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FMU Celebrates Homecoming on Saturday; Pats Host Cougars

FLORENCE, S.C. – The Francis Marion University men’s and women’s basketball teams will play host to Peach Belt Conference for Columbus State University on Saturday (Feb. 14) as the school celebrates Homecoming 2009.

The women’s basketball game will tip-off at 2 p.m. in the Smith University Center, followed by the men’s contest at 4 p.m. Admission to all events on Saturday will be free.

Both contests will be broadcast on the radio at 100.1 FM The FAN, and telecast on Time Warner Cable’s channel 11 in Florence. The video/audio broadcast of the doubleheader will also be available for free on the internet at http://www.peachbeltsports.tv/.

Homecoming activities will begin Saturday at 10 a.m. when the eighth-ranked FMU women’s tennis team entertains Brenau University on the Kassab Courts.

At 11 a.m. there will be an Old Timers’ women’s basketball game in the gym, followed at 11:30 a.m. by an Old Timers’ Game for men’s basketball.

The PatriotFest feast of pizza will begin at 12:30 p.m. on the lawn in front of the Smith University Center featuring live music and entertainment, a picnic lunch, and an opportunity for alumni to interact.

At 1 p.m., the Patriot baseball team (3-3) will play host to Davis & Elkins College (0-3) for a non-conference doubleheader on Cormell Field.

From 1:30 p.m. until approximately 5 p.m., the 11th-annual Swamp Fox Club Benefit Silent Auction, featuring sports memorabilia and merchandise, will be held in the Smith University Center gym.

Between games of the regularly scheduled basketball doubleheader, at approximately 3:45 p.m., former Patriot outfielder Anthony “Chico” Lombardo will be inducted into the FMU Athletic Hall of Fame.

A native of Chattanooga, Tenn., Lombardo played two seasons at Francis Marion (1978 and 1979) after transferring from Motlow State Community College in Tennessee. He earned a B.S. degree in sociology from Francis Marion in 1979, and later did post-graduate work at Winthrop University.

Lombardo now resides in Shelby, N.C., with his wife and two children, and he is entering his 18th season as head baseball coach at Limestone College.

As a senior at Francis Marion in 1979, he batted .411 with 49 runs scored in only 38 games. He set Patriot single-season records for batting average, base hits (62), and runs batted in (46). He also compiled11 doubles, four triples, and one home run, while stealing 50 bases in 54 attempts. He was named to the NAIA District Six All-District Team, while earning All-State, All-Area, and honorable mention All-America recognition. He helped Francis Marion to a 31-7 record, which at the time, was the best in the program’s history.

During the 1978 campaign, he earned All-District honors while hitting .344 with 37 runs scored, seven doubles, one triple, 24 RBIs, and 30 stolen bases in 34 attempts.

His career totals as a Patriot include a .377 average, 86 runs and 70 RBIs in only 76 games, with 80 stolen bases in 88 attempts.

He later played one season in the Cincinnati Reds organization, before entering the coaching profession. When he took over the head coaching reigns at Mars Hill College, he became the youngest head coach in the nation. After two years at Mars Hill, he was an assistant coach at Winthrop College for five seasons, and then moved to Limestone in 1992.

In 2005, he guided Limestone to its first Carolinas-Virginia Athletic Conference championship and was named CVAC Coach of the Year. While with the Saints, he also earned NAIA District Six Coach of the Year honors in 1994, a Louisville Slugger Award for Excellence in Coaching in 1997, and state Coach of the Year recognition in 1997, while compiling a 435-416 record.

He will join 33 current members in the FMU Athletic Hall of Fame, which was formed in 1991.

The 2009 Homecoming King and Queen will be crowned at halftime of the FMU/CSU men’s game.

The 15th-ranked Patriot women’s basketball team (20-1, 13-1) will be attempting to widen its 1.5 game lead in the PBC standings when FMU entertains the CSU women (13-11, 6-8). Second-place Clayton University is idle on Saturday.

Francis Marion, which trails in the all-time series 22-17, beat the Cougars 78-67 earlier this season in Columbus. FMU is unbeaten at home this season (12-0), has won 11 straight games for the first time in nine years, and continues to lead the nation in four statistical categories, including scoring offense. Only the 1980-81 Patriot squad (23-1) and the 1998-99 team (26-1) compiled better season starts.

The Francis Marion men (14-7, 7-7) also look to continue their winning ways. The Patriots are in fifth place in the PBC, one game ahead of sixth-place Columbus State (8-12, 6-8). FMU has won four of its last six contests, and is 8-3 in the Smith University Center this season.

Francis Marion trails in the all-time series 21-11, but beat the Cougars 84-78 on Jan. 10 in Columbus.

#98/2-13-09

Last Published: March 6, 2009 3:40 PM
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