As the temperatures warm and daylight hours are extending, two Mercer athletic teams are headed down the stretch in their regular seasons and preparing for the conference tournament while spring sports are ready to open up 2022 campaigns.
Coach Susie Gardner’s women’s basketball team sits atop its familiar role in first place with one remaining home game on Feb. 12 vs. UNCG. The Bears will close out the regular season with three road games against other regular season championship contenders facing Wofford in Spartanburg, South Carolina, on Feb. 17; Furman in Greenville, South Carolina, on Feb. 19; and Samford in Birmingham, Alabama, on Feb. 26.
The men’s basketball team of coach Greg Gary has five games remaining as the Bears’ complete the current road trip at UNCG on Feb. 13. The Bears return home to host ETSU on Feb. 16, travel to Western Carolina on Feb. 19, welcome The Citadel to Hawkins Arena on Feb. 23 and close out the regular season at Wofford on Feb. 26. Current standings show Chattanooga in first place, but the battle for all other spots is wide open with only a few games separating the pack.
Both Mercer basketball teams will soon head to Asheville, North Carolina, for the Southern Conference Tournament with the women’s bracket running March 3-6 and the men March 4-7.
Coach Craig Gibson will begin his 18th season as head of the Mercer baseball program on Feb. 18 hosting Eastern Kentucky with the first 17 games in the friendly confines of OrthoGeorgia Park. Gibson has led the Bears to 556 wins and four trips to the NCAA Tournament.
Lindsay Fico begins her first season as head coach of the softball program when the Bears open up Feb. 11 against Loyola Chicago and Florida State at Tallahassee. The former Florida Gator was the previous head coach at Santa Fe College.
Jason Payne returns to Mercer to lead the men’s golf program. Payne was instrumental in coaching several University of Georgia golfers who are currently on the PGA Tour. In addition to his time as an assistant at UGA, he has also coached at Georgia Southern and Charleston Southern. The Bears begin play Feb. 13-15 at the Advance Golf Partners Collegiate in Palm City, Florida.
The women’s golf team begins the spring season in Greensboro Feb. 18-20 at the prestigious Reynolds Lake Oconee Invitational. Coach Michelle Drinkard led the Bears to the NCAA Regionals at Louisville last season.
Coach Josh Marsh will take his beach volleyball team to Deland, Florida, on Feb. 25-26 with matches against Stetson, College of Charleston, Florida Gulf Coast and South Carolina to open the spring campaign. Beach volleyball competes in the Atlantic Sun Conference, and that tournament is April 22-25.
Men’s lacrosse opened up the 2022 season with a win over Bellarmine at Five Star Stadium. Coach Chad Surman team’s next action is Feb. 12 at Navy, and the next home game is March 5 against Robert Morris.
Women’s lacrosse has a couple of impressive home games next week hosting Oregon at Five Star Stadium on Feb. 18 at 5 p.m. and USC on Feb. 20 at noon. Coach Samantha Eustace begins her seventh season at Mercer and has led the Bears to the NCAA tournament three times.
Coach Eric Hayes has led the men’s and women’s tennis programs since 2013. Both teams have already begun spring play. Next match for the women is Feb. 11 at 3 p.m. vs. Georgia State at the LeRoy Peddy Tennis Center. The men will host Kennesaw State on Feb. 13.