Eagles soaring above A-Sun programs - Johnson City Press

Tuesday, May 05, 2009

Florida Gulf Coast is one of four Atlantic Sun Conference baseball teams not eligible for the league tournament, which is good news for the seven teams who are.

The Eagles are soaring atop the A-Sun standings, and took a big step toward defending their regular season title by piling up 49 runs during a three-game sweep of East Tennessee State Friday and Saturday at Cardinal Park.

Florida Gulf Coast is in good position to win its second title in as many years since entering the league, but won't be eligibile for the postseason until next year. Former Division II programs can fast-track one men’s sport and one women’s sport to make those eligible for D-I postseasons in a program’s third year instead of the fifth year. Volleyball was the Lady Eagles’ choice.

FGCU is on the fast track, but also looks healthy for the long run. Eagles coach Dave Tollett, who played for Bill Smith at Tusculum (class of ‘88), said he had seven sophomores, a freshman and a junior in the lineup Saturday.

“We’re young,” he said. “We only lose one off this team position-wise.”

Despite having back-to-back titles within sight, Tollett said his program still isn’t completely out of the D-II shadow.

“There are 12 Division I schools in our state and people still don’t know who we are,” Tollett said. “We say, ‘We’re Florida Gulf Coast’ and people say, ‘Are you the junior college in Panama City?’ We say, ‘No, we’re the four-year school in Fort Myers.’”

People in the A-Sun know all too well. The Eagles are 19-5 in the league this year after going 25-8 in their debut campaign.

Tollett’s continued to stockpile talent despite not being able to offer postseason opportunities the past two years.

By Trey Williams
Press Sports Writer