Tennis in conference contention

The semester is coming to a close, as is the regular season for both the men’s and women’s tennis teams. With just one match left to play, the women are 5-1 in conference and 10-5 overall. They’ve had 5 shutouts, and two of those came this past weekend with wins over LeTourneau University and Howard Payne University. Sophomore exercise sport science major Mallory Aarhus said, “I think we’ve been playing well recently because everything seems to have finally clicked. All our work and support of each other is directed toward the same goal.” The men have also been successful with a conference record of 4-2, and an overall record of 8-5. They defeated Howard Payne last Saturday 6-3 at the Yavonne Li Tennis Center in Belton. Junior sport management major Alex Graham said, “We have a good shot of making the conference tournament.” Being prepared and leaving everything on the court has been what the team has been aiming to do all year. Both teams have come out with a new attitude of winning, but the men have already improved from last year’s overall record of 3-7 and a 3-3 conference record. Sophomore sport management major Josh Pownall said, “I think the biggest difference from this year and last is that our team, as a whole, believes we can not only compete in the conference, but that we can win in the conference. We now go into matches believing, rather than hoping, that we will win.” Although the teams have had their share of domination this year, both the men and women have suffered a close 4-5 loss to rival Hardin-Simmons University. Graham said, “It was a very close match. We felt good coming out of doubles being up 2-1, and winning the next two singles matches,” he said. “Unfortunately we ended up not getting it done. I feel like we gave it our best shot, and they ended up being the better team that day.” Since then, the women have bounced back with an important win to secure a spot in the conference tournament. With last weekends conference win, the men should be in the same boat. Pownall said, “I want to win conference this year for my teammates, and for our coaches. If we don’t, we have had a great monumental season, and we’re only getting...

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Blue Devils and Huskies win title
Apr13

Blue Devils and Huskies win title

College basketball season has proved to be another intense and unpredictable year. For the Men’s NCAA College Basketball Championship, it was the Duke Blue Devils that prevailed over the 63 chosen teams, including the other final team, the Butler Bulldogs. For the women this year, the University of Connecticut Lady Huskies had a perfect season and beat the Stanford Cardinal. The final four for the women’s tournament was held in San Antonio this year. The Lady Huskies showed up in the Lone Star state with the intention of victory. After winning the championship game, that puts UConn at a 78 straight winning streak over the past two years. After being down at the half, the Lady Huskies rallied and took over the court in the second half. By the end of the game, the final score was the lowest scoring match in NCAA history at 53-47. More than 22,000 fans packed the arena, including some famous political faces. Vice President Joe Biden and former U.S. Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice were both at the game cheering on the teams. Giving the Cardinal props on a good game though, they only held UConn to 12 measly points in the first half, which is the lowest for points at a half not only in championship game history but also in Lady Husky history, too. As for the Duke men, their road to the championship game was interesting. Going into March Madness, Duke was one of four teams that got a number one seed. Typically, number one seeds make it to the Sweet 16 and probably the Elite Eight. However, this season for men’s basketball was completely shocking. Tournament favorite, the Kansas Jayhawks, left the tournament early, and surprise Big 12 team, the Baylor Bears, made it to the Elite Eight, which has never been done before in Baylor history. Baylor was the last remaining Big 12 team to be in the tournament with favorites Texas and Texas A&M losing fairly early. Ironically however, it was Duke that ended the Bears’ winning streak. Duke has now made 10 appearances in the NCAA Men’s Basketball tournament. The Blue Devils took on surprise team, the Butler Bulldogs in the championship game. And for Duke to be a number one seeded team, they definitely didn’t have this game in the bag. The final score was 61-59, and the game literally came down to the final seconds. The Blue Devils only won the game and the title by one possession, which they came near to ruining. Despite both these very close games, the top teams won. Now fans of college basketball have to wait another year...

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New baseball season, same problems
Mar30

New baseball season, same problems

As the 2010 Major League Baseball season approaches, many teams are spending their spring in Florida, preparing for the upcoming grind of 162 regular season games. Baseball is a sport of exactness and refined skill. Only the greatest combination of talent and practice can produce a winning baseball team. That, and cash. The Yankees welcomed the Houston Astros on a brisk evening at George M. Stienbrennar field. White lattice mimicking the Bronx home of the bombers girdles the iron grandstand that seats 16,000 spectators in Tampa. On a practice field, Yankee pitchers Andy Petite and Joba Chamberlain threw batting practice to several youngsters. A security guard commented that anyone could schedule a party and play with some Yankees. Last week, a bar mitzvah was held for the mere price of $90,000. But what else could be expected from a team whose 3rd baseman, Alex Rodriguez, will make $31 million this year alone. Just an hour away, in Bradenton, Fla., The Pittsburgh Pirates are getting ready for their morning game with the Detroit Tigers. These Pirates will be paying their major league players about $36 million this year. That’s $4 million more than just one Yankee. With such a huge gap between payrolls, is it any surprise that the Pirates’ field, McKechnie, only holds about 6,000. Or that the Yankees are coming off of a World Series championship and the Pirates are coming off a sporting record of 17 consecutive losing seasons. This doesn’t mean that the Pirates are hopeless. Outfielders Andrew McCutchen and Garret Jones are coming off sensational rookie seasons, and third base prospect Pedro Alvarez is projected to crack the major league lineup soon, but the Pirates roster doesn’t invoke the kind of fear that the all star filled Yankees scorecard does. It doesn’t even compare to Pirates lineups of days past, when Clemente and Stargell were household names. Money doesn’t always equal success. The Mets have been terrible despite their huge salaries. The Tampa Bay Rays won the World Series with one of the lowest payrolls in baseball, but no one can argue that money helps. In the NFL, NHA and NBA all teams are subject to a salary cap. In baseball, teams pay what they want. The Pirates claim to be waiting till their young players develop enough to compete and then will spend to add complementing players. Pirates owner Bob Nutting told me that team really seems to be coming together, and I agree. Baseball may be getting exciting in Pittsburgh again, but it has taken a complete purge in talent in the recent years to acquire prospects. This is the correct approach for...

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Couch Cru captures controversy
Mar10

Couch Cru captures controversy

There has been a growing debate on campus starting last semester and continuing this spring. It has led to university officials becoming involved, some of the student body has sparked tempers and there are rumors of a certain organization packing its bags and calling it quits. Couch Cru, long-time favorite group which supports sports teams with such dedication, has received some harsh ridicule in the past several months. At least two issues have caught the eye of some of the staff of the school including Vice President for Student Life, Dr. Byron Weathersbee. The first is the lack of students who have been attending some of the sporting events, especially the basketball games. The second is the confrontation that has been started between students and what some consider cheering and what some consider crossing the lines in regard to heckling. A defensive end for the football team is junior Zach Dunnam. As an athlete for the school he enjoys everything the Couch Cru has to bring to the football games. “I like them heckling the other team. It might sound bad, but I want the Couch Cru to get into the other team’s head,” he said. “It’s so loud sometimes that I can’t even hear our own plays, but I like that. I may mess up, but I like them being so loud.” Dunnam remembers his freshman year and how packed the arena would be at the Cru basketball games. He would see the student section swamped with 100 plus students, but that’s not what anyone sees any more. “Now there’s five to 10 people in the Couch Cru section at the games. I would love to see more people over there,” he said. However, there are a handful of who disagree with what the Couch Cru does and how they act with the opponents. Senior Lauren Allen is among those who don’t agree with the group. “I disagree with the way they go about supporting the UMHB teams,” Allen said. “They bash the other teams. I know that is a part of sports, but when you start getting in arguments with other UMHB students, nothing is accomplished, and it makes people not respect the captains.” Allen realizes that people, particularly the Couch Cru, simply love supporting their team, but she thinks there is a line that can be crossed in the fans’ world. “Not everyone wants to yell and scream. Some people just simply want to watch the game,” she said. This year, senior Garrett Smith was the Couch Cru captain when his job earned a lot of ridicule. Trouble with the administration and students was just the...

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Baseball unites
Mar10

Baseball unites

With a preseason record of 7-4, the Cru will kick off conference play against the Hardin-Simmons Cowboys in Abilene March 12-13. Assistant and pitching coach Derek Dunaway believes the team needs the extra week to decipher what kind of chemistry they have. “We can hit, we can pitch, we can play defense, and we’ve just got to fi gure a way to get it all going at the same time,” he said. Dunaway knows the team will unite as they keep “playing games and by being out there (on the field).” Last fall, the rainy weather didn’t allow the Cru to practice on a regular basis, so they are currently having to bond as a team. The weather has persisted to affect some of the practices this spring. They still haven’t been on the field enough “to get in a rhythm and figure out what our team is made of.” Cru baseball wants to win games this season, and being victorious is their goal. “If you’re not hitting, then pitching has to be better,” Dunaway said, “and if we’re not pitching very well then we have to find a way to hit the ball.” Senior catcher Ryan Moreau is looking forward to conference, and “definitely see us making a run for first. “I think it’s going to be a good year for us. When we put everything together we can play with anybody,” he said. College is a different ball game, and Dunaway encourages freshmen to learn from the upperclassmen. Senior right fielder Joseph Villegas knows team trust will make a successful season. “The freshmen have to step up and have confidence in what they’re doing,” Villegas said. “Some have to take leadership roles as far as pitching or taking a position spot, and need to be confident in the team.” The young “guys are real talented, but haven’t had the experience to understand what college pitching is about,” he said. “Our big thing is trying to get the hitter to hit the ball on our terms … we’re trying to avoid hard...

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Improvements for Cru softball due to new players

“I definitely expect a trip to the World Series this year, and I’m sure I can speak for the whole team on that one,” said junior catcher Lindsey Gordon. The season began this spring with a pair of wins over the Pirates of Southwestern University. With the addition of a few new players, including short stop Brittany Moreno, outfielders Kaysie Creech and Austin McCormick, third baseman Caitlin Bollier, and pitchers Erica White and Hannah White, the team is much deeper and equipped with athletes who can perform in multiple positions. Head softball Coach Kasey Blomquist said, “I am very excited about the chemistry of our team as well as the athletic ability. This year we have a lot more depth, and kids are going to be doing a lot more things. We made some mistakes against Southwestern, but overall I was pleased with outing.” Defensively they were strong, and they fought hard the entire time, which is something they struggled with last season. Unfortunately, the women weren’t as successful in their next doubleheader against Louisiana College. The Wildcats quickly jumped ahead with a two-run homer that would lead to an 8-0 victory. In the second game, the Cru wasn’t able to overcome another early deficit, and lost 10-3. Gordon said, “I think our hitting needed to improve, which we have been working on a lot. There were a few defensive errors made, but I know we will improve in that area, too.” Junior outfielder Sarah Roman said that there are four words they try to live by: dedicated, determined, competitive and respect. “We’re not letting that loss get us down, but build us up,” she said. “It’s an opportunity to learn.” The team still has high hopes for the season, and many of them feel they have what it takes to win a championship. Roman said, “My expectations for the season are to dominate. We are an incredibly talented and versatile team, and we have the capability to make it past conference and continue to the World Series.” Defense and pitching are two things Blomquist wanted to improve on from last season, and with the new talent added to the squad, she believes they have done just that. But how have the freshmen and transfers meshed with the core group? Roman said, “The new players have fi t in incredibly well with the returners, (and) our team chemistry has become so strong. Some of my best friends are on this team, and I know it’s like that for other girls.” The next home game will be on March 26 at 1 p.m. against the Mountaineers of Schreiner University. It...

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