Bucs to Light Up CSU Ballpark with Building Buccaneer Baseball December 22, 2011
by CSU Sports Information
CHARLESTON, S.C. – The Charleston Southern baseball team has made great strides in head coach Stuart Lake’s three seasons at the helm, including a 12-win improvement from the previous season that earned Lake the 2011 Coach of the Year honors and placed five Bucs on various all-conference teams. After making their improvements on the playing field, the Buccaneers will now also look to make improvements to their playing field as part of the Building Buccaneer Baseball program.
The Building Buccaneers Baseball Lights Campaign developed in 2011, starting on November 5 with the Building Buccaneer Baseball Golf Tournament held at Kiawah Island Golf Resort. The program has raised $60,000, including $10,000 from this year’s golf tournament, towards its goal of $200,000.
Home of the Bucs since 2000, CSU Ballpark has seen numerous renovations and upgrades since Lake took over the program in the fall of 2008. The park has added season ticket seating, general admission seating, a new net backstop, new bullpens, improvements to the playing surface and new fencing around the entire field, outfield drainage and a new scoreboard. In 2011 the Will Bedenbaugh Bullpen and the Dusty Rhodes Alumni Deck were dedicated in memory of catcher Will Bedenbaugh, who was killed in a car accident prior the season and local coaching legend Dusty Rhodes.
However, the lights campaign will be the most important step in bringing CSU baseball to a new level. Lights will allow the Bucs to play night games against some of the best teams in the nation and will allow CSU Ballpark to serves as a host location for national tournaments at both the collegiate and amateur level. It would also allow area high schools to play tournament and playoff games at the park, allowing the Buccaneers baseball program to be exposed to parts of the community that had previously been unable to see Charleston Southern University and CSU Ballpark.
“Charleston Southern baseball has been a part of my life since 1991, says Lake, who graduated from Charleston Southern in 1994. “Both Coach Futrell and Coach Mazey gave me an opportunity to play Division I baseball and I will forever be grateful to them and CSU Athletics. Three seasons ago, Charleston Southern gave me the opportunity to become a Division I head coach. One of the main goals I have had since accepting the job was to light CSU Ballpark and allow our program to grow along with the great communities that surround us. Our school’s commitment, along with the men of Building Buccaneer Baseball whose commitment has never wavered, will help us to do accomplish this feat. Once we light CSU Ballpark and are able to host night games, we will be able to bring quality opponents to our ballpark and campus that we have never had the opportunity to host due to scheduling reasons. In addition, the lighting of our park will help our student-athletes academically and will enhance our campus environment for all students of CSU. I am a proud alumnus of Charleston Southern and I can’t wait to see our ballpark lit at night so that others can be just as proud of CSU Baseball as I am.”
CSU baseball continues to boast a proud history of players who have been success at both the collegiate and professional levels. In 2004, R.J. Swindle became the first Buc to make his major league debut. Since that time, Bobby Parnell has become a mainstay with the New York Mets, while Tyler Thornburg has developed into a top prospect in the Milwaukee Brewers organization after being selected in the third round of the 2010 MLB Draft. Three of Lake’s players from the 2011 squad will continue to play at a higher level, as pitcher Ali Williams was selected by the Kansas City Royals in the 2011 MLB Draft and fellow pitcher Stew Brase signed with his hometown Chicago White Sox as a free agent. Outfielder Brantley Meier will report to training camp this February with the Los Angeles Dodgers.
Despite their collegiate careers coming to an end, many Buccaneers still remain dedicated to CSU baseball and have fully endorsed the Building Buccaneer Baseball Lights campaign.
“Lights are a necessity for a baseball program and a University to experience growth,” says Thornburg, who was recently named the fourth-ranked prospect in the Brewers organization. “Recruiting and fan attendance are two areas that lights would help tremendously. In order to put the baseball team as well as Charleston Southern on a national stage, lights must happen.”
Recent alumnus Nick Chinners, the all-time hits leader for Charleston Southern, points on the positive affects the lights would have on the student-athletes’ academics.
“Lights would make it easier for players to schedule classes and for the coaching staff to work practices around those classes,” he says. “It was challenging to have a full practice with all players when half of the team was in class during daylight hours. Of course, lights would also be a useful took in recruiting new players and scheduling new opponents. The possibility of bringing in a top team like South Carolina increases when a stadium has lights. Getting bigger name programs to Charleston Southern for home games would increase fan attendance and would make CSU a more well-known name. It could put the University on the map and would bring their mission and what they stand for to a bigger stage.”
CSU will open its 2012 season at Home on February 17 against Big East opponent Georgetown in a three game series. Fans are encouraged to come out and cheer on the Buccaneers and experience all of the improvements to CSU Ballpark.
To donate to The Building Buccaneer Baseball Lighting Campaign, CLICK HERE
Supporters of the Building Buccaneer Baseball Campaign
Randy Mazey (1994-96)
Head Baseball Coach (1996 Big South Champions)
Associate Head Coach Texas Christian University
“The baseball program at CSU has a great deal of potential and the addition of lights to the baseball field is a major enhancement that will not only benefit the baseball program and the university but will add to the enjoyment of the fans. This is a major step in the right direction in order for the program to reach its potential.”
Kevin Futrell (1986-89)
Member Building Buccaneer Baseball
“Baseball has always been an important part of my life and my self esteem. Lights at CSU will add instant recognition and credibility to the program. I am proud to be a part of it!”
Matt Brownlee (1986-89)
Member Building Buccaneer Baseball
Head Baseball Coach of Holly Hill Academy
“Lights at CSU Ballpark will bring more to the campus than I believe most people realize. The ability to have night games will enhance student life, player excitement and community involvement. CSU will benefit greatly by giving the community the opportunity to watch great college baseball in a family friendly ballpark and campus right in their own backyard without the travel to other venues.”
Hardy Ferguson (1985-89)
CSU Hall of Fame/Buccaneer Baseball Member
“I am very proud to still be actively involved in our baseball program. I know that lights at CSU Ballpark will enable us to showcase CSU Baseball not only on the field against quality opponents but also to our community. One of the main reasons I believe so much in our program is that I know that Coach Lake and his program is committed to serving our University and this community
Quincy Boyd (1991-94)
Scout - Boston Red Sox
Member of Building Buccaneer Baseball
‘The addition of lights to a baseball field elevates the status of a program immediately! From recruiting to simply increasing the fan base there will be immediate benefits which will in turn pay for the lights.”
R.J. Swindle (2001-04)
2004 Draft Pick of the Boston Red Sox
CSU Hall of Famer
“Lights are going to be a great step towards the moving the program in the right direction in becoming an elite Division I program.”
Brantley Meier (2008-11)
Set single season hit record in 2010
“It is apparent with the recent successes of CSU baseball that the program is on the rise and in order to continue to move CSU baseball into the upper echelon, lights would be a major catalyst for the process and university as a whole.