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The University of South Carolina Lancaster’s best-ever baseball start, including a sweep of then-12th-rated Spartanburg Methodist College, has earned the Lancers a first-ever national ranking.
The Lancers, following a weekend four-game sweep of the SMC Pioneers, are No. 13 in the latest National Junior College Athletic Association Division I national poll.
The poll was released Wednesday.
“This is quite an honor for our athletic program, baseball team and school,” said Lancers’ fourth-year head coach Steve Williams, who has been the USCL baseball coach since its inception. “This ranking is a credit to our players and coaches and the hard work they’ve done to take our baseball program to this level.”
The Lancaster, who are on a nine-game winning streak, opened the season with eight straight wins before dropping two straight to Lake Land Community College.
The Lancers then split a twin bill with the Newberry junior varsity baseball team, with the nightcap win over the Junior Wolves launching the nine-game win streak.
In the sweep of SMC, a national power in junior college baseball, the Lancers posted two extra-inning one-run wins over the Pioneers.
SMC, 15-6, dropped out of the national rankings with the four losses to USCL. The Pioneers were ranked 13th last week.
“Going into Spartanburg and winning four straight games over a nationally-ranked Spartanburg Methodist team says a great deal about our team,” Williams said. “This is the fourth year for our program and I feel our ranking reflects the success we’ve had.
“We won 18 games total last season and we have 18 now, so that shows how hard we’ve worked and what we’ve achieved.”
Williams said the Lancers can’t rest on their laurels.
After a home game with the Newberry College jayvees on Thursday, the Lancers hit the road for a weekend series with Region X foe USC Sumter, a 17-5 team, which received votes in the latest national poll.
Atop the NJCAA Div. I national poll is 27-0 Louisburg College, also a Region X member.
USCL hosts Louisburg March 31 and April 1.
“Region X is a tough league and if you can win in this region, you’re likely to gain notice,” Williams said. “That’s what happened here and our challenge is to stay on top of our game because there’s plenty of tough games ahead.
“You have two Region X teams (Louisburg and USCL) in the top 20, another which received votes and you never can count out SMC,” Williams said. “As we all know, it’s where your’re ranked at the end that means the most.”