Two HBCU baseball programs have made base stealing an art, Texas Southern University, the NCAA statistical champion in stolen bases per game this past season and Benedict College, nicknamed “The Base Stealing Bandits”.
Texas Southern stole 136 bases during the 2015 regular season and topped Division I powerhouses such as LSU (130), Louisville (127) and TCU (119). Wofford College finished the season with two more stolen bases than Texas Southern, however Wofford played 61 games including additional post season play. The Tigers completed the task in 50 regular season games.
Four other HBCU baseball programs finished in the NCAA top 20 team statistics for stolen bases, all from the Southwestern Athletic Conference (SWAC) last season, including No. 8 Grambling (112), No.9 Alcorn State (109), No.14 Jackson State (100) and No.16 Mississippi Valley State (98).
Texas Southern twice set milestones in 2015 stealing 11 total bases against Grambling State on April 11th and 10 versus Prairie View A&M on May 2nd.
During the last seven years, no team in college baseball has accomplished what Benedict College has done in NCAA Division II baseball. Because of their base stealing antics, The Tigers have been called “The Fastest Show on Dirt”, “The Amazing Base Stealing Machine”, as well as “The Base Stealing Bandits”.
Benedict continues to run with each and every base runner setting records nearly impossible to eclipse. Labeled baseball’s version of football’s “West Coast Offense”, the Tigers use the base paths as an offensive weapon.
Head baseball Coach Selwyn Young, drafted in the 1970s by the Oakland A’s, under the tutelage of Billy Martin who orchestrated the art of “small ball”, employees that same philosophy of “station to station” baseball.
Hired in January 2009, Young prepares his team by analyzing the pitcher’s moves to best develop Benedict’s chances of employing the speed game.
In five of the last seven years, Benedict easily topped base stealing records for all three of the NCAA divisions and has become one of the greatest base stealing teams in college baseball history.
Benedict’s 334 total base thefts in 2013 topped Wichita State’s 1982 record of 333 stolen bases. Wichita State’s record was compiled in 87 games, compared to Benedict’s 41 games in 2013 with four of the top 15 individual base stealers in Division II, according to NCAA statistics.
A look at Benedict College’s theft totals since the arrival of Coach Young in 2009…
Year Rank G SB CS ASB PCT. PG
2009 *1 32 194 24 218 .890 6.06
2010 *1 53 316 42 358 .883 5.96
2011 *1 43 261 47 308 .847 6.07
2012 *1 37 266 46 312 .853 7.19
2013 *1 41 334 69 403 .829 8.15
2014 *1 42 207 55 262 .790 4.93
2015 *2 40 156 46 202 .772 3.90
Total 288 1734 329 2063 .838 6.04
*NCAA DII National Ranking: SB Stolen Base, CS-Caught Stealing, A-Attempts, SB PCT Stolen Base Percentage, PG-Per Game
Young owns eight of the NCAA Division II national stolen base records including stolen base attempts, team stolen bases in a season (334) in 2013, stolen bases per game, and most stolen bases in a single game-versus Virginia Lynchburg (32) in 2013.
Since the inception of the game, teams try to steal bases. Until baseball teams devise a tactic to slow down both Texas Southern and Benedict College’s ability to run, it is going to be difficult to keep base runners out of scoring position.
Young once stated, “stealing bases is like dissecting a frog in biology class. The rest of college baseball is in dial-up mode, while Benedict plays the game at Internet speed.”