As the weather warms and the Lowcountry readies itself for another beautiful spring, there is a palpable sense of optimism residing within the College of Charleston athletics community as nine sports prepare for action in the coming months.
One year removed from a season in which the College claimed four team championships and maintained an average GPA above 3.0 for all students in all sports, the College will now look to re-enter the national spotlight as some of the nation’s best return to the field, court, ring, course and water.
Here is a quick look at the top story lines to keep an eye on this spring:
1. Baseball looks to build off last year’s magic.
The nationally ranked and unanimous preseason CAA favorite, the baseball team embarks on their 2015 season looking to ride the momentum of last year’s record-setting campaign that carried the Cougars to their second-ever NCAA Super Regional.
2. Equestrian continues to compile ribbons.
Since finishing second among 457 teams nationally – and notching the program’s third Reserve National Championship – at last year’s Intercollegiate Horse Show Association (IHSA) Nationals, the Cougars have consistently finished at the top, racking up four first-place finishes through the fall portion of the 2014-15 season. With four regular season shows in the spring, the Cougars carry a commanding 58-point lead in the IHSA Zone 5 Region 3 and are looking to secure their 25th appearance at IHSA Nationals.
3. Golf hoping to repeat as CAA champs.
The College of Charleston men’s and women’s golf teams enter the spring season as defending CAA champions. Both programs also boast the defending CAA Men’s and Women’s Golfers of the Year in junior John Jonas (Jacksonville, Fla.) and sophomore Laura Fuenfstueck (Langen, Germany).
4. Sailing points toward spring championship.
The College of Charleston coed, women’s and offshore sailing teams had a productive fall, turning in 10 first-place finishes including another national championship title courtesy of freshman and 2016 Olympic hopeful Stefano Peschiera (Lima, Peru). In its second year as a varsity sport, the offshore sailing team won the prestigious Larchmont Offshore Invite and Kennedy Offshore Cup in the fall. The Cougars will kick off the spring season with the SAISA Open on Feb. 14-15 in St. Petersburg, Fla.
5. Softball enters year two under Coach Kalafatis.
Under second-year head coach Linda Kalafatis, the Cougars welcome six newcomers to the roster and bring back seven regular starters from last year’s team that won 40 games for the fourth time in program history and ended the season with one of the highest NCAA RPI rankings in program history.
6. Tennis eyes seat atop the Colonial.
Combining for an impressive 36-15 overall record in 2014, both the men’s and women’s teams fell just one match short of an NCAA tournament appearance – falling to UNCW in the CAA Championship final. The Cougars will now look to avenge last season’s heartbreak against the Seahawks.
7. Tiffany Sisk and Julisa Tindall to represent track and field at ECAC Championship.
Leading the charge for the 2015 edition of College of Charleston track and field will be senior thrower Tiffany Sisk and sophomore sensation Julisa Tindall – both of whom have recently qualified to represent the program at the ECAC Indoor Championship in Boston, Mass., on Friday, Mar. 6.
8. Sand volleyball heads to Nicaragua.
The College of Charleston – one of the sport’s flagship programs – will soon embark on a week-long excursion (Mar. 1-8) to the Central American Isthmus’ largest country, Nicaragua, where the Cougars will visit three very different cities, including: Managua, the capitol city; Granada, the oldest Colonial city in the Americas; and San Juan del Sur, the country’s most popular beach town.
GO: The CofC Sand Classic will be held March 27-29, 2015 at the Creekside sand volleyball facility in Mt. Pleasant.
9. Swim and dive looks to build momentum from emotional senior day.
In their final season of competition and fresh off the heels of an emotional contest with Gardner-Webb this past weekend at the Stern Center, the Cougars look forward to their remaining meets. Celebrating 16 seniors, whose contributions were recognized before the meet, the men’s team capped off the day dominating 242-99, while the women came up just short, 198-146 in their final home outing. The Cougars will now look to build on that momentum heading into their final meets of 2015 against conference foe UNCW and perennial ACC power Virginia Tech before the CAA Swimming and Diving Championships in late February.