ASHEVILLE, N.C. (May 6, 2019) – College Baseball – After a long weekend in Atlanta facing #8 Georgia Tech, the WCU Catamounts travel to face SoCon-leading Samford (34-14, 14-4) this upcoming week.
Following that, they play a single game against Eastern Kentucky (26-22) before hosting Citadel (10-36, 3-15 SoCon) on May 16-18 to close out their 2019 regular season schedule. The Southern Conference tournament begins on May 21 with a play-in game between the eight and nine teams in the conference.
The Catamounts (18-25, 7-11) have more than doubled up their 2018 regular-season win total (7) and will try to close the gap on 2017 when they went an even 28-28 on the year. This year’s team has two of the league’s top three hitters in its lineup – Justice Bigbie (.381-11-47) and Matthew Koehler (.371-12-43). The team also has wins over Notre Dame, Michigan State, and Ohio State on its 2019 resume.
Furman currently sits at 20-27 overall and in fifth place with a 9-9 record within the SoCon. The Paladins took two-of-three against VMI (8-13, 14-45) this past weekend and are led at the plate by Jabari Richards’.347 average.
The UNCA Bulldogs (14-30, 8-13 Big South) are on a 10-day hiatus after dropping a 10-8 decision to ETSU on April 30 at Greenwood Field. The team returns to face the Big South’s Radford (23-24, 14-7) this upcoming weekend beginning with a 6:00 p.m. start on Friday.
Nine of its ten teams qualify for the Big South conference tournament beginning on May 21. The six through nine seeds play a pair of single-elimination games to gain entry into the double-elimination round of the tournament. Right now, the Bulldogs are in seventh place, a half-game behind USC Upstate and a full game behind Gardner-Webb in fifth place. The Bulldogs’ Greg Gasparro is hitting at a .325 clip, good for ninth place in the circuit and best on the team.
ASHEVILLE, N.C. (May 1, 2019) – The Tourists walked off the field on Tuesday night with a 5-4 win against the visiting Hagerstown Suns. The game was tied heading into the bottom of the ninth when Grant Lavigne opened the frame with a double to right field. Lavigne narrowly avoided the tag at second and set the stage for Willie MacIver‘s drive to deep left-center that ended the game and sent the Tourists (9-15) onto the field in celebration.
Picking up the win in relief for the Tourists was lefty Nick Kennedy. Kennedy is a returner for the Tourists this season and struck out two in one inning of relief work and moved to 3-0 on the season for Asheville. Started Alfredo Garcia (below) struck out eight Sun batters in just 4.2 innings but was also hit hard, allowing nine hits and three earned runs.
Right fielder Luke Morgan made his McCormick Field debut an auspicious one when he went 2-4 with two stolen bases for the Tourists. Third baseman Danny Edgeworth made his first appearance in an Asheville uniform after two seasons with the short-season Boise Hawks. The Nashville native singled to center and drove in a run in four plate appearances. The Tourists hosts the Suns (10-15) tonight at 7:05 p.m. in the second game of the three-game series.
ASHEVILLE, N.C. (April 29, 2019) – National – The Carolina Panthers made Florida State’s Brian Burns their #1 overall pick in the 2019 NFL Draft last week. Prior to the draft, I contributed a preview article to Forbes on how it might play out for Carolina.
Tourists Baseball– The Asheville Tourists snapped a seven-game skid with an 8-2 victory on Sunday against the West Virginia Power (15-7). Right-hander Shelby Lackey (1-2) proved the stopper when he allowed just one hit in five innings of work while striking out five. The Tourists are now 8-15 on the year and will host Hagerstown (10-14) tomorrow night at 7:05 p.m.at McCormick Field.
Asheville City Soccer– The Blues’ men’s and women’s sides each came away with a win in their opening weekend at Memorial Stadium. The women led off with a 2-1 victory over the sixth-year Columbus Eagles FC on Friday night. The Blues return to play on Friday, May 10 to host the Chattanooga Red Wolves at 7:00 p.m.
On the men’s side, the Blues defeated the Johnson City’s Tri-City Ottersby the same 2-1 score in their 2019 season opener on Saturday night. Their next game is scheduled for May 7 when they host Inter Nashville F.C. in their first NPSL match of the year.
College Lacrosse – The men’s lacrosse spring calendar is complete for area teams, with Brevard (6-7, 3-4), Furman (4-10, 2-5), Lees-McRae (4-10, 0-7), Montreat (4-11, 3-2) and Mars Hill (3-12, 0-8) all finishing their 2019 schedule in late April. Brevard College senior Jackson McKaig registered 52 goals to lead all area scorers this spring and was rewarded with a spot on the USA-South‘s first-team All-Conference squad along with teammate Robert Kokal.
Local Preps – On Saturday, Asheville School fell to the visiting Anderson Cavaliers on the diamond and are now 3-8 on the season, and 1-4 in NCISAA conference play. The Blues travel to face area rival Carolina Day (4-10, 0-4) on Tuesday. The squad is led by head coach Gus Schill, who also leads the Blues on the gridiron each fall.
On the lacrosse field, the Blues boys’ team moved to 8-3 on the year after defeating Johnson City’s Science Hill. In local play this season to date, Asheville School dropped an 18-3 decision to Arden’s nationally-ranked Christ School (16-2) earlier this month, and has two wins over first-year program T.C. Roberson (5-9) and a victory over Asheville Empire‘s club team.
ASHEVILLE, N.C. (April 24, 2019) –Asheville is 7-11 on the young season after dropping a Tuesday night decision on the road to the Delmarva Shorebirds. The Shorebirds (14-2) and Tourists were locked in a scoreless tie through six before Delmarva broke through with four in the seventh and three more in the eighth for the win. Shelby Lackey got the start for Asheville and was effective, allowing just two hits and striking out seven in five complete innings of work. Righty Eric Hepple (0-1) was tagged with the loss after yielding two runs in 1.1 innings of relief work. Lefty Zach Matson picked up the win in relief for Delmarva.
Left fielder Will Golsan is tied for the team lead in home runs to date with four in 67 at-bats. He also leads the team in RBIs with 16. Last year, he hit just three in 63 games for the Rockies’ rookie-league affiliate, Grand Junction (Colo.). He’s a native of Columbus, Mississippi and played his college baseball for Ole Miss, before getting drafted in the 26th round last year. Catcher Will MacIver(left) also has four for the Tourists. MacIver played for the Rockies’ short-season Boise Hawks last year and had five home runs in 54 games. He was drafted in the ninth-round out of Washington last June following a junior season with the Huskies that saw him play both catcher and infield and hit three round-trippers in 170 total plate appearances.
The Tourists return to the field tonight to try to salvage the final game of the three-game series with the Shorebirds with the first pitch set for 7:05 p.m. Their next home date is on Tuesday, April 30 against the Hagerstown Suns (9-9), the Class A affiliate of the Washington Nationals.
The Bulldogs return to the diamond tonight in Cullowhee to face the SoCon’s Western Carolina (17-18, 6-9). The Bulldogs (13-26, 8-10 Big South) dropped a decision earlier this year to the Catamounts at Greenwood Field. First pitch is set for 6:00 p.m.
ASHEVILLE, N.C. (April 21, 2019) – Fieldhouse recently spoke with Asheville City’smen’s soccer head coach, Mick Giordano. Last year was Giordano’s first as head coach of the Blues and the team’s second campaign ever. Giordano is currently on the UNCA men’s soccer staffand also graduated as a Bulldog after two seasons with the team in 2012 and 2013. He’s previously coached at Wake Forest and Wofford.
The Blues host their 2019 season opener this Saturday (April 27) at Memorial Stadium at 7:00 p.m against the Tri-City Otters.
The interview was conducted at Asheville City’s 2019 launch event on March 28 and was edited for length and clarity.
On the 2019 Squad
We’re looking at carrying 26 to 27 [players] at most on the first team, and then we’re fortunate, we’ve added the AC Academy.That will be some of the younger boys and some will certainly factor in and be pulled up to the first team. They’ll also be able to go back and be in an environment that’s a little bit more suitable for them full-time.
We’re in a good spot with the roster. A lot of what we’ve done this year has been straight recruiting and the staff was fantastic. With us watching games throughout the fall, we probably watched over 150-200 games.
After personal conversations, speaking with coaches, or recommendations that we got from other coaches, we’re pretty happy with the roster. We think that it’s going to be a good group. We’ve got seven coming back; several of them were starting guys that were really important for us.
(Returners include: Bruno Andrade, Lukas Joyner, Luke Matthews (pictured above), Will Mims, Frank Rosenwald, Jamie Smith, and Nathan Watt)
On the Team’s Expanding Reach
We’ve been going and tapping into some new markets in Oklahoma, Colorado, and California where maybe we didn’t know the coach last year, or we didn’t know someone [there] before. Coming back now, the club’s done a really good job with getting its name out and word of how well it treats its players.
Of the boys that played last year, 98% were still in college, and so when they went back – they obviously had a good experience – they spread the word. So, last year we had a lot of interest, and this year we’ve had even more. It’s been awesome in that way. The club’s name is out there.
On Playing in Asheville
Our fans are unbelievable. That certainly makes it easier to talk to a college player coming here in the summer. It’s a great professional environment, and they can play in front of 2,000 – 3,000. It’s almost a no-brainer. So with the try-outs and the recruiting, it was quite nice and quite easy. What was difficult were the decisions to set the roster.
I think you take Detroit, you take Chattanooga, and then you take us and those are the top three environments in the NPSL (National Premier Soccer League). Our fans are at the very top.
It’s crazy – it’s hard to get the boys to hear you sometimes. We’re right there [next to the stands]. We made the change after the first year when our bench was right where the South Slope Blues are. Last year we changed our bench to go where the assistant referee is, on that line.
We’ve got a little notepad that, if we need to, we’ll write notes if the boys can’t hear us and we’ll pass it along to them.
I absolutely love having that environment.
On Coaching in Asheville Year-Round
Coach [Mathes] Mennell, the head coach at UNCA, was actually my first boss in the college game and gave me my first start. So, I’ve been able to come back and join his staff as well which has been great.
Matt Tellez is the other assistant (at both UNCA and with Asheville City) and he’s one of my best friends, so it’s been really fortunate. I came back up and worked with Coach Mennell again and it’s just been fantastic.
On the Team’s Style of Play
We want to be able to have possession. Everyone’s going to say that, but for us it’s not just keeping it, to keep it. It’s up to us to keep it, to break lines, and get the goal and be attacking-oriented. So, we’re going to have this possessing style that has an attacking purpose to it.
On the road, I learned as a first-year coach, there are times in certain environments – on certain fields – that we’re not gonna be able to do that in our conference, unfortunately. So, on the road, just like a pro team, maybe it’s a little uglier, maybe it’s a little bit more direct, maybe it’s just a solid block and you’re defending a little deeper and you’re not pressing, but you go find a way to get a one-nil result.
At the end of the day, one-nil results get you three points, and those get you at the top of the table.
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. (April 8, 2019) – College Tennis – It’s been a banner season for tennis at Brevard College, where junior Samantha Sepe won 96 consecutive games and nine-straight matches at first singles in recent weeks. She recently dropped a single game in a 6-1, 6-0 victory over Covenant College to snap the consecutive-games streak but kept the match streak alive. The Tornados are 5-0 in USA South play and 11-4 overall.
On the men’s side, senior Tom Mittring of Germany extended his singles winning streak to 23 straight matches on Saturday. He’s 13-0 within the USA South. At second singles, fellow countryman Tim Hengst owns an 11-match win streak. The two team up at first doubles for Brevard and are 10-2 on the season.
Tourists Baseball – The Asheville Tourists went 2-2 in their opening series with the Augusta GreenJackets this past week. The Tourists dropped a 9-5 opening day South Atlantic Leaguedecision at McCormick Field last Thursday, but bounced back to take the next two games from Augusta. They were washed out tonight in Charleston (3-1) and will play a twin bill on Tuesday and a single game on Wednesday against the RiverDogs to get in the three-game set.
Third basemanJohn Cresto leads the team in hitting on the young season, with a .417 average in 12 at-bats. Cresto spent 2018 at Grand Junction where he hit .257 in 59 games. He is a native of Encinitas, California and played baseball for Santa Clara University as an undergraduate before turning pro following his junior year.
Ryan Feltner is scheduled to get the start on the hill tonight for the Tourists. The 6’4″, 210 lb. right-hander pitched as an undergraduate for Ohio State and was a fourth-round pick of the Colorado Rockies (Asheville’s parent team) in 2018. He started nine games without registering a decision last year at their Grand Junction, Colorado affiliate.
ASHEVILLE, N.C. (April 2, 2019) – Fieldhouse recently caught up with Asheville City’s women’s soccer team director of operations, Stacy Enos. Last year, Enos served as both the team’s head coach and director of operations. She previously was the head women’s soccer coach at Warren Wilson College and is a former national champion at the University of North Carolina and an inaugural member of the US Women’s National Team (1985-1987).
The interview was at Asheville City’s opening event on March 27 and was edited for length and clarity.
On Her New Role and a new Head Coach
My focus last year was just to be the head coach and get us off the ground. So I’m excited to serve as the director of operations and we’ve hired Lisa-Marie Woods. She’s played in Norway and she was a player for us last year. It’s a good opportunity for us to bring her back in. She’s done a lot of coaching. She’s out at Creighton as an assistant right now. She’s just got a great soccer mind.
We were playing Beaufort County F.C. last year and I subbed Lisa in and she tactically saw what other players couldn’t see. It’s her mindset. She kind of poached between the lines and broke down the defensive line and gave us an attack which goes back to some of the philosophical belief, we just want to be this source of growth for players to solve on-field situations.
So this year we’re going to have a playoff. It serves a couple of purposes. It keeps players invested in the team throughout the summer. Particularly, if you’ve lost a game, they then don’t put their head down and want to go home.
So we’re building some rivalry but we’re also keeping players invested and it’s the right way to go about a summer league playoff structure.
On This Year’s Roster and Team Structure
We’ve been working hard to bring players back. So we have people coming back, like Parker Robertsfrom Florida. Unfortunately, Brooke Bingham tore her ACL playing spring ball at UNC and so she’s out. My focus has been to fill some roles and we feel we’ve kind of accomplished that goal and we’re going to take the field with good personnel.
Lydia Vandenbergh is having a baby in about a week. We’re going to register her and she doesn’t have to take the field until she’s really fit. So she feels like by the end of June she could be fit. She has a chance to be a mom and also a chance to get fit.
We have five really unbelievable high school players and we have college players and we have players that have played pro at the highest level. They’ve kind of retired now and they want to keep playing, but they don’t want to keep playing at the level that’s required professionally.
My roster is pretty set. We would take a couple of exceptional players. We lost a player from Central America to her national team just this week so that’s opened a spot. The world cup is happening and rosters shift and if you get people called up, you’ve got to be ready to go and we support that. That’s our whole focus.
Our team is amateur only. If a player has played professionally, then they need to go through a transfer back to amateur process because we don’t pay players. What we do provide is housing and we can provide travel expenses for when we’re on the road. That way we can tap into some college players.
So it’s a good balance, and I think it’s a good mentoring system.
Our focus has always been to help create a second tier that’s going to feed the NWSL (National Women’s Soccer League) and to be a viable option for players that don’t get picked up in the pro ranks, or don’t go abroad. We’d like to create a really good base for the U.S. system.
On the Asheville Environment
I think the thing that Asheville City has is the fans and the environment. People want to come play with us. We’ve been working with the neighborhood association and really trying to be good stewards and be respectful and have things in place and hire parking attendants. Really try to not impede our neighbor’s progress in and out. We want them to come home and we hope they come to a game, too.
On the Team’s Style of Play
Our mentality is that we want the women’s game to evolve. We want all of our players to be comfortable with the ball with their feet, no matter what the situation. We want them to be critical thinkers in whatever situation they’re put in. So, really try to keep the ball on the ground and play an attractive style of soccer and not a kick-and-run game. We press but we really try to impress upon players that we want the ball to go through the midfield. We want people to touch the ball.
Lisa-Marie has bought into that and it’s a style of play for her and for people to solve on-the-field situations if they need to check off.
On the Academy Program
We have an academy program we’re starting and it’s free. We’re really trying to address the pay-to-play mentality. And we’re also trying to get players to love to train.
I think Lydia, Meghann (Burke), and I love to train. Unfortunately, we’re in this reward system of games, games, games. But we value being at practice and pushing yourself.
You have to get players to change their mentality. You become a player in training, not in games. I think the games help you distinguish yourself. But we all believe in the training. So that’s the focus of the academy. We can pull players up if we need. Roster tryouts for the Academy are on April 20.
Word of Mouth on the Team
We’ve definitely have had good hits and picked up some players, and more international players which is good. We have a good roster returning from last year and coaches are calling, so it’s healthy. It feels right and we feel excited and we look forward to getting going.