The top storylines of the year in Georgia Southern athletics:
5. Perfect Purvis
Sarah Purvis didn’t have the season she expected.
Though she didn’t exceed her own expectations, she still won Southern Conference Pitcher of the Year (for the second time in a row), and still made GSU history — twice.
It started in a ho-hum game in an early-season tournament against Southern Illinois. All Purvis did was toss the first perfect game in school history.
What’s better than tossing a perfect game? Tossing a perfect game in the NCAA tournament.
Purvis did that against Hampton at the NCAA Gainesville, Fla., regional. It was her second perfect game of the season, the second in GSU history, and only the program’s second win in the NCAA tournament ever.
What’s the best part? Purvis will be back in 2014 for her senior season.
4. Eagles win, Eagles win
Georgia Southern had what can only be described as a roller-coaster baseball season in 2013. The Eagles shocked the college baseball world — if not themselves — by exploding out of the gate with a series win over Georgia, a road win at Florida and a split with Indiana. Before they knew it, they were 18-7 and 9-1 in the SoCon, and ranked in the Top 25.
Some time around back-to-back road losses at UNC Greensboro, the wheels started coming off. After GSU showed up in the polls, it went 7-23, and 4-16 in conference play.
Perhaps that’s why it was another huge surprise when the Eagles beat College of Charleston and Furman and made it all the way back to the SoCon semifinals. Elon eventually beat the Eagles in consecutive games in what was dubbed (by me) the “Getting out of the SoCon” bracket, but for a GSU team that set the wrong kinds of records -- team strikeouts in a season being the most notable -- it was proof why GSU is always a contender on the diamond. Always.
3. A spike in wins
First-year Georgia Southern volleyball coach Dustin Wood had a high bar set by the previous staff. All he did was win a SoCon title and lead GSU to a 28-6 record — tied for the most wins in program history — in his first season.
Not bad for a coach who was still learning his players’ names when the Eagles were busy winning all four season-opening tournaments in which the team played.
2. Eagles drain the Swamp
It was tough picking between the No. 2 and No. 1 storylines of 2013, and Georgia Southern’s 26-20 win over the Florida Gators is hard to leave off the top of the list.
There’s not much more to say about the game — the biggest win in Georgia Southern University history — that hasn’t already been said, so here’s a justification:
The No. 1 storyline made it possible for wins over programs like Florida during the regular season to become more commonplace for the football program.
1. The Decision
No, the top story in 2013 doesn’t involve LeBron James. Or the Boys and Girls Club.
It is the decision made by GSU to accept an invitation to the Football Bowl Subdivision Sun Belt conference.
It is a decision that will literally change the course of Georgia Southern athletics — for better or for worse, for richer or for poorer — forever.
Love it or hate it, it’s a big deal.
Matt Yogus may be reached at (912) 489-9408.