June 13, 2013
The Millsaps Majors baseball team capped its most successful season ever with a first: a trip to the Division III NCAA College World Series in Appleton, Wis. The experience was awe-inspiring, despite the team's 2-1 loss to the Southern Maine Huskies and a 5-2 loss to the Ithaca Bombers, said baseball coach Jim Page, B.S. 1986.
The Majors take the SAA Championship trophy
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"I was devastated to lose the first game 2-1 in 10 innings," he said. "We were so close. It was the most painful loss I've ever had, but the overall experience was so strong. As we hugged and the tears flowed after the game, there was a sense of accomplishment, a pride in doing something that no one else had done here. The emotions were mixed, but a life-time of memories were made this season."
The College World Series appearance provided a fitting end to a year marked by a series of individual and team accomplishments. En route to the World Series, the Majors defeated conference rival Birmingham-Southern College in the Southern Athletic Association championship series. Game 1 of the conference championship series featured a wild, 13-inning thriller that the Majors won on a suicide squeeze by Jerrod Myers driving in William Chenoweth in the bottom of the 13th inning.
Late-game heroics continued into the NCAA South Regional in Millington, Tenn. where the Majors faced a series of tough opponents for the opportunity to advance to the College World Series. The Majors defeated Salisbury University in the South Regional championship game with a walk-off single by Isaac Glenn in the bottom of the ninth inning. With runners on first and second, two outs, and a 1-2 count, Glenn fouled off a couple of tough pitches before he found a pitch to drive into left-center field for the win and for a spot in the World Series.
Page said he expects team members will push themselves in their individual workouts in preparation for next season, make fall practice more intense, and be extra ready to compete, all because of their experience this season that culminated in the College World Series. "I know it's going to happen," he said.
The team's success this season came from the way it pulled together, Page said. "We won a lot of nail-bitters, extra-inning games, and come-from-behind games. Sometimes it was because of the top of the order, sometimes the bottom of the order. Sometimes it was because of the starting pitching, and sometimes it was because of the outfielders."
In addition to the team's success, several Majors were recognized this season for their individual accomplishments on and off the field. Stephen Gates and Kevin Wall were named to the Region's All-Academic Team. Wall was also selected for the SAA All-Sportsmanship Team and was named All-American Honorable Mention. Keith Shumaker was named Second-Team All-American, South Regional Player of the Year, and SAA Player of the Year. Wes Perkins received First-Team All-American honors, and Stephen Gates was selected Third-Team All-American. Coach Page, who has won over 600 games in his 25 years as coach at Millsaps, was named SAA Coach of the Year.
Page suggested that the Majors' World Series appearance validates what many at Millsaps have known for a long time, namely, that Millsaps appeals to players who want to compete on a national level and be in a solid academic setting.
"Our guys want the best baseball program and a great education that will set them up for the rest of their lives, and that's what they get," he said.
While in Wisconsin, Page said he heard repeatedly from the team's host family to conference officials about how much respect team members showed for others. "While there was the devastation of a loss, we left a lasting impression on the people of Appleton, Wis. I don't know if it gets any better. Next year we will do that again and try to bring home the trophy."
The Majors ended the season with a 38-14 record and ranked No. 8 in the nation.
In addition to baseball, other Millsaps teams proved during the spring 2013 season that they will be a force to be reckoned with in the newly formed Southern Athletic Association (SAA).
The Majors' softball team stormed through the SAA Tournament. Millsaps defeated Birmingham-Southern College (BSC) 8-4 to win the tournament. The Majors defeated host school Centre College, top seed Berry College, and BSC twice. Senior pitcher Emily Collins was named tournament MVP after posting a 0.91 earned run average (ERA) over 23 innings.
The Lady Majors softball team are named SAA champions
The Majors' team ERA was 1.50. Juniors Kaitlyn Doles and Caroline Thompson were named to the All-Tournament team. Doles led the tournament with seven runs driven in and five runs scored, and her three-run home run led the Majors to the title series. Thompson led the tournament with seven hits over five games and hit a sizzling .545 with runners on base. The Majors' Abbie Joiner made First Team All-Conference after hitting .314 during the season and playing gold-glove caliber defense. Joiner made just two errors in center field and had three outfield assists. The Majors placed six players on the All-Conference team.
Millsaps' lacrosse teams have made great strides this season as well. Men's lacrosse made the conference quarterfinals as it wrapped up the most successful season in program history. Hunter Stevison led all attackers in the conference with 40 goals, including 10 in a win over Oglethorpe, and goaltender Chris Hood led the conference in saves. The Majors placed four players on the All-Conference team. The women's lacrosse team also posted the most wins in program history and earned a spot in the conference semifinals. First Team All-Conference Jamie Blair Page led the conference, recording 79 points over the 14 games. Midfielder Sarah Hawthorne also earned First Team All-Conference status after leading the team in caused turnovers and ground balls. The Majors placed seven players on the All-Conference teams and enjoyed the first winning year in school history.
The Majors men's and women's tennis teams also enjoyed their best seasons in recent history. The men's tennis team posted the first winning record since 2007. The Majors were led by senior and SAA player of the year Malte Schick, who went undefeated in conference play and faced each school's best player. Fellow senior Adam Tilly, named First Team All-Conference, went 5-1 in the conference, and joined Schick in a perfect 6-0 in doubles.
The Millsaps women's tennis team also enjoyed a winning campaign, the first since 2006. Sophomore Deena Li Kam Wa from Mauritius went undefeated this season, going a perfect 17-0 and 6-0 in conference and earning First Team All-Conference honors. Junior Callie Creekmore went 14-4 in the regular season and 5-1 in conference, earning her Second Team honors. Creekmore and Li Kam Wa teamed up to go 16-1 as a doubles pair.
The men's and women's golf teams had strong showings this year as well. The men's golf team rose as high as #37 in the NCAA golf rankings this season and boasted two top-five golfers in the nation during portions of the 2013 season. The men's golf team won the Millsaps Collegiate tournament for the second straight year, the first time the Majors have recorded back-to-back wins at the tournament since 1992 and 1993. The women's golf team now includes a full roster and was much improved this season as well.
Millsaps track and field earned fourth-place finishes on both the men's team and women's team, and won a combined 15 medals, at the SAA Conference Championships hosted by Sewanee. The Majors were headlined by track and field Captain Kasey Laird, who earned a pair of gold medals when she won the discus and shot put.