Selma University hoping to turn its season around

Published 7:42 pm Tuesday, March 21, 2017

It’s been a long time since Selma University’s baseball team had a record under .500 this far into a season, but expectations haven’t changed. The Bulldogs not only expect to make the playoffs in the National Christian College Athletic Association, but they also plan to compete for a national championship.

Selma has started the year 5-7 after a rocky offseason that saw 14 players leave the school. Bulldogs head coach Adrian Holloway said 12 of those 14 players didn’t let the school know they were transferring and did not ask for permission to get out of their letters of intent.

“You can have the strongest program in America but if you have 14 kids that don’t come back and don’t tell you and you don’t get a chance to replace those players, that would hurt every program in America,” Holloway said.

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Holloway said it came down to playing time and those 14 players transferred to several different programs.

“We’ve faced a lot of trials and tribulations this year. We had some guys that had animosity toward the program and they really tried to hurt the program,” Holloway said. “We had 14 guys that got together and plotted on the program to hurt us. All 14 left and only two asked for a release. Only two did it properly and came and asked for a release and the other 12 basically didn’t tell me they weren’t coming back and didn’t show up in August or I had a handful of them that lied to my face and said ‘yeah coach I’m coming back.’”

All those changes resulted in a strange offseason for Selma University. Holloway spent October recruiting more players, just so the Bulldogs could have the 23 they have on the roster now.

“Everyone has a right to move on but there is a way to do that. That’s why we sign letters of intent to honor commitments and if you are going to break that commitment you get a release and you go on with that coach’s blessing,” Holloway said. “Unfortunately, that didn’t happen.”

All of the offseason stuff is in the past now as the Bulldogs work toward reaching the NCCAA playoffs. Holloway said Selma University has to finish the year with a record of .400 or better in order to qualify for the playoffs.

“We are still on pace to make a playoff run and compete for a national title, like we do every year here, and that’s our standard. Our standard is to compete for national titles every year, and we’ve been fortunate and blessed enough to do that.”

He credited the team’s pitching staff, led by junior Garrett Price, as part of the reason the team has been able to stay near .500 and right in the midst of the playoff race.

True freshmen Tariq Aaron, Robert Clark and Will Thomas have also thrown a lot of innings lately.

“Those guys have been eating up a lot of innings for us, really shutting down opposing hitters and keeping us in a lot of games,” Holloway said.

Selma University is a young team with only two seniors on the roster. Junior Brandon Woodland, a 27-year-old second baseman, is one of the older players on the team after signing during the offseason.

“It’s simple mistakes. We aren’t getting blown out in the losses that we’ve taken,” Woodland said. “To get better, we’ve got to continue what we’re doing. Keep swinging the stick, keep running the bases, keep being aggressive and we will win games.”

Price said the team is still coming together, but as the season progresses, he’s seen improvement in how the team is gelling.

“We’re young, a bunch of new guys. We’ve only been playing together for three months and that’s hard to do in college baseball when you’ve got guys who have been playing together for four years. We’re just now starting to come together as a team and playing better,” Price said.

Selma University will play Stillman College in a nine inning game Friday and then will face Stillman in a doubleheader Saturday. Both games start at noon. Holloway said this weekend is a chance to get back above .500 as they try to turn the season around and if the team needs any extra motivation, he said they can remember that there’s a lot of people cheering against them.

“We’ve got a point to prove. We’ve got a chip on our shoulder because people want to see us fail. Otherwise you wouldn’t have done us how you’ve done us,” Holloway said.