Spring sports cap historic 2008-'09 season
In a year that saw Shorter College Athletics enjoy arguably its most successful campaign ever, the spring versions of Hawks and Lady Hawks athletics kept the trend intact.
Of Shorter’s eight spring sports, seven finished the season ranked in the NAIA Top-25 Final Poll for their respective sport and three brought home conference championships and advanced to postseason competition.
Perhaps the crown jewel of Shorter spring athletics was the Hawks and Lady Hawks’ track and field squad, both of whom posted top-10 finishes at the NAIA National Outdoor Track and Field Championships in St. Louis, Mo.
Among Shorter’s 17 All-America honorees at the national meet was freshman Justyna Mudy, who captured Shorter’s first-ever female individual national championship. [Read more about Mudy on p. 13.]
Her performance, as well as the warrior effort produced by sophomore Ashlie Stewartson, who placed second in the 400 and fourth in the long jump in her first season with the track team, propelled the Lady Hawks to a seventh-place finish, the highest ever for the women’s program.
The incredible national effort certainly made the Lady Hawks’ first-ever Mid-South Conference title, earned several weeks prior, that much sweeter.
On the men’s side, sophomore high-jumper Montagious Brown nearly added an outdoor national championship to his already impressive resume. Brown, the 2008 national indoor high jump champion, took second in the event after jumping 7-1, the best performance in Shorter track history.
Fresh off its second straight Mid-South Conference championship, the men’s team used some quality performances from its relay teams in addition to Brown’s achievement to secure its best-ever finish at the national meet, fifth-place, improving upon a ninth-place finish in 2008.
Head coach Scott Byrd was named the Mid-South Conference Men’s and Women’s Coach of the Year, capping one historic season for Shorter track and field.
On the diamond, Lady Hawk softball continued its meteoric rise, capturing a third consecutive Southern States Athletic Conference championship behind SSAC Player of the Year Libby Munson and 2008-2009 SSAC Female Honor Scholar-Athlete Becca Thomas, who was also named to the league’s first team.
Head coach Melanie Carter guided the squad to a 44-16 overall record and an inspired run through the SSAC Tournament. Seeded third, Shorter battled its way through the weekend and finished off its three-peat with a 6-2 win over Lee University on May 3.
During one stretch of the season, Shorter won 20 of 23 games and also set an NAIA record for consecutive scoreless innings, blanking opponents in 45 straight innings in the midst of one of its several six-game winning streaks.
Playing out of Pool B at the NAIA National Championship in Decatur, Ala., the Lady Hawks won their first two games of pool play by a combined score of 15-0, surrendering just four hits in the process. Shorter eventually fell to defending national champion Lubbock Christian University but still finished the year ranked No. 18 in the country.
Munson, just a sophomore, earned her second straight All-America honor after going 21-6 with a 1.50 earned-run-average as a pitcher and batting .319 with 36 RBI and 13 doubles.
Thomas, a senior who graduated with a 4.0 grade-point-average and was the SSAC’s candidate for the prestigious Dr. Leroy Walker Champions of Character Award, closed her career with an All-League season in the circle with an 18-7 record and 1.63 ERA.
Overall, the Lady Hawks placed six athletes on the SSAC All-Conference team and eight on the Academic All-SSAC squad.
Shorter’s golf and tennis teams also turned in respectable seasons in 2009, with the men’s and women’s teams from each sport concluding the year in the Top-25.
Men’s golfer Arvid Bengtson was named to the All-SSAC team for the 24th-ranked Hawks while the women’s team placed second at the SSAC Championships and closed the year as the No. 22 team in the nation.
On the hard courts, head coach Orville Adams led the men and women’s tennis teams to final rankings of No. 17 and No. 22, respectively. David Araiza and Stanislas Rodier were named to the All-SSAC team on the men’s side, and France native Emmanuelle DeBeaucoudrey garnered All-Conference honors for the women.