On Campus 5/14/13

May. 14, 2013 @ 05:00 AM

It's game day at Wake Forest University and Landon Baucom (LCHS) is busy getting his uniform ready, going through pre-game preparations, hydrating and running his game plan through his head. Baucom, however, is not the starting quarterback on the gridiron or point guard on the basketball team, but his presence at Wake Forest University athletic events for the past four years carries nearly as much weight, especially amongst the faithful black and gold fans.

Baucom is the Demon Deacon mascot. A lifelong sports enthusiast and member of the Lee Senior golf team in high school, Baucom wanted to continue his involvement in athletics in college, so he jumped at the opportunity to try out to be the Demon Deacon mascot his freshman year. After dancing in the Deacon suit and improvising with a few props, Baucom was awarded the job and has since appeared at countless sporting events, special formal appearances and numerous community happenings representing Wake Forest University.

When Mr. and Mrs. Wulf renewed their vows after 30 years at last year’s N.C. State-Wake Forest basketball game, Baucom served as the presiding preacher for the special ceremony, dressed as the Demon Deacon, of course. Baucom will be exchanging his enlarged head and Deacon suit for a mortar board and graduation robe as he is set to walk across the stage at Wake Forest graduating with a degree in political science. His plans are to work for North Star Resource Group in Winston-Salem as a financial adviser.

Reflecting back on his career as an ambassador for Wake Forest, Baucom feels that the most memorable experience was all of the friendships that he made through his job, especially at the ACC Tournaments when all of the ACC school’s mascots got together and shared trade secrets and fellowshiped. “It was the best job in the world!” 

This past winter, my family had the opportunity to take our 6-year-old daughter Savannah to the Wake Forest - Maryland women's basketball game on Junior Deacon Night. She had just started playing youth league basketball and I had hoped that watching the ACC women play might inspire her on the court. During the second quarter of the game, the Demon Deacon came and sat beside Savannah, joking around and watching the game with her for nearly five minutes. For days, instead of reflecting on the great play of the women basketball players on the court, Savannah talked about her encounter with the Demon Deacon, always bringing a big smile to her face. Upon conducting my interview, I found out that Landon Baucom was the Demon Deacon that night and was responsible for making that evening such a wonderful sports memory for my daughter.

In his four years as the Demon Deacon, Baucom’s antics and mannerisms have touched thousands of people, young and old, bringing laughter and smiles to college venues everywhere. His presence produces mobs of fans hoping for a photo opportunity or looking to give a “high five” to Wake Forrest’s most famous representative.

Softball 

Bkaye Smith (SLHS) and the sixth-seeded Virigina Tech Hokies (32-18-1) saw their hopes of a conference championship dashed by second-seeded N.C. State as the eventual 2013 ACC Champions knocked out Tech in the ACC semifinal game, 3-1. Smith started at shortstop and finished 1-3 from the plate, scoring one run. In the first round of conference championship play, the Hokies defeated Maryland, 8-5. Smith went 1-4 from the plate, scoring one run and accounting for one RBI. From the field, she made one out and had three assists. Virginia Tech found out Sunday night that it was selected as an at-large bid to be part of this year’s 64-team field to compete for a NCAA Softball National Championship. Tech enters the tournament as a No. 3 seed in the Lexington Region and will face future ACC foe Notre Dame. Tech is 3-11 all-time against the Fighting Irish, but did win their only matchup last year. This will be the Hokies' second consecutive year to make the NCAA Championship Tournament and sixth in school history.

Baseball

Dillon Frye (LCHS) and fifth-ranked N.C. State (39-12, 16-9) finished 2-1 last week, downing UNC Wilmington, 7-2, and then splitting a series with Florida State over the weekend, winning the first game 3-1 then dropping the second 12-3. Game three was played at 7 p.m. Monday night. Frye was called in for relief in the loss to the Seminoles facing seven batters, giving up two hits and two walks while allowing four earned runs. State will wrap up its regular season this week with a three-game series against Duke starting Thursday night and running through Saturday afternoon.

Nick Durazo (1-4) (LCHS) and East Carolina (28-23, 12-9) split their series this weekend with Marshall, winning games one and three, 9-1 and 4-3, and dropping game two, 4-3. The Pirates will wrap up their regular season with a three-game series hosting the University of Central Florida Thursday night through Saturday morning. 

Golf

Micah Lawrence (LCHS) and 15th-ranked Barton College fell one shot shy of advancing to the NCAA Division II National Championship finals. The Bulldogs finished eighth in the South/Southeast Regional at the Mission Inn Resort and Club in Howey-in-the-Hills, Fla., posting a team score of 892, 28 strokes over. This was Barton’s 14th consecutive trip to the NCAA tournament. The Bulldogs made a valiant effort playing against 14 teams that were ranked in the nation’s top 25. Defending national champion Nova Southeastern University again finished with top honors, carding a nine-under-par 855. Lawrence finished tied for 78th, posting rounds of 80-74-79 for a three-day total of 233.