Whether it was a quarterback lighting up the stat sheet, teams enjoying playoff success, pitchers getting drafted or new faces taking over key positions, a lot happened in the local college athletics landscape in 2018.
Below are the top local storylines from the 2018 calendar year, listed in chronological order.
New AD at SU
SU was in the market for a new athletic director when Doug Zipp stepped away from the post in the summer of 2017, and Bridget Lyons was announced as his replacement in November of that year. Lyons began her new post on Jan. 15, becoming the sixth full-time athletic director in Shenandoah history and the first woman to hold the position at the school.
New head coach
A year after winning the NCAA Division I-FCS national championship at the end of the 2016 season, the JMU football team returned to the title game in January but came up short of a repeat in a 17-13 loss to North Dakota State.
The Dukes rewarded head coach Mike Houston with a 10-year contract extension before the national championship game but saw Houston leave to take the head coaching job at East Carolina University after JMU’s 2018 season came to an end in the second round of the playoffs. Curt Cignetti, who had coached at Elon for two seasons, was named as Houston’s replacement on Dec. 14.
New SU arena
Shenandoah’s newest athletics facility, the 77,000-square-foot James R. Wilkins Jr. Athletics and Events Center, hosted its first basketball games on Jan. 31, officially marking the completion of a process that began with the arena’s groundbreaking in Oct. 2016.
Hornets in playoffs
SU’s baseball team maintained its regular presence in the NCAA Division III playoffs and earned a spot in the Mid-East Regional in Adrian, Michigan in May. The Hornets booked their ninth trip to the regional round in the past 10 seasons by winning the Old Dominion Athletic Conference tournament for the second time since joining the league in 2013.
The Hornets were ousted from the playoffs after three games.
Nationals draft Morse
Shenandoah pitcher Colin Morse followed in the footsteps of his older brother Phil and was drafted by Washington in the 26th round of the Major League Baseball draft on June 6. Morse made just six appearances for the Gulf Coast League Nationals before earning his first professional promotion to the Auburn Doubledays, Washington’s short-season Class A affiliate, on July 17.
Rockies select Harlow
Four rounds after Morse was drafted, Colorado selected local pitcher Colton Harlow, a 2014 Stonewall Jackson High School graduate and former JMU standout. Harlow went 1-0 with a 4.57 ERA and 22 strikeouts in 21⅔ innings pitched for the Grand Junction Rockies in the Rookie League in 2018.
Rebels win VBL title
New Market topped Charlottesville in two games in August to claim its first Valley Baseball League championship since 2002 and its fourth title in club history. Led by the VBL’s Most Valuable Player, outfielder Andrew Eyster, the Rebels ended the 2018 season on a 13-game winning streak, including six playoff victories.
Former Sherando football standout Dylan Rivers made his first college start for Virginia Tech in the Hokies’ season opener against Florida State on Labor Day night, finishing with seven tackles in Tech’s 24-3 win. Rivers started the first seven games of the season at linebacker before suffering an ankle injury and finished the regular season with 33 tackles (16 solo), 1.5 sacks and two tackles for loss.
Shenandoah University quarterback Hayden Bauserman had a stellar senior season and led Division III with 3,832 passing yards and 43 touchdowns on 355 completions in 555 attempts. Bauserman, who broke the ODAC record for career touchdown passes with an eight-TD performance against Guilford during the Hornets’ senior day, finished his college career with 132 touchdown tosses, which lead all active NCAA players.
The 2014 Central High School grad and Woodstock native was named the ODAC’s Offensive Player of the Year for the first time in his career, and Bauserman won the Lanier Award, presented by the Touchdown Club of Richmond to the top NCAA Division II/III/NAIA player in Virginia, on Dec. 13. Bauserman also was one of four finalists for the Gagliardi Trophy, given annually to the best player in Division III, and was named second team All-South Region by D3football.com.