Summer has finally arrived, and people looking for new ways to enjoy the beautiful outdoors of South Alabama have plenty of options. For those wishing to get a closer look at some of our wildlife, registration for the state’s 2015 alligator hunt has begun.

The Alabama Department of Conservation and Natural Resources is conducting its 10th annual regulated hunt. The total number of alligator possession tags has increased this year from 240 to 260.

Registration must be completed online no later than 8 a.m. on July 14. The hunts will take place starting in mid-August. To register, visit

Registration is open through July 14 to apply for the 2015 alligator hunting season.

Registration is open through July 14 to apply for the 2015 alligator hunting season.

For local hunters, there will be 150 tags for the Southwest Alabama zone. This includes private and public waters in Mobile and Baldwin counties. Also in the zone are private and public waters in Clarke, Monroe and Washington counties that lie east of U.S. 43 and south of U.S. 84. The dates for this zone are 8 p.m. on Aug. 13 through 6 a.m. on Aug. 16, and then from 8 p.m. on Aug. 20 until 6 a.m. on Aug. 23.

The application fee is $22, and individuals may register one time per zone. Only Alabama residents and Alabama lifetime license holders ages 16 years and older may apply. While the tag is free, selected hunters and assistants are required to have a valid hunting license in their possession during the hunt.

USA denied shot at Omaha
The University of South Alabama’s extra-inning loss to Louisiana-Lafayette in the Sun Belt Conference (SBC) tournament final proved very costly to the Jaguars. Despite having won the regular season title and earning 37 victories, USA was not selected for the field of 64 in the NCAA baseball tournament. Only the Ragin’ Cajuns will represent the SBC.

There were fewer at-large bids available this season, as both Texas (Big 12) and Michigan (Big 10) advanced only because they won their conference titles. Southeastern Louisiana and Nevada claimed regular-season championships, but are also sitting home.

Among the other teams missing was Southern Mississippi, which won 36 games and finished tied for second place in Conference USA. The Golden Eagles were among the last highly regarded teams left out, along with Missouri, North Carolina and Michigan State.

Jaguars hoist Vic Bubas Cup
Despite the NCAA snub, it has been an incredible sports season for South Alabama (USA). Thanks to four Sun Belt championships, the Jaguars received the Vic Bubas Cup for being the league’s top member across 17 sports.

It is the school’s 11th time claiming the cup, the most for any school since the SBC formed in 1976. USA scored a total of 106 points, edging past Texas State and Texas-Arlington.

USA won league titles in soccer and men’s cross country in the fall, plus baseball and women’s tennis this spring. The Lady Jag softball team, which made it to the NCAA Regionals, finished second in the regular season before winning the SBC tournament. The men’s tennis team reached its tournament final, while the football team tied for third place.

Rams add Jackson to coaching staff
T.J. Jackson has been named head coach of both the men’s and women’s golf teams at the University of Mobile. Jackson comes to the Rams after having coached the women’s squad at South Alabama for the last 15 seasons. He also directed the Jaguar men during the 2002-03 campaign.
Jackson won the state individual title at Davidson High in 1981 and 1982, along with a team championship as a senior. After earning a degree at USA, he played professionally from 1989-94.

He takes over for Colby Odom, who led both UM teams to Top 25 rankings and runner-up finishes at the SSAC championships. Odom was named the conference’s Men’s Golf Coach of the Year.

College honors
● USA pitcher Kevin Hill, a junior right-hander, was named to the Louisville Slugger Division I All-American second team. The Sun Belt pitcher of the year, he led the conference in wins (10), earned run average (1.73), opposing batting average (.208) and strikeouts (107). He was a perfect 10-0 in 13 starts.

● UM’s Zach Day earned NAIA All-American honors in men’s golf. The senior from Thomasville, Alabama, was one of 15 individuals named to the first-team list. After earning all-conference recognition, he got an individual bid to the NAIA nationals, where he finished tied for 23rd. During the regular season, he won two tournaments.

● Former USA right-handed pitcher Farish Beard, who earned her degree this spring, has been selected as a 2015 Senior CLASS Award Second-Team All-American. The award stands for Celebrating Loyalty and Achievement for Staying in School. The Fairhope native gained all-SBC honors for the third straight season, with an 11-4 record,  a 2.53 earned run average and 101 strikeouts in 88 2/3 innings pitched. Beard was also named a 2013-14 National Fastpitch Coaches Association (NFCA) All-America Scholar-Athlete.

● Two Lady Jag teammates have also been honored by the NFCA. Sophomore Chloe Rathburn was named to the Division I All-Region second-team squad, while right-handed pitcher Kalven McGill is on the third team. Rathburn led USA in batting average, hits and RBIs, while McGill had a 16-3 record and 1.97 ERA.

● UofM’s Sarah LeCroy has been named to the Capital One Academic All-District women’s cross country team. The award selects the nation’s top student-athletes for their combined performances athletically and in the classroom. The Gadsden native is also a two-time Daktronics-NAIA Scholar-Athlete honoree.

● Santiago Casucci, a junior on the Rams’ tennis squad who has a 4.0 grade point average, was picked for the 2014-15 Capital One Academic All-District Men’s At-Large Team. He went 11-3 in singles and 4-2 in doubles as UM advanced to the NAIA national tourney. In addition to tennis, the team combines golf, men’s volleyball, wrestling, lacrosse, swimming, ice hockey, gymnastics, fencing and rifle.

● Two USA track and field athletes were selected for the Capital One Academic All-District teams. Jan-Louw Kotze and Joanna McCoy both carry 4.0 GPAs. Kotze set a SBC record in the discus, with a toss of 59.72 meters. McCoy ranks among the leaders on USA’s all-time list in the 5,000-meter run and 3,000-meter race.