-team All-Sun Belt Conference honors the last two seasons.
Rathburn will be eligible to play in the 2016 season for the Tigers and will have two years of eligibility remaining. Missouri finished 42-16 this season. They were defeated by UCLA in the NCAA super-regional.
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Track and Field
Jaguar Men’s Track and Field Renaldo Frechou qualified for the NCAA Outdoor Championships with a hammer throw of 66.54m at the East Region Preliminaries in Jacksonville, FL on Thursday.
His throw was 6th place out of the 12 competitors that are advancing to the 2015 NCAA Outdoor Championships in Eugene, OR on June 10-13.
Zach Blahnik finished 39th in the hammer throw, Mark Watts was 45th in the men’s 400 meter dash. LaMia Miller finished 33rd in women’s shot put and Barbara Rivera was 38th in the women’s javelin throw.
On Friday Jan-Louw Kotze (men’s discus), Nick Farrell (men’s pole vault), Matthew Dillon (men’s 110 meter hurdles), Patrick Rohr (men’s 3,000 meter Steeplechase), Phoebe Dawson (women’s discus), and Kaitlyn Beans (women’s long jump) will all compete to qualify to travel to Oregon for the Outdoor Championships.
Former South Alabama pitcher Farish Beard, who earned her degree this spring, was named to the 2015 Senior CLASS Award Second-Team All-American as announced by Premier Sports Management on Wednesday.
She earned all-Sun Belt Conference honors for the third consecutive season and was named to the SBC All-Tournament team after helping the Jaguars claim its third title in the last four years.
She finished with an 11-4 record, 2.53 ERA and 101 strikeouts in 88 2/3 innings pitched this season while only allowing 32 runs all season and holding opposing batters to a team-low .168 batting average.
The Senior CLASS Award in an acronym for Celebrating Loyalty and Achievement for Staying in School. It honors the attributes of senior student-athletes in four areas: community, classroom, character and competition and is designed for college seniors who are utilizing their complete athletic eligibility, remaining committed to their university and pursuing the many rewards a senior season can offer.
Jaguar right-hander Kevin Hill was named to the Louisville Slugger Division I All-American second team as announced on Thursday by Collegiate Baseball.
Hill was also named the Sun Belt Conference Pitcher of the Year and is the lone representative from the conference. He is also the first Jaguar pitcher to earn All-American honors since P.J. Walters was a second-team selection by Collegiate Baseball and a third-team selection by Baseball American in 2006.
Hill completed his redshirt junior season and led the Sun Belt in wins (10), ERA (1.73), opposing batting average (.208) and strikeouts (107). He threw four straight complete games against Sun Belt Conference opponents. He recorded two shutouts in 80 2/3 innings ptiched. He was also the first Jaguar to eclipse the century mark in strikeouts since Walters’ 166 in 2006.
Hill is the program’s 27th All-American in 51 years of baseball.
Additionally, Cole Billingsley, a redshirt sophomore, will compete in the Cape Cod Baseball League with the Yarmouth-Dennis Red Sox this summer. He is the third Jag in the last four years to play in the CCBL after former Jaguar standout and 2013 SBC Player of the Year Jordan Patterson competed with the Bourne Braves in the summer of 2012. J.T. Files also competed with the Brewster Whitecaps in the summer of 2012 as well.
He earned first-team All-SBC honors as an outfielder this season after leading the conference in stolen bases (30). He also finished tied for second in the SBC in hits (80) and triples (4), tied for fourth in runs scored (46), eighth in on-base percentage (.437) and tied for eighth in walks (34).
Though South Alabama’s baseball team was not selected for the NCAA Tournament, they did achieve more this season than many thought they would. Going into the season the league coaches and media voted the Jaguars to finish seventh in the conference. How wrong were they?
Probably one of the most telling weekends of the season was when the Jaguars seemingly came out of nowhere and seized first place in the conference and did not look back until the regular season ended and they had taken the regular season title with them.
And they were playing their best ball at the end of the season.
They tore through the Sun Belt Conference Tournament. Well, until the conference championship. But even that was a heavyweight bout. Tied 1-1 in the top of the 12th inning and Louisiana-Lafayette used a grand-slam home run to defeat the Jaguars. Unfortunately that left USA one win short of making the NCAA Tournament.
But could it be time to change the conference tournament formats?
The NCAA Regionals are a true double-elimination tournament where you could have a school face defeating a team twice on the same day to advance to the Super Regionals.
South Alabama was on both sides of the debate this season. The Jaguar softball team lost to Lousiana-Lafayette in the conference championship play-in game and lost. They then had to win the losers bracket to earn the right to a rematch with the Ragin’ Cajuns in the conference championship game. In that championship game the Jaguars held on to defeat the Cajuns, who were undefeated in the tournament, and take the automatic berth in the NCAA Tournament.
But they have been on the other end of the of the same situation in recent history too. Against the very same school too!
So I ask again, should the conference championship game be winner-take-all or should they take the same approach as the NCAA Regional tournament and be a true double-elimination tournament? The current format, for those that do not know, is a single-elimination first-round followed by a double-elimination tournament until the championship game which is a winner-take-all game.
Either way, South Alabama would have been affected this season. The baseball team would have had a second shot at defeating the Cajuns for the automatic bid and the softball team would have needed to defeat those pesky Cajuns a second time to earn the automatic bid themselves.
Would the results have been the same? We won’t know.
The Jags found themselves trailing 1-0 after the top of the first inning when Sarah Beth Roberts hit a two-out solo home run, but that would be all the scoring the Mocs would muster against the Jags.
Emily Messer led the Jaguars at the plate with a career best four hits as she went 4-for-4 with three runs scored and an RBI.
Sophomore designated player Chloe Rathburn went 2-for-3 with two RBI and a run scored. She also tied a single-season record with 52 RBI and 15 doubles.
Senior shortstop Kaitlyn Griffith and sophomore center fielder Amanda Minahan both had two RBI in the game.
Farish Beard started the game with a pair of strikeouts but, after being called for a series of illegal pitches, was relieved by freshman right-hander Devin Brown. Brown would throw 4 1/3 innings of one-hit shutout relief with eight strikeouts and no walks against the Mocs to extend her shutout streak to 11 1/3 consecutive innings dating back to the Sun Belt Conference Championship game against 10th ranked Louisiana-Lafayette.
The Jags advance to face 4th ranked Auburn in game 3 of the regional tournament at noon on Saturday. Game 4 will follow at 2:30pm as an elimination game between Chattanooga and Tennessee Tech, who lost to Auburn Thursday evening 4-1.
The winner between USA and Auburn will advance to the finals while the loser will face the winner of game 4 in an elimination game with the winner advancing to the finals against Auburn on Sunday.
The game against Auburn will also be the first time the Jaguars have faced former Jag Haley Fagan, who transferred to Auburn after the 2013 season.
The Jags (38-11) will face Southern Conference regular season and tournament champion Chattanooga (35-13) on Friday at 3pm at the 2015 NCAA Auburn Regional. It will begin the double-elimination event which will send one winner to face the winner of the Lafayette Regional.
SEC Tournament champion and 4th ranked Auburn (49-9) will play Tennessee Tech on Friday at 5:30pm. The winners of both Friday games will meet at noon on Saturday for the first slot in the final. A pair of elimination games will be held at 2:30pm and 5pm to determine who will advance to the final as well.
Ahead of the Regional action, the Jags had two players named to the 2015 National Fastpitch Coaches Association (NFCA) Division I All-Region on Thursday.
Sophomore designated player Chloe Rathburn was named to the second team while freshman right-handed pitcher Kalen McGill was named to the third team.
The awards honor softball student-athletes from the Association’s 10 regions with first, second and third team selections for each region. The teams were voted on by NFCA member coaches from each respective region and all the honorees will be eligible to be selected to one of three 2015 NFCA Division I All-American teams that will be announced on May 27.
The 23rd ranked South Alabama Jaguars road to the championship this season goes through Auburn as announced on the NCAA Selection Show on Sunday.
On Sunday evening the Jaguars found out that they were selected to participate in the NCAA Auburn Regional this weekend, May 15-17 and that they will face the national #4 seed Tigers, Chattanooga and Tennessee Tech.
This will be the Jaguars fourth appearance in the NCAA Regionals in as many years after earning the SBC automatic bid with their third title in four years. Previously the Jaguars participated in the NCAA Tuscaloosa Regional in 2012 and 2014 and hosted the 2013 Mobile Regional, which was a first for the program.
USA (38-11) will open play on Friday against Chattanooga at 3pm.
Auburn (49-9) won the Southeastern Conference Tournament title on Saturday with a 6-5 extra innings defeat of 11th ranked Tennessee in the championship game.
Chattanooga (35-13) defeated USA 3-1 at the South Alabama Invitational on February 20, won its 13th Southern Conference Tournament title last weekend with a 3-1 win over Mercer.
Tennessee Tech (32-26) won it’s seventh Ohio Valley Conference Tournament title last weekend as well with a 3-2 win over top-seeded Southern Illinois-Edwardsville.
The winner of the Auburn Regional will advance to the Super Regional and will face the winner of the Lafayette Regional which features the 13th seeded Cajuns (39-9), Baylor (38-14), Mississippi state (35-19) and Weber State (38-17).
All games this weekend will be broadcast on the SECNetowrk+ and WatchESPN.com. Links directly South Alabama games will be provided by the USA Softball Schedule page as they are made available. More information about the tournament including tickets can be found at the 2015 NCAA Auburn Regional Tournament Central website.