22 Mar

up and running

After stumbling out of the blocks this season, William Carey University may be hitting its stride. The Crusaders (15-9) have won five straight, including a conference sweep at Thomas University (Ga.) last weekend, and host sub-.500 SSAC foe Tennessee Southern this weekend (Saturday-Sunday) in Hattiesburg. Carey was ranked No. 4 in the NAIA preseason poll, coming off a World Series appearance, but lost its opener at home to 10th-ranked Missouri Baptist and wobbled through February. “It’s a long season and I think we’ll be fine,” longtime coach Bobby Halford said last month, acknowledging that some new faces would have to step up. The Crusaders are 7-3 in March. They fell out of the national rankings last week but appear poised to climb back in with a stretch of 10 straight games upcoming at Wheeler Field. Preseason NAIA All-America pick R.J. Stinson has played like one — batting .469 with four homers, 27 RBIs and 32 runs — and he has started to get some help from the rebuilt lineup. Bailee Hendon, a senior from Vancleave, is batting .299 with four homers and 27 RBIs, and Jerod Williams, junior from Gulfport via Southwest Mississippi Community College, is at .292 with 13 steals and 25 runs. Dario Herrera, a lefty from Panama, has posted a 4-1 record with a 4.46 ERA and 2023 ace Andrew Shirah is 3-2, 4.40. The glue of the pitching staff has been closer John Snyder, who has six saves and a 0.82 in 10 appearances. Carey is 7-5 in the SSAC. UT Southern is 5-7. P.S. Blue Mountain Christian’s Arderrius “Peeko” Townsend leads NAIA in homers (18) and RBIs (60) and ranks seventh in batting average (.484). The Toppers (20-8, 6-7) lost Game 1 today of an SSAC series against visiting Middle Georgia State. … Jackson State, coming off a rough loss at New Orleans on Wednesday, hosts rival Mississippi Valley State in a SWAC series this weekend. The Tigers are 16-5 and 2-0 in the league. … Alcorn State (1-13), which got its first win against Valley at Itta Bena on Wednesday, is playing a SWAC series vs. Southern University at Jackson’s Smith-Wills Stadium. … The state’s Big 3 NCAA Division I schools are on the road for league series this weekend: Mississippi State lost to Texas A&M on Thursday night, while tonight Ole Miss opens at Tennessee and Southern Miss at Georgia Southern.

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