Spring Signals Start of Busy Sports Season on Strand

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The spring golf season attracts thousands of visitors to Myrtle Beach to chase the little white ball, but golf isn't the only game in town. Named the Sports Capital of South Carolina by Sports Illustrated, which coincidentally was founded at Pine Lakes International Country Club, Myrtle Beach boasts a booming sports scene that really comes to life in the spring.

In addition to all the major stick-and-ball sports, including minor-league baseball, semi-pro soccer and indoor football franchises, Myrtle Beach is also a hot spot for fishing, running and watersports like surfing and sailing. Whatever your game, the Grand Strand has an outlet for sports fans. Here are our five favorite sporting events to check out this spring:

Coastal Carolina University Baseball: The first pitch takes place before spring has even sprung thanks to the Coastal Carolina University baseball team, which is nationally ranked and a regular contender in the NCAA Regionals. Although the Chanticleers play most of their home games in the new TD Bank Park in Conway about 12 miles away, they host tournaments in Myrtle Beach's Pelican Park at Broadway at the Beach on Feb. 19-21 and Feb. 26-28. Participating teams include national powers Virginia, Duke, NC State and Ohio State.

Myrtle Beach Freedom: The Grand Strand is getting into a new game with a first-year arena football franchise coming to town. Playing in the American Indoor League, the Freedom will play six home games at the Myrtle Beach Convention Center beginning March 6 against the Carolina Dynasty. Other home games welcome the Savannah Steam (March 28), Georgia Firebirds (April 11), South Carolina Ravens (May 9), Atlanta Vultures (May 16) and Columbus Lions (May 23). Kickoffs are at 7 p.m.

Myrtle Beach Marathon: This annual event attracts nearly 10,000 runners to the Grand Strand to compete in four road races. The March 5 main events, the 26.2-mile marathon and the 13.1-mile half-marathon, give serious runners a nice tour of the beach on foot. March 4 features the 1-mile family fun run and the glow-in-the-dark 5K, where runners are painted with neon colors at various checkpoints. Even more fans line the streets, especially a long stretch of Ocean Boulevard, to cheer them on and celebrate with a post-race party at the finish line.

Myrtle Beach Pelicans: In their first season as the Advanced Class A affiliate of the Chicago Cubs, the Pelicans won the 2015 Carolina League championship and brought a new attitude to the Broadway at the Beach ballpark. The excitement continues in April when the Pelicans open a new season with a new group of players. The team does a great job of providing fun, family entertainment that goes well beyond the ballgame. Wacky promotions and between-innings antics make the games a great time even for non-baseball fans.

Myrtle Beach Speedway: The good ol’ boys of NASCAR swap paint under the lights every Saturday night at Myrtle Beach Speedway, a half-mile asphalt oval located on Highway 501, about five miles from the beach. Operating since 1954, this place has seen some of the legends of the sport compete, including four generations of Pettys and three generations of Earnhardts. See the future stars of NASCAR battle it out in the bullring, as well as other fun promotions like concerts, festivals, daredevil shows and demolition derbies.

After a full day and night on the Myrtle Beach sports scene, head back to your comfortable room at the oceanfront Bay View Resort and relax. There’s plenty more fun and games on the schedule the next day for the ultimate spring sports getaway.