Top moments in UCA's 15-year Southland Conference run:
In only its third season in the Southland, UCA went 10-2 overall and finished atop the league with a conference record of 6-1, one game in front of Texas State at 5-2. The Bears finished the season ranked No. 12 in the Football Championship Subdivision. Quarterback Nathan Brown -- now the Bears' head coach -- threw for 3,206 yards and 21 touchdowns that season. The performance earned Brown conference player of the year honors. Postseason restrictions after UCA's transition to Division I barred the Bears from claiming the official championship, which was awarded to Texas State.
The Sugar Bears went 30-5 in 2012 and stormed to their way to UCA's first official Southland Conference title and a first trip to the NCAA Tournament. They topped Southeastern Louisiana in the first round of the conference tournament before advancing to the finals in a five-set win over Stephen F. Austin, then beat Oral Roberts in the championship match in four sets. Jessica Hays led the Sugar Bears in the final with a 28-kill performance. At the NCAA Tournament, UCA was ousted by the Washington in straight sets.
The Bears entered the Southland Conference Tournament as the No. 7 seed but went on to win five consecutive games to claim the program's first Southland title and first NCAA Tournament berth. UCA opened the tournament with a loss to Texas A&M-Corpus Christi, then won games over Stephen F. Austin, the Islanders and a pair against Oral Roberts to reach the championship, where Connor Gilmore threw a two-hit shutout in a 4-0 win over Southeastern Louisiana. The victory sent the Bears to the Starkville Regional. They won three more games before being knocked out by eventual College World Series runner-up Mississippi State. UCA won a program-record 42 games.
UCA finished 31-21 with a conference championship and first NCAA regional appearance. The Bears won four consecutive games in the Southland tournament, including a 4-2 victory over Northwestern State in the title game. UCA's season came to a close with losses to Oklahoma and Lehigh at the Norman Regional. Five Bears -- Sarah Bigej, Sam Forrest, Kylee Studioso, Briana Whisenhunt and Jessie Taylor -- earned All-Southland honors.