UWF spring athletics, a look ahead

Jason Dustin

Sports Editor

Spring 2016 will mark the University of West Florida’s last semester without football.

However, the Argonauts will boast a lineup of teams that features a three-time NCAA Division II national champion men’s tennis team, two-time national champion men’s golf team and one-time national championship baseball team.

An overview of this spring’s Argonaut athletic schedule.

Baseball

2016 is UWF Head Coach Mike Jeffcoat’s 11th season. During his tenure, the Argonauts have won the national title and compiled a .652 winning percentage.

Jeffcoat is hoping his team can snap a two-year NCAA Division II tournament drought, which has come following a four consecutive appearances (2010-2013).

Last year UWF finished 30-18 overall, and fourth in the Gulf South Conference with a 21-11 record, according to UWF Athletic Communications. This year’s schedule is 50 games in total, with the Jim Spooner Field home-opener scheduled for Tuesday, Feb. 9 at 5 p.m., when they will meet the University of Mobile.

Returning from last year’s squad is the entire infield, as well as the team’s top-performing pitcher, according the UWF Athletic Communications.

Jeffcoat’s lineup will feature five of the last year’s top seven batters, including versatile sophomore Nick Kerkmann, of Oviedo, Florida, who led UWF with a .338 average last year.

Pensacola’s Brandon Nagem returns for his final season. The Pine Forest High School product’s 2.00 ERA ranked third in the GSC in 2015.

The Argos home schedule is highlighted by a three-game series against defending national champion the University of Tampa, on Feb. 12-14.

Men’s Golf

The men’s golf team closed out the fall portion of their 2015-2016 ranked first in the nation.

The Argos’ schedule resumes on Feb. 8, when they travel to Lakeland, Florida to take part in the Matlock Collegiate Classic, which is hosted by Florida Southern College.

The team’s lone home course appearance will be when UWF hosts the three-day Argonaut Invitational, beginning Monday, April 4. It will take place at the Tiger Point Golf Club, in Gulf Breeze. The tournament will take place assuming Head Coach Steve Fell’s team maintains something close to their current form, they will open GSC tournament play on Monday, April 19 in Muscle Shoals, Alabama.

The NCAA Division II National Championships will be in Denver, hosted by Metro State University, and begin on Monday, May 16 for all who qualify. Fell led the Argos to the national title during the 2007-08 season.

Women’s golf

The women’s golf team resumes play on Sunday, Feb. 7, at the World Golf Invitational in St.Augustine, Florida.

The first opportunity for UWF fans to watch the team will be at the Argonaut Invitational on Monday, April 4, which will take place at the Stonebrook Golf Club, in Pace.

The GSC tournament begins on Monday, May 2, in Muscle Shoals, Alabama. UWF will host the NCAA Division II Super Regionals in 2016. The three-day event, which will be in Pace, begins on Sunday, May 1.

The national tournament, for those who qualify, begins on May 19, in Aurora, Colorado.

Softball

Last year’s team finished with an overall record of 19-30.

The 2016 edition’s offense looks to be fueled by two sophomores. Meghan Toney’s .320 batting average was third best on last year’s team, when she was a freshman. The sophomore from Huntsville, Alabama will team with Pensacola native, and fellow sophomore Kaylen Rowell. Rowell led the Lady Argos with five homeruns in 2015, and was second with 25 RBI.

Becca Taylor, the team’s best-performing pitcher of 2015 returns. The Panama City product, now a junior, finished last year a record of 11-8 and a 2.62 ERA.