ROME, Ga. — The 2019 spring season is set to begin for several Berry College athletics teams this weekend following a historic spring last year.
Brief season outlooks for the sports of baseball, softball, lacrosse, golf, tennis, track & field and equestrian are listed below. For more information, be sure to follow Berry Athletics on Facebook, Twitter and Instagram.
The Berry College baseball team will open the year receiving votes in the D3baseball.com Preseason Top 25, just seven spots outside the ranks. The Vikings will return four seniors for the new year including William Gibbons, Casey Whitaker, Devin Post and J.T. Eggert.
The Vikings had a record-setting 2018 season. For starters, the team won their first Southern Athletic Association (SAA) Regular Season Championship in program history and had two players tie for the NCAA DIII era record for hits in a single season: Senior Jacob Delk and freshman Spence Johns. Both men finished the year with 68 hits, breaking Alfred Francis' record of 65 that stood for just one season. The Vikings posted a 15-4 SAA record, a program best, to earn the regular season crown outright. Berry finished the year 29-13 overall, tying the most wins since the Vikings joined NCAA Division III.
Spence Johns leads the returning All-SAA selections, as he claimed the league's Newcomer of the Year honor last season. Devin Post, Casey Whitaker, Quinn Smith, Tyler Calvert, Ben Coker, Luke Crawford, William Gibbons and Zack Walch also return from All-Conference honors a year ago.
The season will begin on the road on Feb. 5 at Piedmont. The team's home opener is set for Feb. 9 when the team opens a three-game series against Emory & Henry.
Berry's equestrian team will open spring competition with a home show on Feb. 2-3 after strong competition in the fall. The Vikings hunt seat team continues to rank near the top of the region while western also qualified several riders for regionals in March.
The Vikings sent six riders to the Intercollegiate Horse Shows Association (IHSA) National Championships this season. From Hunt Seat, Maggie Sanford and Andrea Hill represented the Vikings. For Western, Berry sent Alex Sievenpiper, Sarah Cooper, Allie Robertson and Mary Catherine Hix.
Five of the six riders placed in the top 10, including three inside the top five, in their respective events. IHSA Nationals are May 2-5 this year.
Men's & Women's Golf
The Berry men's and women's golf teams wrapped up fall competition in October at the Chick-fil-A Collegiate Invitational in Rome. With a lot of golf under their belt already, the men's team rose as high as No. 22 in the Bushnell Golfweek Coaches Poll last fall. The women rose as high as No. 11 in the WGCA poll.
Spring competition will open on March 1 at the Callaway Gardens Collegiate Invitational in Pine Mountain, Ga. The SAA Championships are for April 26-28 in Dickson, Tenn. where the women's team will look to repeat as SAA Champions. The men's team earned a fourth place finish at the tournament last season.
The Berry men's lacrosse team is coming off a 12-4 season, finishing 5-1 in SAA play last year. The mark was the team's best since the 2015 season.
The Vikings earned 10 All-Conference selections, including head coach Curtis Gilbert earning SAA Coach of the Year honors. Berry returns Chris Berchock, McKinley Gannon, Josh Baker, Kyle Rouleau, Cole Johnson and Justin Westbrook from last season's All-SAA list. Berchock also earned IMLCA All-Region honors.
Berry is set to return 11 seniors for the new year. The Vikings will open the season on Feb. 3 at Salisbury and are on the road for the first seven games of the year. The team's home opener is set for March 16 against Marymount (Va.)
Brittni Hall will once again lead the Berry women's lacrosse team, now in her second season. The team posted a 4-11 overall record last season and were 1-5 in league play. However, this season the team will welcome seven freshmen to join the four returning seniors in the new year.
The team claimed three All-Conference honorees last season and will return seniors Ella Makin, Mary Grace Gaskin, Olivia Iobst and Brittni Hoover.
Berry opens the season on Feb. 2 at Point. Their home opener is set for Feb. 21 against Life University.
The Vikings are coming off one of the most successful seasons in program history. Berry finished the year 39-6, winning their sixth straight Southern Athletic Association (SAA) regular season championship and advancing to the NCAA playoffs for the fourth consecutive year. The Vikings advanced to the NCAA Super Regionals for the first time in program history.
Berry also became the first team in SAA softball history to sweep the league's four major All-Conference awards. Head Coach Cori Thiermann earned her second straight SAA Coach-of-the-Year honor, with Kassie Howard earning her second SAA Pitcher-of-the-Year accolade of her career. The duo were accompanied by both Bayleigh Masterson and Kylie Aiken, earning the SAA Newcomer-of-the-Year and SAA Player-of-the-Year honors, respectively.
In addition to Masterson, Berry will return Brooke Whittemore and Makenzie Flynt from last year's All-SAA list. Three seniors, Katlin Seger, Kayla Sangrey and Genna Telschow, lead Berry.
The team is on the road for the entire month of February, beginning on Feb. 9 with a doubleheader at Covenant. Berry's home opener is set for March 1 against DePauw.
Men's & Women's Tennis
The Vikings tennis teams are set to open the 2019 spring season on Feb. 22 against Piedmont at the Rome Tennis Center. Both teams posted a 2-4 conference record last season with the men finishing 7-9 overall and the women posting a 9-7 finish.
The women's team will return All-SAA selection, Kathryn Barker for her sophomore year. The team as a whole will rely on young talent, as Karleigh Dills and Sydney Stone are the only upperclassmen. On the men's side, Ryan Miner returns as the lone senior as the Vikings welcome a pair of freshmen to the mix.
Men's & Women's Track & Field
Berry's track & field teams are already underway with indoor competition, having shattered numerous records already. Both teams have a pair of indoor meets in the month of February before the annual Victor Icebreaker Duals on March 2.
The men's team welcomes back numerous All-SAA winners including Derrell Mims, Mason Kinsey, CJ Stone, Tucker Smith, Mitchell Brice, Jed Woodward, Brayden Fulton and Ethan Caldwell. The team will also carry eight seniors into the spring season, as the Vikings look to improve on their fourth place finish at last year's SAA Championships. Berry's women also return All-SAA winners Meredith Herman, Rachel Bibbey and Alexa Bilsky from last season. Eight seniors lead the way for Berry.