The seven easternmost members of the Southern Collegiate Athletic Conference have decided to break off and will join newcomer Berry College in a new NCAA Division III league that has yet to be named. The group includes Sewanee and Rhodes in Tennessee, Oglethorpe in Georgia, Birmingham-Southern in Alabama, Centre in Kentucky, Millsaps in Mississippi and Hendrix in Arkansas. Five of those have football teams, and at least two others are considering adding the fall sport, Sewanee athletic director Mark Webb said Tuesday. The new conference will officially begin competition in the summer of 2012, so this school year will continue as is, except for the departure of DePauw to the North Coast Conference and the addition of Dallas University as a fourth Texas member to go with Colorado College. The breakoff was largely a geographical decision, trying to get a handle on travel expenses and missed class time, Webb related. “Given the success of the SCAC over the last 20 years, the decision to start anew was difficult,” Sewanee vice-chancellor John McCardell said in an official release. “This is an important and positive move for Sewanee and for its scholar-athletes.”
- CLEVELAND, Tenn. — Versatile Jennifer Ringle and Katie Payne from Solano Community College in California recently signed scholarship papers to join the 2011-12 Lee University softball team. Both made the All-Bay Valley Conference and All-Northern California teams this past season, when Solano went 24-0 in the league and 34-5-1 overall. Payne played first base, shortstop, catcher and outfield, and Lee coach Emily Russell expects the Vacaville, Calif., resident to challenge for the starting catcher or third-base position. Russell said Ringle, from Rio Vista, Calif., could challenge for the starting shortstop spot but also can play second base or center field. After one season as an all-conference infielder at Howard College, Ringle batted .535 with five home runs, five triples, 11 doubles and 52 stolen bases for Solano. “Jen is the kind of player that makes her team better not only because of her ability but with her leadership,” Russell said in a Lee release. “She is a high-energy person who will inspire others to work at her level and achieve more.” Payne was the conference player of the year as a freshman and hit .469 with two homers and 10 doubles as a sophomore. “Katie is a great talent,” Russell said. “She is such a strong person, and she is playing with such a sense of purpose. She is a great hitter.”
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