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Blue Wahoos Host Nationally Ranked UWF Baseball In Showcase Game

The UWF baseball team celebrates its dramatic 10th inning win against Wisconsin-Whitewater in 2022, the last time the Argos played at Blue Wahoos Stadium. (Gregg Pachkowski, Pensacola News Journal)
March 18, 2024

Before the game’s first pitch and his focus shifts, University of West Florida baseball coach Mike Jeffcoat knows an emotional feeling will return Tuesday in the dugout at Blue Wahoos Stadium. The nationally ranked Argos (17-6), riding a five-game win streak and continuing a Top 20 climb in the NCAA

Before the game’s first pitch and his focus shifts, University of West Florida baseball coach Mike Jeffcoat knows an emotional feeling will return Tuesday in the dugout at Blue Wahoos Stadium.

The nationally ranked Argos (17-6), riding a five-game win streak and continuing a Top 20 climb in the NCAA Division II polls, will play for the third time in the bayfront ballpark when facing Georgia Southwestern (19-7) in a marquee matchup of teams from two different D-2 conferences in the Southeast region.

“I know from playing there before, I sit there and know I was born and raised in Pensacola and never would have imagined something like this being in our hometown with a stadium on the bay,” said Jeffcoat, in his 19th season as UWF head coach, whose team last played in 2022 at the stadium.

“And then being able to coach this program, in that stadium, that setting, is just a dream come true for a baseball guy like me from Pensacola and the baseball community,” he said.

“It is just wonderful.”

UWF shortstop Trent Jeffcoat, now a senior, makes a throw during the Argos 2022 game at Blue Wahoos Stadium against Wisconsin-Whitewater.Gregg Pachkowski, Pensacola News Journal

This specially arranged game, which begins at 5 p.m. at Blue Wahoos Stadium, was formulated last summer after Jeffcoat was honored by the Blue Wahoos for winning his 600th career game in 2023, along with winning the Gulf South Conference Tournament and having his team host an NCAA D2 regional.

Blue Wahoos owner Quint Studer met with Jeffcoat, after he threw out a ceremonial first pitch before a game that night and asked about his team returning to play.

“Quint has always been so gracious and supportive of UWF baseball and the university itself,” said Jeffcoat, who credits Quint and Rishy Studer for helping enhance UWF’s home ballpark when they owned the Pensacola Pelicans Independent League team (2003-2010) and it was the Pelicans home field.

“He’s always been special to us,” Jeffcoat said. “He was gracious enough to honor me and while I was there, he said, ‘Hey I want to get you guys back down here. We’ll take care of you.’

“He wants UWF baseball at Blue Wahoos Stadium and we are thrilled to be down there again and would love to play at least one game a year in that ballpark.

“It is exciting to our team, means a lot to our players and our university to be downtown playing in that ballpark and hopefully we will get a little bit of support from the community.”

A UWF infielder tags out a Wisconsin-Whitewater runner on a steal attempt in the teams' 2022 game at Blue Wahoos Stadium, the last time the Argos played at ballpark.Gregg Pachkowski, Pensacola News Journal

The game Tuesday is part of a mid-week series against Georgia Southwestern. The teams will play again on Wednesday at UWF’s Jim Spooner Field. The only time these teams have previously met was in 2010 at Georgia Southwestern’s home ballpark in Americus, Georgia.

Georgia Southwestern is a member of the Peach Belt Conference, one of the conference’s UWF battles with in NCAA regional rankings.

The prior times the Argos played at Blue Wahoos Stadium, back in 2019 and 2022, were against Wisconsin-Whitewater – the team that just hosted the nine-day Blue Wahoos Challenge collegiate tournament with nine NCAA Division III teams from six states.

But as Jeffcoat pointed out, playing a Division III school has a consequence when the Argos are considered in the NCAA Division II regional rankings. The Argos won both of those games, including a thrilling 5-4, 10th-inning win against Whitewater in 2022 when recording the final out by catching a deep fly ball against the left field wall.

“The problem we’re in, playing a Division III school does not count for us in our regional standings and strength of schedule, because it is against a Division III school,” said Jeffcoat, whose astonishing record includes 14 seasons of 30 or more wins and nine NCAA tournament appearances. “That is just the way it works with the NCAA.

“It counts as a win or a loss in your overall record, but (NCAA) doesn’t consider the game for regional rankings, so it’s tough to give up a game when you know you may need that to potentially host a regional or it could be separating factor for getting into an NCAA regional in our division.

“But I know how great of a program Wisconsin Whitewater has. Their coach (John Vodenlich) does an incredible job and we had two great games with them, but playing this time (Georgia Southwestern) is a team in our own region, our own division.”

The Argos enter Tuesday’s matchup having won eight of their past nine games. They swept Christian Brothers University from Memphis, Tenn. in a three game series that concluded with a doubleheader win Saturday.

UWF sits atop the GSC with a 10-2 record.

“I like the direction of our team,” Jeffcoat said. “We’ve made some adjustments with some of the pitching. Obviously, the record is good, but we are disappointed with a few of our losses.

“We’ve had three walk-off losses, out of the six losses, and you want to clean some of those up. We took the lead in the ninth inning in games and when you do that on the road, you want to try to close those out. So we feel like we’ve had a couple slip away.

Six of the probable starters in UWF’s batting order have batting averages above .300, led by junior first baseman Darrien McDowell, a Tate High graduate, who has raked a .423 average with a team high nine homers and 36 RBI in 87 at-bats while starting all 23 games.

Junior outfielder Parker Tubb, a Pace High grad, is UWF’s second-leading hitter at .364, followed by outfielder and Tate grad Jadon Fryman with a .342 average. Fryman, whose father, Troy, advanced to Double-A Birmingham after being drafted by the Chicago White Sox, hit for the cycle in his first four at-bats in UWF's win Saturday against Christian Brother.

Jadon Fryman's uncle, Travis Fryman, was a multiple MLB All-Star infielder during his decorated career.

Mike Jeffcoat’s son, senior shortstop Trent Jeffcoat, a Tate grad who was UWF’s first-ever ABCA Rawlings Gold Glove winner, is batting .333.

“I think this team is still trying to find its groove with some of the new guys in the lineup,” Jeffcoat said. “But I see the will to want to win. I see the will to want to get better. Senior leadership has really started to step up and you can hear them speaking up and taking more control of the reigns like you want.”


WHAT: College Baseball

WHO: Georgia Southwestern (19-7) vs. UWF Argos (17-6).

WHEN: Tuesday, 5 p.m. (Gates open at 4 p.m.)

WHERE: Blue Wahoos Stadium

ADMISSION: $7 general admission, $5 for UWF students and military with ID (plus taxes, city fees).

INFO: Tickets available at this link, or stadium box office. Blue Wahoos Stadium is a cashless venue. However, cash can be exchanged for gift card to be used for food/beverage purchases at stadium as well as merchandise.