24 May

riding high again

A season that began with high expectations — a No. 4 national ranking — for William Carey University reached a low point on March 7, when the Crusaders were 11-9 and no longer ranked. Flash to May 24, and Carey is back on a high, riding an 11-game win streak and seeded seventh in the NAIA World Series at Lewiston, Idaho. The Crusaders (37-14) were slated to play Indiana Southeast on Friday night. The sluggish start this season wasn’t totally unexpected, as Carey lost some key players (Patrick Lee, Bobby Lada, A.J. Stinson, et al.) from last year’s World Series team. “We’ve got three new guys in there, and it’s a learning experience for them,” longtime coach Bobby Halford said in a school release after a loss in the season opener on Feb. 1. “And some of the older guys just didn’t play well tonight. But that’s baseball. It’s a long season and I think we’ll be fine.” They are just that. Led by third baseman R.J. Stinson, a Ferriss Trophy finalist, and closer John Snyder, Carey won the SSAC Tournament and its NAIA Opening Round tourney without dropping a game. Stinson, the leadoff batter, is batting .403 with eight homers, 50 RBIs and 71 runs. Bailee Hendon has 10 homers and 58 RBIs. Jake Lycette has driven in 60 runs; Bridley Thomas has scored 48; and Jerod Williams has 16 steals. On the mound, Luke Lycette is 7-1 with a 4.30 ERA. Last year’s ace, Andrew Shirah, is 8-4 despite a 5.15, and Dario Herrera is 6-1. At the back end is Snyder, who has 13 saves, a 1.23 ERA, 43 strikeouts and just seven walks in 29 1/3 innings. In the dugout is Halford, who has over 1,300 wins. It appears to be a team that can bring home a national title, a feat last accomplished in 1969.

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