04/25/06 — Oh, what a feeling for Trojans

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Oh, what a feeling for Trojans

By Rudy Coggins
Published in Sports on April 25, 2006 2:11 PM

A historic day.

There's no other way to describe Mount Olive College's impressive finale in the 2006 Carolinas-Virginia Athletics Conference baseball tournament Monday afternoon. The Trojans simply wanted the distinction of earning the league's first-ever automatic bid to the NCAA Division II South Atlantic Regional.

Who could blame them?

The lopsided 16-1 victory over Limestone (S.C.) College allowed MOC to accomplish an athletics program milestone at the smallest school (student-population wise) on the Division II level. The Trojan baseball team became the fourth program -- in the same academic calendar year -- to earn a postseason bid.

The men's golf squad grabbed a regional spot with a top-seven showing in last week's CVAC Championships. The women's volleyball team won its first regular-season crown since 1997 and received an at-large bid to the Atlantic Regional. The men's basketball team made its third consecutive trip to the East Regional.

"I'm real pleased with the way things have gone this year," said first-year MOC athletics director Jeff Eisen. "We knew that last year was a successful year with (four) conference championships and some teams go to NCAA play, too.

"We had high expectations for this year. It's a credit to the coaches and student-athletes that they've fulfilled those expectations. We're real happy for Carl (Lancaster) and the baseball team. They've had a great year."

But would a CVAC tournament final loss and 38 wins been enough?

Judging from past experience, Lancaster didn't think his team would survive crucial early-season losses, which included a slow start in conference play. Key non-conference losses might have factored in and forced the regional selection committee to reject the Trojans.

Eisen shared Lancaster's view.

"I think we were in consideration," said Eisen. "By winning (the tournament) eliminated the doubt and that's a great feeling."

Had the Trojans lost, they would have waited two-plus weeks for the committee's decision.

"Sitting on the bubble for that amount of time would have been really awkward ... a tough situation," said Eisen. "It's nice to know you have a championship trophy to bring home."

Mount Olive entered the spring in fourth place in the Joby Hawn Cup standings with 47.5 points. The Trojans posted third-place finishes in baseball, men's and women's tennis; and turned in solid efforts in men's and women's golf.

The final standings should be released this week.

The Hawn Cup is awarded annually in recognition to the CVAC school that has the best overall athletics program for that academic calendar year. The Cup is named in honor of former commissioner H.C. "Joby" Hawn for his many years of dedication to the old Carolinas Intercollegiate Athletic Conference.