JACKSONVILLE, Fla. – The Jacksonville University baseball team is on a Cinderella run.
After finishing last in the Atlantic Sun Conference in the regular season, the Dolphins went on to win the conference tournament and will play in the NCAA regional round beginning on Friday.
Recognize some of those names on the roster?
The Dolphins’ roster is dotted with players who grew up right here on the First Coast and now get the chance to represent Jacksonville on a national stage. Seven players with area ties are on JU’s roster.
After a rough start to the year, the Dolphins loaded the bus on Wednesday afternoon and hit the road to Columbia, S.C. for regional action. The Dolphins play in their first game of the NCAA regionals on Friday night at 7 against Old Dominion.
If the Dolphins are going to keep their Cinderella run going, they will need some big performances from players who grew up right here.
Pitcher and designated hitter Mike Cassala is one of those players. He said that growing up in the area and attending games with his family has given him a good vantage point of what it means to succeed with your hometown team. Cassala is 3-4 on the mound and leads the team in batting with a .338 average.
“I have been coming to JU baseball games since I was a little kid so I have always taken a lot of pride in wearing the uniform and representing the city,” he said. “So, it is a pretty special opportunity we have to represent the people on the First Coast.”
Tyler Naumann pitched for Parker High not far from the campus of JU. He’s 1-1 this season for the Dolphins.
“It is very special to me because everyone that my parents are friends with, they all follow JU baseball,” he said. “It is very exciting to just keep the legacy going.”
Having a team filled with players from the First Coast is not an accident. Dolphins head Coach Chris Hayes is also a Jacksonville native who played at Englewood High and later at JU. Hayes said he loves what local players bring to the roster.
“You got to stay true to what you are. Got to have some North Florida kids up here to provide that toughness on the field,” he said. “We have a lot of different guys from a lot of different areas. It’s great to blend those guys together and show them who Jacksonville is.”
Local JU Dolphins baseball players
|Pitcher||Jack Carver||Fr.||Nease||1-2, 14.1 IP, 15 Ks, 5.65 ERA|
|Pitcher/DH||Mike Cassala||r-Sr.||Bartram Trail||.338 avg., HR, 12 RBI; 3-4, 49 Ks|
|Infield||Blake DeLamielleure||Fr.||Bartram Trail||.242, 11 runs, 2 2Bs, 8 RBI|
|Pitcher||Connor Hults||Fr.||Creekside||0-1, K in 3 appearances|
|Pitcher||Avery Love||r-Fr.||Yulee||0-1, save, 14 Ks, 10 IP|
|Pitcher||Tyler Naumann||r-Jr.||Parker||1-1, 54 Ks, 50.1 IP|
|Infield||Kyle Richardson||r-So.||Fernandina Beach||.143, 3 HR, 6 RBI, 7 runs|