Leah Brown: the best player in UMHB softball history
Apr26

Leah Brown: the best player in UMHB softball history

With two outs in the bottom of the third inning of game two on Saturday, Leah Brown stepped up to the batter’s box. She spun her bat in her hands and then tapped it to both sides of the plate as she always does. She then proceeded to rip the 2-0 pitch through the hole into left field for her fourth hit of the day; seemingly just another day at the ballpark for Brown. But this one was special. She entered the day with 210 hits, three shy of tying the school record for hits in a career. She was now alone at the top of the list. Of course, this is nothing new for Brown. In the past few weeks, she has broken school records for runs (140), home runs (34), runs batted in (157) and total bases (380). She also has now ended the regular season with a .735 slugging percentage, which will be good for another school record if it holds up through the post-season. And it most likely will, as she has a 35 point lead in that category. “Rounding the bases was really emotional and it was just a cool feeling,” Brown said about her record-breaking home run. She also said the home run record is a memory that will stick with her beyond her time at UMHB. A lot of players have the ability to have a great season or two throughout their career. But the consistency that Brown has shown in her four years at UMHB has been the defining characteristic of her career. Her coaches and teammates alike count on her throughout the season and time and time again she is able to deliver. It has clearly been a remarkable four-year career for Brown and her coaches are going to miss having their All-American in the lineup every game. “The thing that’s impressive about her is that she’s been so consistent,” said Head Coach Larry Hennig. “She’s never slowed down in trying to get better; never slowed down working in practice. I don’t want to think about next year.” Assistant Coach Melissa Maler has only been coaching Brown for the past two seasons. But she was aware of Brown’s greatness before she even got to college. Maler was a coach at West High School before coming to UMHB. Her team played against Crawford High School, where Brown attended, every year. “We played her the whole time I was at West, her four years of high school ball. So I knew she was a great player,” Maler said. “She’s by far one of the best hitters that I’ve ever been able to...

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Cru Softball sweeps UO with a 4-2 victory
Mar29

Cru Softball sweeps UO with a 4-2 victory

Published in the March 29, 2017 issue of The Bells The University of Mary Hardin-Baylor softball team squared off against the University of the Ozarks Lady Eagles on Saturday with a chance for a three-game sweep. It was a beautiful day for softball at Dee Dillon Field in Belton, Texas. In an exciting game, the Crusaders came out on top with a 4-2 victory. The Cru got off to a quick start in the bottom of the first inning, when junior first baseman Karley Free ripped a double down the line to score the first run of the game. They added another run in the bottom of the second. Freshman pinch-runner Connor O’Neal came around and scored on a wild pitch by the Lady Eagles pitcher. The game looked to be pretty well in control until the top of the third inning. After a hit-by-pitch, Laken Gray stepped in for UO and hit a blast to left field for a game-tying two-run homerun. The Lady Eagles saw the ball very well in this inning. But freshman pitcher Cece Darilek was able to squirm out of the inning with a couple of lineouts after the big homerun. The game remained tied until the bottom of the fourth when the Cru struck again. With one out, freshman right fielder Linsey Tomlinson reached on an infield single and advanced to second on a groundout. Senior catcher Cori Drake then hit a 3-2 pitch down the third base line and off the glove of the third baseman. As the ball trickled into foul territory, Tomlinson rounded third and scored to give the Crusaders the 3-2 lead. In the bottom of the fifth, after a walk by sophomore DH Kourtney Cummings, senior left fielder Myranda Hinojosa laced a ball to the wall in left-center field for a double, and Cummings advanced to third. Tomlinson then came up and grounded out to short. But when the shortstop threw the ball to first, Cummings broke for home. There was a very close play at home, but Cummings was able to squeak in just under the tag and score to make it 4-2 in favor of the Cru. “I felt pretty good,” Free said about her strong offensive showing. “It was a good day at the plate for me. It’s been kind of a struggle for me this season, so this weekend it kind of came together.” Senior pitcher Haley Parker finished her strong weekend with a one-two-three top of the seventh inning to end the game. In the three-game series, Parker pitched in two games and in six innings gave no runs and just one hit....

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Cru baseball defeats reigning national champions
Mar08

Cru baseball defeats reigning national champions

Published in the March 8, 2017 issue of The Bells The University of Mary Hardin-Baylor baseball team faced off against the No. 7 Trinity University Tigers on Tuesday, Feb. 28 at Red Murff Field in Belton. The Tigers are the reigning NCAA Division III National Champions and came into the game 6-5 on the season. The Crusaders started the game 1-5 on the year, but were able to overcome a shaky start to win 9-7. Trinity was able to put up five runs in the top of the first inning on the strength of five hits and a Cru error. But senior starting pitcher/designated hitter Ty Johnson was able to work through the inning and continue pitching for two more innings, allowing just one more unearned run in the top of the third. “I think they refocused really well,” said head coach Ben Shipp. “We’re a very young team, so I was really proud of the way they refocused tonight after getting down 5-0.” The Cru answered with a run in the bottom of the first inning. In the fourth, with runners on first and second, sophomore shortstop Robbie Gillen stepped up and lined a ball down the right field line for a two-run triple. Gillen was then able to score on a balk by Trinity pitcher Holden Nix, shrinking the Tigers’ lead to 6-4. “I’m trying to just drive the ball the opposite way, shorten up and get the ball in play. I got a fastball off the plate and just drove it down the line,” Gillen said. After one run in the top of the sixth for the Tigers, the Cru were able to return fire in the bottom half of the inning. Sophomore second baseman Jackson Godoy led off the inning with a single and then stole second. Gillen then came back to the plate with one out and laid down a bunt. The Tigers’ pitcher picked up the bunt and fired a high throw over the head of the first baseman and into right field. Godoy scored on the error and Gillen moved up to second with a single and an E1. Gillen then scored three batters later on a single by freshman first baseman Landon Dieterich, cutting the deficit to 7-6. Then in the bottom of the seventh, an error on the Trinity second baseman allowed sophomore third baseman Mitch Patterson to reach and Johnson drew a walk. Godoy came to the plate with two on and laced a double over the center fielder’s head. Patterson scored easily from second to tie the game. But a perfect relay from the second baseman cut Johnson...

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Cru Softball Off to Hot Start in 2017
Feb22

Cru Softball Off to Hot Start in 2017

Published in the February 22, 2017 issue of The Bells The University of Mary Hardin-Baylor’s softball team is off to a hot start in the 2017 season. In the first three weeks of the season, the Cru is 9-2 and looking strong. The team is very excited and hopeful about getting off on the right foot. “We’ve played really well and the two games that we’ve lost are games that we very easily could have won. We’re 8-2 and we could very well be 10-0,” Head Coach Larry Henning said. But the team also understands that it is a long season and are very determined to sustain this success over the course of the season. “It’s early and we’re still trying to find the right mix, but it’s been fun,” said Henning. It comes as no surprise that senior third baseman Leah Brown has played a significant role in the team’s early success. She is coming off of a terrific 2016 season in which she earned NFCA first team All-American honors. She was astounding at the plate, boasting a .437 batting average, 11 HR and 26 RBI. She also led the American Southwest Conference in slugging percentage and ranked second in batting average and home runs. With a player of this caliber, opposing teams will often come up with a game plan to keep her from beating them. But Brown thinks that it would be a futile effort on the part of the opposition. “With the lineup that we have, it really doesn’t make any difference,” she said. She seems to have picked up right where she left off a season ago, already with 17 RBI in just the first 11 games. During her time at UMHB, Brown and the Cru have not finished higher than fourth in the ASC standings. But she believes the team is ready to turn it around. “We’re looking like a much better team and it’s all coming together,” Brown said. She is also hopeful for a conference championship run in her last season as a Crusader. When asked if she thought that this team has what it takes to contend for a championship, she simply replied “definitely.” Another bright spot of the first stretch of the season is junior pitcher Karen Tennis. Tennis earned second team All-ASC honors last season staring 22 of the Crusader’s 41 games and going 10-13 with a 3.28 ERA. So far this season, she has started five games and is 3-1 with a 2.66 ERA. The Cru will be entering possibly the toughest stretch of their season beginning on Feb. 24, in which they will face three NFCA...

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Sports column: MLB dreams don’t come true
Feb08

Sports column: MLB dreams don’t come true

Published in the February 8, 2017 issue of The Bells We all have that outlandish childhood dream; that is an unobtainable goal that we think we will undoubtedly reach at some point in our lives. My boyhood dream was always to become a professional baseball player. I never realized how hard that would be to accomplish. And realizing just how far away I actually was to that dream leaves a bitter taste in my mouth. The odds each player has to overcome in order to make it to Major League Baseball (MLB) are almost insurmountable. According to the NCAA, just seven percent of high school baseball players make it to the NCAA and only .003 percent ever end up on an MLB roster. It never enters our minds that this is not just a game for these players— it is their livelihood. We see the big-time contracts on the news— players signing nine-figure contracts. But for most professional ball-players, it is a struggle. There are approximately 6,000 players currently in the MLB minor-league system. According to CNN Money, the players at the lowest level of the minor-leagues are making $1,100 a month and working close to 70 hours a week. This is well below minimum wage. So, while being a professional athlete is a full-time job, many minor league players have to get second jobs in order to continue pursuing their dream. Another thing that generally goes unprocessed, is just how many baseball careers have come to an end due to injury. This is where my story lies. While possibly possessing the necessary skills to succeed in the field, my baseball story was struck down before it had a chance to flourish. As is the case for thousands of players around the world, especially for pitchers. Injuries have become an increasingly prominent part of the baseball landscape. Any way you put it, the game so many love, has the ability to dash the dreams of exactly that many. But those of us who love the game will go on loving it until we no longer have that ability. And those with dreams of the bright lights of Yankee Stadium will keep dreaming until they wake up in Yankee Stadium or wake up in...

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