Cru softball back in action
Feb25

Cru softball back in action

THE BELLS — by Emily Steppick Last weekend, the softball team traveled to Clinton, Miss. for a four- game series against Mississippi College. The team played a double-header  and lost the first game 3-4 along with the second 2-3. The Crusaders played a second double-header Feb. 16. The girls lost the first game 1-4 and the second 0-3. Last season the team placed third in the tournament and finished 29-16. The women ended with a 17-7 record in conference play. Sophomore Kourtney Bevers said the team prepared well for the season. “As far as pre-season/fall ball, we did a lot of different training as far as conditioning to get us in better shape. We did CrossFit and a lot of circuits work in the weight room.” The Lady Cru have full potential to dominate ASC play adding new talent to the experienced returners. “We have a lot of freshmen that came in, so I think just the competitive atmosphere of our team has heightened because nobody’s spot is set in stone.” After pitching every game in her high school career, Bevers was recruited as a pitcher for the Cru. However, last season she started as a center fielder. Bevers said she chose number 10 both this season and last season because she likes to wear the same number in softball as she wears in basketball. The atmosphere of the softball program is one that allows the players to have fun and be competitive at the same time. “Softball honestly feels like a family here. There’s not a person I don’t get along with, and the coaches make the competitive environment a fun place. Another big thing I like is that we pray before every game and strive to reflect God in the way we play.” Bevers is working on a major in art and visual communications along with a minor in marketing. After graduation, she can see herself pursuing a career in sports advertisement logos or in interior design. Junior left fielder Janie Neyland agrees with Bevers. “The team went through hardcore workouts in the fall to prepare for this season,” Neyland said.  “This year there are a lot of freshmen, creating a very young team.” Before playing for the Crusaders, Neyland played softball throughout high school and played for a select softball team. So she knows what it takes to be successful in the sport. “The key to winning games this year will be having high intensity throughout the whole game and trying to string all our hits together.” The chemistry between the players is one that is hard to describe because even though some of them have...

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Men’s basketball set for run at ASC championship title
Feb25

Men’s basketball set for run at ASC championship title

THE BELLS — The men’s basketball team has continued its winning ways, stringing together eight consecutive wins and most recently beating the University of Texas in Dallas Feb. 22. Jerard Graham led the Cru with 19 points along with 12 rebounds. Senior forward Kitrick Bell wasn’t far behind, finishing with 15 points and 14 rebounds. The last two games of the season were highly important for the Crusaders. They dropped a few conference games early but finished strong in order to put them in good position for the conference tournament. “The two last games are important because it decides on what seed we will be going into the tournament,” head coach Ken DeWeese said. “If we win these last two games, numerically speaking, it looks to be a little bit of an easier road, but if we get in that situation, I will be the first to tell you it isn’t any easier.” The Crusaders dropped the first meetings against Hardin-Simmons and UTD, but when those two teams traveled to Belton to face UMHB again, they met a different Crusader team. “We lost the two on the road at HSU and at UTD. I didn’t think we played poorly at Hardin-Simmons but they had one guy that made six threes. They beat us by four, and he was the difference,” DeWeese said. Sophomore center Russell Green agrees they weren’t playing to their full potential at that time in the season but have turned it around and will be a force in the conference tournament. “I think we are doing the little things better. We are also playing a whole lot better defense, and we have more confidence as a team.” The men will be heading into the conference tournament as the number three seed. Their winning streak can be attributed to their escalated play on the defensive end of the court. “Our defense has really stepped up in these last nine games,” Green said. “We continue to get stops on defense, which leads to good shots on the other end. I think that has been a big contributor here late in the season.” The Crusaders will travel to  the University of Texas Dallas for the conference tournament this weekend.  Even though the men defeated the Comets in the last game of the regular season, UTD still holds the number one seed in the conference followed by Hardin-Simmons. For a shot at the national tournament, the Crusaders need to play well in the ASC tournament. A conference tournament championship would guarantee them an automatic bid. “We just have to go take care of business in the tournament. We control our...

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Sport Spotlight: Taylor and Tori Tucker
Feb11

Sport Spotlight: Taylor and Tori Tucker

Taylor and Tori Tucker are sisters and compete together on the Lady Crusader basketball team. Taylor is a junior and Tori is a sophomore, and both are exercise sport science majors. They went to many different schools growing up across Texas, attending Bryan Rudder and Oakwood, but graduated from A&M Consolidated High School in College Station. This season, the Lady Cru are 14-7 overall and 14-4 in conference play and currently are tied for second place with the University of Texas-Dallas in the American Southwest Conference. The Tuckers picked UMHB because of the opportunity to keep playing basketball with each other. “We chose to play together and also like the atmosphere and how family orientated everyone is,” Tori said. Outside of all the time spent on basketball, both sisters agreed that they enjoy sleeping, hanging out with teammates and play videogames. “I love playing, I love the atmosphere, and I love the audience. I also love playing with my teammates and just basketball pretty much takes away any problems you might have at the time, it’s a whole new thing when you step on the floor,” Taylor said. The sisters’ favorite memory was last season on the road against Concordia University. “We went into double overtime, so we had a lot of time on the court to play together, and we all fought really hard to win that game,” Tori said. In the game, Taylor and Tori combined for 38 total points and memories that will last forever. The sisters spend a lot of time with each other off the court as they also live together. “It can be challenging at times, but she’s not only my sister and my roommate, she is my best friend, so it makes things a lot easier,” Taylor said. After college, both have set their plans on what they hope to do. “I want to play overseas, and then after that I want to be a strength and conditioning coach and work with kids and train them,” Taylor said. Tori wants to stay near the Belton area. “I plan on attending PT school and be a PTA or physical therapist around the area,” she said. Though Taylor has only one more year left of basketball, the Tucker sisters want to enjoy it all while it lasts. “Taylor has one more year, and I’m just trying to get back out there ASAP with her. God has blessed us both with talent, and to be able to use it together on the same court is amazing,” Tori said. “Taylor pushes me to be a better player myself. I don’t compare myself to her, but we...

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Cru basketball hits hot streak
Feb11

Cru basketball hits hot streak

It’s been a rollercoaster season  for men’s basketball, but recent wins against Louisiana College and Mississippi College have given new life to the Cru as they prepare for the final stretch of the regular season. Senior guard James Allen said the wins were a crucial momentum boost that could propel the team into a prime spot in the conference tournament. “Both of those games were big for us because they would bring us up in the conference standings,” he said. “We have to keep winning in order for us to stay strong in the end.” Allen became the Cru’s Division III era career scoring leader during a 76-56 win against LC Jan. 30 in Belton. The two teams were tied at 13 early in the first half before the Cru pulled away to a 40-28 lead at the half.  Allen led the team with 20 points to go along with six assists and five rebounds. Antonie Chaney and Jerard Graham added 17 and 15 points respectively as the team shot 50 percent from the field as a whole. Head coach Ken DeWeese said the team performed exceptionally well in all aspects of the game. “We played extremely well offensively and defensively against Louisiana College, and we played with a great deal of consistent effort,” DeWeese said. The Cru then went on to earn a hard-fought, 78-70 victory Feb. 1 against Mississippi College. Things started slow as the Cru didn’t score until the 15:21 mark of the first half, but the team bounced back to grab a 36-32 halftime lead. A James Allen three-pointer put the Cru back in front for good at 45-42. The team capitalized on a multitude of fouls as they made 41-51 free throw attempts. Allen led all scoring with 22 points to go along with 19 from Graham and 11 from foward Kitrick Bell. “I must give them credit, Mississippi College played well the entire game,” DeWeese said. “It was good for us because we had to extend our effort for the duration of the game to be successful.” Sophomore guard Layton Zinsmeister said the victories are just what the team needed to turn things around. “The recent wins were huge because we need to start getting back on the winning track,” he said.  “We’ve had a couple of games that we lost that were so close, so it’s nice to win a couple of games against teams that are up at the top.” For a team that was in the National Championship game just last season, Zinsmeister said it’s important for the Cru to focus on their next opponent instead of looking too far...

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Baseball fever is back in Belton
Feb11

Baseball fever is back in Belton

Ben Shipp returns for his second season as head coach for the Crusader baseball team.  Shipp said he is eager to coach this young team after losing six seniors last year. “It’s a challenge, and there is so much to cover. However, I’m not concerned by the youth as much as excited about the talent this team possesses.” Shipp is thankful for his seniors, as they helped the new coaches adapt to the Crusader atmosphere. He said fans should keep an eye out for new players such as Tripp Reeves, Alex Smith and KJ Stark. He believes these three players have a lot to offer the team and is excited to see their future performance. Shipp is confident in the team’s speed and depth, and thinks it will provide Crusader fans with a different style of game due to the power behind their bats. He said, “The key to winning games this year will be consistency in pitching.” Junior left-handed pitcher, Ian Ekery, said, “This year’s baseball team is very young after the loss of six seniors last year, creating a learning atmosphere throughout the beginning of the season.” Although the team is full of younger players, Ekery believes it will be a lot stronger defensively. He is an exercise and sport science major and plans to pursue a career in physical therapy. Ekery wears the number 16 in honor of famous Yankee pitcher, Whitey Ford. Ekery prides himself on his change-up pitch. But he also has a number of other pitches that he has worked on in the off-season. Senior right-handed closer, Danny Horstman, believes he “should set an example in leading the young team” as one of only three seniors this year. Horstman wears the number 7 on the field in honor of his favorite player, Craig Biggio, a retired second baseman for the Astros. Horstman  also majors in exercise and sport science in hopes of pursuing a career in physical therapy after graduation. The two veteran Crusader pitchers believe the key to winning games this year will be the team’s defensive strength and ability to advance the runners. After finishing last season with an even 21 and 21 record, Shipp is confident the team will finish higher in the standings this conference season. The Crusaders, ranked sixth out of 12 in the pre-season conference, will take Red Murff Field in all new uniforms for their first home game Feb. 28, as they take on last year’s ASC champions, the Patriots of UT Tyler. The Crusaders are talented across the board but putting it all together will be the key focus for this year’s team. Last year ...

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Men’s golf to tee off spring season

The men’s golf team is heading into the 2014 spring season with one word in mind: consistency. A talented group of young and experienced players will look to pick up where they left off last season and finish strong. Head golf coach Aaron Rodeffer said, “Going into the spring, I think our biggest strength is just some consistency. Some of the older guys come to mind when I say that. Those guys have been through the fire a little bit. We had a very sub-par performance at the conference championship last year, and I think they are anxious to put that behind them.” Senior exercise sport science major and four-year golfer for the university, Justin Judkins, agrees that the experience combined with the young talent will be something that could propel the team to places they haven’t reached in years past. “I’d say the fact that we have strong freshmen, as well as a group of seniors and juniors that have played together for three and four years will be to our advantage. We are going into the season with a lot of confidence and look forward to keeping up the good play that we had in the fall.” As always, men’s golf in the ASC is packed with quality teams, but the Cru believe they are right at the top of the list. “Thinking about the fall, we played really well,” Rodeffer said. “Probably the best fall we have had since I have been here. The scoring average was 296, and we were bouncing in and out of the top 25, so I think the biggest thing that I look forward to in the spring is these older guys really stepping up to the plate and performing.” The way last season ended provided the guys with a valuable lesson that anyone in the conference is capable of winning. The conference just continues to get tougher as the years go on, but the Cru know they  have to take care of business on their end, and the rest will fall into place. “With Schreiner winning last season, we’ve learned to not count anyone out, so we are just preparing ourselves the best we can,” Judkins said. The weather in just the few short weeks that the Cru have been practicing has been rough, but it is just another thing that the men will have to block out in order to keep up the low scores they experienced in the fall. “Conditions are obviously more difficult in the spring,” Rodeffer said.  “The golf courses aren’t in the best shape. The weather is usually terrible. But, I think they still have...

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