Woodard fired after dismal 3-8 season

Coach Ray Woodard

Lamar University head football coach Ray Woodard will not return for the 2017 season, Director of Athletics Jason Henderson announced Nov. 21.

“We would like to thank Coach Woodard for all that he has done for the Lamar University football program,” said Henderson. “It still remains our goal to compete for championships and to put our student-athletes in a position to be successful on the field and in the classroom.”

Woodard served as the Cardinals’ head coach for seven seasons. During that time, Woodard’s troops posted a 34-46 (.425) overall record. The Cardinals were 17-30 (.362) in Southland Conference games, with their highest finish coming in 2014 (5-3/T3rd). The Cardinals finished the 2016 campaign with a 3-8 (.273) overall record.

Woodard was hired in 2008 to restart the program, which had been dormant since the 1989 season. The Cardinals won five games in 2010, the program’s first season back on the field. Woodard’s high-water mark came in 2014 when he guided the Cardinals to an 8-4 campaign.

“I would like to personally thank Dr. Jimmy Simmons and Billy Tubbs for giving me the great opportunity to be the head coach at Lamar,” said Woodard. “It’s been an honor to coach here, and I’m proud of what we accomplished. I only want good things for Lamar University and this program.

“I received my doctorate degree during my time here. I would also like to thank all the people in the Educational Leadership program who helped me along the way,” added Woodard.

LU will begin a national search to find Woodard’s replacement.

The firing comes on the heels of Lamar losing 41-10 to McNeese State on Nov. 19.

Volleyball

Versatile winners. That is how Lamar University Volleyball head coach Alan Edwards would describe his three signees added during the early signing period for the 2017 squad.

“We’re ecstatic about this class. This has been a process of culture change here, and we’re trying to get in players who are used to fighting for and winning championships,” said Edwards. “I think that is very important. We want players that are used to winning and holding up trophies. They come in chasing that feeling — players who feel getting to college wasn’t the final goal, but to win a championship there, too.

“With (Iyaria) Walker and (Alexis) Wiley, we found two players who are outstanding middles. They can either play there or help us outside,” he added. “It gives us options on how make the team better.”

Iyaria Walker is a junior-transfer from Pensacola State College, where she led the Pirates to a 25-7 record in 2016 – which ended at the FCSAA Volleyball Championships. She is a two-time Panhandle Conference Champion, and finished her season ranked third in the state and eighth in the nation for hitting percentage.

“Walker is an outstanding Houston product who went to a junior college and is coming back. She is a dynamic fast-twitch athlete that can play in the middle and help us there,” said Edwards. “If we want to move her to the right side, we can move her to a pin. She hits the ball high and hard and will replace some of the offense we lost to graduation.”

She was named as a first-team all-conference performer in 2016 and ranked second on her with 0.74 blocks per set.

Kaitlyn Nutt comes as a two-time District 19-4A Defensive Player of the Year at the libero position from Carthage in East Texas. She is also a Second-Team Texas Sports Writers All-State member and was on the third team of the East Texas Sports Network group in 2015.

“Kaitlyn hopefully will help us solve some of the issues we have defensively. We just don’t dig enough balls per set, but more importantly we don’t dig enough balls per opportunity,” said Edwards. “We’ve raised our team efficiency offensively, but haven’t limited our opponents’ offensive efficiency.

“A great libero can help with that. Kaitlyn is a really solid, stable player in serve receive and can make some really fantastic defensive plays,” he added. “Hopefully she can step in and take over the role of not just starting our offense but help us lower teams’ offense efficiency as well.”

Alexis Wiley was her district’s Most Valuable Player and Hitter of the Year, and was voted to an all-state as a third-team member. She led her team to the UIL State Volleyball Championships a 22-15 record on the season.

“Alexis is someone who can play in the middle or move to the outside. She is a fast-twitch that’s a lot like Cortney Moore. She’s strong and physical even though she isn’t a 6-1 or 6-2 middle,” said Edwards. “She’s fast, rangy and can cover ground. She’s got a live arm and can put away balls from the outside. In this league, you win and lose at the pin – specifically the left pin.”

She finished her career at Pine Hill with a remarkable .371 attack percentage and 2.50 kills per set. Over her four years, she totaled 301 sets, 754 kills, 318 blocks and 64 aces. She is also a well-rounded athlete who ran track (long and triple jumps) and played basketball.

This class will help replace the four players lost to graduation in 2015: two outside hitters – including first team All-Southland Player Chelsea Grant – a libero and setter.

Baseball

After being down 0-2 in the series, the White team battled back to force a fifth game and took advantage of walks to complete the comeback and take the 2016 Red and White Fall World Series on a 4-1 Game Five win.

“(The World Series) was great,” said head coach Will Davis. “To see a team down and come back to win final three shows we have guys that are very resilient and never give up. Plus, we got five scrimmages out of this.”

The game was predetermined to go five innings, and both teams held each other scoreless through three innings.

Chad Fleischman, who was named the series’ Most Valuable Player, kick started the inning with a single ripped through the left side. That was his second of three hits in the game. He took second on a one-out walk to Vincent Dellocono followed by another to pinch hitter Ryan Erickson.

The Cardinals open their regular campaign Feb. 17 in the Cardinal Classic. It will be the first season with Davis at the helm of the program.

Basketball

The Cards (2-1) will play their next four games on the road beginning Friday, Nov. 25, at Prairie View A&M at 4 p.m. followed by a trip to Idaho State on Tuesday, Nov. 29, at 8 p.m.

The Lady Cards (1-3) will host Northern Arizona on Wednesday, Nov. 23, at 7 p.m. then travel to Buffalo, New York, to play Canisius College on Saturday, Nov. 26, at noon.

Women’s golf

Lamar University women’s golf coach Jessica Steward announced that Brooke Duzan of Sulphur, Louisiana, has signed a National Letter of Intent to attend LU on a golf scholarship starting in the 2017 fall semester.

Duzan has led Sulphur High School to two straight Louisiana State District 5A championships as well as two consecutive regional team titles. She finished second at the state championships as a junior and fifth as a sophomore.

The Cardinals have won four straight SLC championships.

shadow