It is the second year of Arkansas-Pine Bluff baseball coach Carlos James' rebuilding project, and he is expecting the winning to start this year.
It is the second year of Arkansas-Pine Bluff baseball coach Carlos James’ rebuilding project, and he is expecting the winning to start this year.
A year after finishing last in the SWAC, UAPB (11-34, 7-17 last year) started spring practice on Jan. 27. The Golden Lions play Arkansas-Little Rock on Feb. 17 in Little Rock to open the season.
Despite finishing last in the conference last year, James and his team are preparing for a season like they are getting everyone’s best shot.
“We are not going to sneak up on anybody,” James said. “I don’t believe we are given a lot of respect in the conference. It’s almost like being the best team in the conference because nobody wants to be beat by you.
“So what happens is you get everyone’s best game all of the time because no one wants to get beat by UAPB.”
The Lions brought in a number of junior college players this year and two freshmen, which James said has brought a new mentality to practice already.
“We brought in a bunch of guys in this year that come from winning programs,” he said. “We have guys that played in the junior college World Series … a freshman from Long Beach, California from Wilson High School that is a top 10 high school program, and another freshman that played for another top team in the nation. They are used to winning.”
James, who is in his second year as the head coach of UAPB, said those players will be the foundation for the program for the coming years.
“This kind of kick-starts building a program to where you can compete year-in and year-our,” he said.
UAPB plays four games against UALR to start the year on Feb. 17-19. On Feb. 18, the Golden Lions plays a doubleheader against UALR.
Bowers named interim softball coach
Chrystal Bowers was not given much of a transition period to get her team ready for the upcoming softball season.
Bowers took over as UAPB’s softball coach on Feb. 2. The Lady Lions first game of the year is Friday against Arkansas-Monticello in Star City, which gave Bowers eight days in between being hired and the team’s first action.
But Bowers is not ready to make the short turnaround an excuse.
“It’s kind of difficult, but I am always up for the challenge,” she said. “It’s pretty much all about getting organized and stepping in and trying to get yourself up to speed as much as possible.
“The foundation was already there, so I just continue from there and put my own stamp on it.”
Bowers said one of the first things she did was meet with the team and each player individually.
“I let them know we still have an objecting and we would like to win and remain focused,” she said. “If you lose a coach that recruited you, you feel hurt. So I’m just building trust with them and help them stay focused.”
Bowers has been at UAPB as an assistant coach for the track and field team. She graduated from Bethune-Cookman.
Former head coach Kayla Curbow left the team due to personal reasons. Last year, the Lady Lions finished the season as the No. 3 team going into the SWAC tournament and beat Texas Southern before losing to Jackson State.
UAPB women not thinking about losing streak
On Jan. 28, the Towson men’s basketball team snapped a 41-game losing streak, which gave the UAPB women the longest current losing streak among all NCAA Division I basketball teams.
The streak is up to 34 games after UAPB lost to Alabama State on Monday. As the team prepares for its game at Southern on Saturday, UAPB coach Cary Shelton says the extent and magnitude of the losing streak is not on the team’s mind.
“We are not worrying about that right now,” he said. “We came out with a lot of energy and enthusiasm (Wednesday) at practice and we are preparing for Southern.”
UAPB’s last win game against Texas Southern on Jan. 22, 2011, which was the only win for the Lady Lions last year.
Shelton said the team does know where the losing streak ranks.
“Certainly going to be aware of certain things,” he said. “But it’s not our main focal point for us right now.”