With the beginning of May comes the beginning of postseason baseball. For the moment, it’s time to put aside outdoor adventures and lay focus where it belongs, on chasing championships. The month of May is filled with opportunities for players to etch their names in record books and extend their seasons.
The William Carey Baseball team has had a season full of streaks. After starting off the season at 2-2, the Crusaders reeled off 14 straight, including a Friday night win over the 5th ranked team in America. Then, the Crusaders dropped the next 5 games to fall out of the NAIA rankings. The next streak…5 wins in a row, followed by 3 straight losses. To keep with the theme of the season, Carey won the next 9 games before having three games canceled due to an opponent having Covid. Next up, the SSAC Tournament in Mobile, AL.
Carey enters the tournament as the 5th overall seed in the Southern States Athletic Conference and will play the University of Mobile to open things up. The Crusaders were only able to play 15 conference games during the regular season due to Covid cancelations, but hold a 30-10 overall record. Play beyond the tournament will largely depend on how the week goes for the Crusaders. Have a good showing in Mobile and likely keep playing, play poorly and the season likely ends.
Whether or not the season continues will largely depend on senior leadership within the team. The top two pitchers are seniors, as well as a few of the top position players. There are four or five first team All-Conference guys on this roster, and if they play well, we will keep going. This team has a great mix of young and old. There are more than a couple of freshmen that are major contributors on the mound and at the plate. Of course, when it gets to this time of the year there is no such thing as a freshman any longer. By now they have logged enough time to no longer be considered rookies.
Experience always plays a key role when it comes to postseason play. The good thing the Crusaders have on our side in that category is Head Coach Bobby Halford. In case you live under a rock, Coach Halford won his 1,200th game a couple of weeks ago. I don’t care if you’re playing backyard whiffle ball, that’s a heckuva lot of wins. To give you some scale of just how many that is, the next closest coach in the SSAC has a little over 700. If you ask Coach about it, he’ll just say that it’s because he’s been doing this for so long that eventually you get to this number. Hate to say it, but that’s just not true. Rarely anybody gets to this number, no matter how long you do it. I’m fortunate to have been here for quite a few of those and hope we can keep it rolling. It’s fun winning.
No matter the outcome of the tournament this week, it’s been a season for the ages. Never have I been a part of a team that had to jump through so many hoops just to get on the field. In 2017, when the tornado ripped through campus and knocked down our lights, we still knew that eventually we’d get back on the field and everything would be alright. Now that we’ve reached the postseason, these guys have to wake up each day hoping that there aren’t any positive tests that could derail the rest of the season and shut things down. We watched our women’s basketball team have to endure that in the fall and it’s not something that I would wish on any team. So here’s to hoping for a healthy finish to 2021 and another postseason of chasing a dream.