Hornets lead chase for Commissioner’s Cup

The Alabama State media relations department put out a release on its mid-season standing as the 10 teams in the Southwestern Athletic Conference chase after the Commissioner’s Cup, which is awarded to the best overall athletic department.

It has to be the best-ever showing for the Hornets, which won yet another women’s cross-country championship and qualified for the first NCAA Tournament appearance in volleyball. They need to follow it up with a strong spring, but there’s every reason to believe that both golf teams and the baseball program will contend for titles and the softball and tennis programs will be improved.

Here’s the fall roundup:

The Alabama State soccer program went undefeated in conference play (only division games count) to wrap up the East Division title. The Hornets were the number one seed in the conference tournament despite late injuries that were crucial to depth and defensive play. ASU advanced to the championship game before losing to Jackson State, finishing second in the conference. With much of his talent returning in 2014, Jodie Smith’s squad could go even farther next season.

The volleyball program, much like the soccer program, is only getting better with each passing year. Penny Lucas-White’s squad was unbeaten in conference (division) play and won the East Division, then captured the SWAC Tournament title in Jackson, Miss., over Alabama A&M. The Lady Hornets advanced to the NCAA Tournament, where they were swept by Washington.

The women’s cross country team didn’t rebuild, it simply reloaded with another impressive performance by Richie Beene’s squad. Seven competitors earned all-SWAC honors in the conference meet by finishing among the top 10 to win the tournament. The team finished last in the NCAA regional, giving it a goal for 2014. The men, meanwhile, continued to climb up the ladder in the conference standings, finishing a surprising second in the event. For the women, it was their third consecutive SWAC title.

The football team stared out 0-2, which included a crucial loss to Jackson State. The Hornets could never catch the Tigers, finishing second in the East Division and third overall, but another 8-4 finish wasn’t bad, with two of the losses coming to a surprisingly good Jacksonville State team that advanced deep into the FCS playoffs and Southeastern Conference member Kentucky. For the first time under head coach Reggie Barlow, the Hornets won both the Magic City Classic and the Turkey Day Classic.

It was a really good fall for the Hornets, proving again that good facilities and good coaches attract good athletes and put a program in championship contention.


About tgayle

Tim Gayle is a sports reporter for the Montgomery Advertiser newspaper and montgomeryadvertiser.com.
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