The Parthenon

Column: Herd teams having success out of the limelight

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Rakeem+Cato+and+Evan+McKelvey+pose+with+the+Boca+Raton+Bowl+championship+trophy.+
Rakeem Cato and Evan McKelvey pose with the Boca Raton Bowl championship trophy.

Rakeem Cato and Evan McKelvey pose with the Boca Raton Bowl championship trophy.

Richard Crank

Richard Crank

Rakeem Cato and Evan McKelvey pose with the Boca Raton Bowl championship trophy.

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For almost every school across the country, football and basketball are the prized possessions of athletic departments and fans, and rightfully so. The two sports are, for the most part, what television contracts are based on and are the big money makers for athletic departments.

The case is no different at Marshall University.

Head coach Doc Holliday’s Thundering Herd football team was the recipient of multiple nationally televised games while the men’s and women’s basketball teams have a combined nine games televised on national or regional networks.

Meanwhile, sports like baseball, softball, tennis and track and field will go about their schedules out of the limelight. It’s not their fault either. Very rarely do collegiate Olympic sports teams, outside of the traditional powers, make it to national television stage.

That doesn’t mean they don’t exist, nor does it provide a valid excuse not to support them. In fact, those four sports at Marshall, despite not being in the public spotlight, are demanding the attention of Herd fans.

All four teams have gotten off to great starts, sharing in the recent success the two basketball teams have achieved. Since the start of the new year and the beginning of their spring seasons, the four teams have went a combined 15-4 in addition to the track and field team’s first place finish in the Marshall Invitational this past weekend in Huntington.

Off to its best start since 2010, the softball team started the season 5-0 after a weekend sweep against five different teams in Charleston, South Carolina, outscoring opponents 26-6. The Herd followed that performance up with a 3-1 weekend in Greenville, North Carolina.

Very rarely do collegiate Olympic sports teams, outside of the traditional powers, make it to national television stage. That doesn’t mean they don’t exist, nor does it provide a valid excuse not to support them. In fact, those four sports at Marshall, despite not being in the public spotlight, are demanding the attention of Herd fans.”

The Herd will travel to Tampa, Florida, this weekend to play five games and will play seven more in South Carolina and Miami before it hosts Western Kentucky University in its home opener at Dot Hicks Field in Huntington March 13-14.

Although the track and field team doesn’t have any remaining meets in Huntington, it will look to build on its first place finish heading into C-USA Championships Feb. 25-26 and the NCAA Indoor Nationals March 13-14.

Similar to the softball team, Herd baseball has started 2-1 for the first time since the 2011 season. This season, however, the Herd lit up the scoreboard in its two wins, scoring 34 runs in two games, including a 24-2 victory over Florida A&M University. The Herd will stay on the road the next two weekends before its home opener against the University of Rhode Island March 6.

Without a true home field, the Herd will play eight non-conference games at the Kennedy Center Field a few minutes from campus on Route 2 and 10 C-USA games in Charleston. With a roster made up of 21 upperclassmen (out of 34 players), the Herd will look to win more than 20 games for the first time since it went 27-31 in 2010.

Continuing the success it had last season (14-8), the Marshall tennis team has started its 2015 campaign 5-2. With its two losses coming against No.1 University of California, Los Angeles and No. 74 University of California, Irvine – both of which were played in Los Angeles – the Herd has also picked up two wins of its own against ranked competition.

The Herd picked up a pair of victories against No. 66 University of Louisville and No. 72 University of Minnesota at home this past weekend. The tennis team will have six more matches at home (either on campus or at the Huntington Tennis Club in Barboursville) this season before the C-USA tournament starts April 15.

These four teams may not get the publicity or exposure, but they’re quietly winning. Once March Madness has come and gone and attention begins to turn toward the countdown to the next football season, consider traveling 15 minutes from campus to watch your baseball team. Maybe catch a softball doubleheader one weekend or catch a tennis match on campus.

If you miss out on some fun times and more wins, don’t say I didn’t warn you.

Shannon Stowers can be contacted at [email protected]

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