Spring Sports Preview

Photo by Lexi Lucas

High expectations surround the Transylvania Pioneers coming into the final season of sports for the 2017-2018 school year. All of the teams have been working hard in the off season to prepare to battle it out this spring and take home their respective conference championships and a birth to the NCAA tournament. Last spring provided a full plate for fans as many teams made it to the NCAA tournament and represented Transylvania University in an impeccable fashion.

Transylvania baseball is looking to start their season off strong this February, with two double headers to open the season versus Wabash and Wisconsin OshKosh. The Pioneers finished the 2016-2017 season with three players receiving all-HCAC honors, including catcher/designated hitter Blake Hart and catcher Cole Ratliff, both of whom will be returning for the Pioneers this season. Hart led the team with seven home runs and 26 RBIs. Ratliff tallied 29 hits in his freshman season and played in 29 games. The Pioneers are returning eight starters this season.

The softball team is hoping their season can top their remarkable 2016-2017 season, in which they made it to the super regional and finished the season ranked 14th in the nation. Returning senior Renae Morton was voted to the National Strength and Conditioning Association All-American team.

Transy opens their season with the Pioneer classic, which will consist of back-to-back double headers against Calvin, Olivet, Greenville, and St. Mary’s. Eight Pioneer softball players were named to the all-HCAC team, including pitcher Renae Morton and infielder Brittany Mumford, who were named to the first team. Morton played all 20 innings and helped lead the team to their first HCAC championship since 2010. The Pioneers are returning six of their all-HCAC players for this season.

Men’s and women’s track and field are ready to take on the spring season with some new faces on their coaching staff. These changes include new head coach Taylor Throckmorton, jumps assistant coach Ali Boice, throws assistant coach Taylor Sanders, and new assistant coach Erin Gale. The Pioneers are looking toward their solid incoming freshman class and upperclassmen to help lead Transylvania back to the top of the HCAC. The Pioneers open with Capital on January 27th and will host the 2018 Pioneer Invitational on March 24-25th.

Women’s lacrosse introduced seven new freshmen to the roster this year. They are looking to bring home the ORLC trophy after making the conference tournament last season. The Pioneers are returning seven all-ORLC players, including first team attacker Julie Ward, midfielder Emma Oliver, and goalie MacKenzie Dent. Ward scored 92 points and scooped up 39 ground balls last season and also ranked second in the conference in draw controls with 79. Oliver led the Pios in caused turnovers with 29. The Pioneers set a program record with a 13-3 finish and their third straight conference appearance.

Men’s lacrosse is looking to come back strong after losing a great senior class. The Pioneers capped off the 2016-2017 season with their 3rd consecutive conference championship and their first NCAA tournament appearance in program history. Transylvania is returning five all-conference players, including first team ORLC midfielder Joe Shermock, long stick midfielder TJ Toivonen, and attackman Trenton Snead. Snead led the ORLC in assists and was fifth in the conference in total points with 48. Toivonen was top ten in the conference with 63 ground balls and was second in the conference with 37 caused turnovers. The Pioneers set a program record with 12 straight wins, including going undefeated in conference play. The Pios open with Wittenberg on February 10th.

Men’s Golf is looking to cap off their 2017-2018 season with another conference championship. Transy has won 11 straight conference championships and are hoping to make that streak continue. The Pios are led by junior Jack Berger who was named HCAC conference player of the week for two weeks this fall. The team was battling some injuries this fall but is happy to have both Zac Treilobs and Spencer McKinney back for this spring season. The golf team kicks off the spring season with the Jekyll Island Collegiate Invitational on March 16th.

Last but surely not least, the men’s tennis team is hoping to cap off the season with a strong finish coming out of the fall session. Coach Kevin Calhoun, who took over the men’s and women’s programs in the fall, has big plans to conclude the 2017-2018 seasons. The Pios are returning first team all-HCAC selection Luke Groene, who crowned off his 2016-2017 season by leading the Pioneers to first place in the HCAC. Transylvania opens the spring season with Sewanee on February 24th.