After his team's lackluster performance in its home opener, a 13-1 loss to Brewton-Parker on Feb. 9, USC Beaufort baseball coach Rick Sofield insisted he wasn't angry, but simply disappointed.
Sofield didn't see the effort or determination that helped the Sand Sharks win 72 games over their first two seasons.
He isn't concerned anymore.
"They've worked awfully hard," Sofield said. "They've done everything we've asked. It's working out just fine."
It has worked out to the tune of an eight-game winning streak since that loss to the Barons, including a three-game sweep of Ave Maria in the Sand Sharks' first Sun Conference series over the weekend.
And all it required was that one stern reminder of what it takes to win on a consistent basis.
"That butt-kicking was not a good feeling," center fielder R.J. Neal said. "Nobody wants to lose like that. So we just came back extra hard with determination, and we've worked hard in practice so we can come out here and do this."
PRICE IS RIGHT
The Sand Sharks hoped they had stumbled onto something special when 6-foot-6 right-hander Dexter Price transfered to USCB from Auburn, and so far, it seems they have. Price has not allowed an earned run in 11 innings over his first two starts, striking out 17 and walking one.
With a handful of pro scouts watching Saturday, he held Ave Maria to one unearned run and struck out nine in a seven-inning complete game.
As dominant as he has been, though, Price said the level of competition isn't a dramatic drop-off from NCAA Division I.
"There's definitely good hitters in this league. No doubt about that," Price said. "If you look at our lineup, we've got some real dominant hitters. I just think there aren't as many in a lineup. In D-I you're going to have probably eight or nine great hitters, and here, you're going to have five, six, seven."
Pitcher Kyle McCullough, who was lost for the season a week before the opener, is scheduled to have Tommy John surgery today at noted orthopedist Dr. James Andrews' office in Birmingham, Ala. McCullough, a junior, plans to take a medical redshirt and return with two years of eligibility remaining next season. ... Outfielder Conald Mansfield left Saturday's second game against Ave Maria with a hamstring injury and is day-to-day. Mansfield, who hit his second home run of the season in the day's first game, is hitting .389 and his 10 RBIs rank second on the team.
SOCCER RECRUITING OFF TO GOOD START
Ed Heberling hadn't even been on the job a week when he had his first verbal commitments from players eager to join the Sand Sharks' upstart women's soccer team next fall.
Heberling, whose hire was announced Feb. 14, has had 10 recruits visit since Friday, and he received verbal commitments from two players before the Sand Sharks' baseball series with Ave Maria was over. Heberling declined to discuss the players or release their names until they have signed, which he hopes will happen this week.
SHARK OF THE WEEK
Adam Miller, Jr., P
The Sand Sharks' left-hander was named the Sun Conference Pitcher of the Week on Monday after tossing a nine-inning shutout in a 5-0 win against Ave Maria on Friday. Miller scattered seven hits and two walks while striking out six to help USCB start conference play with a three-game sweep of the Gyrenes.
SAND SHARK BASEBALL SNAPSHOT
Record: 9-1 overall, 3-0 Sun Conference (complete standings on 2B)
Last week's results: at Edward Waters (W, 6-5); vs. Ave Maria (W, 5-0; W, 13-1; W, 13-7)
This week's games: at Edward Waters, 4 p.m. Tuesday; vs. Voorhees, 3 p.m. Wednesday; at Webber International, 6 p.m. Friday; at Webber International (DH), 1 p.m. Saturday.