Wednesday, April 30, 2008

Niners' Taylor named to Bench watch list

Charlotte 49ers senior catcher Chris Taylor has been named to the watch list for the 2008 Johnny Bench Award, given annually to the nation's top catcher in college baseball.

As of Monday's NCAA statistics, Taylor was eighth in the nation with 59 runs batted in, 10th in RBIs per game, 14th in home runs and 42nd in slugging percentage.

On Tuesday, Taylor added another home run during the 49ers' 7-5 victory at Winthrop. Taylor's 16 home runs this season rank fourth-highest in a single season in Charlotte history.

The watch list will be narrowed down to 10 semi-finalists on May 14. A final vote among the national committee will occur during the College World Series.

Tuesday, April 29, 2008

Niners announce all-sports awards

The Charlotte 49ers held their annual all-sports banquet on Sunday, where individual athletic and academic awards were handed out to student-athletes at the school. This year's winners (certain awards were given to 2006-07 athletes since 07-08 seasons are not complete):

Baseball, MVP (06-07), Adam Mills

Men's basketball, MVP, Leemire Goldwire

Men's basketball, Charles Hayward Memorial Grubstake Award, Ian Andersen

Women's basketball, MVP, Sabrina Gregory

Women's basketball, Gold Nugget Award, Erin Floyd

Men's cross country, MVP, Chase Eckard

Men's track and field/cross country, Vincent Vemitsky Memorial Award, Adu Dentamo

Women's cross country, MVP, Aja Jackson

Women's track and field/cross country, Vincent Venitsky Memorial Award, Amanda Goetschius

Golf, MVP (06-07), Jonas Enander Hedin

Men's indoor track and field, MVP, Chase Eckard

Women's indoor track and field, MVP, Aja Jackson

Men's outdoor track and field, MVP (06-07), Chase Eckard

Women's outdoor track and field, MVP (06-07), Shareese Woods

Men's soccer, MVP, Graham Tatters

Men's soccer, David Schlee Memorial Award, Paul Begue

Women's soccer, MVP, Lindsey Ozimek

Softball, MVP (06-07), Becky Matthews

Men's tennis, MVP, Michael Anders

Women's tennis, MVP, Ana Spivakovsky

Women's tennis, Wendi Cook Memorial Award, Koren Fleming

Volleyball, Coach's Award, Jenn Webb

Volleyball, MVP, Alma Arroyo

Cheerleaders, MVP, Jazmin Skipper

Gold Dusters, MVP, Corrie Ducker

Academic Awards (highest GPA over previous two semesters)

Male Hugh McEniry Award, Brad Clinard, Tennis and Matt Dobler, Track

Female Bonnie E. Cone Award, Gina Allen, Softball; Lisa Thomas, Volleyball; Nicole Labuda, Soccer; Lindsey Ozimek, Soccer; and Lamarra Currie, Track.

Thursday, April 24, 2008

Q&A with 49ers baseball coach

Q&A with Charlotte 49ers baseball coach Loren Hibbs

I caught up with Hibbs following the 49ers' 17-0 loss to second-ranked North Carolina on Tuesday. We spoke at length about the game but he also touched a couple of other topics, which I'll share here.

Q: Coach, how has pitcher Sam Pierce been handling the aftermath of the line drive he took in the Xavier game?

Hibbs: Sam is one of the toughest kids I've ever been around. For him to get hit like he did was scary for everybody. To go through five-plus hours of surgery, to be back out here trying to be supportive of what's going on, to already start bugging me about when he can start throwing again, it's amazing. And I'm dead serious, he wants to throw. I was messing with him during the game Tuesday and said, "Those hamburgers are smelling really good." You know he can't eat any solid food right now. He ignored me. So I said, "I'm serious, those hamburgers are smelling really good, aren't they?" He turned around and gave me that 'go to heck' look. Coach (Brandon) Hall (pitching coach) said, "We can put it in a blender and mash it up if we need to." We just need to keep this all in perspective. Sam was very lucky.

Q: Despite the lopsided loss to the Tar Heels, what did you think of the atmosphere around the game (including a record overflow crowd of more than 3,200)?

Hibbs: We had a staff meeting earlier in the day before the game, Judy (Rose, athletics director) said three things during that meeting that pertained to baseball. She said there was a baseball game that night, it was a sellout and the only thing that was left was standing room only. If any of us, 15 or 16 years ago, ever thought that would come out of her mouth, I think after saying it was a sellout everyone would have thought she'd gone crazy.
I came out an hour before the game, working my normal routine, and I kid you not there was a line 30 cars deep to go up the hill to park. It's fantastic. It's what we envisioned for a long time. It's also part of the growing process. This is the first time we've been in this environment at home. North Carolina has been in this environment. It's a learning process for us and we'll be better the next time and better the time after that. This is what high-level college baseball is all about. To put this kind of facility up and have that kind of crowd in it, we should all be proud.

Tuesday, April 22, 2008

Stywalt leaving Niners women's team

Former Vance High standout Wendy Stywalt, a sophomore guard with the Charlotte 49ers, has elected to transfer at the end of the school year, school officials confirmed on Tuesday.

In two seasons with the 49ers, Stywalt averaged 8.8 points and 4.9 rebounds. In her freshman season, she was named to the Atlantic 10 all-rookie team after averaging 9.8 points and 5.1 rebounds per game.

This season, she averaged 7.7 points and 4.6 rebounds as the 49ers made their sixth consecutive postseason trip.

At Vance, Stywalt was named ME-CA 8 Conference player of the year as a junior and senior. She averaged 18.2 points, 5.3 rebounds and 6.3 assists as a senior. She was ranked among the top-10 senior guards in the country by All-Star Girls Report.

Monday, April 21, 2008

Lyerly A-10 player of the week

The Charlotte 49ers' record-setting offensive explosion at Massachusetts over the weekend helped sophomore designated hitter and first baseman Rob Lyerly garner Atlantic 10 Player of the Week honors.

In Saturday's 24-6 win over the Minutemen, Lyerly went 6-for-6, including three home runs, two doubles and a triple. The former star at Piedmont High set one school record and tied three others with his performance.

The three home runs and six hits tied school records, while the 19 total bases was the most for a single game in team history. With hits in his last two at-bats in Friday's game, he tied another school record by getting hits in eight straight at-bats.

Lyerly has 27 extra-base hits out of his 47 total hits this season and leads the team with a .748 slugging percentage. He added a fourth home run for the weekend in Sunday's loss to UMass.

-- Charlotte (29-9) will go with righthander B.J. Hagen on the mound in Tuesday's rematch with second-ranked North Carolina at Hayes Stadium. Hagen pitched a career-long seven innings and allowed just two hits in last week's 5-4 loss to the Tar Heels in 12 innings. North Carolina (34-7) will likely go with freshman righthander Patrick Johnson, a former standout at Conover's St. Stephens High.

Mack's surgery a success

-- Charlotte 49ers men's basketball player Lamont Mack underwent successful arthroscopic knee surgery last Friday to repair a torn meniscus in his left knee.

"They were able to remove the torn piece and clean out some of the debris as well. Lamont is in good spirits. He will undergo a 12-week rehab program and we fully expect him to be ready to go for fall workouts," said Charlotte's head athletic trainer, Carlton Anderson.

The surgery was performed by Dr. James Fleischli.

Mack, a 6-foot-7 junior forward, averaged 12.8 points and 5.1 rebounds last season, his first with the 49ers. He scored in double figures in 10 of Charlotte's final 11 games.

-- Charlotte 49ers senior Andrew DiBitetto on Monday was named Atlantic 10 men's golf player of the week after finishing under par at two events this past week. Charlotte won the Palisades Collegiate Classic and finished fifth in the Boilermaker Invitational.

This is the ninth time this season a Charlotte player has won the award and the ninth week of competition for the 49ers. In other words, they have won the award for every week they have been eligible. DiBitetto finished one-under 215 at the Palisades tournament and two-under 214 at Purdue.

Thursday, April 17, 2008

Women's basketball recruits

First-year Charlotte 49ers women's basketball coach Karen Aston has completed her 2008 recruiting class with the addition this week of 6-foot guard/forward Rachelle Coward of Nova Scotia, Canada, and 5-11 guard/forward Paige McCallum of Whiteville, N.C.

Coward, who played this season at Oak Hill Academy in Mouth of Wilson, Va., was named one of the top 100 U.S. players by Slam Magazine. She shot 49 percent from the field and 54 percent from behind the 3-point line.

McCallum is the younger sister of current 49ers freshman Shannon McCallum. Paige spent this past year at The Patterson School in Lenoir but did not play because of a torn ACL. At Whiteville High, she was the 2007 Wilmington Star News Player of the Year, averaging 18 points, 13 rebounds and 10 assists per game as a junior.

Aston already had three recruits sign in November -- Jennifer Hailey of Marshville Forest Hills, Nicole Hargraves of Greensboro and Katie Meador of Marble Falls, Texas.

Lamont Mack having knee surgery

Charlotte 49ers junior forward Lamont Mack is scheduled to have arthroscopic surgery on his left knee on Friday to repair damage to a torn meniscus (cartilage) suffered in a practice session last weekend, team officials confirmed.

Mack, who averaged 12.8 points and 5.1 rebounds per game this season, will miss up to 12 weeks of practice and workout sessions.

Doctors expect a full recovery, officials said.

Wednesday, April 16, 2008

Charlotte baseball boasts top players

Some Niner notables this week:
  • Two Charlotte baseball players are ranked among the nation's best at their respective positions according to new rankings by Catcher Chris Taylor is ranked fourth nationally by position in the country and Brad McElroy is listed as 14th-best among outfielders. Taylor is on the list for the six consecutive week, while McElroy is making his first appearance. Taylor is batting .363 for the season with 10 homers and 43 RBIs. McElroy currently holds a 26-game hitting streak, one short of the second-longest in school history. He leads Charlotte at a .397 batting average, with a team-best 54 hits, 13 doubles and 46 runs scored.
  • Charlotte women's basketball senior guard Sabrina Gregory was named to the Division I-AAA Athletic Directors Association Scholar-Athlete team for the second straight season. Gregory has a 3.74 GPA in mathematics for business and was recently named first-team ESPN The Magazine Academic All-District for the second consecutive season.
  • Freshman Charlotte softball pitcher Katy Hackett was named Atlantic 10 Softball co-rookie of the Week, league officials announced Monday, marking her first conference weekly mention. Hackett held conference rival Saint Louis to just two hits in the first game of doubleheader action Saturday afternoon, and credited with the save in game two of the series.

Saturday, April 12, 2008

Coach shaving head for charity

Charlotte 49ers women's soccer coach Jon Lipsitz, always ready to put everything he has into a cause, has decided to add his hair and will shave his head for pediatric cancer research. Lipsitz, the 2007 Atlantic 10 coach of the year, is raising money through donations through the St. Baldrick's Foundation.

Members of Lipsitz's team will shave his head April 17. "Seeing children struggle with cancer is just so heart wrenching to us all," he said. "I thought 'what would my children want me to do?' and immediately decided to join the fundraising effort and shave my head."

Lipsitz became acquainted with his charity by his nephew who lives in Portland, who has a friend with cancer. His nephew, Sam, is shaving his head in a statement of solidarity with his friend.

To donate or for more information, click here.

Money raised goes to research to help prevent pediatric cancer.

Friday, April 4, 2008

Niners news and notes

News and Notes about the Charlotte 49ers:

-- Kudos to the Atlantic 10 for turning down participation in's "High-Major All-America" awards this season. Following a discussion with sports information directors at all 14 A-10 schools, the league's associate commissioner, Ray Cella, notified the site the league would not be participating.
Cella said the league is not interested in getting involved in "labels" associated indiscriminately to the league and fully supported Xavier's decision earlier this season to turn down a "mid major" award given to guard Drew Lavender.

-- I spoke briefly with incoming freshman shooting guard Shamarr Bowden on Thursday night. Bowden said he hoped to be in Charlotte working out with his new teammates by the beginning of May and had already picked out the No. 20 to wear next season.

-- Former 49ers basketball star Kelvin Price is starting to turn heads in the boxing ring. Brad Cooney recently did a Q&A with Price on You can read it at

Tuesday, April 1, 2008

Nagy continues Charlotte golf trend

The Charlotte 49ers, ranked among the top five men’s teams in college golf, are keeping a perfect score.
Sophomore Corey Nagy, who played at Vance High, was named the Atlantic 10 men’s golf performer of the week, his third time winning the award this season and fifth during his two-year career with the 49ers.
A Charlotte player has won the A-10 award each of the eight weeks the 49ers have played (been eligible) this season.
Nagy tied for eighth at last week’s U.S. Collegiate Championships, his fourth top-15 finish of the season. He finished the tournament at 1-over 217.
The 49ers’ next tournament will be April 14-15 at The Palisades Country Club in south Charlotte, the first time they have hosted an event since becoming ranked last fall.

Niners get baseball honors

The Charlotte 49ers continue to rack up conference awards in baseball as senior center fielder Brad McElroy was named Atlantic 10 player of the week and second baseman Corey Shaylor shared the league's rookie of the week award with Chris Pickering of Rhode Island.

McElroy had at least two hits in all three of Charlotte's wins over La Salle last weekend as the 49ers improved to 21-3, 6-0. Shaylor went 8-for-19 with seven RBIs over the past five games.

Charlotte also got added attention from several national polls on Monday. Collegiate Baseball News has the 49ers ranked No. 18, one shy of the school-record.

Perfect Game Crosschecker has Charlotte at No. 27; at No. 31 (by order of consideration); and the 49ers are receiving votes in the ESPN/USA Today and National Collegiate Baseball Writers of America polls.