Few people have had as great an impact in athletics at the University of South Alabama as Steve Kittrell. To honor his contributions as both a baseball player and a coach, the Jaguars will retire his jersey, No. 3, during a game May 7 against Georgia Southern.
The 1971 USA graduate still holds the team record for four-year players with a .368 career batting average. He was inducted into the school’s Athletic Hall of Fame in 1993.
However, he left his biggest impression as a coach. After several seasons at the high school (including a state title at UMS-Wright) and junior college ranks, plus one year at Spring Hill College, he returned to the dugout at Stanky Field. From 1983 until he retired in 2011, Kittrell directed the Jaguars to a 1,052-644-1 record that included 18 NCAA tournaments, 14 Sun Belt regular season and division titles plus eight league tourney championships. Six of his clubs finished within one game of making a College World Series appearance.
Kittrell, who became the 50th coach in NCAA history to win 1,000 games, will be the third member of the Jaguars to have their jersey number retired. The others are former head coach Eddie Stanky and All-American player Luis Gonzalez.
“I would like to share this honor with all my former players and assistant coaches,” Kittrell said. “Without their efforts this does not happen.
“I feel so honored to have my number up there with Luis Gonzalez and my former coach and mentor Eddie Stanky. When a coach has his number retired it’s special, and when it’s your alma mater it’s even more emotional.”
Kittrell was a star outfielder for Davidson High School before signing with USA. During his time in the dugout, he was named SBC Coach of the Year six times.
“The retirement of Coach Kittrell’s No. 3 recognizes his contributions to the University of South Alabama and the game of collegiate baseball,” Joel Erdmann, Ph.D., USA’s director of athletics, said. “This not only reflects what he achieved in the uniform, but also acknowledges who he is as a man and leader of the university.”
Football rivalry renews in Mobile
The Tuskegee Golden Tigers and the Florida A&M Rattlers will clash for the first time in 20 years at Ladd-Peebles Stadium on Sept. 17 at 6 p.m. The 5th Quarter Classic is sponsored by the Mobile Sports Authority and promoter Robert Buck.
The teams first met on the gridiron in 1908, with Florida A&M holding a 27-15-2 edge in the series. Following a change in conferences, the clubs ceased playing in 1996.
Ladd-Peebles Stadium once was the home of the Gulf Coast Classic. Alabama State served as the host for 35 years, but that series ended in 2009.
“One of the events which we at the Mobile Sports Authority thought was missing on our annual Mobile sports calendar was a ‘classic-style’ college football game,” said Danny Corte, executive director of the MSA. “It’s been almost seven years since the last classic was played here. So several years ago we started working to create another classic game for Mobile.
“We’re very proud to have two traditional teams, that being Florida A&M and Tuskegee, playing in Mobile this fall,” Corte continued. “We’re looking forward to welcoming the teams, officials and fans for both teams to Mobile in September.”
Buck said he and the MSA are working together to make the entire weekend a special experience for the fans. Both schools are known for their marching bands and electrifying halftime shows.
Tuskegee was 10-3 last year, and was crowned the Historically Black Colleges and Universities national champion in the Heritage Sports Radio Network football poll. It marked the ninth such title in the school’s history. Florida A&M, on the other side, is hoping to bounce back from a 1-10 campaign.
Susan Shaw, MSA’s sports events and marking director, said anyone interested in being a sponsor for an ancillary event should contact her at Susan@MobileSportsAuthority.com. For more information call 251-725-1794.
Spring into soccer
Several local college soccer teams have scheduled a short spring season. South Alabama already opened with a 5-0 win over the University of Mobile. Two more home games at The Cage will be against Southeastern Louisiana on Sunday at 4:30 p.m. and Spring Hill on Tuesday at 7 p.m. The Lady Jags wrap things up April 5 at LSU.
The Spring Hill men will take to the pitch six times, starting Saturday at home versus Michigan-based Marygrove at 1 p.m. The rest of the lineup will be at William Carey on March 12, at UAB’s 7v7 Tournament on April 2, the annual alumni game on April 9 at 1 p.m., at LSU-Alexandria on April 10 and at home against UM on April 16 (time to be determined).
The Lady Badgers will play five games. After the opener at USA, they host William Carey on March 12 at 11 a.m., travel to USM on April 2, host UM on April 9 at 1 p.m. and finish at home on April 16 against two community colleges (Mississippi Gulf Coast at 11 a.m. and Faulkner at 2 p.m.).
UM reported no other games scheduled for the spring.
● The Lady Badgers also will host two ID camps, March 20 (10 a.m. to 3 p.m.) and April 16 (2:30 p.m. to 6:30 p.m.). For more information or to register please visit https://camps.jumpforward.com/shcwsoccercamps.
● Two squads will have new assistant coaches this spring. Chris McBride is coming to USA from North Alabama, which earned three NCAA Division II Tournament appearances in his four years there. For the Lady Badgers, Alex Greco is joining the staff after serving as a volunteer assistant at Indiana University and UNC-Greensboro.