Small College Success

By: Austin Alexander-March 16, 2008

For as long as anyone can remember, two heavyweights in the Division I world have dominated the headlines in our state, and rightfully so. Superpowers South Carolina and Clemson are perennial members of the NCAA post-season field and have made their share of appearances in Omaha. But as we’ve seen nationwide, mid-major schools, Division II programs and the JUCO’s are stepping up their commitment to baseball and the effects are being felt locally as well.

Years ago, the gap between the "haves" and the "have nots" was a very wide one. We’ve always seen smaller schools upset larger ones but we are presently in an era where the mid-majors are sustaining their success in the post-season tournaments and are very prominent in the weekly national rankings. Locally, Coastal Carolina was a Regional host in 2007 and the College of Charleston made it to a Super Regional two years ago. More and more Division II and Junior College players are being selected in the draft each June. In the past two years, Francis Marion and Spartanburg Methodist landed in their College World Series. Scholarship increases and facility upgrades are just a couple of reasons why.

College baseball is alive and well across the country, even in the good ‘ole Palmetto State. Attendance is up at many schools and a high volume of clubs have gotten out the gates quickly in 2008. While the Gamecocks and Tigers sit at 11-5 and 10-6, respectively, after the first month and are both nationally ranked, here are a few programs you may not have heard about this spring but are also enjoying a good run to start the season:

 School  Classification  Record
 Coastal Carolina  Division I  15-2
 College of Charleston  Division I  13-6
 Wofford  Division I  13-4
 The Citadel  Division I  11-6
 Furman  Division I  10-5
 Erskine  Division II  23-1
 USC Aiken  Division II  23-5
 Francis Marion  Division II  20-9
 Spartanburg Methodist  Junior College  25-6
 USC Sumter  Junior College  17-9

*Records as of March 17 

As the weather warms and we near the mid-way point of the high school baseball season, find a baseball game anywhere on the weekend when your schedule allows for it. Support players you do know and teams you may not be familiar with. You are guaranteed to find well-played hardball at more than two places in this state.

So the next time you state that a kid is better than a Division II player, make sure you fully realize what you are actually saying…the line has blurred a bit as quality talent is now up and down more rosters on more teams!