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Niner baseball brings the brooms in sweep over LA Tech

Zach Jarrett, right, leads the NIners in home runs this season. Photo by Ben Coon.
Zach Jarrett, right, leads the NIners in home runs this season. Photo by Ben Coon.

The Charlotte 49ers ended the weekend with a win against their conference foe Louisiana Tech, sweeping them in a three game series thanks to a momentum-changing home run by Zach Jarrett on Sunday afternoon. The Niners outscored LA Tech 19-8 throughout the series on their mission to scale up the conference rankings.

Charlotte (10-12, 4-8 C-USA) scored in the first inning in all three games of the series after Brad Elwood hit a zinging long ball to right field, getting past the diving attempt by the LA Tech outfielder and resting at the fence. Elwood ran all the way to third base on the play, bringing Zach Jarrett home to score the first run for the Niners. Unfortunately for the 49ers, LA Tech turned a good hit by Netzer into a double play to end the first inning with the score 1-0.

With runners on first and second, Brent Diaz hit a knuckler to left field that allowed LA Tech to score their first run of the day. From all this aggressive offense, it is clear to see that LA Tech is itching to take the lead. The Bulldogs did just that as another single allowed LA Tech to gain another run, taking control of the game with a 2-1 lead in the third inning.

LA Tech didn’t hold the lead long as Jarrett stepped up to the plate with a plan to win. Jarrett swung with perfect form, nailing a home run out to left field, leaving shocked faces in both dugouts as to how far the ball soared over the wall. With that hulk-ish smash, Jarrett brought home Raley and himself to put Charlotte back on top 3-2.

To begin the fourth inning, LA Tech’s Bryce Stark hit a ball down the third base line that almost reached the fence, allowing him to get a double on the play. A single from Hall gets his teammate to cross home plate, evening the score at 3-3.

For Charlotte, freshman Hunter Jones hit a bouncer right to the pitcher who got a glove on it but couldn’t catch the ball, allowing Jones to get on base. After getting on first, Jones seemed to get into pitcher Laetten Galbraith’s head, as he tried to throw Jones out at first three consecutive times.

Galbraith seemed to be bothered as he walked Raley on four pitches after being occupied by Jones. Then he threw a wild pitch to the next 49er batter, allowing the two Niners on base to advance to second and third. The Bulldogs then intentionally walked Jarrett to load the bases in the bottom of the fourth.

After a meeting on the mound, a bases loaded walk and a fielder’s choice grounder by T.J. Nichting put the Niners back on top 5-3 through four innings. .

After finding an offensive groove, Charlotte stepped it up on the defensive side in the fifth inning, getting three easy pop fly catches to get back in the dugout.

The 49ers began to coast after gaining the lead on the Bulldogs, focusing on their defense and making sure that LA Tech had no chance at a comeback. The next couple of innings were scoreless as both teams got three easy outs in the seventh inning and played some great defense in the eighth inning to make sure no runners got on base. Jones, who was recruited as a pitcher, threw a zinging out at first from third base, showing off his arm.

In the ninth inning, the first batter for the Bulldogs almost got to first base, but was out-ran by Charlotte’s closer and former first baseman, Logan Sherer, for out number one. Jarrett added on to the out tally as he caught a fairly difficult hit to center field and after the next batter, Charlotte got the third and final out to end the game.

The Niners will return to action Tuesday night when they battle the N.C. State Wolfpack at BB&T Ballpark in Uptown Charlotte. Tuesday’s game will be the first collegiate contest played at the brand new home of the Charlotte Knights.

Niners hold off FIU for first Conference USA victory

The Charlotte 49ers tallied their third win in a row Friday night against Conference USA foe FIU. The 49ers were down early, taking a 2-0 deficit in the beginning frames. Miraculously, Charlotte turned all of that around with a five-spot in the fourth inning that fueled their 5-4 victory.

It was Charlotte’s (7-9, 1-6) Brett Netzer and Zach Jarrett who started all the magic, hitting back-to-back singles. T.J. Nichting followed with a zinging double into right-field, allowing Jarrett to score for the 49ers first time on the evening.

Right-field seemed to be the hole in FIU’s defense Friday night as Luke Gibbs found another gap and delivered the eventual game-winning RBI and a 3-2 lead. Nick Daddio, Charlotte’s recent go-to guy, closed the inning with a two-RBI double scoring Sherer and Gibbs for the final two runs of the evening for the 49ers.

Even with a momentum swinging fourth inning, the Panthers (9-13, 1-3) weren’t ready to pack up their bags just yet. The game started to get more and more intense with each out getting closer to the 49ers first conference victory.

Incredible pitching by Niners’ starter Sean Geoghegan for eight straight innings is what really closed this game out, as it seemed he got everything he wanted Friday night. He allowed just four hits while firing a career-high eight strikeouts. Geoghegan really found his rhythm late in the game, retiring 16 of the final 17 batters he faced.

“It was a good effort,” said Charlotte head coach Loren Hibbs. “Starting pitching really got us to where we needed to be and the bullpen was good enough. I thought we did a whole lot of good things offensively early in the game. We played good enough defense and did what we needed to do to win. I’m proud of the effort.”

Charlotte will look for a repeat performance in game two on Saturday evening. First pitch in that contest is scheduled for 6 p.m.

Sigmon breaks 3-point record, Niners’ season ends in CUSA quarterfinals

Hillary Sigmon has put an infinite stamp on the Charlotte 49ers women’s basketball program with not only a record-breaking shot against Conference USA foe Western Kentucky, but with an amazing career here in the Queen City.

From starting off her freshman year earning an All-Atlantic 10 Rookie Team honor to being named All-GSU Holiday & Hoops Tournament Team her sophomore year and hitting 67 of her now 203 3-pointers, Hillary Sigmon knew she was destined to be remembered at Charlotte for years to come. In her junior year, Sigmon positioned herself 11th on the school’s single-game scoring list when she dropped 32 points against UTEP. This heroic act was noticed by ESPN.com column “Weekend Wrap” written by Graham Hays. However, Sigmon’s career along with other seniors Holmes and team captain Olivia Rankin came to an end Thursday night as the 49ers lost in a gut-wrenching defeat to Western Kentucky.

From the get-go, it seemed as if Western Kentucky could not miss a shot from the outside. Govan hit two 3-pointers in a three-minute span to extend their early lead to 8-2. WKU went on another 6-0 run after a couple of made baskets from charlotte to make the difference 16-6 early in the first half.

The game proceeded to advance back and forth between the teams. WKU had their eyes set on gaining a huge cushion when up by as much as 13 points, but Charlotte’s Lefty Webster had other plans, converting on a long-range triple, following senior Ayanna Holmes’ baseline jumper to close the gap to an 8-point deficit.

The Niners found a groove later on, going on a 7-0 scoring spree, making the score 29-25 with 3:24 remaining in the period. The first half would end 34-27, advantage WKU, as they went on a two-bucket binge after freshman Griffin Dempsey hit a layup with only a minute left.

Once again, WKU started the second half on point, going on an 8-0 run for a 42-27 score at only the 17:58 mark. Charlotte would continue to be out of the game until sophomore Ciara Gregory brought life back in the team, hitting a trey at the 12:41 mark, shortening the lead of WKU to within nine, 50-41. Consequently, WKU then went on another scoring spree, to extend the lead before Charlotte’s last surge to comeback was finalized. In the attempt to comeback, that was when senior Hillary Sigmon hit her record-breaking 3-point shot at 7:02.

The game came down to the last minute, as free throws were becoming more and more critical. Charlotte’s Kira Gordon and Sigmon were both put on the charity stripe, where they both hit all their shots, inching back into the game late.

WKU then hit a scoreless spree, and Charlotte gained possession after each miss with an acrobatic rebound. Momentum shifted in the hands of the Niners, as the gap was shortened to only five points. Unfortunately, the 49ers couldn’t hang on to the Lady Toppers, as the No. 1 seed took the win from No. 8 Charlotte in the quarterfinals of the C-USA tournament.

49ers Baseball swept by #10 Rice

Charlotte came out Sunday afternoon with passion and fire that lacked the day before in a 10-3 loss. The 49ers were determined to get a win to close out the long weekend series against Rice, one of the top teams in the nation. With a 3-1 lead over the Owls, Charlotte had thought the final game was theirs, until Rice scored five of their six runs in the last two innings, turning the smiles around Hayes Stadium to frowns as the home team lost to #10 Rice 6-3.

Coach Loren Hibbs had similar comments after both Saturday and Sunday, saying “We did some really good things over the course of the game.” Coach Hibbs also expressed what he learned this weekend and that is you cannot afford to make mistakes against teams as talented as Rice. Charlotte learned the hard way that a game is never over, until it’s over.

Rice (11-6, 3-0 C-USA) looked like the typical top ranked team they were as they collected their first run early in the first inning. A pair of groundouts by Ford Stainback and a double by the Owl’s Leon Byrd is what put the visitors on the scoreboard first on Sunday. Charlotte (4-5, 0-3 C-USA), however, would not look like the typical 49ers, as they responded with vengeance and then some in the second inning, scoring two runs within four pitches.

Zach Jarrett and Brett Netzer were the first Niners to get off to a hot start, getting on base one after another. After a wild pitch that allowed each runner to progress 90 extra feet, Luke Gibbs was walked, allowing an easy run for Jarrett and equalizing the score at one all. A couple pitches later, it was senior Derek Gallello who would rope a bruising hit into center field, scoring Netzer for the 2-1 and getting on first. It seemed to be wild pitch errors being the kryptonite of Rice’s pitcher Sunday afternoon, as another one resulted in Charlotte’s T.J. Nichting getting to second base in the sixth inning.

Two batters later, it was the six-foot, 190 pound hitting machine, Brett Netzer, who collected another RBI single, plating Nichting for the third and final run for Charlotte. Rice’s dugout and fellow fans put their rally caps on during the eighth inning. During this inning, the Owls cranked four hits, converting three of them into runs. Then in the ninth, Rice’s Warren cracked a splintering hit past third base to get on first.

With Chandler swinging in the dirt for the final strike, Warren then broke from third on the subsequent throw to first to retire Chandler, beat the throw and accounted for Rice’s final dagger of the day. Rice definitely came to play, as Chandler, Taylor, Warren, and Leon Byrd each had hot streaks of two hits. Brett Netzer led the 49ers with two of the seven hits Sunday afternoon.

Charlotte will host in-state foe High Point Tuesday, Mar. 10 at 5 pm in Robert & Mariam Hayes Stadium. Also, you can watch the game at Charlotte49ers.TV.

Uphill clash against No. 10 Rice ends in loss for Niner baseball

Eric Eason.
Eric Eason led Charlotte, going for a perfect 2-2 and reaching base on every single one of his five at-bats. Photo by Chris Crews.

It was a perfect day to play in the beautiful Hayes Stadium in Charlotte, but got out of hand quickly as 10th-ranked Rice beat the 49ers 10-3 in a Conference USA clash Saturday afternoon.

Despite being out hit by Charlotte 11-9, the Owls’ offense seemed to be firing on all cylinders as they scored in the majority of innings played, never looking back after scoring two runs in the first two innings. After going up a couple runs early in the game, the scored remained 2-0 until Rice (10-6, 2-0 C-USA) hit another groove, extending their lead by another five runs in only one inning.

Head coach Loren Hibbs had this to say after the game, “We got off to a very poor start. When you don’t play defense at the level you need to then that extends pitch counts and means your starter can’t go quite as long as he normally does. We didn’t make plays defensively and when you’re playing uphill against a good team like Rice, it makes it difficult [to come back].”

Indeed, it was hard to climb back after watching Rice’s Leon Byrd hit his first homer of the year out to left in the fifth inning, followed by walking John Clay Reeves and allowing a RBI single streamer to the right for Kirby Taylor. After walking another player, it seemed like everyone was getting their way, except the Niners’ defense as pinch-hitters Tristan Gray and Charlie Warren would both get on base, making the score now an outstanding 6-0, but the Owls were not done yet.

T.J. Nichting
Zach Jarrett hit a double down the left field line, bringing home T.J Nichting all the way from first base. Photo by Chris Crews.

They took advantage of the tired Charlotte defense and tacked on another two runs from John Williamson walking with loaded bases and a double play ball hit into by Ryan Chandler. Charlotte (4-4, 0-2 C-USA) would find a little salvation in their half of the fifth, as Zach Jarrett hit a double down the left field line, bringing home T.J. Nichting all the way from first base.

It was a play that was soon dissolved by the Owls, as Rice got their outs, and scored their own run in the sixth inning due to a couple of Charlotte unforced errors. One of these errors was a demonstration of pitcher fatigue from being on the mound for so long on the fifth, hitting a batter with a wild pitch, a double to left-center by Rice Teyki, making the score now out of reach at a final score of 10-3.

“I thought we competed and had more quality at-bats today,” finished Hibbs. “But again, when you’re playing uphill, it makes it hard.”

Fox stayed perfect in his collegiate career, moving to 20-0 in an Owls uniform after slinging six innings, allowing only one run and four strikeouts. Stainback led the Owls with three hits while Eason led Charlotte, going a perfect 2-2 and reaching base on every single one of his five at-bats (three were walks, one was a double).

Charlotte will finish the series on Sunday at noon at the Hayes.

49ers claim first win in game two against Akron

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True freshman Brett Netzer scored the lone run of the game on a wild pitch from Akron’s JT Brubaker. Photo by Chris Crews.

The Charlotte 49ers came away with their first victory of the 2015 season against Akron in a seven-inning thriller, ending up 1-0. The Niners played Akron on Saturday afternoon in a double-header, losing the first match-up 2-1 against the Zips. Game two may not have had many hits slated, but the thrill was still in the air as the game was up for grabs throughout the entirety.

The 49ers started the game with fire in their eyes as the top of the first inning consisted of two strikeouts and one hit. The score remained 0-0. In the top of the second inning the bases were cleared as the 49ers performed a beautiful double-play, getting runners out at first and second base.

Then in the third inning, Charlotte pitcher J.D. Prochaska threw high and tight, grazing Akron’s Anthony Bova on the shoulder, allowing him to take first base. Next up to bat was rotation starter Daulton Mosbarger, who walked up to home plate with one strategy in mind, get Bova to second base. As Charlotte’s Prochaska pitches the ball, Mosbarger gets in the punting position and Bova, who is on first base, takes off, attempting to steal second. The ball passes home plate, is caught by 49er catcher Nick Daddio, and is slung on a rope to second base, beating Bova to the plate and ending the top of the third inning.

First Charlotte player up to hit in the bottom half was the gun-slinger Daddio. On his first swing he gets Charlotte’s first hit of the second game. However, later in the inning, an Akron outfielder makes an incredible diving scoop, clinging onto the ball with the tip of his glove, cleaning all the bases and ending the 3rd inning with the score still tied at 0-0.

Luke Gibbs started out the fourth inning for the Niners with a cranking hit to the outfield, and just when it looked like it was gone, Akron outfielder Zach DeThomasis made a leaping catch at the wall.

In the top of the fifth inning it was true freshman Brett Netzer of Charlotte who hit a nice shot down the left baseline, racking up a double on the play. Two batters later and Netzer was on third base, with the body language of desperately wanting to score. Once again, it was Daddio who was up to hit with two runners in scoring position, but he went down on three strikes squandering the opportunity. The 49ers finally caught a break as Akron pitcher JT Brubaker threw a wild pitch, allowing Netzer to score from third giving Charlotte the 1-0 advantage.

To close the game, sophomore Logan Sherer walks up to the mound with confidence in every step. Akron gets their first hitter on first base, and the second up bunted to allow that hitter to run again and rest on second base. With one out and one runner on base, Sherer throws out the next victim up to bat for Akron, making it two outs and still one runner in scoring postion. Finally, a ground ball hit to first base is how the third and final out of the second game was committed, ending the game with the Charlotte 49ers winning 1-0 against the Akron Zips.

After splitting the season-opening double-header Charlotte and Akron will face off in the rubber match on Sunday afternoon with first pitch scheduled for 1 p.m.

 

Men’s basketball celebrates victory on Valentine’s Day

Love was in the air this afternoon as the 49ers came out this Valentine’s Day with a spirit to score and a will to win. Four of the players wearing white and green scored in double-figures, two of which finished with 20 points or more. With all of their impressive offensive prowess, the Charlotte 49ers (11-14, 4-8) went on the road and defeated the UTSA Roadrunners (13-11, 7-6) 89-81.

Charlotte interim head coach Ryan Odom, who is replacing coach Alan Major, had this to say about today’s victory; “It was a good team win. Our energy and effort did not diminish the entire game. I felt that start to finish it was as complete a game as we have played in a while.”

UTSA also had four players who got into double-digits in scoring, however it was not enough to push past the extraordinary performance by the 49ers.

The lead flopped back and forth six times over the first eight minutes of play. Then, a few minutes later the game started to lean for UTSA as they took a 23-19 lead with 10 minutes remaining in the first half. This is when the Niners stepped up their game and went on a 9-2 run, taking a 28-25 lead after big man Mike Thorne Jr. and Bernard Sullivan scored all nine points during the run, extending the lead with seven minutes to remain in the first half. Charlotte then held on to the lead they accumulated as the teams headed to the locker room at halftime.

The Charlotte 49ers were not even close to being done yet, as they came out of the locker room with a will to win, going on an early 12-5 run, taking a 54-44 lead with a monster slam from human highlight reel Torin Dorn.

The key to this 49ers victory had to have been the versatility of the star of the night, Dorn, who hit a crucial 3-pointer with 13 minutes left, devastating the home team and putting the score at 63-50. Then after Pierria Henry knocked down two must-make free throws with eight minutes remaining, the 49ers buckled-down with their largest lead of 72-56.

UTSA showed the 49ers that they were not ready to give up just yet, as they went on a 7-2 run, cutting the deficit to 84-79. Fortunately Williams, Braxton Ogbueze and Henry again hit those must-make free throws, locking in another victory for the away squad.

Charlotte will return home for a matchup with conference-leader Louisiana Tech in Halton Arena in a game that will be televised nationally on CBS Sports Network on Thursday, Feb. 19 at 7 p.m.

Women’s tennis hitting full stride with third consecutive win

Fleur Holtkamp in action on Saturday afternoon. Photo by Ben Robson.
Fleur Holtkamp in action on Saturday afternoon. Photo by Ben Robson.

The Charlotte 49ers women’s tennis team seems to be hitting full stride as they came away with their third consecutive home win Saturday afternoon, defeating Wingate 6-1. The 49ers played a doubleheader at the Halton-Wagner Tennis Complex, only giving away a single point throughout the entire day.

Charlotte (3-1) ended up sweeping through doubles action against the Bulldogs (0-2) who entered the contest listed at No. 47 in the ITA NCAA Division II rankings. The toughest match of the day came on court one, as 49ers’ underclassmen Fleur Holtkamp and Victoria Pahlett snuffed out the team chemistry weakness between Wingate’s Maria Garcia and Oroma Womeodu, ending the match 6-4.

Courts two and three finished in similar fashion, ending with identical scores of 6-2 in Charlotte’s favor. On court two it was junior Tyler Baker and sophomore Macy Vonderschmidt who rallied over Caroline Holland and Becca Thomas to get the second point of the day. On court three Charlotte seniors Lisa Grosselius and Natsuko Takayanagi followed the fate of their fellow teammates, defeating Bulldogs Layla Tanik and Andrea Ternera.

To add on to this perfect outing so far, the Charlotte 49ers ended victorious in five of the six singles matches, all in straight sets.

Court one featured a quick 6-0, 6-2 victory for Pahlett as she took down the Bulldogs No. 1, Ternera. Also, Vonderschmidt had an impressive win of her own, blowing a ITA Southeast Regionally-ranked Tanik out of the water 6-1, 6-0 on Court two.

The final three positions all grabbed the decision of the umpire, but who really stood out was freshman Megan Smith, who earned her first collegiate game earlier in the day. To gain full control over court six, she dynamically moved back and forth, strategically putting the opposing team on their heels, and defeating Maria Garcia 6-2, 6-4.

The rest of the Charlotte team who came out of their matches with a smile on their face were Baker and Takayanagi. Baker had a close match, keeping everyone on the edge of their seats, ending the game in dramatic fashion, 6-3, 7-6 (4), while Takayanagi had an easier time getting the win, defeating Becca Thomas 6-2, 6-2.

The next stop on the 49ers schedule is just down the road against Winthrop in Rock Hill, S.C. at 2 p.m. Tuesday.

Last minute comeback not enough for women’s basketball

It was the first time in over a year that the Charlotte 49ers women’s basketball team had two players, Lefty Webster and Alexis Alexander, produce double-doubles in Thursday’s loss against Florida Atlantic University. Webster ended the game draining 13 points and grabbing 10 boards. Junior Alexis Alexander came off the bench to produce her season-best 14 points and 11 rebounds, adding a steal to put the cherry-on-top of another great individual effort by a 49er.

Charlotte (7-13, 3-5 C-USA) forced what should have been a double-digit loss, to a thrilling, last-minute game. The 49ers were down by 16 points to the Owls (10-8, 4-3 C-USA) before heading to the locker rooms for halftime.

Charlotte led for the first 10 minutes of the intense matchup, separating themselves from FAU by a maximum of eight points before the Owls went on an 11-2 run to claim their first lead of the game, 22-21. After the 49ers lost the lead in the first half, turnovers and untimely fouls cost the Niners to drop to 31-30, and then a sudden burst made it 37-30.

Later in the game, this shifted the control of the game under the wings of the Owls, as they went on a 6-0 run and extended their lead to 51-35 in a seemingly endless stretch that consisted of seven different Owls scoring on seven consecutive baskets.

Then a cold front came across FAU, as they could not connect from the field, allowing Charlotte to go on an incredible 16-0 run to take its first lead of the second half at 60-59 with 4:45 remaining.

The game then turned into a chess match, as each team shared the lead seven times in the last four minutes.

FAU’s sophomore Kat Wright then scored five points, starting with a dagger 3-point shot in the final minute to give FAU the win, 71-68.

The 49ers will stay in South Florida to take on FIU at 6 p.m. Saturday, Jan. 31, fighting to return to the Queen City with a victory.

Getting to know Serio

Serio at the 2014 Student Body Presidential Inauguration. NT lie photo
Serio at the 2014 Student Body Presidential Inauguration. NT lie photo

Driven. Optimistic. Goofy. These words describe Student Body President of UNC Charlotte Steven Serio. But who is he really?

Currently, the senior business major serves the student body as a member of the Board of Trustees. He describes himself as a manager or figurehead.

Serio was born in Baltimore and his family moved to Boston just a few months later, then again to Sarasota, Fla., where they lived for several years. The family moved one more time when Serio was in the second grade, settling in Charlotte.

“My dad was a hard-working man,” he said. “He worked for a food and beverage company as an executive. He was a very important person for his company, so traveling was almost a necessity.”

“My father is definitely the person I look up to the most in life,” he said. “If I ever have a problem, I call him and try to work it out with him, or if I need some advice I always will go to my dad.”

Serio said he believes his father has been a mentor for him in the field of leadership.

“He was involved in his fraternity as president, not to compare with the student body president, but he was a leader and he is also the executive in companies, so I definitely take his advice,” Serio said. “I get my drive from him more than anything. We have the same tenacity for success.”

Serio uses these skills to excel as the student body president and hopes to accomplish goals that have yet to be reached in his position.

“There are a good number of projects that will take a little extra effort and student input,” he said. “What we want to see is the student government reaching out and trying to grasp what the students want to happen and change.”

Serio said he is working with other members of student government to determine how they can better engage with the student population and increase their visibility on campus.

“Ruthie’s (student body vice-president) and my goals are to do more vote tables across campus and be more active within the student body population and show them that we are actually doing stuff that SGA (Student Government Association) is there to do for them because not a ton of students even know what SGA is,” Serio said.

The light side of Serio

Serio said he enjoyed growing up on the beaches of Florida, but little did he know at the time, it would also shape his future career endeavors.

“I lived right on the beach, so you could imagine all the fun a kid can have with that,” Serio said. “I played a lot of baseball so I was busy doing that also. I was the kid that had a lot of friends and no enemies. Oh, and I went to Disney World all the time. That’s the best backyard a kid could ever ask for.”

At the mention of Disney World, a glow came over Serio’s face and his words flowed as if he were talking in rhythm to Disney tunes in his head.

“I love Disney,” Serio said. “The movies are great; I grew up going to Disney World. I just love what Walt [Disney] stood for and the creativity behind it, and even when people said ‘no’, he said, ‘I am going to do it.’ I love him for his perseverance and the imagination he had when creating Disney. I think it is a diverse company. You have media in the parks and branding everywhere; it’s the perfect business that provides nothing but happiness, which is what I want to achieve.”

When asked if he views himself as a Walt Disney-type, Serio said humbly, “I can’t put myself on the same pedestal as Walt. He’s … No. I can see my drive and determination like him but no.”

Serio said his dream job is to become the CEO of the Walt Disney Company, combining his love of business and the amusement park.

In addition to Disney and his dad, Serio says his other childhood idol is Cal Ripken, Jr.

“He played the longest consecutive streak for baseball games and that says a lot about him,” Serio said. “He was doing what he loved. Even if he was sick or hurt, he would still play the game and do his job and that is something I value and try to live out every day.”

49ers tennis flat in season-opener at No. 20 Wake Forest

Even with singles victories from Jordi Massalle Ferrer, Nate Shanok, Jack Williams and Vikram Hundal the Charlotte 49ers men’s tennis team fell short on the road against the No. 20 Wake Forest Demon Deacons, 7-2.

At center court for doubles, it was Charlotte’s own Hundal and Williams that triumphed over the Demon Deacons in a battle for the top spot in doubles.

“Vikram Hundal and Jack Williams played solid doubles and came up with some outstanding shots to win the tie breaker,” said 49ers head coach Billy Boykin.

The hard fought match lasted what seemed like over a couple hours but ended well for the 49ers as they won the game 7-6 (8-6). At number two for doubles, it was Wake Forest’s Noah Rubin and Jon Ho who nearly swept the away team of Massalle Ferrer and Khalil 6-1. On the third court for doubles, Charlotte’s talented Forrest Edwards and Alex Calott ended their match in similar fashion, losing to Wake Forest’s Maksim Kan and Romain Bogaerts in a grind to the end 6-4 match. On the final court, fourth, for Charlotte was Shanok and Paul Cisti who also came up short to Wake Forest’s Keivon Tabrizi and Sam Bloom, 6-1.

According to Charlotte 49ers coach Billy Boykin, the game got out of hand very fast. “I thought we came out a little flat early on in the doubles, but finished with better play and a win at the top doubles spot.”

At court one for singles, Charlotte’s Edwards lost to Rubin in two sets, 6-1, 6-0. At court two for singles, Charlotte’s Hundal took on the No. 12 ranked player in the nation, Bogaerts in a heated match-up to start a potentially great season for Charlotte. Unfortunately, Hundal came up short playing volley after volley, and sprinting from baseline to baseline against a talented opponent.

“I give the Wake Forest team credit: They have a lot of talented players and came out firing immediately. We picked up a few singles wins, which is something we’ve not been able to do against this team for a while, and I thought that Jordi Massalle Ferrer and Nate Shanok both played extremely well to win their single slots.”

To continue the single matches, at court three, it was Massalle Ferrer’s great focus that got Charlotte their first singles win of the day against Mansouri. This game was the longest singles game of the day, as the lead was gifted back and forth until Charlotte’s Massalle Ferrer volleyed a comet over the net, shutting down his opponent 6-4, 5-7, 1-0 (10-7).

At court four singles, the competition showed why they were ranked in the top 25 of the nation overall as Khalil lost to the Demon Deacon’s Ho, who is impressively ranked also at No. 52 in the nation 6-1, 6-1. At court five singles, Calott fell in a gut-wrenching match 4-6, 6-4, 1-0 (10-4) to Wake Forest’s Tabrizi. At court six singles, it was the Demon Deacon Bloom who defeated Charlotte’s Williams, 6-2, 6-3. At court seven singles, Paul Cisti lost in his season-opener to Wake Forest’s Deicore, 6-4, 6-3. At court eight singles, Charlotte’s Shanok ended the day on a positive note, as he defeated Wake Forest’s Osterling, 6-2, 6-3.

“In our other singles matches, we had some great efforts and some real chances, but came up a little short. It’s something to build on. It’s a process. We’ll hit the practice courts this week and work to improve,” finished Coach Boykin.

Charlotte is aiming for improvement as they get ready to host North Carolina A&T and Norfolk State in the 49ers home opener at the Halton-Wagner Tennis Complex on Saturday, Feb. 7.

Hilary Sigmon and the 49ers keep their heads high in loss to Wake Forest

Day two of the Triple Crown Cancun Challenge Mayan Tournament might have ended with a hard-fought loss for Charlotte, but with the leadership of senior Hillary Sigmon, heads are still high for the 49ers.

Charlotte contained the in-state 5-1 Wake Forest Demon Deacons for all of 40 minutes of play, meeting at the Hard Rock Hotel in Riviera Maya, Mexico. Unfortunately the game long battle for Charlotte turned ill-fated, as the Demon Deacons pulled away at the very end, leaving the score at 65-58.

The Charlotte 49ers went from shooting only one shot from behind the arc against Elon, to shooting 16 in Friday’s battle. Sigmon led the team and a trio of double-digit scorers with 16 points, 12 coming from downtown. Those four triples boosted her career total at Charlotte to 160, positioning her in sole possession of second place on the school’s all-time list behind Traci Ray (2006-2009) who is still 42 ahead.

The other two 49ers that rounded out the trio in double-digit scoring were sophomores Ciara Gregory and Lefty Webster. Hillary Sigmon was not the only one lighting it up from behind the arc, as Gregory appeared to hit them when they mattered, scoring three as part of the 13 points she accumulated off the bench. Gregory seems to enjoy the atmosphere in Riviera Maya, Mexico, as Friday marked the second-straight game that she posted a double-digit performance for the struggling 49ers.

No hard-fought game for the 49ers could go without mentioning Webster as she was the last part of the double-digit trio, tallying 12 points, four assists, six rebounds, and 5 steals.

The name of the game on Friday was defense for the 49ers, as they ended the game with 16 total steals, eight total blocks, including a career-best three by Olley.

None of this was enough to stop the Wade Trophy projected winner and Wooden Award watch list Dearica Hamby of Wake Forest as she had 10 of her 25 points in the final five minutes left of the game. That, as well as her 10 rebounds complete her double-double, even with a hand in her face and contested rebounds all night by the Niners. She was the only Demon Deacon to reach double-digit scoring and out-rebounded her teammates by six at least.

The game started out rough for the 49ers, as they immediately trailed the Deacons 11-0 in just the opening three minutes of play. Just when it appeared that Charlotte had already given up, it was Sigmon who brought the team back to life in the early rounds, as she started to heat up from behind the arc dropping back-to-back three’s. Gregory started to get into the mix, as she added two of her own to give Charlotte that much needed boost to stay in the game.

This and a couple of steals led to a 14-2 run by the Niners as they surged to give themselves an 18-15 lead. Griffin Dempsey was the playmaker for Charlotte, assisting both of Gregory’s 3-pointers and many other teammates to get the ball rolling. The tables were beginning to turn, forcing Wake Forest into a desperate timeout.

Sigmon wouldn’t stop raining 3’s on Friday, hitting two more consecutively within a minute, and added a jump shot to extend the lead to 26-17. Wake Forest once again desperate for another timeout. After this timeout, it was senior Ayanna Holmes who stripped Taylor Gordon of possession, racing down the court for a layup, opening the largest gap of the night for the 49ers, 28-17.

Wake Forest tried to slice into the lead, but it was Gregory who was hitting shots when it mattered. Charlotte allowed just one more basket before ending the first half with the lead for the first time this season, 35-29.

Once again, Charlotte came out flat-footed, as Wake Forest tallied their first six points to even up the scoring at 35-35, but with an old-fashioned And-1 play by Kira Gordon, Charlotte once again had the lead, 38-35.

The game was back and forth, as each team would go on a little scoring run, then vice-versa. The teams traded leads and ties over the next five minutes, as the game’s fourth deadlock was 49-49. Wake Forest’s Hamby then took control of the game, scoring the next six points for the Deacons, sliding ahead 54-49.

This is where Ciara Gregory once again was hitting the clutch shots for the 49ers, essentially inviting the team to crawl on her back as she keeps them in the game, with a fighting chance to win. She went on her own rally with four-straight points, accompanied by her fellow teammate Holmes to cut at the lead, putting the score at a close 58-54 with only 2:11 to remain.

After Sigmon tallied another jumper, it put the game at one-possession for the lead. Unfortunately there just was not enough time for the 49ers to comeback, as free throws ended the zealous battle between two passionate teams.

The 49ers will look to end their stay in Mexico on a more positive note Saturday night as they will end tournament action against Princeton at 8:30 p.m. ET.

49ers offense struggles against Elon

Charlotte women’s basketball took on their in-state foe Elon Friday night in Halton Arena. Before the game even started, you could tell this was going to be an aggressive affair by the intensity of warm ups by both teams.

The 49ers came out at the beginning of the game with tremendous energy, being quick on the transitions and finishing at the basket. Unfortunately, the 49ers could not keep up the energy for the whole game, as Charlotte seemed to be overwhelmed by the physical play of Elon, losing the battle 67-54

After the first media timeout, Elon came out with a bang, scoring an unanswered six quick points to give the Phoenix an early lead. It was a struggle for Charlotte to finish in the first half, as they shot a “shameful” 32.4 percent according to Head Coach Cara Consuegra.

“The one thing we take pride in, in Charlotte, is that we get what we earn,” she added.

Charlotte may not have deserved a win tonight, but the whole night did not go as a failure, as sophomore Lefty Webster had an outstanding night. The athletic guard scored a team-high 17 points, snagged eight rebounds and three steals.

Lefty Webster led the 49ers with 17 points on Friday night. Photo by Ben Coon.
Lefty Webster led the 49ers with 17 points on Friday night. Photo by Ben Coon.

“I try to lead by example, I am that type of leader for this team, but if my teammates are down I will talk to them and tell them we still got time left to win,” Lefty explained after a second home loss in a row.

Whenever it seemed like Charlotte needed an extra boost to get things going, Lefty was there to not only get crucial steals, but she also converted them into points, helping Charlotte chop at the lead.

Coach expressed how Lefty will be crucial down the stretch, later on in the season, “Lefty is quickly turning into a dynamic player for us. That is she can effect the play on offense and defense, she does everything so well.”

Both Coach Consuegra and Lefty Webster expressed concern about how she needs to stay out of foul trouble in the first half for Charlotte to win games.

For Elon, it was Sam Coffer who put the team on her back, as she went 4-6 with 11 points in the first half. The game plan for the Phoenix out of the locker room was to get the ball to the hot hand, as Coffer had the first five shots for Elon, only hitting one. Coffer ended the game with a double-double, grabbing 11 rebounds and 16 points.

Charlotte ended the game going 1-11 from beyond the arc, showing how much of a struggle it was for the 49ers to connect. Elon, however, was allowed to score 10 three-pointers against the home team, being the main difference between the two teams.

It was a close game towards the end of the second half, as Charlotte only trailed by one point from an Alexis Alexander layup with 3:42 to go. Unfortunately this would be the last time Charlotte would score, as the Phoenix would go on a 12-0 run at the end, each basket serving as a dagger against a disappointing home team.

“Anyone can beat anyone, and that’s what makes this fun,” Coach Consuegra said.

All games for the 49ers this season have been close affairs, winning against Liberty by one and losing to NC State by seven.

The 49ers make a long trip to Riviera Maya, Mexico to play against Montana in the first round of the Triple Crown Cancun Challenge Mayan Tournament next week. Charlotte will also play Wake Forest and Princeton at the tournament.

Sigmon’s 27 points not enough against NC State

Hilary Sigmon drives the lane for two of her 27 points on Tuesday night. Photo by Benjamin Robson.
Hilary Sigmon drives the lane for two of her 27 points on Tuesday night. Photo by Benjamin Robson.

The Charlotte 49ers women’s basketball team fell short in a hard-fought, 70-63, contest on Tuesday evening against NC State. Senior Hilary Sigmon’s 27-point night started early as she collected the ball immediately after the tip-off, scoring an open lay up.

Sigmon shot lights out in the first half, as she went 6-6, 3-3 from behind the arc, and tallied 17 points.

“I was going off of their screens and playing off how they were playing. My team found me and I happened to have the hot hand this game.”

She was the only 49ers player in double digits for scoring in tonight’s loss, as Preseason All-Conference USA selection Lefty Webster was next on the squad with eight points, but was taken out early due to foul trouble.

Tip-off winner Kira Gordon snagged a game-best 12 rebounds, one shy of her career high, as she assisted Charlotte (1-1) to a 36-33 edge on the glass. 49ers Head Coach Cara Consuegra expressed the importance of rebounding for her team.

“It is always a big point of emphasis for us and we always try to outrebound our opponent by seven each game. I think we were outrebounding them for most of the game. NC State started to get on their players to crash the boards harder and I do not think we adjusted too well to that. We need to hold them to one shot per possession down the stretch of the game.”

Miah Spencer was one of the reasons why the Wolfpack went on an early hot streak, as she had the first nine points for the visitors. Carlee Schuhmacher scraped 14 of her 18 points in the paint tonight, two of which were final free throws that pushed the NC State to victory.

Tuesday’s rally in Halton Arena was a tight game throughout, with the largest lead by either side being when NC State (3-0) started to pile basket after basket.

With Spencer and Schuhmacher scoring all of the Wolfpack’s first 14 points, giving them a 14-8 lead, Charlotte’s Sigmon found a hot streak, as she connected on eight of her next 10 shots, rallying the 49ers to an 18-18 tie. Unfortunately, this would be the closest the home team would get to gaining the lead, as the Wolfpack began an 8-0 run.

Despite giving up a couple turnovers in the first half, the 49ers never gave up in their quest to victory. Coach Consuegra said, “The number one thing I saw in my team tonight was great fight. There were opportunities where NC State could have taken over the game, and we didn’t allow them to do that . . .We are going to be okay in the long run.”

Sigmon and Consuegra were on the same page tonight, as the senior showed fight in all of her 34-minute appearance. When it felt like the Wolfpack were about to take the game, it was Sigmon that Charlotte leaned on when it came to a “must score” possession. Charlotte trimmed the gap to four before the half, as senior Olivia Rankin scored four-straight points the closing minutes.

The Charlotte 49ers came out the locker room with a bang to begin the second half, as their aggressive defense helped lead them to an opening 6-0 run, four of which came from Sigmon. Her final lay up in the run was followed by a free throw for an old-fashioned three-point play, giving Charlotte the 43-42 advantage. This was the first lead for the Charlotte 49ers since Sigmon’s opening lay up off of the tip-off.

It didn’t take long for the Wolfpack to find their groove, as they would take the lead back with a 12-2 run with only 4:34 left. The 49ers used the last of their energy to battle back into the game with a 7-0 run of their own, putting Niner Nation on their feet, 65-63.

A long fought battle came to a gradual end, as Charlotte found themselves trailing with two minutes left, resulting in fouling to try and extend the game. With a couple of free throw attempts for the Wolfpack, they ended up taking another victory, ending the game 70-63.

The 49ers will look to rebound with their second home contest, Friday at 7 p.m. against Elon.