BY ANDREAS BUTLER
The Bethune-Cookman University baseball team has been on fire lately.
For the month of April, the Wildcats went 14-3 and ended the month on a five-game winning streak.
“We believe that we can play with anybody and that we can win every game. We don’t panic at anytime,” said Jason Beverlin, B-CU’s head baseball coach.
As of Wednesday, B-CU was 28-19 overall and 15-5 in the Mid-Eastern Athletic Conference – just a half game behind Savannah State for the lead in the MEAC Southern Division.
“Record wise, we are about where I thought we would be, but I didn’t think that the wins would come in bunches,” stated Beverlin.
So far this season the program has had signature wins over national powerhouse Arizona State, who was ranked 16th at the time, and the University of Miami.
“Those are big wins for our program. As for the Miami win, I’m not sure of the history between the schools. But winning those type of games are what we are going to have to do to compete and win in the NCAA Regional Tournament,” responded Beverlin.
Josh Johnson (.335BA, 61H, 29R, 15RBIs, 14SB) and Anthony Stokes (.308BA, 4HR, 31RBIs) leads the team offensively. Stokes has been the hottest hitter over the past month.
“Josh has been really consistent all year. He has done a great job being our spark at the top of the order. Stokes has had an unbelievable April.
He has really been the hot bat and set the tone for us,” said Beverlin.
Brandon Turner (.248BA, 10RBIs, 19SB, 28R), Matt Noble (.295BA, 2HR, 31RBIs, 16SB) and David Lee (.232BA, 2HR, 24RBIs) have also been critical to the teams’ production.
“Turner does the little things hitting in the two spot, Stokes, David and Matt Noble have done a good job of driving in runs. Our top of the order has done extremely well,” commented Beverlin.
Other ace players
The Wildcats also have gotten production out of Eric Sams (.271BA, 1HR, 19RBIs) and the freshmen catcher platoon of Chris Biocic (.284BA, 14RBIs) and Clay Middleton.
“They have done a really good job. They have been unbelievable at managing the game from behind the plate and they have each had some big hits. The best is yet to come with those two guys over the next four years,” added Beverlin.
Montana Durupau (7-3, 3.59ERA) has been the ace and Jordan Dailey (5-0, 0.96ERA, 10saves) has been outstanding as the closer.
“Montana has been our go-to guy. He has had some really good games.
He has no fear out there. He pounds the strike zone and he is extremely competitive. He doesn’t get rattled. He brings it no matter who we play,” said Beverlin.
The rest of the starting rotation of Scott Garner (4-4, 5.02ERA) and Ali Simpson (3-6) along with the bullpen members Austin Michael (3.58ERA, 2 saves), Chris Waltermire (4-1, 1 save), Byron Ferguson (3-2) and Lenny Martinez and Stokes (2-1, 2.10ERA) have also contributed.
“Scott has had a solid year other than that one bad outing and Ali has given us a lot of good innings as well. Scott, Montana and Ali has been our rotation. Mike Chirs and Lenny Martinez have also stepped up and done a good job for us,” responded Beverlin.
Focus on MEAC
With six games remaining, B-CU is hoping to remain hot going into the MEAC Tournament (May 15-19, Norfolk, Va.) and NCAA Tournament.
The Wildcats’ game with the University of South Florida on Tuesday was rained out and rescheduled for May 7. B-CU was to play the University of Central Florida (UCF) on Wednesday.
B-CU will face Florida A&M from May 4-5 and UCF again on May 8 to close the regular season.
“To win the division we have to sweep this weekend. If we win two out of three, Savannah State and North Carolina A&T will have to play a makeup game. Then it’s up to chance. We control our own destiny,” noted Beverlin.
“If we are first or second in our division, it won’t affect how we get to the NCAA Tournament. We still have to win the MEAC Tournament.
Winning the division is a goal, but we have to win the MEAC to get to the NCAA.’’
Note: Records and stats are as of Wednesday at 5 p.m.
Softball: Wildcats sweep Tigers; lead division
Bethune-Cookman held its lead in the Mid-Eastern Athletic Conference Southern Division by sweeping Savannah State University this past week.
The Wildcats had 15 hits and six players with at least two hits led by Kelsey Rodney who went 2-for-3 with three RBIs to beat FAMU 11-4 in the series finale on Sunday.
Michelle Banuelos-Smith (2-for-4, 2RBIs), Aureila Gamch (2-for-5, RBI) and Shamaria Engram (2-for-4, 2RBIs) each hit a homerun while Simone Ceasar and Sophia Ortega each had two hits to lead B-CU.
The Wildcats took a double header from the Rattlers a day earlier winning 15-10 and 13-2.
In the first game Rodney went 3-for-4 with four RBIs, Ceasar 3-for-5, Gamch 2-for-5and Banuelos-Smith 2-for-5 with three RBIs, Melissa Berouty two RBIs and Engram two RBIs led the ‘Cats.
Melissa Berouty paced the B-CU attack in the second game with four RBIs.
For the series, Rodney went 7-for-11 with a .636 average and eight RBIs for B-CU. Shanel Tolbert won all three games on the mound for the Wildcats in the series.
Rodney received MEAC Offensive Player of the Week Honors on Monday. On the season, she is batting .287 with two homeruns and 27 RBIs.
B-CU (16-31, 10-1) plays at home against arch-rival Florida A&M (18-29, 9-3) from May 4-5 to close the regular season.
The Wildcats lead the Rattlers by two games in the division. Just one win will give them the MEAC Southern Division crown and no lesser than a number two overall seed for the MEAC Tournament (May 9-11 in Ormond Beach).
Football: Stroud signs with Jets
No Wildcats were drafted in last week’s NFL Draft but one will get a shot at the NFL.
Wide receiver K.J. Stroud signed with the New York Jets as an undrafted free agent on Sunday.
In 2012, Stroud had 26 catches for 293 yards with a touchdown and averaged 24.4 yards per catch. In two seasons at B-CU, Stroud had 33 catches for 450 yards with two touchdowns.
Stroud spent the 2009 and 2010 seasons at Rutgers before transferring to B-CU.