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.
BEARKAT FOOTBALL— Ready to rumble
At the end of the Sam Houston State football team’s first preseason practice Monday at Bowers Stadium, new head coach K.C. Keeler told his players that they “did O.K.” There were dropped passes, missed assignments and errant throws from starters and backups alike. But there were also incredible displays of athleticism, as well as a sense of urgency from players hoping to win a starting job.
The fate of Sam Houston’s season could rest on the arm of whoever emerges as the team’s starting quarterback. On Monday, sophomore Don King III played with the first team, but sophomore Jared Johnson and redshirt freshman John Roderique each saw a comparable number of reps.
BEARKAT FOOTBALL— Road to redemption
There were no footballs at the Sam Houston State football team’s first day of preseason camp. The team didn’t take the field, and the slew of questions facing the Bearkats this season remained unanswered.
Regardless, after losing by a point to Southeastern Louisiana in last season’s FCS playoffs, senior running back Keshawn Hill seized Sunday’s series of team meetings as an opportunity to begin taking the Bearkats back to national prominence.
BEARKAT FOOTBALL— Small named SHSU football operations coordinator
Jonathan Small has joined the Sam Houston State University athletic staff as football operations coordinator for Bearkat head coach K.C. Keeler’s program.
Small comes to Huntsville after heading up football operations for the Elon University Phoenix since May 2013 and the previous three seasons at The College of William and Mary.
BEARKATS FOOTBALL — Pondering the possibilities For 2014 season
It’s been 232 days since the Sam Houston State football team fell in gut-wrenching fashion to Southeastern Louisiana in last season’s FCS playoffs. Since then, change has been constant.
Willie Fritz is gone and K.C. Keeler is now attempting to lead the Bearkats to the playoffs for the fourth consecutive season. Sam Houston will need to replace 13 starters from last year’s squad, including record-setting running back Timothy Flanders and the program’s all-time winningest quarterback Brian Bell.
Questions to be answered
Uncertainty isn’t always a precursor to unmitigated disaster. The Sam Houston State football team will enter the 2014 season with a new coaching staff, new offensive and defensive schemes and a plethora of new faces competing for starting jobs that were vacated by players who helped lead the program to three consecutive playoff appearances.
The schedule is daunting, but it’s not out of the question for the Bearkats to go undefeated in conference play this fall. The roster is young and relatively inexperienced, but there are talented players on the depth chart who have not yet had an opportunity to showcase their skills. There are plenty of reasons to temper expectations for 2014, but also many reasons to hope the Bearkats can win the games they are supposed to win and find their way to the playoffs again.
Rodeo: Brazile looking for another championship
Trevor Brazile is attempting to earn a record 12th world all-around title on the Professional Rodeo Cowboys Association circuit.
In the Windham Weaponry High Performance PRCA World Standings, he currently is ranked No. 1 in the all-around race with regular-season earnings of $149,420, $46,345 ahead of his brother-in-law, Tuf Cooper.
Brazile and Cooper are traveling partners. They hit the road together in late June while competing at the Reno Rodeo in Nevada, the PRCA’s first major summer event.
Justin Gilbert signs with Browns
A few days before of the start of training camp, former Huntsville Hornet Justin Gilbert officially became a member of the Cleveland Browns on Wednesday when he signed his first NFL contract.
Now that he’s got his contract with the Browns, he needs a starting job.
Another record for Derrick Ross
In his short career in the Arena Football League, Huntsville’s Derrick Ross has left his mark.
Playing in his fourth season in the league and his third with the Philadelphia Soul, Ross notched another record.
Along with being the all-time leading rusher, a mark he sat last year, Ross now also owns the record for most career rushing touchdowns after scoring three TDs on June 7.
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.
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