KINSTON — The No. 24 University of Mount Olive baseball team traveled to Historic Grainger Stadium in Kinston, N.C. to once again play their mid-season matchup with the Single-A affiliate of the Texas Rangers the Down East Wood Ducks Monday night. The Trojans fell in the contest 11-0 but what the players gained from the contest far outweighed the numbers on the scoreboard.

Mount Olive has played the farm team in Kinston since the mid 1990’s but from 2011-17 the series took a break. UMO was scheduled to resume the series in 2017 but rain moments before first pitch canceled the game.

Last year the Trojans fell 4-1, but Mount Olive did hold a lead against the Wood Ducks in the first inning after Nate Estes scored on a stolen base attempt.

The matchup this year did not see and Trojan runs on the board but the players and coaching staff were thankful for the experience of playing a professional team, a feat most institutions do not have the luxury of.

“I think it’s an incredible opportunity for our guys because all of them have aspirations of playing professionally. It gives them a realistic measuring stick as to how far their development needs to continue to progress,” said head coach Rob Watt.

Watt continued by mentioning what it meant having an alum in the opposing dugout; Steve Mintz (Down East Pitching Coaching and former baseball player 1989-90). “Having Steve on the other side of the field is what brings it all together. He has pride in his alma mater and tremendous pride in his current position with the Rangers organization. He is a first-class person and a world class coach, he’s always open to helping us progress as a team as well. I always enjoy his insight and tips regarding new ideas taking place at the professional level.”

“The Wood Ducks always make us feel incredibly welcome and are intent on it being an experience all of us will remember. Cory Ragsdale, the Wood Ducks manager, was so accommodating and great to interact with. They have done a great job assembling a coaching staff, roster, field crew and everyone else involved — all of them made the experience something I hope we can continue to do every year,” concluded Watt.

The experience was then shared by the Trojan players following the game.

“It was a great experience to be able to play against a pro team in a pro stadium and see how we match up with them talent-wise. It was also fun to face pitchers throwing 95+ because this is something that we mostly see on TV and many college baseball players do not get to experience what it’s like in the box,” said UMO senior outfielder Nate Estes.

“It was pretty cool to play guys who have been drafted and are playing against future major league players. I thought it was a good experience for us to be playing in that type of environment and it can only help us in the long run,” said Trojan pitcher Kyle Davis.

“I thought it was an awesome experience and opportunity getting to go out and play the Wood Ducks under the lights. It was a great opportunity for our team to get the chance to see how we stack up against professional arms and hitters. Also a big thanks to the Wood Ducks for the great hospitality that they showed us,” commented Mount Olive pitcher Seth Hardin.

Mount Olive returns to regular season play against the Wolves of Newberry College Tuesday. First pitch from Newberry, S.C. is set for 6 p.m.

More baseball

HIGH POINT — University of Mount Olive’s JT Stone was named the Conference Carolinas Baseball Player of the Week, while teammate Caleb Bishop was tabbed the Conference Carolinas Baseball Pitcher of the Week for games played Mar. 25-31, the Conference announced today. This marks the first POTW for both Stone and Bishop, and the fourth overall for Mount Olive.

Stone, a sophomore from Fayetteville, N.C., led the Trojans to a 3-1 record last week, which included an 11-3 win over then-No. 8 Catawba. Stone hit .500 with seven hits, including three extra-base hits (2 2B, HR), with three RBI and four runs scored. Stone’s best game came in the 11-3 win over Catawba, as he went 3-for-4 with a double, two RBI and one run scored.

Bishop, a sophomore from Wilmington, N.C., posted a complete game shutout in an 8-0 victory over Emmanuel last week. Bishop pitched nine innings and scattered four hits and had six strikeouts in the victory.

Track and field

HIGH POINT — University of Mount Olive’s duo Leah Hanle and Candise Lockett have been named the Conference Carolinas Women’s Outdoor Track & Field Athletes of the Week, respectively, for meets held March 26 — April 1, the Conference announced today.

Hanle, the junior from Lichtenstein, Germany, had a phenomenal weekend at the track. At Raleigh Relays, Hanle secured an NCAA Automatic qualifier in the 5000m with a time of 16:02.46.

Then, less than twenty-four hours later on her home training grounds, Hanle helped the Mount Olive team win the Adidas Trojan Challenge at home with a first place finish in the steeplechase. Hanle won the event with a time of 10:37.00 to punch another NCAA Provisional qualifying standard.

Mount Olive’s sophomore from Birmingham, England, Candise Locket, also shared impressive accomplishments in her field performance this weekend at the Adidas Trojan Challenge.

Lockett scored ten points for the Trojans with her win in the hammer throw to help her team win at home. Lockett threw an NCAA Provisional qualifying mark of 55.87m (183’ 4”) just five meters shy of the auto mark (60.45m). With this mark, Lockett sits comfortably atop the conference standings for women’s hammer throw this outdoor season.

The University of Mount Olive track & field teams had a successful showing at the Raleigh Relays and the Adidas Trojan Challenge over the weekend.

The Trojans saw two NCAA Automatic qualifying marks, six NCAA Provisional qualifying marks, eight school records broken, and numerous moves in the UMO top-10.


The University of Mount Olive men’s golf team finished 2nd out of 13 teams at Mount Olive’s home tournament The Trojan Monday afternoon at Walnut Creek Country Club in Goldsboro, N.C. The third round was canceled due to impending weather.