The athletic program for the University of South Alabama has again been crowned the best in the Sun Belt Conference, but only by the closest of margins. When the Jaguar baseball team won the SBC Tournament title with a walk-off single, it also secured USA its third consecutive Vic Bubas Cup.
Because of the baseball trophy, the Jaguars got an extra point in the standings recognizing the top all-around school. Their total of 119 points edged Texas State by one point and Texas-Arlington by two.
“We are humbled, proud and honored to have earned the Vic Bubas Cup,” said Joel Erdmann, USA director of athletics. “The elevated competitive level among our Sun Belt Conference member institutions is what makes this so rewarding.
“This does not happen without the good, hard work and support of student-athletes, coaches, support staff, the university community and all members of the Jaguar Nation. Having a well-balanced, competitive department with equal expectations of excellence for every program is something we strive for daily.”
In addition to baseball, which was a runner-up in the regular-season standings, South’s soccer program won both regular season and tournament Sun Belt titles. Ten other Jag teams were in the top half of the standings for their respective sports. This list includes men’s and women’s cross country, volleyball, women’s indoor track and field, men’s and women’s tennis, men’s golf, softball and men’s and women’s outdoor track and field.
Collins earns All-American honors
Sean Collins was one of the most celebrated athletes ever at McGill-Toolen Catholic High School. He set the state indoor and outdoor pole vault records before deciding to stay close to home and compete for the University of South Alabama.
He lived up to his reputation as a freshman, finishing as the runner-up at the NCAA Indoor Championship. Collins appeared to be on his way to match his efforts at the Sun Belt’s outdoor finals before a dislocated ankle brought his season to a sudden end.
One year later, Collins earned another shot at the NCAA Outdoor Track and Field Championships. The sophomore claimed first-team All-American honors with an eighth-place finish.
“We are very proud of Sean,” said head track and field coach Paul Brueske. “He has overcome a lot of adversity just to get back to the NCAA Championships. For him to finish first-team All-American after everything he has been through is a testament to his ability and character. He and his coach, Aaron James, did a fantastic job. We are looking forward to more successes from him in the future.”
The sophomore cleared a height of 5.45 meters on his second attempt, a season-best mark. Matthew Ludwig from the University of Akron (Ohio) won the title with a 5.60-meter effort.
“It was great; I had a great season,” Collins said. “The coaching staff and teammates were really supportive of me coming back. I couldn’t have done it without them. Our athletic trainers also really helped get me back to full speed before the season started.
“I’ve grown up in Mobile, I know the locals and they know me. They have followed me my entire high school and collegiate career. I know family, friends and everyone in Mobile have all been so supportive, not to mention the South Alabama community. I’m so proud I get to come home as a first-team All-American.”
Local players taken in MLB Draft
Collins is not the only McGill-Toolen graduate in the news. The Texas Rangers selected outfielder Bubba Thompson in the first round of the Major League Baseball Draft with the 26th overall pick.
As a senior for the Jackets, Thompson hit .429 with 11 home runs, 35 RBI and 18 stolen bases while posting a .857 slugging percentage. The 6-foot-2, 180-pound Thompson, who celebrated his 19th birthday June 9, led McGill-Toolen to the No. 1 ranking in Class 7A before they were upset in the playoffs. On the gridiron, Thompson quarterbacked McGill-Toolen to the 2015 state title.
The right-handed batter was named the Alabama Sports Writers Association’s Player of the Year. Baseball America had Thompson as the top prospect from Alabama and the 25th-best prospect overall. He is committed to the University of Alabama for baseball, but an estimated $2.5 million bonus is waiting for him should he turn pro.
• The University of South Alabama also had players taken in the draft. They are catcher Jared Barnes, right-handed pitchers Randy Bell and Matt Peacock plus incoming signees JoJo Booker, Hunter Brittain and Cole Watts. Barnes was first-team all-conference; Bell was on the NCAA All-Regional roster with teammates Wells Davis and Dylan Hardy, while Peacock finished with 10 saves. Booker and Brittain recently graduated from T.R. Miller High School in Brewton, where both earned all-state honors. Watts pitched last year for Skyline College in California.
USA plans volleyball camps
Amy Hendrichovsky Volleyball Camps at the University of South Alabama will take place next month at Jaguar Gym. The All Skills Camp will be July 6-8 for those entering grades five through 12. It will run each day from 9 a.m. to 4 p.m. and cost $230.
The Position Training Camp from July 11-12 for children entering grades seven through 12. Cost is $215 for commuters and $255 for residents. The camp will run 1-8 p.m. on Day 1 and conclude with Day 2, scheduled to go from 8:30 a.m. to 8 p.m.
South Alabama will close the week with its Team Camp, which is held for freshmen, junior varsity and varsity squads July 13-15. The cost is $205 per commuter or $280 per resident. More information is available at AmyHendrichovskyVolleyballCamps.com.
SHC hosts Outlaw golf event
The third annual Arthur R. Outlaw Memorial Golf Classic will be Friday at the Spring Hill College Golf Course. The tournament will start at 1 p.m., with registration beginning at 11 a.m.
Four-member teams can enter the tournament by contacting Assistant Athletic Director Michael Patrick at email@example.com or 251-380-4461. Entry is $400 per team. Hole and tee box sponsorships are also available.
In 2016, Team Reggie Copeland placed first among the Tier 1 participants by edging Team Jim Hall in a tie-breaker after both teams posted a score of 57 in the shotgun-start scramble format event.