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The University of South Carolina at Lancaster got the jump on a new era in Lancers' athletics just after midnight Monday.
The Lancers, who are fielding a baseball team for the first time in school history, opened their practice for the fall. The official opening of fall practice was Monday.
The Lancers, with 54 players in the fold, played two five-inning games.
Fans were filing in by around 11:30 p.m. and the group number reached as high as 75 at one point, including a group tailgating in right center field.
"This is a dream come true," said USCL athletic director Rick Walters. "We've waited a while for this and it's great to see it all come together."
Lancaster County Clerk of Court Jeff Hammond, who attended USCL and later worked there, said it's been 23 years since the sport was first considered.
"I can remember me and professor John Griffin went to USC-Salkehatchie and talked with them to see how the program worked," Hammond said. "That was 23 years ago. We wanted to know just what it took to get baseball started."
Hammond, wearing a Lancers' baseball cap and shirt, has a son, Khoury, playing on the team.
Dr. Peter Barry, a faculty member at USCL since 1973, was among the group out for the first practice.
'This is the latest I've ever been at a baseball game with the exception of some which might have gone into extra innings," he said. "It's really pretty exciting for the school and campus."
Margaret Gamble, a member of the Lancaster County school board and a retired educator, was in the group.
"I just wanted to see the boys play and it looks like they have some pretty good players," she said.
"This has to get you excited," said Larry Blackwell, an avid baseball fan. "College baseball in Lancaster. Now that's pretty special. It shows what's going on with our university and how it has grown."
"I'm glad to see all the sports that have been added at USCL," said Bill Westmoreland. "It's an exciting time."
The Lancers will work out twice daily until fall semester classes begin Aug. 21.
The team's first fall season game is Sept. 13 when it faces Florence-Darlington Tech at noon.
Contact sports editor Robert Howey at firstname.lastname@example.org