Tuesday, May 20, 2008

Covering Your Bases

It's been a longer gap than normal, so let's get caught up on what we have to SHOUT about today...

The BASEBALL CHAMPIONSHIP has arrived! That's right--play begins this afternoon from the minor league park in Danville, VA (Liberty University is the host school). The Tuesday "A-B" games will eliminate two of the four lowest seeds right out of the gate, with the highest four seeds waiting on the winners to join them in the double-elimination phase of the tournament that starts Wednesday morning. If it seems confusing, get your hands on a bracket (available here) to sort it out.

Game A has #6 Radford facing #7 Charleston Southern.
Game B has #5 High Point against #8 UNC Asheville.

For Wednesday, Game 1 (11am) has #1 Coastal Carolina--the regular season champions (pictured)--taking on the lowest surviving seed from the Tuesday games.
Game 2 (3pm) has #2 Liberty--the host team--playing the highest surviving seed of Tuesday's competition.
The third game of the day for Wednesday sees #3 VMI and #4 Winthrop go head-to-head.

From there it's three more games on Thursday and three on Friday to set up the concluding Saturday with one or two games (as needed) to determine the 2008 Big South Conference Baseball Champion.

And yes, each and every game can be seen on The Big South EDGE--order the tournament by the day or get the full event for one affordable price! The Baseball Championship games are the only events left on the 2007-08 streaming schedule.

Winthrop defeated Liberty to win the softball title last week, earning a spot in the NCAA and the loaded Knoxville Regional: Tennessee, Virginia Tech, Louisville--and the Lady Eagles got K-O'd in K-ville for the second year in a row.

17 of 18 Big South Champs have been crowned, with Liberty holding 8, Coastal and Winthrop each with 3, and one each for Radford, High Point, and Charleston Southern. That leaves just VMI and UNCA without a crown for the season and only one remaining to fight for now...of the two, VMI would seemingly have the better chance, coming from the 3-seed slot while UNCA would need to climb from the disadvantageous 8-seed position. The Keydets have never owned a Big South Championship in any sport, so they're trying to reverse a significant trend.
What do you think about the last championship of the year?
Vote your selection in the Big South SHOUT poll, running through Saturday!
Another SHOUT coming your way soon...

Friday, May 9, 2008

Anything but "Soft"

This morning's post comes to you from the press box at Winthrop University's Terry Field, where I'm perched up high right now, watching Charleston Southern and Liberty play the first elimination game of this tournament.

Yes, it's the Big South Conference Softball Championship--and I have to tell you, this is really good stuff. "Softball" may conjur up images of the company picnic for some folks, but if you have had only limited contact with the collegiate game before now, give it a chance (you can watch every game of the tourney on The Big South EDGE--or if you're anywhere near Rock Hill, SC, drop on in for some fun right here).

The competition has been impressive. On day one, Birmingham-Southern, playing as an associate member of the Conference only for softball this season, notched a win in the morning's opening game (BSC 2-1 over Liberty, Panthers star pitcher Bethney Reynoldson pictured)--only to drop a close one to the top-seeded host team in the afternoon (Winthrop 3-2 over BSC, WU outfielder and Big South Player of the Year Lisa Kingsmore pictured). Also on the first day of games, Coastal began with a victory (CCU 3-1 over CSU, Lady Chants home run hitter Verity Long-Droppert pictured)--then fell at the hands of the second seed in a hard-fought ballgame (Radford 5-3 over CCU, Highlanders pitcher and Big South Pitcher of the Year Ashley Taylor pictured).

Those results set the stage for the Friday slate of games--with five contests scheduled before this day of competition is done! LU/CSU is in the second inning as I type this entry, BSC/CCU is next, and each of those games will knock one team out of the running in this double-elimination tournament. The 3pm game should be a doozie, as Winthrop and Radford square off. Those squads have been the elite of the Conference this season--the All-Conference team consists of ONLY WU/RU players! One of them has to take a loss in the afternoon game, and that team will play Friday's nightcap against the winner of the early evening game (itself a battle between the winners of the day's first two contests, with the loser getting knocked out). Once all those games have been decided, we'll have two teams left standing. They will meet Saturday to decide (in either one or two games as needed) who earns this season's Big South Conference Championship. That's a lot to keep up with--which is what brackets are for.

I mentioned the games are being video streamed (like every championship this season except golf)--and I'm calling the play-by-play for all the games not involving Liberty. LU has radio coverage for the Flames' match-ups, so Vincent Briedis has the call for those games (great job Vince!). Nic Bowman from the Conference staff has joined me to provide some color commentary on our broadcasts (and to keep my voice from giving out with so many games in such a short span). Getting the two of us in the booth leads to a few laughs, so you may want to check it out for a chuckle while you watch the ballgames.

When the competition wraps up this weekend, that will leave only baseball with Conference games remaining for 2007-08. The baseball championship games will run May 20-24 in Danville, VA.

Well, gotta go--time to get ready for the next game!!!

Wednesday, May 7, 2008

Radford Announcement

Here's a quick breaking news tidbit for you...Radford is holding a news conference at 1pm today (Wed., 5/7) to announce the school's new women's basketball coach. The announcement will be streamed live on The Big South Edge--click here to get the link for the stream.

Friday, May 2, 2008

Big South Quick Hits...

***In our last post, we discussed the NFL Draft...of course we all know that's not the only way the pro teams build their rosters. As soon as the draft is over, it's free agent time--and three Big South players signed free agent deals with the hopes of latching on with a team. The players: Coastal Carolina's Mike Tolbert (FB, Chargers) and Liberty teammates Vince Redd (LB, Patriots) and Stephen Sene (OL, Rams). Good luck to one and all!

***This week featured a parade of coaches through the Big South's Charlotte offices--time for the annual meetings of the basketball coaches! The coaches all spent an afternoon (men's coaches on Wednesday, women's on Thursday) to discuss a variety of rules, policies, and ideas on how to keep hoops in the Big South growing and improving in the seasons to come. Meetings come with the territory--it can't all be fun and games...

***Some folks hear that May has arrived and run through thoughts of horse racing, auto racing, and playoffs in basketball or hockey, but for the Big South it's more like the "Big Finish": playing three days of games to crown a softball champion, holding five days of games to decide the baseball champion, and ending the month with the Conference Board of Administrators meetings (more planning, rules, policies, etc.)--culminating in the Hall of Fame Dinner to induct this year's class. Busy times!

***More great Big South baseball and softball this weekend--enjoy the games!!!