Former Crusader Stars Live The Dream
DECEMBER 12, 2013
Former Crusader baseball standout Adam Taylor has signed a free agent contract with the Gary Railcats of the American Association.
The Railcats, based in Gary, IN, recently won the 2013 American Association Championship with a 58-41 regular season record and a 3-1 series victory over the Wichita Wingnuts in the title series.
The American Association is one of the great names in the history of professional baseball leagues in the United States. The first American Association was formed in 1902 as an independent minor league for the larger cities in the midwestern area of the U.S. and for the next half century the league was arguably the most influential minor league in all of baseball. Great players such as Ted Williams, Mickey Mantle, Willie Mays and more starred in league ballparks.
Taylor will be one of six outfielders on the Railcats' roster after having an impressive season that saw him honored as a member of the Conference Carolinas First Team All-Conference, Daktronics All-Southeast Region Second Team, ABCA All-Southeast Region Second Team and NCBWA All-Southeast Region Third Team in 2012-13.
In 2013, Taylor recorded a team-high .392 batting average and a .485 on-base percentage in 45 games played. He totaled 67 hits on the season, including 10 doubles, five triples and five home runs, while scoring 41 runs and driving in 29 RBI.
After bursting on the national scene as freshman and earning NCCAA World Series MVP honors in leading the Crusaders to a National Championship, Taylor finished his career with a batting average of .373 with 293 hits, including 56 doubles, 11 triples and 26 home runs. Taylor drove in 182 RBI while scoring 188 runs of his own. He also totaled 80 walks in his career to record an on-base percentage of .437, also stealing 28 bases and being hit by a pitch 35 times.
The Laurens, SC native holds numerous single season and career records including the single season (214 in 2009-10) and career (801) at-bats, single season hits (86 in 2010-11), single season (5 in 20010-11 and 202-13) and career (11) triples, 10 career runs scored (188), and single season RBI (70 in 2009-10).
May 29, 2013
Former Crusader catcher Anthony Foulk has seen his dreams come true for baseball after college, making the squad for the River City Rascals of the Frontier League in O'Fallon, Missouri.
Foulk, a four-year starter for the Crusaders from 2008-2012, concluded his career being known for his masterful work on defense while also providing a spark for the Crusader offense.
The Sycamore, Illinois native had a career batting average of .287 with 201 hits, including 38 doubles and 13 home runs. Foulk scored 163 runs (a school-record 73 runs scored in 2009-10), while also driving in 126 RBI and drawing 125 career walks, which is also a North Greenville school-record.
July 19, 2012
NGU's own Drew Provence, who made his name as the baseball team's Friday ace right hander for the past 3 seasons, has inked a deal with the Normal Cornbelters, of the Frontier Baseball League, to continue his playing Career. Provence signed on July 13th and made his first start Monday night, winning a 3-1 decision against the Windy City Thunderbolts, out of Crestwood, Illinois.
Provence allowed just 3 hits in his first professional start, with 0 earned runs in 5 innings of work. The Cornbelters are a professional baseball team (No MLB affiliation) based out of Normal, Illinois. Their name "Cornbelters" is a reference to the state's position in the Corn Belt. The team was founded in 2010 as part of the West Division in the Frontier league, a professional baseball league governed by the Independent Professional Baseball Federation (IPBF).
July 7, 2008
TIGERVILLE, SC - Curt Marshall has dreamed of playing professional baseball all his life. He does not have to dream anymore. The former North Greenville catcher signed with the River City Rascals of the Frontier League on July 2. The Rascals are located in O'Fallon, Missouri.
The Frontier League is one of the premier independent baseball leagues in the United States. The league drew 1.3 million fans to its ballparks in 2006 and expanded to 12 teams in 2007.
Asked how long he has dreamed of playing professional baseball, Marshall said succinctly, "forever."
"That's all I've ever wanted to do for as long as I can remember," said Marshall.
However, to get to O'Fallon Marshall had to travel a frustrating road. Three weeks ago he received a call from the Gateway Grizzlies, another Frontier League team. Marshall was told that the Grizzlies had an injured catcher and need him as soon as possible. So he packed his bags quickly and drove to southern Illinois only to find out the catcher was not hurt after all. The Grizzlies were no longer interested in Marshall, but they did make a call to River City's manager Toby Rumfield on behalf of him. Rumfield saw Marshall work out once and told him that he would give him a call after he released a catcher.
Marshall then traveled to Texas to work out for a couple of United League teams, but to no avail. He returned home frustrated.
"I had put the whole thing in God's hands, but after Texas I was just a little bit frustrated," says Marshall. "It was at that point that I began to pray about it. I told God, 'I'm going to continue trusting you. I know this is what you want me to do because you have given me too much ability for it not to be, so I'm going to trust you.'"
Forty-five minutes later Rumfield calls and tells Marshall that he needs a catcher. That was Monday. Marshall signed on Wednesday and was in uniform on Thursday.
Now a professional baseball player, Marshall could hardly contain his excitement his first time stepping out on the field. "I came out of the clubhouse in left field and just stopped for about thirty seconds," recalls Marshall. "I couldn't move. It was almost surreal. I've wanted this for so long and that it was actually happening was unbelievable. I am very excited."
As excited as he is, Marshall is not content to stay in the Frontier League. "Independent league is pro ball, but it is far from my goal," says Marshall. "My goal is to play affiliated ball, so right now I am just trying to get better and get to the next level."
To do that Marshall knows there are a few areas that he will need to improve in. He lists being smoother behind the plate in receiving the pitch and hitting to opposite field as his top priorities for improvement.
In two seasons at North Greenville, Marshall batted over .300 both seasons, hit 16 homeruns, and drove in 75 runs.
Marshall credits North Greenville University with preparing him for professional baseball both on and off the field.
"When I transferred two years ago I was struggling as an individual," said Marshall. "I didn't have a good attitude and thought things were owed to me. Coach Nihart was the only person willing to give me a place to play, and not only that, but he was thrilled to have me. I hadn't experienced that in over two years.
"I had two coaches in Nihart and [former assistant coach Jon] Lane who believed in my abilities and wanted to see me get better as a player, individual, and follower of Christ.
"North Greenville's atmosphere was great for me. I hated chapel when I first got to NGU, but then learning what it was all about, I couldn't get enough. Chapel on Monday and Wednesday mornings and Athletic Ministries on Friday mornings became my favorite times of the week. North Greenville was a nurturing environment with people who love the Lord.
"The two things that Coach Nihart stressed were character and staying strong in your faith. And if you don't have those things when you get to professional baseball, there are a lot of things that can distract you and you can fall into some things you don't need to be involved in. I'm thankful that I played for two coaches who were sticklers for character. They never bent on that."
Marshall batted 3-for4 with two doubles in his second game with the Rascals, a 7-1 win over the Southern Illinois Miners. Fans can track Marshall's journey with River City by visiting www.rivercityrascals.com.
November 8, 2007
TIGERVILLE, SC - Chris Tate has dreamed of playing professional baseball since he first picked up a bat and a ball as a child. Now he will get his chance. Tate has signed a one-year contract with the Evansville Otters of the Frontier League.
The Frontier League is one the premier independent baseball leagues in the United States. The league drew 1.3 million fans to its ballparks in 2006 and expanded to 12 teams in 2007. Evansville, the 2006 Frontier League Champions, have seen 40 of their players ink contracts with at Major League club.
Tate's road to professional baseball was not easy, though. After completing his senior season at North Greenville last May, Tate hit the road during the summer. He and a friend traveled from Charlotte, NC to Utica, NY trying out for Major League and Independent league organizations. Tate tried out for the Orioles, Reds, and Braves organizations. At every stop he either received no word or a We'll get back with you. But they never did.
Then in September, while finishing up degree work at North Greenville and working as a student-assistant coach with the Crusader program, he received a letter inviting him to a tryout in Clearwater, FL with the Philadelphia Phillies organization.
Tate jumped at the chance to showcase his skills in front of Major League scouts. Seventy players, many of them former professional players at one level or another, were invited to the tryout. Tate, fresh out of NCAA Division II North Greenville, was one of seven players that were pulled aside after the two-day tryout. Team officials told him that they were impressed with him and would like the opportunity to see him play more. So the Phillies, who have a strong relationship with the Otters, recommended Tate to the Frontier League team, and the club signed him to a one-year contract.
Tate, who played centerfield at North Greenville, is not sure exactly where the Otters will have him play, but knows it will be in the outfield. Tate batted .375 while driving in 29 runs and scoring 45 runs in his senior campaign at North Greenville. He stole 25 of 25 bases as a junior and led the team in hitting both seasons at North Greenville. Before arriving in Tigerville, Tate played two years at Gordon College in Georgia, where he graduated with an Associate's degree in Mathematics.
Some people would be daunted by the impending challenges of becoming a professional athlete, but not Tate. "I'm just relieved right now, and excited about the opportunity," says Tate. "It is fulfilling because it is something that you want for so long. Then you try and fail, try and fail, and try and fail. Then, God just puts this in your lap. It's a great feeling."
"I'm sure I may get a little more nervous as it gets closer to May, but right now I'm just thinking that it is God's will so I am not too nervous. I'm going to work and prepare like I always have, and I'll think things will work out well."
Head coach Tim Nihart seems to think so, too. "One of the biggest things Chris has going for him, I think, is that he is teachable," remarks Nihart. "Professional clubs are looking for guys who are willing to learn and get better, not guys who just settle, and Chris certainly brings that to the field. All last spring, he was asking questions on how to get better."
Nihart also points to Tate's athletic skills as a major positive for Tate. "Chris is a great athlete who takes care of his body," says Nihart. "He swings from the left side of the plate, runs the bases well, and can cover a lot of ground in the outfield."
Tate is the fifth Crusader to ink a professional contract under Nihart at North Greenville.
Tate is grateful to North Greenville for its role in preparing him for the future. He is aware that young eyes look up to professional athletes and counts his time as a Crusader as valuable in preparing him for that role. "North Greenville is the place where Christ makes the difference," says Tate. "And if you care about your image at all, then, what better image is there to follow than that of Christ?"
"North Greenville has taught me a lot about how to live. I have gained many great experiences and a lot of doors have been opened to me since I came here. I have been to the Dominican Republic on a mission trip and had the opportunity to play summer ball in the Midwest. I don't think I would have gotten those experiences had I not come to North Greenville."
"Coach Nihart and Coach [Jon] Lane have done their job preparing me and have helped me out a lot. Now I look forward to going and playing ball."