Many of you know that I cover DII Sports for the official site of the NCAA. It’s a job I absolutely love. The head coaches and players in Division II are very talented, some of the most talented at what they do in the nation, but they simply don’t get the coverage that Division I gets (and understandably so).
There is always a willingness and excitement to speak to me when they get the chance, and it is really what makes it enjoyable. Sometimes, I like to share those experiences with my readers here.
This week I got to combine my two biggest passions, baseball and college sports. The Tampa Spartans are the reigning DII National Champions. You may remember them from last season, as they defeated the Philadelphia Phillies in a spring training exhibition on a come from behind win highlighted by a grand slam. The Spartans will face off against the Phillies again later this month.
They enter their title defense with a completely new lineup — aside from two key cogs from their 2015 World Series run.
They are making the transition from a power team to a small ball team, or as I joked around with National Defender of the Year Casey Scoggins, they are going from the Houston Astros to the Kansas City Royals. This season may fit Scoggins game even better, as he is a speedster that creates runs by getting on base and stealing bases.
Their rotation is scary deep as well. They have six or seven pitchers they can call upon to be starters, which makes their bullpen dangerous. Reigning Most Outstanding Player of the College World Series and Tampa ace Michael Calkins can’t wait to see how far the staff can take them.
The rotation will shortly be joined by Florida transfer Brett Morales, who’s name has already appeared on some draft prospects to watch lists. He has been rehabbing from injury and looks to be ready for some bullpen work next weekend before entering that already sound rotation.
Throw in the coaching staff of Head Coach Joe Urso, Associate Head Coach Sam Militello and assistant coach Jose Jiminez — all three of whom are Tampa alum that were selected in the MLB Draft — and the experience and moxie are there to chase their third title in four years.
Interested? Read the rest of the feature at NCAA.com and learn more about the exciting Spartans 2016 squad by clicking on the link below: