02/26/08 — MOC baseball earns top rank

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MOC baseball earns top rank

By MOC Sports Information
Published in Sports on February 26, 2008 2:48 PM

MOUNT OLIVE -- Mount Olive ascended to No. 1 in the latest Collegiate Baseball and Ping Baseball Division II top 30 polls released on Monday afternoon.

It's the Trojans' first-ever, top ranking in any team sport in school history.

Defending national champion Tampa (Fla.) tumbled to No. 3 in both polls after two weekend losses. Ouachita Baptist (Ark.) is ranked No. 2 in both polls.

The No. 2 ranking is no different than No. 1, says Mount Olive head coach Carl Lancaster.

"The ranking is a testament to the kids and how hard they've worked," said Lancaster. "Of course, it's the No. 1 ranking at the end of the season that we're shooting for. But I know the kids have to be excited about being number one."

Second baseman Anthony Williams says the team's appreciative of the ranking, but they try not to dwell on it.

"It's a privilege to be ranked number one," said Williams, a senior from Williamston. "But we don't want to focus on the rankings a whole lot. We just need to come out and play hard every practice, every game."

Williams says team chemistry has been a major factor in the team's early success this season.

"This is a very close knit team," said Williams. "We really enjoy being around each other on and off the field. I truly look forward to coming out to practice every day. We work hard, but it isn't really work when you're doing something you love doing."

Lancaster acknowledged Williams' comments about the closeness of the team and noted the team's approach to a normally laborious task Monday.

"Nobody likes having to pull the tarp on or off the field, but the guys were having fun together pulling the tarp off before practice today," said Lancaster. "This group really seems to enjoy being together and that's definitely a key to our success."

Mount Olive travels to in-state rival Chowan University today. The non-conference doubleheader begins at 1 p.m.

"Chowan has a good ball club and we need to be at our best," said Williams, who is batting .379 and has six stolen bases in six attempts.

"We can enjoy the ranking today," said Lancaster. "Tomorrow, we have to go out and prove we deserve it."

The Trojans (16-1 overall) play their first-ever home contests as the nation's top team on Saturday. Anderson (S.C.) University visits for a three-game, Conference Carolinas series.

Prior to this season, Mount Olive's highest national ranking was No. 3 in 1999. While Lancaster is excited about the No. 1 ranking, he concedes there is one glaring negative.

"Being ranked number one is an honor," said Lancaster. "But if we move from number one, there's only one direction we can go."