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.

03 May

names to know

The postseason, always good for some chills and thrills, rolls on this week for the state’s small colleges. Here are some names to know:
Stinson, either R.J. or A.J., William Carey University: The Stinsons, not related, have led the Crusaders to a 40-7 record, a league title and the host role for the Southern States Athletic Conference Tournament, which starts today in Hattiesburg. Carey opens tonight against Blue Mountain Christian at Wheeler Field. R.J. Stinson is hitting .421 with 10 homers and 64 RBIs. A.J. Stinson, a Hattiesburg High product, is 5-2 with a 3.83 ERA and 76 strikeouts in 56 1/3 innings.
Austin Beech, Blue Mountain: The Pascagoula native is batting .323 with 10 homers and 49 RBIs for the Toppers, 25-23 and seeded eighth in the SSAC tourney.
Brett Sanchez, Belhaven: The NCAA Division III All-America right-hander is 5-2 with a 1.91 ERA, one save and four complete games for the Blazers, the 2-seed in the Collegiate Conference of the South Tournament. BU (20-16) opens with Covenant on Thursday at LaGrange, Ga.
Sam Pitre, Millsaps: Pitre is hitting .360 with three homers, 29 RBIs and 39 runs for the Majors (21-21), who meet top-seeded Birmingham-Southern on Thursday in the Southern States Athletic Conference Tournament at Birmingham.
Kirkland Trahan, Delta State: The Madison Central High alum is batting .320 with 11 homers and 41 RBIs for the Statesmen (24-24), who made the Gulf South Conference Tournament field by winning two one-run games at Mississippi College on Sunday. The eighth-seeded Statesmen (24-24) tackle No. 1 seed West Florida in Friday’s first round at Oxford, Ala.
Trennis Grant, Dillard: The Canton native coached Dillard, in its first year with a team, to the Gulf Coast Athletic Conference Tournament title and an NAIA Tournament berth. The Bleu Devils beat Rust College twice on Sunday at Smith-Wills Stadium to claim the GCAC crown.

31 Jan

play ball!

William Carey University lifts the lid on the 2019 college season today with a home game against Missouri Baptist at Wheeler Field in Hattiesburg. There could be some karma at work for the Crusaders this season; 50 years ago Carey won the NAIA national championship. WCU lost many of the key contributors from its 2018 team, which went 36-25 and played in an NAIA regional. “Last year’s team was built on speed evidenced by their 150 stolen bases as a team. This year we should have a little more power in the lineup with the guys we have coming back and the addition of new guys,” longtime coach Bobby Halford said in a school release. Back are second baseman Caleb Ledet, who batted .336 with 31 runs in 43 games; outfielder Lucas Scott (.283, 11 steals, 47 games); right-hander Devin Smith (7-4, 3.65 ERA); and righty Lake Robertson (2-2, two saves, 6.11). Newcomers to watch include South Alabama transfer outfielder/closer Kyle Bayles, a onetime Meridian Community College standout, and Pascagoula High All-State shortstop Patrick Lee. P.S. On Friday, Delta State opens at home against East Central University, Mississippi College visits Harding in Arkansas and Blue Mountain launches at home against William Wood. Tougaloo starts on Saturday against Selma in Alabama. Next week brings the openers for Belhaven University (Feb. 8 at Smith-Wills Stadium in Jackson against LeTourneau) and Millsaps College (Feb. 9 at Twenty Field in Jackson, also vs. LeTourneau). The NCAA Division I start date is Feb. 15: Mississippi State begins the Chris Lemonis era at renovated Dudy Noble Field against Youngstown State, Ole Miss hosts Wright State, Southern Miss opens at home with Purdue, Jackson State welcomes Boston College and Alcorn State plays Prairie View A&M in the MLB Urban Invitational at New Orleans. Mississippi Valley State opens Feb. 19 at Stillman in Alabama.

30 Nov

ready, set …

Just 62 days to get through until the first pitch is thrown in the 2019 college season. William Carey University, an NAIA member, will get it started on Jan. 31 with a home game against Missouri Baptist at Wheeler Field in Hattiesburg. Delta State lifts the lid on its season on Feb. 1 at home against East Central University, and fellow NCAA Division II member Mississippi College starts on Feb. 2 at Harding in Arkansas. Division III Belhaven University opens Feb. 8 at Smith-Wills Stadium in Jackson against LeTourneau, and D-III Millsaps welcomes LeTourneau to nearby Twenty Field on Feb. 9. The D-I start date is Feb. 15: Mississippi State launches the Chris Lemonis era at renovated Dudy Noble Field against Youngstown State, Ole Miss hosts Wright State and Southern Miss opens at home with Purdue. SWAC school schedules have not been posted.

01 Feb

home again, home again …

The start of William Carey’s season will have a very different feel than a year ago. The Crusaders, ranked sixth in the NAIA preseason poll, open Friday against Georgetown College at Wheeler Field in Hattiesburg. They’ll also play Ave Maria University later that day. Those are the first of 18 straight home games. Carey didn’t get to play a game at home in 2017 until the end of February – 16 games into the season – because of tornado damage on its campus. No matter, Bobby Halford’s resilient crew went 45-20 last year and made it to the NAIA World Series for the first time since 1978. Right-hander Cole Edgens (10-1, 4.13 ERA last year), outfielder Christian Smith (.322, 18 stolen bases) and shortstop Wes Brown lead a small group of returnees. … Also opening on Friday – on the road — are Delta State, the No. 1-ranked NCAA Division II team by Collegiate Baseball; D-III Millsaps; and NAIA Tougaloo. DSU returns decorated slugger Zack Shannon – plus just about every other lineup regular – and 10-game winner Seth Birdsong from a CWS participant. The Statesmen open at Lynn (Fla.) University. Millsaps, coming off a rare losing (19-23) year, plays at Huntingdon in Alabama, and Tougaloo visits Talladega. … D-II Mississippi College will host Lindenwood, a Missouri school, for a doubleheader on Saturday in Clinton. P.S. USA Baseball has announced the 16-team field for the 2018 National High School Invitational, and Hattiesburg High and star outfielder Joe Gray are in it. The seventh edition of the tournament will be held at USA Baseball’s National Training Complex in Cary, N.C., from March 28-31.

19 May


What can Brown do for you? Well, William Carey University’s Wes Brown delivered a single to score Adrian Brown from second base with the game-winning run in the bottom of the ninth as the Crusaders beat Southeastern (Fla.) University 10-9 to claim a berth in the NAIA World Series. The event starts May 26 in Lewiston, Idaho. Carey last made the series in 1978 and won it in 1969. The Crusaders (42-18) rallied from an 8-3 deficit to beat Southeastern in the Opening Round tournament’s winner-take-all game at Wheeler Field in Hattiesburg. The Crusaders also beat the Fire on Wednesday to force the decisive game.

12 May

big bangers

James Land of William Carey University is one of the top home run hitters in NAIA. Forgive Texas Wesleyan if it’s not particularly impressed. The first hurdle for Carey in the NAIA Opening Round tournament in Hattiesburg is Texas Wesleyan, a team that digs the long ball. Texas Wesleyan has 62 homers on the year, equaling the school record. Luis Roman leads with 15, and Kiki Menendez, a .409 hitter, has 11. Two others have nine. Land has 17 homers for Carey; the rest of the team 20. The 20th-ranked Crusaders (38-17) will play the No. 12 Rams (45-13) on Monday at Wheeler Field. The top seed in the five-team regional is Southeastern University of Florida, which is 48-9 and ranked ninth. The Fire is led by Luis Diaz (.406, nine homers, 12 triples) and John Jaeger (10 saves, 1.62 ERA). Lyon College of Arkansas (34-22) and LSU-Alexandria (33-22) play in the tourney opener on Monday, with the winner getting Southeastern in the third game of the day. The winner of this regional event advances to the NAIA World Series, May 26-June 2 in Lewiston, Idaho. Carey won an NAIA championship in 1969, one of only two national titles by Mississippi four-year schools.

01 Apr

hot spots

Opposing pitchers must be hard-pressed to find a soft spot in Delta State’s lineup. Every regular is hitting .300 or better, and collectively the Statesmen are batting .336 with 212 runs in 30 games. Will Robertson, a senior from Falkner who missed 2015 with an injury, has been hot from the jump and is batting .409. Trent Giambroni and Ben Pickard have seven home runs each. DSU also throws out a pair of aces: Left-handers Tre Hobbs and Dalton Moats are a combined 12-3 with a 3.02 ERA and 117 strikeouts in 107 innings. The sum of these parts is also impressive. The Statesmen, unranked in preseason, are now ranked in two NCAA Division II polls, No. 14 in one, 24 in the other. They’ll take a 20-10 overall record and a 13-5 Gulf South Conference mark into this weekend’s series against Christian Brothers at refurbished Ferriss Field. … Cleveland isn’t the only hot spot in the state this weekend. In Hattiesburg, at Wheeler Field, William Carey plays host to NAIA No. 3 Faulkner in a Southern States Athletic Conference series. The Crusaders are 23-11 and coming off what amounted to a batting practice session against Tougaloo on Wednesday. WCU won 18-3 and 16-0; Tyler Richardson had a day, going 4-for-8 with nine RBIs. Things will be a little tougher against Faulkner, which is 29-7, 11-1 SSAC and was ranked No. 1 last week before losses to Georgia-Gwinnett and Bethel. Carey, 7-4 in the league, is 18-5 overall at home. Faulkner is 4-3 on the road. … Of course, the hottest spot in the state this weekend is Starkville. Tonight’s pitching matchup is a dandy: Mississippi State’s Dakota Hudson vs. Ole Miss’ Brady Bramlett in the opener of the three-game series at Dudy Noble Field. Strong arms and good hitters abound on these two nationally ranked rivals. State (18-7-1, 4-2 SEC) is hitting .317 as a team, third in the league. Ole Miss (20-5, 2-4) has a 2.73 staff ERA, fourth in the league. The Bulldogs roll out the likes of Jacob Robson and Jack Kruger and Austin Sexton, each of whom has sparkling stats. The Rebels feature Tate Blackman and J.B. Woodman and Wyatt Short, among other stars. But many times the hero in a big series is someone you might not expect. Here’s a couple of candidates: Nathaniel Lowe arrived at State as a touted slugger, coming off a 17-home run season as an NJCAA All-America in 2015. The 6-foot-3, 245-pound Lowe is hitting .306 and is third on the team with 22 RBIs, but he has just one long ball. Who better to break out against than Ole Miss? The Rebels, meanwhile, have been waiting for Errol Robinson to break out. A highly rated draft prospect who made some preseason All-America teams, the junior shortstop is batting just .213 with four extra-base hits in 24 games. He batted .297 in 2015, with 31 runs and 30 RBIs in 58 games. Robinson had a big hit in a win against State last year; perhaps he can summon another.