LOCAL COLLEGE/PREP NOTEBOOK: Ex-Darton star Ramos signs professional soccer contract

During his sophomore season in 2011 with the Cavs, midfielder Diego Ramos led the nation with 30 assists and scored 17 goals.

During his sophomore season in 2011 with the Cavs, midfielder Diego Ramos led the nation with 30 assists and scored 17 goals.

LA CEIBA, Honduras — Former Darton State College soccer star Diego Ramos has signed a professional contract in Honduras with Club Deportiva Victoria, a high-profile team that will expose him to both domestic and the CONCACAF Champions League play beginning Saturday.

About 18 months ago, Ramos led the NJCAA with 30 assists and scored 17 goals as an attacking central midfielder for the Cavaliers before he was crowned the 2011 NJCAA Player of the Year. He was also an All-American and Region XVII Player of the Year during his two seasons with Darton.

With CD Victoria, Ramos will play against American Major League Soccer teams, such as Kansas City and Houston in the first rounds of the CONCACAF Champions League tournament.

Ramos’ side finished the 2012-13 tournament as runners-up and with the best aggregate record.

“I’ve been working really hard to get where I am in my career, and I realized that to make it I had to work twice as hard because everyone wants to reach the top, but not everyone is willing to sacrifice everything to get there,” he said in an email from Honduras. “A key to being at this level was spending two years at Darton.”

Darton State College head men’s soccer coach Bart Sasnett said he was positive Ramos would sign a professional contract after leaving Darton, and he feels that this is only the beginning of a bright career in professional soccer.

“It is a very competitive league,” Sasnett said. “It’s going to prepare him for future endeavors in the pro ranks, as Diego is by far one of the most driven individuals and leaders that I have ever coached. His character is unmatched. He came here and really grew up and matured very quickly.”

Ramos credits Sasnett for much of his development.

“I learned a lot from Coach Bart and also from the teammates,” Ramos said. “I want to thank Coach Bart for believing in me and for giving me the confidence I needed to become the player I am now. I enjoyed learning from him. Hopefully one day I can go finish my classes at Darton and be coach Bart’s assistant.

”I also want to thank (Darton Athletics Director) Mike Kiefer and (soccer academic advisor) Carol Ann Ham for always being behind the team and supporting us.”

Ramos and CD Victoria play Club Tiajuana (Mexico) at 10 p.m. Aug. 20, in their first match in the 2013-2014 CONCACAF tournament.

Tulane hoops transfer Birchfield joins Hurricanes

AMERICUS — Georgia Southwestern State University head men’s basketball coach Mike Leeder announced Monday that Tulane University transfer Josh Birchfield will join the Hurricanes this season.

Originally from Charleston, W.Va., Birchfield comes to GSW after spending the past two seasons at NCAA Division I and Conference USA member Tulane University in New Orleans.

“We feel very fortunate to add a post player with Josh’s size and experience to our team for this season,” Leeder said.

The 6-foot-8, 255-pound junior post player helped Tulane to a 20-15 record in 2012-13 as the Green Wave advanced to the Collegeinsider.com Postseason Tournament, eventually falling to Bradley University in the second round. On the season, Birchfield logged 64 minutes in 18 appearances, playing a season-high 10 minutes in a loss at San Diego.

“We hope that Josh will come in and contribute right away,” said Leeder. “He is following other NCAA Division I transfers we have had in the post (Matt Shaw, Phillip Brown, Trayce Macon, Milos Kluet and Daryl Davis), and we look for him to have an immediate impact for our program.”

Darton golfers earn academic award

NORMAN, Okla. – The Golf Coaches Association of America recently honored the Darton State Cavaliers with a 2013 GCAA Team Academic Award.

To be eligible for GCAA All-Academic Team honors a college or university must submit the GPAs for each player on its official squad list for the academic year. Darton was one of only four NJCAA D-1 teams to make the cut.

“We always want to emphasize academics first,” Darton golf coach Dale Dover said. “Parents send their kids here to get an education. Not all of them are going to be professional golfers — few really — so my expectations in the classroom are very high.”

The 2012-2013 Cavalier golfers spent six hours a week in study halls, and like all Darton State athletes, were supervised by an Early Academic Alert system that notifies the student-athlete, instructor and advisor of any issues throughout a semester of study.

DSC athletes and students also have access to free peer tutoring, math labs, writing centers and more, in both face-to-face and virtual formats, to support academic endeavors.

Dover said that he has even higher expectations for the 2013-2014 season.

“We’re proud of this, but we want to get an even better team GPA next year,” he said.

SGA opens season with 11-8 victory

DOUGLAS — The Southwest Georgia Academy baseball team opened its season Monday with an 11-8 victory against Citizens Christian Academy.

Madison Ragan, a former Randolph Southern star who transferred to SGA after RSS shut down in the spring, led the Lady Warriors with two home runs and five RBI, while Kendyl Carver (2-for-3, HR, 2B, 3 RBI), Braylie Blanton (3-for-3) and Brooke Hornsby (2-for-4, 2B) also had good days at the plate.

Allison Warren was the winning pitcher after throwing 3 2/3 innings in relief and allowing just two hits.

The Lady Warriors play again Tuesday at Southland.