Johnathan Stokes Ready to Step Back On the Diamond

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By Alex Howle

Senior shortstop Johnathan Stokes is eager to get back on the diamond for one last chance to lead the Bulldogs to a Southern Conference Championship.

Stokes has stepped up this fall as a leader and looks to pull this team tightly together when the season rolls around in February. He will have to be a more vocal guy on the field this year to keep the young players on the right track. Stokes believes this team will have better chemistry with a different mindset from last year.

Stokes’ batting average for the 2014 season was .254 with 10 doubles and 36 RBIs. In conference play he improved and batted .289 with 6 doubles and 19 RBIs. Stokes has set himself a high goal for his final season in a Bulldog uniform to bat over .300 in the 2015 season, while hitting above .320 when conference play comes around.

Stokes has nothing but good things to say about the job new hitting coach Aaron Gershenfeld has done since joining this team in June as Coach Gershenfeld has prepared the hitters to the best of their abilities and it has paid off over the duration of the fall season.

“Coach Gershenfeld brings a lot of energy and knowledge to the team and thinks that the hitters will step up after losing (first baseman/DH) Bo Thompson and (second baseman) Mason Davis to the MLB Draft,” Stokes said. “If the bats stay hot, then this will be a big year for the Bulldog baseball team.”

Stokes has started at shortstop since he was a freshman and has been very consistent in the field. His fielding average in 2014 was .968 while turning the team-leading 17 double plays.

He is very anxious for the season to start and says he has a good feeling about this year. He believes all of their hard work in the offseason will pay off and did not like how the season ended last year, so they all are looking to bounce back strong in 2015.

Being the senior leader that he is, Stokes talks highly of the pitchers this year and the amount of depth they will have in the bullpen to fall back on. Stokes said the Bulldogs have 14 returning pitchers with the addition to 12 new freshmen pitchers. He believes the Bulldogs will have one of the best pitching rotations in the Southern Conference this year as they have looked very stout this fall, but they must remain healthy when conference plays comes around.

Stokes has set many goals for the upcoming season for himself, as well as the team. He says he wants to make the All-Southern Conference team, hit over .300 for the year, and win the Southern Conference Championship. Most importantly, his ultimate goal is to get drafted at the end of the year and his main goal for the team is to make it to Omaha for the College World Series because he says that has always been his dream goal ever since he picked up a baseball at a very early age.

Alex Howle, a cadet from Darlington, is a student in Andy Solomon’s Sport Communications class.

Cheerleaders’ Return Enhances Gameday Experience for Fans and Cadets

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By Andy Solomon

Citadel cheerleaders have returned.

Through a unique relationship with The Stray Dog Society, they’re back, and the early reaction to them has been most positive.

Word is that the cheerleaders are indeed enhancing the game-day experience for fans and cadets alike.

Made up of current cadets and graduate school students as well as interested locals with cheerleading and public relations experience, the group of men and women cheer from the stands in front of the Corps of Cadets on the west side by the 15-yard line.

Put simply, they add spirit at the home games.

The Citadel had sponsored cheerleaders for many years and most recently had a “spirit squad” of cadets only.

And previously, there was a situation with our cheerleaders that simply wasn’t ideal and the department was searching ways in which to improve it when The Stray Dog Society offered suggestions and assistance.

“We’re happy to help,” said Stray Dog Society founder and president Joe Nuttall ’68. “The Stray Dog Society is positioned to help our beloved college in a multitude of areas, and we think this helps significantly with the spirit at our home football games.

Nuttall added that the cheerleaders’ primary focus is on the home football games, but they will also be positioned to help the Department of Athletics with a multitude of opportunities.

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The cheerleading group is led by Stephanie Slan ’08, whose responsibilities include recruiting, training and coaching the squad. Slan is a native of Wadmalaw Island and was a Citadel cheerleader from 2004-08. She currently is a clinical research coordinator at the Medical University of South Carolina. She is assisted by Vicki Gillis, a former Citadel cheerleader when she was a student at the College of Charleston in the 1980s. Gillis is the wife of Citadel Athletic Hall of Famer Paul Gillis ‘80.

Give the cheerleaders a lot of credit and a hand. Help them help us. They’re here for us, the fans, in addition to the Corps of Cadets.

The next time you see one of our cheerleaders, it would be great to say “thank you” for their spirit, hard work and the value they add to our gameday experience.