WINCHESTER, Va. - For the past two weeks, the Shenandoah University Department of Intercollegiate Athletics has been taking a look back at its top moments of 2011-12. Today, we look at our No. 2 highlight: baseball.
The baseball team has achieved significant success in the past four years - two South Region titles and trips to Appleton, Wisconsin for the national championships, a USA South Conference regular season title, a USA South Tournament title, four appearances in the USA South Tournament championship and four straight bids to the NCAA playoffs.
The run this season, which included a fourth straight 30+ win campaign, is our No. 2 highlight.
Heading into the 2012 season, coach Kevin Anderson had to replace two graduated All-Americans, Kevin Brashears '11 and Greg Van Sickler '11, three other position starters including catcher and the vast majority of pitchers who earned mound wins.
In fact, six of the 11 returning pitching wins came from one player - closer Kyle Scallion.
In short, the team was nearly starting over and staring at a rebuilding season.
Except that the team had other plans.
Starting with a 4-2 season opening win over No. 5 Cortland (N.Y.) State, the Hornets served notice that they were again a force to be reckoned with.
Coach Kevin Anderson's club won 11 of its first 15 games, won 12 of 13 from March 3-21 and again were ranked in the nation's Top 25 all season long.
Heading into the conference tournament as the No. 2 seed, SU looked strong in advancing to the tournament championship against archrival Christopher Newport.
Although the Captains won the rubber match of championship appearances with a 7-4 win on championship Sunday, the Hornets looked well-positioned for another bid into the NCAA Tournament.
Three weeks later that bid came and SU headed to CNU to take part in the Newport News Regional as a No. 3 seed.
Two victories stood between the Hornets and a third trip to Appleton.
Unfortunately, fate did not shine positively on the club, as Salisbury won a 2-1, 14-inning marathon before Christopher Newport ended the Hornets run with a 9-5 victory on Championship Saturday.
It is the fourth straight year that a Hornet has been named All-America and Pendergraft is just the eighth different man to earn the honor in program history.
Just this past week, he capped his accolades by being named as the Virginia State Player of the Year.