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My Take: Can the Eagles say 'See ya SoCon' in style?

My Take: Can the Eagles say 'See ya SoCon' in style?

My Take: Can the Eagles say 'See ya SoCon' in style?

Georgia Southern’s last season in the Southern Conference has been anything but quiet. You might even say it’s been turbulent.
    A football season with high expectations quickly turned spectacularly mediocre, due in part to some combination of injuries and nothing to play for. The mediocrity of the season was quickly forgotten, however, when the Eagles went to Gainesville, Fla., and beat the Florida Gators, a team that was previously expecting the following week’s game against Florida State to be its most painful loss of the season.
    Then head coach Jeff Monken left for Army, and Willie Fritz took over the program, mellowing the moods of the Eagle Nation and ushering in a sort of collective, quiet excitement for the jump to the Sun Belt — off the-field disciplinary issues aside.
    The men’s and women’s basketball teams combined to go 3-2 in the SoCon tournament, with the men making it to the semifinals for the first time in almost a decade, leaving a positive taste in the mouths of GSU fans.
    The volleyball team finished tied for the most wins in program history, and won the SoCon regular-season and tournament championships under first-year coach Dustin Wood.
    Now GSU has really started picking up steam.
    The softball team picked up a regular-season title and is heading into the SoCon tournament with its gaze on a third-consecutive conference title. The golf team won the SoCon and is heading back to the NCAA tournament. The outdoor track and field team saw a dominant performance from Jasmin Walker in the SoCon meet. She won GSU’s 10th-straight long jump title and helped the 4x100-meter relay team set a SoCon record.
    Then, there’s baseball.
    The Eagles got a much-needed sweep over Furman over the weekend — including a pair of shutouts — to leap from seventh to fourth in the conference standings. The sweep all but assured the Eagles a bye in the play-in round of the tournament, though mathematically it will be all-but-impossible to climb all the way to a regular-season championship.
    Still, it’s safe to say that GSU has avoided a second-half collapse like it experienced in 2013, and has a chance to really pick up some momentum heading into the tournament.
    That leaves GSU with a lot of opportunities to make splashes, not only on the way out of the SoCon, but on the national stage, too.
    Golf is a funny-enough game that GSU’s ceiling is pretty high. If it finishes in the top five of the San Antonio, Texas, region, and advances to the NCAA finals, who knows?
    Softball’s ceiling is high too, but the door is still open for disappointment, as the only way to make it back to the NCAA tournament is to win the SoCon, which is in no way a lock. The Eagles could miss out on a regional, or they could win one. Hey, when there’s a Purvis, there’s a way.
    Baseball’s story is still far from being written. While there’s only four games left in the regular season — including the upcoming series at J.I. Clements Stadium against coach Rodney Hennon’s alma mater, Western Carolina — there’s still a lot of down time before the tournament. Those four will be the only games played during an 11-game stretch, the longest gap of the season.
    That means there’s still plenty of time for Georgia Southern to do some damage on its way to the Sun Belt.

    Matt Yogus may be reached at (912) 489-4908.

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