Cru baseball rounding out the season
May06

Cru baseball rounding out the season

THE BELLS — The Crusader baseball team may have cooled off a bit from its scorching 13-2 start, but with just one series remaining  in the regular season, the team is still very much in contention for a conference tournament.   The team endured a four-game losing skid in early April before bouncing back to take two games apiece in series against the University of Texas at Dallas and Hardin-Simmons University. An 11-1 win April 11 against HSU in Abilene pulled the Cru out of its funk.   The following day, the team took the first game of a doubleheader  with a four-run rally in the seventh to seal a 6-5 victory. The Cru jumped out to a 3-1 lead in the second game, but the Cowboys stormed back, and handed the Cru a 7-4 loss.   The team returned home the following weekend and notched two wins against ETBU by scores of 3-2 and 4-3 before falling 8-4 in the third game of that series as well. Junior infielder Tripp Reeves said the wins were a way for the team to get back on the right track. “I think it was good for our team to bounce back and go 4-2 in conference after a rough weekend against UTD,” he said. “Although we would have liked to have gotten a series sweep against one of those teams, I feel like we’ve done a good job recently getting back to playing the type of ball we are capable of.”   The Cru added to its win total April 22 with an impressive 6-5 walkoff victory against 4th ranked Trinity University.   After facing an early three-run deficit, the team battled back to a tie game at five apiece in the sixth inning.  Rob Loewe doubled in the ninth and would later score the winning run off the bat of Heath Spencer.   While the win against Trinity could serve as a momentum boost, junior pitcher Ian Ekery said the team  just needs to keep doing what it’s been doing all season long “Hopefully, beating Trinity will give us that little extra push to get us through these next couple of weeks,” Ekery said. “At this point in the season there’s nothing new that can be introduced or changed that we haven’t been doing.”   With just one series remaining against first-place Concordia, the Cru have a chance to end the season on top of the ASC standings. “This ASC conference is a very difficult one to play in because any team can beat any team, and it doesn’t matter if they are last or first,” sophomore outfielder Zack Whiddon...

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Void in Rangers’ front office hitting home
May06

Void in Rangers’ front office hitting home

THE BELLS — Although there isn’t a lot of history to be celebrated within the Texas Rangers organization. It would be fair to say that the majority of their success in Arlington is a result of Hall of fame pitcher Nolan Ryan. This includes his play on the mound and his executive decisions made from behind a desk.   After Nolan Ryan was nonchalantly stripped of his CEO position last year he decided to officially step down in October. This put fear into many of the diehards who recognized that Ryan’s attention to detail while he was running the organization was what led the Rangers to two World Series in 2010 and 2011. There is no doubt the anxiety of losing a legend in the front office is still lingering around because the identity of this year’s team has yet to be displayed.   The Rangers have been known for their bats, but their rise to contention began because of careful moves to bring in quality pitchers. Ryan understood that pitching was what would carry a team throughout the playoffs.   Brian Honea of Yahoo Sports said, “The Ranger brass is saying all the ‘right things’ now as well as Ryan departs to ride off into the sunset and spend more time on his ranch outside of Houston. They believe they have the pieces in place for a winner. It’s just hard to imagine it happening without Ryan.” Only time will tell if they are right, but not every game is won during nine innings. Having the right people making the big decisions is imperative for success.   Just over twenty games into the season, the Texas Rangers are 22nd in the league in pitching, giving up roughly four runs a game. Compared to seasons past, this should be a scary statistic. It doesn’t help that the hitters the organization brought in during the offseason have been struggling at the plate.   It is still too early to count the Rangers out, but it is never a fun sight to see a Ranger legend and former CEO sitting behind the plate for the Houston Astros. Only time will tell just how much Ryan will be...

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Sport Spotlight: Kitrick Bell
Apr02

Sport Spotlight: Kitrick Bell

THE BELLS — Kitrick Bell is a senior computer information systems major from Houston, where he attended Fort Bend Marshall High School. Bell has played a key role for the Cru all four seasons. The Cru found Kitrick four years ago, and he became a perfect fit. “I didn’t choose UMHB—UMHB chose me,” he said. His freshman year, Bell was voted to the ASC West Division All-Freshman Team. By his sophomore year, he played in 26 matches and averaged 10 points per game. His junior year, he started in every game and led the Cru to the NCAA Division III National Championship Game. By his senior year, he was named to the D3hoops.com Preseason All-America Team. Kitrick enjoys playing with his teammates. “My favorite thing about basketball is playing together as a team,” he said. This season, the senior helped lead his team back to a 17-9 overall record and 15-7 in conference play, but most importantly a berth into the postseason. In his final home game, Bell helped the Cru defeat nationally ranked #17 UT-Dallas 75-71. He contributed by getting a double-double of 15 points and 14 rebounds. The ASC awarded his outstanding play by naming him the ASC Men’s Basketball Player of the Week for Feb. 20-24. The Cru then went into ASC Tournament as the #3 seed, but, but fell to Louisiana College 81-71 in the quarterfinals. Bell averaged just shy of a double-double with 12.3 points and 8.3 rebounds per game throughout his senior year. He also finished his career with the all-time record of most rebounds in a career at UMHB. One thing most people don’t know about Kitrick is that he enjoys to sing. “Alicia Keys is one of my favorite. I like to dabble with John Legend a little bit and Lauryn Hill,” he said. After college, Bell has made up his mind on what he wants to do. He said, “My absolute dream job is to become a computer programmer, but if that doesn’t work,...

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Crusader baseball receives votes in top 25
Apr02

Crusader baseball receives votes in top 25

The Crusader baseball team is off to its best start since 1999. Even though the team has been plagued with injuries over the first half of the season, a recent six-game win streak propelled the Cru to a 19th ranking in the first American Baseball Coaches Association poll of the season. The Cru pulled off a three-game sweep of Mississippi College March 14 and 15. The team took the first game of the series in a 4-3 contest in which junior Tripp Reese hit an RBI single in the sixth to put the Cru ahead for good. In the second game of  a doubleheader, the Choctaws took a 3-1 lead into the bottom of the ninth before  the Cru rallied back to claim a 4-3 walkoff victory off a hit from sophomore Chase Burrow. Head Coach Ben Shipp said the wins were proof of the team’s resiliency. “Our guys really battled all three games, but the first two were classics,” he said. “Clutch at-bats in the last innings and tough defense were key to the wins.” Junior Ian Ekery gave up two runs off six hits in 5.1 innings. Even though he didn’t feel he was at his best, Ekery put his team in a good position with his performance. “Personally, on the mound, I didn’t think like I had my best stuff, and I was constantly fighting an uphill battle all night but as a starting pitcher, your job is to give your a team a chance to win,” he said. “That’s all I was trying to do. Our guys are just so resilient.” The Cru completed the sweep with an 8-0 win fueled by a complete game shutout from senior Jordan Mattke. Mattke held the Choctaws to just four hits and struck out six in a performance that gained him ASC Co-Pitcher of the Week honors. “I felt like establishing the strike zone early and changing speeds was a huge key to my success,” Mattke said. “I was locating well with all of my pitches, and that makes it difficult on hitters. Burrow said the sweep shows how the team has matured over the past year. It was “a good illustration of how tough mentally we are compared to last year,” he said. “We have a different mindset when things aren’t going our way or when our back is against the wall.” The team’s win streak came to an end March 18th in a 5-4 loss to the hands of #1 ranked Trinity. The Cru grabbed a 4-3 lead going into the bottom of the ninth, but weren’t able to hold on as the Tigers put up...

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Women’s golf team soars through spring
Apr02

Women’s golf team soars through spring

THE BELLS — By Thanh Duong The No. 7 NCAA ranked women’s golf team set off for Georgia over spring break to compete in the Jekyll Island Invitational March 14-16. Junior exercise sport science major McKenzie Ralston climbed the board from 10th place coming out of the second round and led the Cru to finish 2nd individually with an 82-75-72=229. “I worked a lot on my short game. And while I was there, it definitely paid off,” Ralston said. “I wasn’t hitting the ball great and that course played hard hitting into the greens so my short game saved me and secured me second place.” The Cru finished 12 strokes behind team champion Claremont-Mudd-Scripps for fourth place with a 322-315-318=955 total. Fellow junior sports management major Victoria Thane felt the team didn’t play to  its full potential.  Coming off a national championship year, expectations are always high. “As a team, we’ve played mediocre,” she said. “Going into the tournament we felt we could win, considering we won last year. Most of us play well at Indian Mound but it just wasn’t there this year, unfortunately.” Expectations for the remainder of the season are high. Coach Jackie Ralston,  named as the new head coach for the lady Cru in July, felt fortunate to have inherited the team from ex-coach Darla Kirby. “These girls have a lot of talent, and I think that with a little more hard work, dedication and some personal commitment, I see no reason why they can’t conquer and win the conference championship. Get to the national championship and also do well again. I really think they can do a repeat,” she said. Going blind into an unfamiliar course, the team is headed to Bossier City, La.  March 24 to compete in the Hal Sutton Invitational held by Centenary College. “We’ve never seen the course. Sometimes that’s a good thing. Sometimes you’re better off maybe not knowing what all is out there,” Ralston said. “Just look at the shot, play that shot. Go to the next shot.” In order to mold their craft to perfection, she said  several things needed work. “We’re going to get there. They’re making their personal commitments, continuing to work on it, and we’re trying to stay positive,” she said. “Just the air that we’ve had at our practices since then is totally different,” she said. A loss like Jekyll Island had affected the team greatly. It forced them to stay focused and be prepared for the Hal Sutton Invitational. “Something clicked, I’m sorry that it had to be  a fourth place finish to make that click happen, but I think they’re ready...

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Softball taking care of business in ASC play
Apr02

Softball taking care of business in ASC play

THE BELLS — The softball team completed a sweep of the University of Texas at Dallas over the weekend, winning the games 8-0, 4-3 and 7-5. The series improves the team’s record to 11-10 on the season and 9-9 in American Southwest Conference play.  The wins broke a five-game losing streak for the Cru and provided a surge of life to take the team into the back half of the season. “I think the ‘x-factor’ that we have as a team is that we never give up,” said senior education major Chandler Henson. “We are not giving up, and this second half of the schedule we plan to climb back up to the top one game at a time.” The team has experienced both victory and defeat in streaks this season. After starting off with losses in five of the first six games, the Cru bounced back with a seven-game winning streak before suffering five straight losses, which led into the weekend’s match-ups against UTD. The biggest adjustment for the Cru at this point is on offense, and players believe that the key to second-half success is to score more runs, especially in strategic situations. “A lot of times this year we have left runners in scoring positions,” Henson said. “If we were to string hits together at those crucial times, we could be scoring more runs.” Getting runs early in the game is another point of focus, said freshman pre-physical therapy major Emily Marrs. She is also quick to point out the deep talent on the roster and the pool of strong freshmen. “All the hard work we put in, in the fall season and the help of great coaches and teammates have prepared us to play.” Marrs said, “The x-factor that this team has is the deep talent that we have…. Any person can step up at any time and get the job done.” Much of the credit for the team’s work ethic and resilience is directed toward the upperclassmen on the squad, as well as the team’s solid chemistry. “The upperclassmen push us to work hard and make us better,” Marrs said. “We play really well together on the field, and everyone is supportive of each other. We have a lot of fun together on and off the field.” The team feels optimistic that the struggles of the early part of the season are passing and that the back half of the spring shows promise. “Whenever we play to the best of our ability, we have the potential to be … one of the best teams out there,” Henson said. “This team has overcome many things...

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