QUINCY -- For the first time since the Quincy University baseball team began its string of five consecutive NCAA Tournament appearances, the Hawks will not open the season in the national rankings.
It may be only a matter of time until they end up there.
The lack of national respect didn't keep the Great Lakes Valley Conference coaches from installing Quincy as one of the favorites in the conference title chase.
The Hawks were second in the preseason poll of the league coaches, trailing only Bellarmine, which garnered 11 first-place votes. Quincy received three first-place votes.
Southern Indiana, Drury and Illinois-Springfield round out the top five.
Bellarmine, Southern Indiana and Illinois-Springfield have received mention in the preseason national polls with Bellarmine a consensus top-20 program.
Quincy went 32-20 last season, but went from being in the top 10 in the national rankings to two-and-out in the NCAA Division II Midwest Regional by winning just three of its final 14 games. The Hawks must replace three-fourths of its infield, two-thirds of its weekend rotation and its leadoff hitter.
An encouraging sign is the return of left-hander ace Riley Martin. The senior went 8-2 last season with a 3.78 ERA and comes into his final collegiate campaign with 19 career victories -- eight shy of the program record of 27 held by Ryan Dowd and Larry Franzoi.
The Hawks also return senior center fielder Nolan Snyder, senior first baseman/designated hitter Michael Nielsen and sophomore first baseman/designated hitter Lance Logsdon.
Quincy opens its season Feb. 14 against Saint Leo in Saint Leo, Fla. Former QU assistant coach Josh Keim is an assistant at Saint Leo.
Former C-SC star reaches coaching milestone
Carrie Connell Mahon, one of the leading scorers and rebounders in Culver-Stockton College women's basketball history, reached a coaching milestone in a very special.
Her team knocked off Florida's Class 8A defending state champion.
Plant High School, coached by Mahon, beat Tampa Bay Tech 51-38 for its 14th straight victory. Plant improved to 23-1 and gave Mahon her 500th career victory in the process.
"I thought I was the only person who knew," Mahon, who is the sister of Quincy Notre Dame athletic director Bill Connell, told the Tampa Bay Times. "Honestly, I didn't think there was any way that I'd do it this year.
"With all the weekend tournaments we had and the schedule we had, I wasn't sure. But the girls have worked really hard and we've kind of pieced it together here in January."
Mahon is in her 18th season at Plant with 380 victories.
A 1993 graduate of C-SC and a 2003 induction in the C-SC Hall of Fame, Mahon was a first-team NAIA All-American in 1993. She later took over as head coach of the C-SC program, going 119-111 in seven seasons before returning to her native Florida.
Hawks picked to finish in bottom half of GLVC
The Quincy University softball team is picked to finish 12th in the 16-team Great Lakes Valley Conference, according to a preseason poll of the league's coaches. Indianapolis was picked as the league favorite, garnering 10 first-place votes.
The Hawks went 25-23 last season and finished ninth in the GLVC with an 11-15 record. The 25 victories marked the most victories since 2012 and Quincy enjoyed its first winning season since 2011, the last time it made the NCAA Division II tournament as well.
QU returns senior outfielder Megan Sharpshair, who started 47 games last season and hit .248 with 31 hits, 26 RBIs and five home runs.
Junior Mac Kenzie Collier anchors the pitching staff after going 7-6 with a team-leading 2.84 ERA and eight complete games last season.
The Hawks open their season Feb. 14 against Emporia State in the AE Classic in Bentonville, Ark.
Leathernecks earn Super Bowl rings
Former Western Illinois University defensive lineman Khalen Saunders and former Leathernecks coach Randy Ball will be flashing Super Bowl rings the next time they return to Macomb.
Saunders, a rookie drafted by the Kansas City Chiefs in third round with the 84th pick overall last April, recorded one tackle in Sunday's 31-20 victory over the San Francisco 49ers in Super Bowl LIV. Saunders finished his rookie season having played in 12 games with 20 tackles and one sack.
Ball, who is WIU's winningest coach after going 64-41-1 in nine seasons from 1990-98, has served as pro scouting assistant with the Chiefs since 2013.