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July 8, 2010

A year to remember for Panther Baseball

BIRMINGHAM, Ala. - In the locker-room early in the season, after ‘Southern had just won all six games during a grueling four-day stretch, Coach Weisberg only had one thing to say to his guys.

“Now that’s championship baseball.” Although it was only four words, the Birmingham-Southern baseball team took it to heart.

“Coach had never said that to us before, so when he said it, we now understood what it took for us to play at a championship level. We knew that we were capable of doing great things,” said senior Josh Whittaker.

For the BSC Baseball team, great things continued to happen. BSC won the outright SCAC Conference championship, going an astounding 14-1 in Conference play. They finished the overall season 34-5, one of the top records in SCAC history. They also climbed into the top 10 in the national rankings, finishing the year at number 8 in the country and number 1 in the South Region, while rising as high as sixth, and received votes in both polls for the number one spot.

The Panthers’ historic season was a total team effort. Their offense and pitching top to bottom was strong all year, and their improved team defense helped create zero weaknesses. Deservingly, they cleaned up the individual post-season awards. Head Coach Jan Weisberg, who got his 100th win this season, was named the League’s Co-Coach of the Year. Freshman sensation, Bruce Maxwell, put up big time numbers the entire season and was named the Conference Freshman of the Year. Maxwell finished the season with 15 homeruns, 61 runs batted in, and a .431 batting average. Maxwell, Brandon Ricco, Drew Leachman, J.D. Hulse, and John Naramore also received All-SCAC first team honors. In addition, Sam Hill, Jordan Burchett, Bryan Higginbotham, Clay Malcolm, Michael McCalib, and Josh Whitaker were selected to the SCAC honorable mention team.

The postseason accolades did not stop there. Brandon Ricco brought home the Rawlings Gold Glove award at second base, and was also named 2nd-team All-American by the American Baseball Coaches Association (ABCA). In addition to that, Ricco, John Naramore and Drew Leachman were named 1st-team All-South Region by ABCA, Bruce Maxwell was named 2nd-team All-South and D3baseball.com Honorable Mention All-American and Sam Hill was named 3rd-team All-South Region.

This year’s extraordinary season could not have happened to a more deserving group of guys. Three years ago, this team came to the Hilltop not knowing what to expect. “We weren’t sure what one another could really do, and none of us knew how good we would be,” senior John Naramore reiterated. That first year, Southern finished 20-20. However, three years later, the same group of guys has turned the BSC baseball program into one of the top programs in the country.

“They came to play every day, there were no letdowns with this team,” Coach Weisberg said. “These guys have created a culture for the way things should be done. They have laid the foundation for the future.”

Before the season started, Coach Weisberg told the team that “trophies carry dust and memories last forever.” It is safe to say that the ‘Southern Baseball Team will have something to cherish for the rest of their lives.