18 May

carey by number

William Carey University won the championship of its NAIA Opening Round tournament on Thursday in Hattiesburg to advance to the NAIA World Series starting May 26 in Lewiston, Idaho.
Here’s a by-the-numbers look at Carey’s accomplishment:
4 — NAIA World Series appearances for Carey, including a national title in 1969.
47 — Wins this season, a school record.
8 — Carey’s national ranking in the latest NAIA coaches poll.
4 — Top 10 teams in the 10-team NAIA World Series, including No. 1 Southeastern (Fla.), No. 3 Georgia Gwinnett and No. 6 Westmont (Calif.)
1,298 — Career wins for coach Bobby Halford.
38 — Seasons Halford has coached the Crusaders.
3 — Best finish (in 2017) by a Halford-coached Carey team in the NAIA World Series.
27 — Runs scored in Thursday’s clincher (a 27-4 win over Ave Maria at Wheeler Field).
5 — Times this season the Crusaders have scored 20 or more runs in a game.
99 — Hits this season by R.J. Stinson, who added two on Thursday and is batting .401 on the year.
4 — RBIs by Jake Lycette (who homered) and Patrick Lee in Thursday’s game. Lycette also scored four times, as did Bobby Lada.
9 — Wins this season, against zero losses, by Dario Herrera, who pitched six innings against Ave Maria.

12 May

have a year

Has any team in the state had a better year than William Carey University? Short answer: No. While some of the traditionally strong programs in the Magnolia State have had some struggles, Carey thrived in the Southern States Athletic Conference. Bobby Halford’s Crusaders are 44-9, won the SSAC regular season title with a 22-2 mark, climbed to No. 8 in the final NAIA coaches poll and earned a regional host role in the NAIA Tournament. The Crusaders swept the SSAC individual honors, with Halford — in his 38th season — winning coach of the year, R.J. Stinson player of the year and Andrew Shirah pitcher of the year. Three other Crusaders were named first-team all-conference. Carey fell short of winning the SSAC Tournament but has a chance to make amends in the five-team NAIA Opening Round tournament it will host at Wheeler Field in Hattiesburg starting Monday. The Crusaders will open Monday night against the winner of the Union (Ky.)–Houston-Victoria game earlier in the day. Hats off to Halford, a former Carey player and assistant who has had just one losing season in his long tenure as head coach. He is approaching 1,300 career wins — and has something else to shoot for. He took his 2017 team to the NAIA World Series in Idaho, where they finished third, the school’s best finish since winning the 1969 national championship. P.S. Will Warren, the former Jackson Prep (and Southeastern Louisiana) standout, got some recognition in Baseball America’s daily prospect report. A top pitching prospect in the New York Yankees’ organization, Warren threw six scoreless innings for Double-A Somerset on Thursday to run his record to 3-0 and trim his ERA to 2.45. “Warren may be one of the more underrated pitching prospects in the game,” BA reports.

09 Mar

something special

It doesn’t have a nickname, and the winner doesn’t take home a trophy. It’s not a conference game and likely won’t have any bearing on the postseason hopes of either team. But Delta State-William Carey does have a lot going for it. Tonight’s meeting is the third in the series of senior college games at Biloxi’s MGM Park, home of the Double-A Shuckers. (Jackson State beat Southern University in the first on March 1, and Southern Miss lost to South Alabama in the second on March 2. Mississippi Gulf Coast Community College is also playing its home games at the Biloxi ballpark completed just last summer.) DSU, an NCAA Division II school, and Carey, an NAIA member, have played 116 times before, with the Statesmen leading 73-43. Tonight’s game is a matchup of highly successful and long-tenured coaches, Mike Kinnison at DSU and Bobby Halford at Carey, who have over 1,800 wins between them. And both appear to have good teams again in 2016. The Statesmen are 11-7, sparked to this point by a stable of sluggers. DSU is batting .357 as a team, topped by Will Robertson at .449. Ben Pickard has hit six homers, Colton Welch and Trent Giambroni five each. Outside of Tre Hobbs, who is 5-0, the pitching has been inconsistent (4.60 staff ERA), though Dalton Moats did get Gulf South Conference pitcher of the week honors after tossing a shutout last weekend. Carey is 15-5 with nine straight wins. Leading the Crusaders’ attack are Southern States Athletic Conference hitter of the week Tyler Odom (.439, two homers, 21 RBIs, 15 runs) and Tyler James (.414, 18 runs, 16 steals). WCU pitchers have compiled a 2.62 ERA. Bottom line on this game: Whenever DSU and Carey meet, it’s a matchup of the only two four-year schools in the state that have won baseball national titles.

16 Feb

number crunching

1 — Career wins for Aaron Stevens, the new Mississippi Valley State coach who notched his first on Saturday, an 8-7 defeat of Illinois-Chicago in the Delta Devils’ second game of the year.
2 — Career wins for Earl Sanders, the new Tougaloo coach whose Bulldogs swept Rust on Friday after dropping their first seven games.
2 — Wins shy of 1,000 career for William Carey coach Bobby Halford, whose Crusaders have won six straight after an 0-5 start. They play a doubleheader today against Saint Joseph in Hattiesburg.
3 — Hits in each of Southern Miss’ first three games, all wins, by Dylan Burdeaux, who is batting .692.
4 — RBIs apiece by Jackson State’s Tilur Smith, Dylan Parker and Jovany Felipe in the Tigers’ 20-10 win over UT-Martin on Saturday.
5 — RBIs apiece by Millsaps’ William Chenowith and Isaac Glenn in a 16-3 victory over Schreiner on Saturday.
7 — Home runs by Belhaven hitters in 12 games, matching the Blazers’ total from all of 2014.
8 — Strikeouts, in six innings of work, by Ole Miss’ Brady Bramlett, in a 16-2, series-clinching victory over William and Mary on Saturday.
9 — Hits in four games, all wins, by Mississippi State’s Seth Heck, who is batting .563.
12 — Hitting streak for Belhaven’s Adam Kowalczyk, a junior transfer from Delaware Tech.
14 — Runs, in eight games, scored by Mississippi College’s Colton Johnson, a freshman from West Jones High.

30 Jan


When last we saw the Belhaven Blazers — on May 14 of last year — they were walking off the Smith-Wills Stadium turf following an 8-7 loss to Oklahoma Wesleyan. That heartbreaking defeat, in an NAIA opening round regional, ended BU’s season at 42-21. Today, the Blazers turn the page. They’ll walk back onto the Smith-Wills turf to start the 2015 season against Saint Francis (Ind.). Among Belhaven’s returning cast are two key position players: NAIA All-American Paul Pickerrell, who batted .345 with 44 RBIs, 48 runs and 38 steals, and Reagan Rutledge, a .278 hitter who swiped a school-record 64 bags, batted .278 and scored 60 runs. How those two go may well determine how the team goes. … Meanwhile, in Hattiesburg, William Carey also opens its season, facing NAIA nationally ranked Missouri Baptist at Wheeler Field, and a milestone watch begins in earnest. This is Bobby Halford’s 30th year as Carey’s coach, and he has 992 wins. The Crusaders (31-26 in 2014) are led by D.J. Johnson, who hit .305 last year.

24 Feb

fight to the finish

It’s probably a little early in the season for a defining moment, but Belhaven University might have had one — or even two — on Saturday at Smith-Wills Stadium. The Blazers dug out of early holes to beat William Carey in extra innings in both games of a doubleheader. Perhaps we should expect such games when longtime intrastate rivals and iconic coaches (Belhaven’s Hill Denson and Carey’s Bobby Halford) square off in an historic ballpark. The Blazers’ Reagan Rutledge delivered a two-out game-winning hit in the opener, a 6-5 win. In Game 2, Jo Jo Richards’ infield hit, combined with a Carey throwing error, scored Walt McCullough from second base for a 5-4 victory. BU, which had dropped the series opener (yet another one-run game) on Friday, improved to 11-3 and 2-1 in the Southern States Athletic Conference. Carey, ranked 24th in the NAIA preseason poll, is 7-8, 2-4. Jeremy Ferguson, a senior from Pontotoc, had a big series for the Crusaders, going 4-for-7 with six RBIs. The teams could meet again in the SCAC Tournament. If they do, memories of Feb. 22 will certainly be dancing in the heads of all involved.