DAYTONA BEACH, Fla. – Just months after advancing to the program’s first NCAA Regional Final, Bethune-Cookman Baseball was back in the media on Wednesday afternoon. The Wildcats were recently ranked No. 80 in the nation by D1Baseball.com in their Top 100 Programs list, as compiled by Kendall Rogers.
Bethune-Cookman has won 19 Mid-Eastern Athletic Conference (MEAC) baseball titles since 1985. That includes an unprecedented 18 conference crowns in the last 21 years alone.
Under the direction of Jason Beverlin, recently completing his sixth year at the helm in Daytona Beach, Bethune-Cookman recorded several firsts in program history throughout the 2017 campaign. The Wildcats defeated Florida (for the first time in school history) to advance to the program’s first NCAA Regional Final. En route to that accomplishment, BCU registered NCAA Gainesville [Fla.] Regional wins over Marist and USF, respectfully – giving the program just its third and fourth wins EVER in an NCAA Regional.
“It’s exciting that people are taking notice of just how special the Bethune-Cookman Baseball program really is,” expressed Beverlin, the 2014 NCAS Giant Steps Award winner. “Our coaches do a great job recruiting, and we invest all we have into developing our student-athletes once they get here. We play a fun, energetic brand of baseball, while also maintaining respect for the game.”
In an excerpt from the official release by D1Baseball.com, the nationally recognized publication/website had this to say about the Maroon and Gold program:
“The Wildcats experienced a great deal of success during the Mervyl Melendez era. Jason Beverlin has gotten BCU back on track in impressive fashion. Not only did the Wildcats reach the NCAA postseason in 2016, they did so again in 2017 and reached the Gainesville Regional final after eliminating in-state foe USF from the tournament. Bethune-Cookman has reached the NCAA Tournament three of the last five seasons and clearly is the gold standard in the HBCU (Historically Black Colleges and Universities) ranks. BCU may not have premier facilities, but this place oozes tradition from a baseball standpoint and is in a rich recruiting ground, making it a surprisingly attractive option.”
As stated by D1Baseball.com, former head coach Mervyl Melendez took the program to new heights during his tenure at Bethune-Cookman. Now the head coach at FIU, the Carolina, Puerto Rico native was instrumental in what the program has become today, allowing Jason Beverlin to grow it to even further heights. For those reasons and more, Melendez was inducted into the BCU Athletics Hall of Fame in 2016 –his first year of eligibility on the ballot.
The Wildcats return several players from the 2017 campaign, including All-MEAC performers third baseman Jameel Edney, outfielder Adonis Lao, pitcher Tyler Norris and first baseman Danny Rodriguez.
“Being ranked as the 80th-best program in the country is yet another building block to continue propelling us towards the top, where we strive to be,” admitted Beverlin. “However, it is not number one. And that’s the number we strive for everyday here at BCU. We want to be the best. And until we achieve that feat, we will continue to work harder and harder every day.”
NOTE: For a complete list of the Top 100 programs by D1Baseball.com, please click here.