Monday, May 19, 2014

Bethune-Cookman Reclaims MEAC Baseball Title With 4-2 Win Over Norfolk State


Bethune-Cookman celebrates winning the MEAC title.  (photo from the Daytona Beach Journal/MEAC Media Relations)

Bethune-Cookman reclaimed the Mid-Eastern Athletic Conference baseball title with a 4-2 win over Norfolk State Monday afternoon.

The Wildcats, who won seven consecutive MEAC titles before losing a 10-inning, 1-0 heartbreaker to  Savannah State in last year's championship game, won Monday on Bryant Munoz's second-inning, three-run double.

Starting pitcher Gabriel Hernandez, along with relievers Chris Waltermire and John Sever kept the Norfolk State bats in check.  Hernandez gave up two runs over the first four innings while Waltermire and Sever combined to scatter three hits and five strikeouts in blanking the Spartans over the last five innings.

Bethune-Cookman has already beaten Norfolk State 10-2 in the first round of the double-elimination tournament.

The Wildcats finished an up and down season in which they finished 14-10 in the MEAC, 26-31 overall, to win their eighth MEAC title over the past ten seasons.

"This long road trip that we've been on really helped our guys come together as one and to peak at the right time," head coach Jason Beverlin told "Playing some really quality opponents in Washington and Auburn, and then coming here, we knew it was going to be a tough game.  The teams in our league are definitely great opponents.  Our guys coming together and really swinging the bats at the right time and our pitching staying consistent, they didn't disappoint at all."

The tournament's top-seeded team, a big-hitting Delaware State team that was 17-7 in MEAC play in 2014 and 30-17 overall, stumbled in the tournament.  Delware State led the MEAC in batting average, homers and runs, but their bats went silent as they lost 8-4 in the tournament opener to Savannah State and then fell 6-1 to Coppin State in the elimination round.

That left the field wide open for Bethune-Cookman and Norfolk State, a team that was also 14-10 in conference play but unsuccessful against in two games against the Wildcats this season.

Bethune-Cookman now awaits the May 26 announcement of the NCAA baseball tournament field to see who and where they will play.  That announcement will be at noon eastern time on ESPNU.

SWAC Football Media Day Set for July 18

For SWAC football starved fans, mark July 18 down on your calendar.

That's the date for the 2014 Southwestern Athletic Conference Football Media Day in Birmingham, Alabama.

This year's SWAC Media Day follows last year's edition, which was one of the biggest after 400 attendees and media members turned out.

The event will be aired live on the SWAC Digital Network and will be available on

Jackson State Holds Off Powerful Alabama State to Claim Second Straight SWAC Baseball Title

Photo from Jackson State Athletics Media 
What looked to be the best HBCU team in college baseball claiming their first ever conference title turned out to be a veteran squad becoming a back-to-back championship winning team.

The Jackson State Tigers defeated heavily-touted Alabama State 9-8 in the Southwestern Athletic Conference baseball championship game Sunday in New Orleans to claim their second straight SWAC title.

The Tigers (31-23) rallied from a 5-2 lead in the fourth inning, getting three runs to tie the game up.  Alabama State's Dexter Price gave the Hornets their final lead with an RBI single an inning later.  But in the sixth, Alabama State pitcher Hunter McIntosh walked two Tigers, with JSU's Melvin Rodriguez driving in one run and another scoring on a throwing error.  Bryce Taylor's sacrifice fly ended the three-run inning and gave Jackson State an 8-6 lead.  The Tigers held off Alabama State from there to claim the 9-8 win.

Jackson State pitcher Desmond Russell, the SWAC's strike out leader, fanned three over five innings and had two hits and an RBI in being named the tournament  Most Valuable Player.  Reliever Alexander Juday added three strikeouts over two innings and was also named to the All-Tournament team.

"Our kids battled their butts off," Jackson State coach Omar Johnson told the New Orleans Advocate newspaper Sunday.  "We're fortunate the guys came out and did the job that they did.  I give all the credit to our players.  Alabama State's an awesome team. They're well-coached.  They had an outstanding year."

The Tigers repeat as SWAC champions, a feat the program has achieved four times, the last time in 1994 and 1995.  It's the 16th SWAC baseball title for Jackson State.  The Tigers receive the SWAC's automatic NCAA tournament bid and finds out on May 26 who they will play when pairings are announced at noon eastern time on ESPNU.

Alabama State (37-20) could also make the NCAA tournament after a strong season in which they beat one of the nation's perennial leaders, the University of Miami.  They finished 21-3 in the SWAC losing only to Alcorn State, Alabama A&M and Jackson State.  But the Hornets were 5-1 against Jackson State before their loss Sunday.

"Our expectations were to be in this situation," said Alabama State head coach Mervyl Hernandez, according to "We were not fortunate enough to win.  I still believe we have one of the better teams in this conference, if not the best. Today we were one run worse than the opponent."

Rose Burke Named Women's Volleyball Coach at Virginia State


Rose Burke, a former assistant at Florida International and Morgan State, has been named the new head volleyball coach at Virginia State.

Burke replaces Ivana Rich who was hired as an assistant coach at Coastal Carolina after a 17-11 season (14-2 in CIAA play) 2013 season.

Burke was a successful recruiter in two years at Morgan State (2010-2012).  Her first recruits took the Bears program from fifth to second in one year.  Burke spent the past year as an assistant at Florida International, where FIU won the 2009 Sun Belt Conference title and was ranked among the nation's top 25 women's volleyball teams.

As a player, she was a four year starter at California State-Sacremento and twice earned All-Conference honors in 2007 and 2008.

"I am excited to come into program that has already proven they can compete in the CIAA," Burke said.  "I am looking forward to taking an already strong team and growing it to compete at the next level."