By Andrew Smith | Advisor
On a cool February afternoon the unmistakable ping of a baseball bat echoes at Selden Park. An infielder scoops up the hurtling orb and flings it to first base where it smacks into his teammate’s glove. The first baseman sends it to home plate and the process repeats until the sun falls behind the trees bordering the outfield.
The journey of the College of Coastal Georgia Baseball Club has been an equally complex and methodical existence as its weekly practices. But the hard work – both on and off the field – will soon pay off. The club will see its first National Club Baseball Association Div. 2 action this weekend when it takes on the University of Florida club team in Gainesville.
“It’s an awesome feeling to have accomplished a big goal for the club and be part of the NCBA family,” said Baseball Club president Chase Belcher. “All of the hours that we’ve practiced and the time [vice president] Paul [Anderson] and I have spent on the club administration are about to pay off.”
Belcher, a junior, took over the club two years ago and, with the help of Anderson, has guided the club to the next level. The team has gone from wearing t-shirts and scrimmaging any club team that would take a game to wearing true uniforms and having a NCBA-sanctioned 15-game schedule this spring. This season the Mariners will play other club teams from the University of Florida, University of South Florida – Tampa, Florida Gulf Coast University, University of South Florida – St. Petersburg, and Stetson University.
The club’s promising future has solidified the commitment from existing members and drawn in new members like freshmen Austin Head and Neal Bullah.
“It’s exciting to be part of the team and have fun being competitive,” said Head, an outfielder. “There’s been a lot more buzz at practice this semester and an excitement for facing new competition. We just want to win games and see where it will take us.”
Bullah echoed his teammate’s sentiments.
“This club and other club sports are important because they help people stay intact,” Bullah said. “It’s a real brotherhood that we’ve created. Whether it’s on the field or with homework or in the residence halls, we’re always willing to help each other out.”
Belcher believes the club can help raise awareness of the College and, if the team is successful, he hopes it will someday become a varsity sport. For now, he just wants students to support the team’s upcoming home games and on-campus t-shirt sales.
The Baseball Club will host Florida Gulf Coast on Feb. 27-28 at Frederica Academy on St. Simons Island. A double-header is slated for 4 p.m. start on Saturday, Feb. 27 and first-pitch for the third game of the series will begin at noon on Sunday, Feb. 28.