Mount Olive, North Carolina --- The 13th class of the University of Mount Olive Athletics Hall of Fame was inducted on November 17, during the 53rd Annual Pickle Classic weekend.
David Cooper '08 was a three-time first-team all-conference selection at shortstop and is sixth in the NCAA DII record books for most fielding assists in a season with 225. He was a two-time second-team ABCA All-Region selection and a one-time first-team selection. Cooper was named to the conference all-tournament team two times as a Trojan. On the Trojan all-time lists, Cooper sits first in career runs (223) and triples (23), second in stolen bases (102), and third in hits (270).
"I'm honored to be here and I'm just glad to be back in Mount Olive. I would not be up here if it was not for the 2008 team because your name doesn't look so good without 'National Championship' beside it, so thanks to the 2008 team for helping me get up here today," said Cooper during his acceptance speech.
Casey Hodges '09 was an ABCA All-American pitcher for the 2008 National Championship team and was a 23rd round pick by the Atlanta Braves in the MLB draft in 2008. Hodges was a two-time all-conference selection and an all-tournament selection in 2007. Hodges sits fourth in career ERA with a 2.34, is second in consecutive batters retired in a single game (19), holds the record for consecutive batters retired over multiple games (21), and is tied for fifth in strikeouts in a single game with 11 (a mark he reached twice).
"For me it is truly an honor to be inducted into the Hall of Fame at Mount Olive just for the simple fact that I get to share this with my entire team. That means a lot to me because without you guys we would not be national champions. We will always have that title for the rest of our lives," said Hodges.
Erik Lovett '08 was an ABCA and NCBWA All-American, CoSIDA National Player of the Year, and Conference Carolinas Player of the Year for the Trojans in 2007. He was a two-time ABCA All-Region and Conference Carolinas All-Conference player, as well as an all-tournament team selection. Lovett had a career batting average of .389 with 49 doubles, 40 home runs, 161 RBI, and 145 runs scored. Lovett was selected by the New York Yankees in the 39th round of the MLB Draft in 2008 and played one season in the Yankees minor league system.
"It truly is an honor to be up here receiving this award. The '08 team had such great chemistry; I don't know if I've ever been a part of a team where the guys believed in one another like we did. If we were down, which was rare, we never worried, we always knew the person that was coming up would get the job done and that was special," remarked Lovett.
Ryan Schlecht '09 was an NCBWA All-American and Conference Pitcher of the Year for the 2008 championship team. In his one season for the Trojans, Schlecht tied for first in NCAA DII in victories with 13 as he went 13-0 on the year, which is third all-time in UMO history. Schlecht is fourth all-time in innings pitched in a season with 101 and threw four complete games with 81 strikeouts in 2008. He was also named to the ABCA All-Region Team and all-conference team.
"It's an honor to be here. You talk about that one year, that special moment of that national championship team, the comradery that we had with that team. There was something special about that team," said Schlecht.
Jason Sherrer '08 was an ABCA All-American, Conference Carolinas Player of the Year, CoSIDA Academic All-American, and Mount Olive Male Athlete of the Year in 2008. Sherrer was also named to the ABCA All-Region Team and Conference Carolinas All-Conference Team in 2008. In his two-year career the catcher batted .361 with 112 RBI, 26 doubles, 18 home runs, 125 hits, and had a .598 slugging percentage.
"I'm super honored and humbled to be recognized with this group of guys. It is so good seeing everyone come back. There were so many good players on this team and to be an individual being recognized is absolutely incredible," commented Sherrer.
Carl Lancaster came to the University of Mount Olive as the head baseball coach in 1987, just seven years after the baseball program had been resurrected at the school. Under Lancaster's direction, Mount Olive won an NCAA DII National Championship in 2008, 15 Conference Tournament Championships, 15 Regular Season Conference Championships, and made the NCAA postseason 17 times, including eight years in a row from 2010-17. Lancaster amassed an 1134-485-2 overall record and became only the 14th NCAA Division II head baseball coach to reach the career 1,000-win mark. Lancaster finished his career with a .700 winning percentage. He has the 16th highest career winning percentage among all Division II baseball coaches and ranks fifth in career victories.
"There are so many special people here today. We came a long ways. This '08 team, you guys put this school on the map. Trust me. You guys were special. You got it done. The University has grown tremendously thanks to the things that you did. I am so proud of all of you guys. I am just so proud. It is an honor to stand here before you today and be inducted into this Hall of Fame. Thank you," said Lancaster, the last inductee to be honored.
The 2008 Baseball Team is the only team to bring home an NCAA DII National Championship in the University of Mount Olive's history, winning four straight games at the national championship in Sauget, Illinois, to claim the school's first-ever championship. The 58-6 Trojans lost only one Conference Carolinas contest that year on their way to a 21-1 record and a regular season and tournament championship. The Trojans as a team batted .354 with 60 home runs, 164 doubles, 29 triples, and 528 RBI. The pitching staff had an ERA of 2.95.
T his year's class brings the total number of hall of fame inductees up to 58.