The 2016-17 season was filled with highlights and headlines for the Sam Houston State Bearkats. Awards were won, records were broken and five Southland Conference titles made their way back to Huntsville.
With the upcoming 2017-18 athletic season nearing its start, Bearkat Athletics is taking a look back at the 2016-17 season throughout the summer months, highlighting the best of the past year.
After counting down the previous top-19 moments of the year, it should come as no surprise as to what the No. 1 moment of the season was.
LUBBOCK – The Sam Houston State Bearkats rallied from a two-run deficit for a 4-3 win on Monday over No. 5 Texas Tech at Dan Law Field at Rip Griffin Park to claim the NCAA Lubbock Regional, advancing to the first Super Regional in program history.
The Kats (44-21) found themselves down 3-1 to the No. 5 Red Raiders (45-17) in the bottom of the fifth, but answered with three runs in the next two innings to retake the lead. Meanwhile, Lubbock Regional MVP Riley Cooper picked up his third win of the tournament with 4.2 innings of relief.
That came less than 24 hours after Cooper picked up the win with 3.2 innings of relief in the first game of the regional final on Sunday. The win pushes Sam Houston into the Super Regional, making the Kats the first team out of the Southland Conference to ever advance past the regional round.
Hunter Hearn crossed home with the winning run as part of a 2-run sixth inning, scoring from first on the second Texas Tech error of the day after a check swing from Lance Miles was unable to be fielded successfully by Red Raider second baseman Brian Klein.
Sam Houston moved on to face Florida State in the NCAA Tallahassee Super Regional Regional after the Seminoles knocked off Auburn.
AT THE PLATE For the third-straight game the Bearkats were out-hit on the scoreboard, but Sam Houston made the most of its opportunities. Hearn led the way with a 2-for-4 day on his way to being named to the all-regional team, scoring twice – including the winning run in the bottom of the sixth – and drove in a pair. He was the only Bearkat with a multi-hit game, but six others picked up a hit, including Taylor Beene's RBI double in the fifth, an inning after the Red Raiders had taken the lead.
For the Red Raiders, they pounded out a dozen hits, including a 3-for-5 day from Hunter Hargrove, but once again struggled to hit with men on base. They were hitless in their first 10 tries with men in scoring position and finished the day just 2-for-15 in that category.
ON THE BUMP Once again Sam Houston went with a staff-by-committee, which worked to near perfection. Seth Ballew got the nod for the start and put up a pair of scoreless innings before Dakota Mills came into help out in the third.
But it was Cooper who once again carried the bulk of the load, going 4.2 innings with three strikeouts while throwing 55 pitches just hours after throwing a season-high 60 pitches in Sunday's win over the Red Raiders.
Heath Donica also made his first relief appearance of the year, and the third of his career, striking out one and leaving a pair of runners stranded in the eighth. Meanwhile, freshman Nick Mikolajchak earned his 13th save of the year and third of the regional with a scoreless ninth, leaving the tying run on second base when he struck out Hunter Hargrove swinging for the game's final out.
The Red Raiders gave the start to Davis Martin who punched out six in 4.1 innings, allowing a pair of runs; however, it was Parker Muchinkski who took the loss, falling to 3-2 on the year after allowing a pair of runs in 1.2 frames.
- With the victory the Bearkats advance to their first Super Regional in program history. Additionally, they are the first Southland Conference program to advance to a Super Regional.
- The Bearkats now have 44 wins on the season, their most since 1987, the program's first season at the Division I level. It is one win shy of the program record of 45 set in 1986.
Opening thoughts from head coach Matt Deggs…
We came into Sam Houston State, I was hired by Dr. Hoyt, coach Bobby Williams … I am very thankful for that opportunity. We have an incredible administration, incredible support and a great location. The vision when we came in was top-25 RPI, 40-plus wins, conference champs and ultimately a chance as a program, community, team and university to have a chance to walk through the gates of Omaha. Now we have that chance. I am so thankful to our administration for giving me that opportunity. This is for all the former players. There have been a ton of great players who have come through this program that deserved a chance to continue playing. There were teams on the verge and maybe something didn't go their way. There have been a ton of great players to come through here. Right now I can tell you this, what we have done now is for all of those guys who gave their blood, sweat and tears.”
Best of 2016-17 in Bearkat Athletics Schedule
No. 20 – Softball Sweeps HBU To Clinch SLC Tournament Berth
No. 19 – Football Clinches Southland Conference Title
No. 18 – Baseball Opens SLC Play With 13 Straight Wins
No. 17 – Men's Golf Takes Second At Warrior Princeville Makai Invitational
No. 16 – Briscoe Throws 7 TD As Kats Blast ‘Jacks In Battle Of The Piney Woods
No. 15 – Gettwart Leads Women's Tennis To Win At First-Place Lamar
No. 14 – Three Bearkats Reach 1,000-Point Mark For Careers
No. 13 – Women's golf wins school-record five tournaments
No. 12 – Offensive outburst leads Women's Basketball to win over Demons
No. 11 – Women's Tennis Clinches First Tourney Berth Since 2013
No. 10 – Bowling Earns Berth In NCAA Championships
No. 9 – Volleyball Makes Run To SLC Tournament Finals
No. 8 – Softball Walks Off With Win Over UCA In SLC Tournament
No. 7 – Men’s Basketball Runs Streak To 8, Defeats SFA
No. 6 – Baseball Claims SLC Tournament Title
No. 5 – Defensive Stand Seals Football Playoff Win Over Chattanooga
No. 4 – Track & Field Dominates Southland Meets
No. 3 – Williams' Steal Seals Men's Basketball Quarterfinals Win
No. 2 – Briscoe Wins Walter Payton Award
No. 1 – Baseball Captures Lubbock Regional, Super Regional Berth