For years, baseball was Sam Houston State’s pride and joy.
The Bearkats won 1,127 games and lost only 579 from 1957 to 1994. With four ties thrown in, that’s a winning percentage of .659.
During that lengthy 38-season stretch, SHSU won an NAIA national championship (1963), two Lone Star Conference titles (1981 and ’82), three Gulf Star Conference championships (1985, ’86 and ’87) and one Southland Conference crown (’89).
The Bearkats took nine trips to the NAIA World Series and three visits to the NCAA Division II Regionals. After making the move up to Division I, they earned their way to three NCAA Regionals, winning a combined three games at Austin’s Disch-Falk Field in 1987 and ’96.
Hard times hit the SHSU program after the Bearkats beat Miami in the ’96 regional in Austin. A school that had played 38 straight seasons of .500 or better baseball turned in eight losing records in a row, starting in 1999.
Down on their luck and looking for answers, the Bearkats turned to a veteran college baseball coach for help. In July of 2006, SHSU director of athletics Bobby Williams announced the hiring of Mark Johnson, the longtime Texas A&M; head baseball coach. Johnson had been out of coaching for a year, but charged up and ready, he eagerly accepted the challenge that came with the job at Sam Houston.
No one expected immediate results, but Johnson sure produced some.
The Bearkats went out this spring and won 34 games in the regular season, which was good enough to get them into the Southland Conference Tournament for the first time in seven years.
Then they got hot.
Led offensively by Bobby Verbick, Heath Pugh, Clint Mann and Keith Stein, the Bearkats and pitchers Jacob Howard, Jessie Marshall, Tim Gray, Matt Fry and Luke Prihoda ripped off four wins in a row at the conference tournament in Natchitoches, La.
Bearkats sweep through Southland Tournament, keep winning at Oxford Regional
For years, baseball was Sam Houston State’s pride and joy.
BEARKATS FOOTBALL — Kats have something to prove
Bearkats running back Keshawn Hill has already won two Southland Conference championships, played in as many national championship games and made the playoffs in each of his three seasons at Sam Houston State.
The team is still four days away from its first practice of 2014, but the Bearkats senior running back already has a chip on his shoulder. Despite the program’s recent success, Sam Houston State was picked to finish third in the Southland.
Southland coaches have different takes on accepting transfer players
Show Southeastern Louisiana head coach Ron Roberts the past and he says he’ll show you the future.
Before Roberts took the reins at Southeastern, the program had only managed one winning season since it was restarted in 2003 after a 17-year hiatus. In just his second season at the helm, Roberts brought the Lions into the national spotlight by leading his team to an undefeated Southland Conference record and a playoff victory over Sam Houston State, a national runner-up the previous two seasons. The Lions finished the season ranked sixth in both The Sports Network and FCS Coaches final polls.
Future Hornets take the field
Never before has there been Stars of Huntsville Softball Camp, and it’s not every day that Huntsville’s youth softball players have an opportunity to learn the game’s fundamentals from the town’s most experienced players and coaches.
On Monday, nearly 25 campers took the field at Kate Barr Ross Park and were instructed by Huntsville Hornets softball head coach Rick Burns and several members of his team. The players, coaches and campers battled through the heat to have a successful day that saw many of the campers receive one-one-one instruction.
SHSU’s Ridings honored by Southland Conference
Longtime Sam Houston State sports information director Paul Ridings has been named the 2014 recipient of the Southland Conference’s Louis Bonnette Sports Media Award.
The honor will be presented during the Southland’s Football Media Day luncheon July 23 at L’auberge Resort in Lake Charles, La.
Huntsville Heat win tourney title
The Huntsville Heat played in Alvin over the weekend in a benefit tournament that drew 52 teams.
The benefit tournament was hosted by the Alvin Girls Softball Association for one of their own Alvin Bayou Babes players, Natalie Mota, who was recently diagnosed with lymphoma.
Ever since he was drafted in the 23rd round in 2010 by the Minnesota Twins, former Trinity Tiger and Sam Houston State Bearkat pitcher Dallas Gallant has been on the road to the majors.
Despite having to undergo two surgeries on his elbow, Gallant continues to do what he needs to in the minor leagues to take the next step in his career.
Running down under
The roads were closed and 3,834 runners were lined up preparing to try and catch Huntsville High School cross-country star Blake Thomason as she ran down the Gold Coast of Australia.
The Huntsville High School sophomore cross-country and track and field star is used to competing against runners from different parts of the country. But this time, Thomason took her talents to the world stage.
BEARKAT BASEBALL — Atwood returning for senior season with Kats
Good news arrived last week for Bearkats baseball and new head coach Matt Deggs.
Center fielder Colt Atwood will be back in uniform for Sam Houston State next spring.
Atwood was selected in the 38th round of the 2014 First-Year Player Draft by the Oakland Athletics on June 8.
Huntsville Steppers shine in track meet
Each weekday, the Huntsville Steppers head to practice at Huntsville High School and run through the hot summer heat.
It’s the work they’ve done when the spotlight isn’t on them that helped the team excel July 11 and 12 at Baylor University in Waco in a regional meet to qualify for the Texas Amateur Athletic Federation’s Games of Texas. The Steppers earned 16 medals and qualified 12 runners for the TAAF’s Games of Texas, set for July 31- Aug. 4 at Texas A&M University.
Making dreams come true
Chris Spikes was covered. The Jasper High School wide receiver had a cornerback draped all over him during one-on-one drills at Friday’s Elite Kat Football Camp at Bowers Stadium.
But with one leap, Spikes snatched the ball out of the air and touched his feet in the end zone, causing a stir among the players standing along the sideline. Spikes had no idea that he had also grabbed himself a Division I scholarship offer from Sam Houston State.
- More Sports Headlines
- BEARKATS FOOTBALL — Kats have something to prove