ASHEVILLE, N.C. (April 17, 2019) – The UNCA Bulldogs hosted the Furman Paladins on Tuesday evening at Greenwood Field. The Paladins put up one run in the third and two more in the fifth, good enough to earn the 3-2 victory. Furman’s Nik Verbeke (2-4) earned the win in relief for the visiting Paladins (13-23). Verbeke pitched two scoreless innings and limited the Bulldogs to one baserunner. UNCA’s Danny Wilson (0-4) pitched 4.1 innings and was tagged with the loss.
Dax Roper, Anthony Fontana, and Bret Huebner each had two hits for Furman. Roper and Huebner laced doubles, while the Paladins’ #6 hitter, Sterling Turmon, had a home run for the guests. Carmine Pagano and Jacob Edwards had two hits apiece for the Bulldogs.
UNCA travels to face Charleston Southern (14-26) to begin a three-game set on Thursday, while Furman will travel to Cullowhee to face the SoCon’s Western Carolina (16-16) on the same day.
ASHEVILLE, N.C. (April 16, 2019) – National – The Carolina Panthers signed wide receiver Chris Hogan on Friday, their biggest free agent addition in recent weeks as the 2019 NFL Draft approached in late April. Here’s an article I contributed to Forbes on Hogan, as well as several other recent roster moves by the team.
College Baseball – The UNCA Bulldogs opened their Big South weekend series with a 12-2 victory over the Winthrop Eagles (20-15, 10-5 Big South) on Friday. Lefty Jordan Carr captured his third win of the season when he threw 5.2 innings, striking out five and allowing two earned runs. Blake Brown picked up his first save in relief for the Bulldogs. Third baseman Brandon Lankford had a home run and two RBIs for UNCA.
The Eagles came back to take a doubleheader on Saturday and capture the series win. As a result, the Bulldogs dropped to 12-22 overall and 7-8 in the conference. They host Furman (12-23, 5-7 SoCon) tonight at 6:00 p.m. at Greenwood Field.
College Tennis – Brevard College’s Samantha Sepe ran her current match winning streak to 11-straight and for the effort was named the USA South Conference Women’s Tennis Player of the Week.
The Niceville, Florida junior went 2-0 at both doubles and singles in matches against LaGrange (Ga.) and Huntingdon (AL). As previously reported, Sepe strung together a 96-game consecutive win streak in recent weeks. The Tornados are 12-5 on the season and in third place in the USA South’s West Division. Brevard hosts Piedmont today at 3:00 p.m.
College Lacrosse – Senior attackman Hewitt Farr earned the USA South’s Men’s Lacrosse Player of the Week honors for his work last week. Farr had five goals and four assists in an 18-5 win over Averett (Va.). He added two groundballs and two caused turnovers. On the season, Farr has 48 goals and 19 assists and opened the year with an eight-goal outing against the only area rival Brevard faced this season, Montreat.
ASHEVILLE, N.C. (March 27, 2019) – College Baseball – The UNCA Asheville Bulldogs are 8-14 to date this season with an even 3-3 mark in the Big South Conference. They travel tonight to face the SoCon’s ETSU in a non-conference midweek game. The Bucs, at 17-15, will be a test for the Bulldogs before they return home for a weekend conference series against Longwood (Va.) (7-16, 2-4). The first pitch in the three-game series is set for 6:00 p.m. on Friday under the lights at Greenwood Field.
Rounding out the Fieldhouse programs in the WNC/Upstate region are WCU(10-11, 0-3 SoCon), Furman(5-16, 0-3 SoCon),Brevard (6-17, 1-13 USA-South),Montreat (15-15, 2-19 NAIA), andMars Hill (12-18, 2-12 SAC).
College Softball – Nearby on college softball diamonds, all five area teams are well into their 2019 seasons. They include WCU (10-17, 0-3 SoCon),Furman (9-20, 1-2 SoCon), Mars Hill (18-9, 2-2 SAC), Brevard (10-15, 4-2 USA South), and Montreat(18-18, 9-7).
To date, the best stories of the season are in the non-DI ranks, as Mars Hill, Montreat, and Brevard are each poised to post far better marks than last season. The Lions have already eclipsed their 17 wins of last year, the Cavs have equaled their 2018 total, and the Tornados are within a win of last season’s total.
Preps – Black Mountain’s picturesque Owen High School has both its baseball and softball seasons in full swing on the hills rising from the Swannanoa Valley. See this week’s Black Mountain News for articles on both teams: (baseball, softball)
ASHEVILLE, N.C. (March 12, 2019) – College Baseball – In an annual battle with the elements, college baseball teams in the Western Carolina/Upstate areas are beginning to gain the upper hand and get in more games with fewer cancellations.
At the NCAA DI level, the area’s three teams are off to varied starts: Western Carolina (Southern 8-5, 0-0), UNC Asheville (Big South 5-9, 0-0), and Furman (Southern 4-9, 0-0). Western is the turnaround story of the group to date as the Catamounts won just seven regular-season games last year before rattling off four wins in the Southern Conference tournament. They defeated two Big-10 teams this past week (Michigan State, Ohio State) and were set to host Notre Dame (ACC 6-8, 1-2)at Hennon Stadium tomorrow.
There are also three non-DI baseball teams in the region, as Lees-McRae and Warren Wilson don’t field squads. They are: Montreat (AAC (NAIA) 11-10, 1-4), Brevard (USA South 4-12, 0-8), and Mars Hill ( SAC 8-12, 2-6).
In the only 2019 game scheduled between the three teams, the Tornados topped the Cavs 4-3 in a weekday game on February 14.
In late February, Montreat’s Lydia Wilson earned All-American honors for the fourth time at the NAIA Nationals in Brookings, South Dakota. I recently wrote about the distance runner and the program’s efforts for the Black Mountain News.
College Lacrosse– Last week I had an article in Forbes online on how the UNC and Duke programs still comprise the power hub of men’s NCAA DI lacrosse in the South, despite expansion in the sport in the region and nationwide. The two universities are best known for their basketball rivalry and first faced-off on the lacrosse field in 1938. They’ll renew their rivalry this year on March 30 in Chapel Hill.
ASHEVILLE, N.C. (February 14, 2019) – The UNC Asheville men’s basketball team defeated USC Upstate last night in Spartanburg, S.C., 57-53. It was the second time the Bulldogs (4-22) defeated the Spartans this season and also gave the visitors their second Big South win of the season. The Bulldogs received 17 off the bench from freshman Taijon Jones.
With four games remaining, the season will go down as a rebuilding campaign for UNCA with its top four players in minutes (DeVon Baker, Taijon Jones, Coty Jude, and Cress Worthy) all freshmen. The four also lead the team in points scored.
Furman remains the top area NCAA DI team, while Montreat is the winningest among the Mountain Five teams.
College Baseball– Among NCAA DI teams, UNCA opens its 2019 campaign with a three-game weekend series at the College of Charleston. Furman hosts Morehead State for a three-game set beginning on Friday. The Paladins went 24-28 in 2018.
The WCU Catamounts open their 2019 season by hosting Oakland (Mich.) on Friday in Cullowhee.
Next: area indoor track, women’s college basketball, and college lacrosse
ASHEVILLE, N.C. (February 4, 2019) – Men’s Lacrosse – It was opening weekend in NCAA men’s lacrosse and Furman drew a formidable opponent in the Duke Blue Devils on Saturday in Greenville. The Paladins (0-1) were stymied on offense, scoring three in the first but following it with two goals in each of the next three quarters in a 17-9 defeat. The nine Paladin goals were spread out among seven scorers.
In men’s lacrosse, Furman is the only NCAA DI entry in the Fieldhouse region. The “Mountain Five” (Brevard, Mars Hill, Lees-McRae, Montreat, and Warren Wilson) narrows to four in both men’s and women’s lacrosse as Warren Wilson does not field teams in either sport.
Mars Hill defeated Lees-McRae, 19-18, in a season-opening matchup of regional men’s teams. Spencer Andrews scored five goals for the Lions (1-0), while Alec Molander had six goals and five assists for the Bobcats (0-1).
Brevard handily defeated DII Belmont Abbey, 13-3, in an impressive preseason win on January 30, while Montreat scrimmaged and fell to the University of Tennessee’sMCLAentry on Saturday, 16-15. The Cavaliers will host the Tornados on Wednesday at 5:00 p.m.
Women’s Basketball – The UNCA Bulldogs are currently on a six-game winning streak in the Big South after defeating Winthrop on Saturday, 70-36.Senior Zip Scott had 14 points to lead the Bulldogs, while teammate Sonora Dengokl leads the team on the year with a 15.1 ppg average.
In the Mountain Five, Warren Wilson had won six straight before falling to Johnson & Wales (N.C.) on Saturday, 73-57. The records of all area teams as of Sunday included:
Furman (12-10, 3-3 SoCon)
UNCA (11-9, 6-3 Big South)
Western Carolina (4-17, 0-6 SoCon)
Warren Wilson (11-12, 3-2 USCAA)
Brevard (9-13, 5-10 NCAA DIII)
Montreat (10-13, 9-11 NAIA)
Mars Hill (1-16, 0-12 NCAA DII)
Lees-McRae (10-11, 7-7 NCAA DII)
Outdoors – Late last month, I wrote an article on the remarkable effort of explorer Colin O’Brady in a record-breaking trek across Antarctica. The piece was for Forbes and can be found here.
ASHEVILLE, NC. (January 19, 2019) – Women’s College Basketball – On Tuesday night, the UNCA women’s basketball team defeated USC Upstate in overtime, 93-86. The win moves the team to 7-9 overall and 2-3 in the Big South. Sonora Dengokl led the Bulldogs with 36 points.
The Bulldogs return today at 2:00 p.m. to host conference rival High Point (10-5, 3-1) at Kimmel Arena.
Records of the area’s NCAA Division I teams include: Furman (10-8, 2-1 Southern), UNC Asheville (7-9, 2-3 Big South), Western Carolina (3-14, 0-3 Southern)
College Baseball– The sixth-annual “Baseball Night in Asheville” was hosted by UNCA before a sold-out crowd at the event room at Asheville’s Highland Brewing on Friday. MLB pitcher Oliver Drake of the Tampa Bay Rays was the guest speaker for the evening.
Current Bulldogs’ head coach Scott Friedholm coached Drake at the Naval Academy before the right-hander was drafted in the 2008 amateur draft by the Baltimore Orioles. Friedholm was the pitching coach for the Midshipmen at the time and also guided Mitch Harris, who made it to the bigs in 2015 for the St. Louis Cardinals.
At the event, the 2019 UNCA Bulldogs team was officially announced and an auction held to raise funds for the team for equipment and travel, among other expenses. The MC for the evening was the Asheville Tourists’director of broadcast and media relations, Doug Maurer.
The Bulldogs open their 2019 campaign with a three-game series against the College of Charleston on February 15 – 17 in Mt. Pleasant, South Carolina. Their home-opening series is against UMBC on Feb 22 – 24.
ASHEVILLE, N.C. (January 8, 2019) – Men’s College Basketball– After dropping two consecutive games, Furman rebounded with two convincingSouthern Conferencewins last week to move to 14-2 on the season and 3-1 in the conference. The Paladins defeated Mercer (5-10, 0-3), 71-58, on Thursday and followed it up with a 101-85 victory over the Citadel (9-5, 1-2) on Saturday. Furman’s Matt Rafferty (17.6 ppg) and Jordan Lyons (16.9) are the fifth and sixth-leading scorers in the conference, respectively.
Elsewhere in the NCAA DI ranks, Western Carolina picked up a SoCon upset win against Samford (11-6) on Saturday. On the year, the Catamounts are 4-13 and 1-3 in conference games.
Montreat is set to tip off against the Union College (Ky.) Bulldogs tonight in Barboursville, Kentucky. The Bulldogs are 12-3 overall and ranked #7 in the NAIA’s DII. The Mountain Five teams and their records to date include:
Montreat (NAIA DII 10-2, 7-1)
Mars Hill (NCAA DII 6-5, 1-3)
Warren Wilson (USCAA DII 7-9, 2-1)
Lees-McRae (NCAA DII 5-10, 2-4)
Brevard (NCAA DIII 4-8, 1-4)
Pro Football – Late last week I contributed an article to Forbes on All-Pro running back Christian McCaffrey. While the Carolina Panthers’ season grew progressively worse, the second-year running back emerged as a star for the team.
College Baseball – An advantage of college baseball over the pros is that it starts well before spring in early February. Last week, theBrevard Tornados released their 2019 schedule, which includes a planned February 13 game against Montreat. Ryan Roon led all Tornados’ regulars last season with a .342 average as a sophomore.
The most interesting team to follow early could be the Western Carolina Catamounts, who won only seven regular-season games in 2018, but followed that up with four wins in the Southern Conference tournament. They eliminated the top-seeded UNC Greensboro Spartans before ultimately bowing out of the tournament after their second postseason loss to Mercer.
College Football – Clemson made its preliminary to facing Alabama look like a formality when it defeated Notre Dame, 30-3, in the 83rdCotton Bowlyesterday. The Tigers will now play the Crimson Tide for the NCAA Division I FBS title for the third time in four years.
Alabama defeated Oklahoma in the Orange Bowl, 45-34, in the other semifinal matchup on Saturday.
True freshman quarterback Trevor Lawrence (pictured) was 27-39 for 327 yards and three touchdowns to lead the Tigers past the Irish. On the year, Lawrence has thrown for 27 touchdowns while getting intercepted only four times in his initial college season.
The championship is set for Monday, January, 7 at Levi’s Stadium in Santa Clara, California. It is the first time that both Alabama and Clemson enter the game with perfect 14-0 records.
Track & Field – As announced previously, “Underdog: Kim Conley & the Making of an Unexpected Olympian” releases on April 1, 2019. Conley continues her quest for the 2020 Olympics on January 26 when she competes in the New Balance Indoor Grand Prix in Boston. The last time the runner ran at the event was in 2014 when she captured the 2,000-meter race in the middle leg of a three-peat of convincing indoor wins that winter. She began the 2014 indoor season with a facility-record mile at New York’s century-old Armoryand completed her trio at the city’s storied Millrose Games with another facility-record and victory in the 3,000-meters.
“A big part of the draw was how much fun I had during that 2014 indoor circuit. What I ended this fall feeling, was that I really wanted more races under my belt. I’ve missed it so much and I love being out there,” said Conley, who returned from a prolonged 2017-2018 injury cycle earlier this year. “Indoor provides more opportunities to get on the start line and race.” Conley will compete in the 5,000 meters at this year’s event, which will broadcast live on NBC Sports.
Men’s College Basketball– The Furman Paladins dropped its second straight game, and first in Southern Conference play, when they fell to ETSU (11-4, 1-1) on Saturday, 79-56. The Paladins return home to Timmons Arena on January 3 to host the SoCon’s Mercer (5-8).
Among the Mountain Five, Brevard (4-5) will travel to Montreat (8-2) in what should prove a competitive matchup of area teams on Monday. Tip-off is set for 2:00 p.m.
College Track & Field – Area NCAA DI teams first return to the indoor track on January 18, with the Furman Paladins heading to the Vanderbilt Invitational in Nashville, while the UNCA Bulldogs compete that same day at VMI’s Keydet Invitational. WCU returns to the track the following weekend at VMI’s Team Challenge.
ASHEVILLE (December 27, 2018) – Women’s College Basketball – Area teams are picking up the pace in their return to the court, including UNCA traveling to face the SoCon’s Mercer (7-5) on Sunday in their final game prior to the Bulldogs’ Big South Conference schedule.
To date this season, the area’s top five DI scorers include: Le’Jzae Davidson, Furman(17.3 ppg), Sonora Dengokl, UNCA (pictured) (14.4), Celena Taborn, Furman (11.4), Nadiria Evans, UNCA (10.5), and Taylor Petty, Furman (9.8)
Current records and upcoming games for the region’s DI teams include:
Among the Mountain Five, Warren Wilson’s Danasia Dumas leads the pack with a 25.5 ppg average to date for the Owls. Rounding out the top five scorers are Annalee Bollinger, Brevard (14.4), Jala Daniels, Montreat (14.4), Meg Crawford, Lees-McRae (13.5), Brea Forbes, Lees-McRae (13.2), and Mariah Johnson, Mars Hill (12.1).
Current records and upcoming games for the Mountain Five include: