Trojan seniors go out with ultimate prize
By Ryan Hanchett
Published in Sports on June 1, 2008 3:33 AM
SAUGET, Ill. -- Twelve Mount Olive College seniors have certainly left their mark on the baseball program and set the standard for future teams.
And Saturday punctuated the end of their stellar careers on the final day of the NCAA Division II College World Series.
"I am so proud of this group of guys for all that they have done for during their time here," said Mount Olive head coach Carl Lancaster. "To finish their careers in a championship game. I don't think that there is a better way to send them out."
The Trojans surpassed previous school records for wins, runs scored and doubles during their march to the Division II title game. Friendship off the field fueled an incredible on-field performance this season.
"We are a really tight group, almost like a family," said Mount Olive catcher Jason Sherrer. "We hang out and do our thing at the field, but we get together in our down time, too, and that has definitely made us a better team."
Shortstop David Cooper echoed Sherrer's words. He also pointed out the chemistry between the seniors.
"This team is awesome, everybody gets along and we all push each other," said Cooper. "I've enjoyed my time in Mount Olive and I couldn't have asked for better than what I have here."
Made up primarily of transfers from other schools, the 2008 Trojans exceeded expectations and set a new precedent for the program.
"There are always new guys coming in, and bringing new skills to the table," said Sherrer. "The thing that makes this team so good is the ability to work together."
Reaching the World Series for the first time in school history also ensures that this year's graduating class will be remembered around Scarborough Field for years to come.
"Right now we aren't really thinking about that, we are just trying to enjoy this whole experience," said Lancaster. "For a school the size of Mount Olive to reach this point is pretty amazing."
The 22-year coach did admit that finding talent should get easier due to the exposure from this season's success.
"If we do what we are supposed to do as coaches recruiting-wise, it certainly will help," said Lancaster. "At this point in my career, to reach the World Series with this group of guys is really something special."
On the infield Erik Lovett, Anthony Williams, Cooper and Sherrer finished their collegiate careers with Saturday's game. Josh Harrison and Mike Kicia will depart from the outfield.
The MOC pitching staff will be affected most by the loss of seniors Weston Curles, Casey Hodges, Mike Williams, Todd Jeffreys, Ryan Schlecht and Anthony Hernandez.
For some of the seniors, summer baseball will immediately take the place of the college game and for others it will be moving into careers off the diamond.
But, either way, the class of 2008 will leave a new legacy of winning at Mount Olive.
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