If the first official NAIA rankings of the season are any indication, it's going to be quite a showdown for the Sun Conference men's and women's golf titles this spring, and both USC Beaufort teams should be right in the mix.
A year ago, USC Beaufort did not register on the NAIA baseball radar, and understandably so. The Sand Sharks had never played a game and represented a wholly unknown quantity.
After a 33-21 campaign in their inaugural season, which included a fourth-place finish in the Sun Conference, the Sand Sharks are a blip on the radar this year -- a small blip, but a blip nonetheless.
The best thing about playing intrasquad games, USC Beaufort baseball coach Rick Sofield often says, is no matter what happens, the Sand Sharks win.
Unless, of course, it ends in a tie.
And that was the case Tuesday night at Hilton Head Island High School, where the Sand Sharks took their fall practice schedule on the road and played a seven-inning scrimmage. The gray team rallied for four runs in the bottom of the seventh to force a 5-5 tie, and the Sand Sharks called it a night, because these things aren't really about who wins, anyway.
Coach Larry Kimball's goal for his USCB men's cross country team this year is to build enough of a national profile to earn an at-large invitation to the NAIA National Championships -- assuming the Sand Sharks don't upset perennial power Embry-Riddle for the Sun Conference's automatic bid.
Well, the Sand Sharks are off to a good start.
It’s a slow news day (not really, but the U.S. Open got monsooned out) so I figured I would fill you in on USC Beaufort’s spring sports awards. The baseball team handed out some honors after an exceedingly successful debut season in which they went 33-21.
Freshman center fielder R.J. Neal was named the team’s most valuable player after leading the Sand Sharks in a number of offensive categories and covering tons of ground in center.
Neal hit .367 (72 for 196) with three home runs, six triples and 15 doubles. He scored 42 runs and drove in 44.
Despite a tremendously successful debut season, USC Beaufort baseball coach Rick Sofield felt his team had some pressing needs to fill if the Sand Sharks are going to improve in their second season, and Sofield has begun to address those needs. The school announced the signing of six baseball recruits, who you can find out more about below (and I went ahead and threw in LHP Adam Miller, who isn't technically a new recruit but will be a new face for Sand Sharks fans next season). I haven't talked to Sofield about the signings yet, but you can see below that he has addressed his concerns about pitching depth and shoring up the middle infield, while also adding some veteran players to a young roster by adding four transfers (not counting Miller).
It takes a real baseball junkie to find a good reason to stay glued to the interwebs for all three days and 50 rounds of the Major League Baseball amateur draft, especially considering these guys won't see the big leagues until at least next season (with the possible exception of No. 1 overall pick Stephen Strasburg, whose 103 mph fastball could probably help the woeful Washington Nationals right about now).
The USC Beaufort men's golf team is playing the waiting game today. The Sand Sharks expect to find out later today whether they'll get an at-large berth in the NAIA National Championships, which are set for May 19-22 at TPC Deere Run in Silvis, Ill.
Regardless of what today's announcement holds, USCB coach Shane LeBaron is pleased with his team's performance during his first season at the helm.
As tough as it was for the Sand Sharks and their fans to take USC Beaufort's quick exit from the Sun Conference Baseball Tournament earlier this week, they can take solace in the fact that the two teams who handed USCB its losses in the conference tourney are at present duking it out for the title.
We're going to try this live chat thing again this afternoon, as USCB is set to take on Embry-Riddle on the second day of the Sun Conference Baseball Tournament. The Sand Sharks need a victory to stay alive in the double-elimination tourney after a tough 3-1 loss to Savannah College of Art and Design last night.