Softball slow start; hitting harder to have a successful rest of season
Mar31

Softball slow start; hitting harder to have a successful rest of season

  The Lady Crusader softball team kicked off its season with a rough start. Now, mid-way through, they are looking to turn the season around. The team has played several preseason games, participated in a couple of tournaments and started its ASC conference play. Junior first base, Courtney Johnston said, “I think this season has started off a little bumpy, but we are still learning to play with each other. Each day we grow and become closer as a team.” The Cru is 7-13 overall and 0-4 in conference play, losing two double headers to Howard Payne University. At the LeTourneau Tournament in February, the team went 2-2 for the weekend, beating Nebraska University, Wesleyan University, and Southwestern University and dropping games to U.T. Tyler and East Texas Baptist. The women then participated in the ASC First Pitch Tournament going 3 for 1 overall, capturing victories over U.T. Dallas, University of the Ozarks and LeTourneau. The team’s only loss in the tournament was to the Mississippi College Choctaws.   This past weekend in Louisiana the Cru lost two close games to nationally- ranked DePauw University. The team also suffered from two devastating losses against ASC East Division Louisiana College on Saturday. Head Coach Kasey Blomquist said the team is striving to be able to play in the championship game of the post-season tournament. “As a whole, we are disappointed with the start, but we are working hard and turning things around. We have been practicing extremely hard this week, and the pitchers have been working hard to cut down on walks.” Although the season started off rough, the ladies are not giving up making it to the playoffs. Johnston believes the team has what it takes. “It will be harder than we would like, but I think it’ll give us more drive to get the job done,” she said. The women also celebrated the recognition of teammate Erica Salazar as ASC West Division Hitter of the Week for games played during the week of March 2. “Erica went 6 for 11, which gave her a batting average of .545,” Blomquist said. The second base junior had two walks, a double, a home run and 3 RBI’s at the ASC First Pitch Tournament. “Becoming hitter of the week never once crossed my mind I’ve just made sure to work hard during practice and continued to correct the little things I was doing wrong, and it definitely paid off,” Salazar said. The Lady Crusaders will continue their conference play Friday night at 5 p.m. in Kerrville, Texas with double headers against Schreiner University, which is 3-1 in ASC West Division. The team...

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Baseball swings towards first
Mar31

Baseball swings towards first

After almost two months of play, CRU baseball is tied for first place in the ASC West. Led by head Coach Micah Wells, the team has a good blend of rookies and seasoned players. Even with the loss of a few starters, Sophomroe Chris Joshlin and Sophomore Ryan Swindell, they progressively move forward. “I’m extremely pleased at where we are,” Wells said. “We’ve had some injuries, but we’ve had guys that have stepped right up into those spots.” The freshmen have come through in a big way and have made a positive impact. Junior first baseman Doak Flemming said, “Josh Frederick, Seth Lynn, Ethan Henderson and Sam VanHoozer contribute to our success in ways that we were not anticipating.” Junior right fielder Joseph Villegas said, “We have quite a few new faces. I can remember when we had almost six freshmen in the line-up one game. But I think the mix of rookies and veterans make for good chemistry.” Unlike other programs, baseball teams play a three game series. They usually play one game on Friday that goes for nine innings and a double header on Saturday. This can be both a gift and a curse. If they lose the first game on Saturday, they don’t have time to sulk. Instead, they have to bounce back and redeem themselves 20 minutes later with the second game. Team unity has been important this year, and according to Wells, it’s the team’s greatest asset. “Some days we gotta go out and win it with defense, and some days we gotta score runs. But their ability to pull together and do whatever they have to do to win a baseball game is their greatest strength.” The team will play close to 40 games this season, 21 of which will be in conference. They share a similar goal of making the play-offs and winning a conference championship with 14 other teams. So instead of focusing on wins and losses, Wells takes a different approach. “Our goal is just to be the best team we can be,’’ he said. “I challenge our guys to come out every day and perform at the top of their ability.” If they continue to concentrate on that, the rest will follow. The Cru’s pitching has been top notch this season, as well as team defense. These two things have improved greatly from last year. Pitcher Jared Hopper, who performed well as a freshman, has taken his game to the next level as a sophomore. “He’s made a dramatic improvement,” Wells said. “With a year under his belt, he is stronger and more prepared.” Then there is freshmen Sam...

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Tennis rackets up for wins in conference

The tennis teams begin the meat of their conference play to close out the month. Hoping to recover from a few tough losses to strong non-conference and early conference play, the Crusaders hope to finish strong. “We’ve had the toughest non-conference schedule,” freshman sports management major Josh Pownall said. “We’ve been competing very well. It has taken some very strong opponents to have beaten us.” The men’s team lost the overall match  Friday against Wisconsin-Oshkosh. The match went 8-1. On Saturday the Cru also played Schreiner University and dominated the Mountaineers with a 9-0 victory. The team remains optimistic that these few losses will not keep them out of the conference tournament. “We are entering the ‘hot spot’ of our schedule,” Pownall said. “We have a bunch of must-win matches in the next two or three weeks. We really need to win these upcoming matches, and I think our team can pull them out.” One of the biggest challenges facing both the men’s and women’s tennis teams is inexperience. “I’ve had trouble adapting to the collegiate level,” Pownall said. “I feel like everything is there for me to win, but I haven’t been able to put it together consistently. I feel like our team has the same problem as well.” As for the women’s tennis team, the Lady Cru have been more successful so far than the men’s team. However, they still have their work cut out for them this season. “I think the team has done pretty well so far,” sophomore exercise and sport science major Rebecca Everett said. “Our team has definitely improved since the beginning of the season. We hope to win conference this year, and I am confident that we can do it.” Everett also commented on the mental aspect of the game of tennis. “Tennis is a very mentally challenging game,” she said. “I tend to get down on myself too much when I am losing. Staying mentally tough is a big part in winning a match, and that is something that I work on everyday, and I feel that I am improving. The same goes for the team as well.” While the tennis players face tough mental challenges on the courts, they also face problems in the classroom as they juggle homework, practice and games. “Being an athlete and a student can be hard at times,” Everett said. “You don’t have as much time for school work like others do, but I feel that I manage my school work better knowing that I have to get things done because my time is so limited.” Although the season is not over, the men and...

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Basketball teams wrap-up season with semi-final finish in tournament
Mar10

Basketball teams wrap-up season with semi-final finish in tournament

The Men After a rocky start at the beginning of the season, the men’s basketball players pulled themselves together as a team and came away with a dominating finale. Because of this, the Cru secured a spot in the ASC tournament held in Dallas. After winning it’s first game against LeTourneau University, the team made it to the semi-final round against U.T. Dallas. The first half was close, but the Cru managed to get a lead. At half-time the gap between the two teams was 34-25 with the Cru ahead. Nearing the end of the second half though, the Cru lost their rhythm. The Comets put in their star three-point shooter, and from there the Cru couldn’t shoot the number of points needed. Head Coach Ken Deweese is always happy when his team does well and sets their minds to winning and doing their best. “I am very proud of these guys.  We had an extremely difficult and frustrating early season but they stayed strong in their conviction that we could play and that we would play well,” he said. Deweese gives most of the credit to the team and the dedication from each player. He is also appreciative to the fans who are always at home games and the ones that even make the drive to away games. “Our fans are outstanding,” he said. “They are basketball smart, they are rowdy, they are respectful to the other team and most of all, they are very loyal to UMHB. We absolutely love our fans.” One key player this season was guard Matt Caskey, who is a senior and played his last game of college level basketball in the semi-final round. “(It) was a combination of disbelief, sadness, anger and thankfulness,” he said. “After I got over the initial shock, I just thought about everything I’ve been through and how thankful to the Lord I am.” The men’s basketball team will lose 10 seniors. The Women The Lady Cru also made it to the ASC tournament but lost in the semi-final round. The women played against arch rivals Hardin-Simmons University, leaving the conference with a score of 64-48. After trailing most of the first half, the women took the lead at the beginning of the second. But HSU battled back and won the game through a series of freethrows. Many Crusader fans hit the road and traveled to several of the games. Sophomore Nursing major Ashley Hibbard was among the fans who drove to some of the various away games like the season opener at Southwestern University and one of the games against Schreiner University. “I love supporting the basketball...

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Tennis transforms Cowboy to Crusader
Mar10

Tennis transforms Cowboy to Crusader

By Garret Pekar After defeating every opponent that had enough nerve to stand across the net from him on the ping-pong table in the recreational gym, Ramon Aguirre told the UMHB students that he played ping-pong against some of the best players in Texas in the past. “Coming to UMHB was the right move,” he said. “I like the atmosphere here a lot better.” Aguirre is a transfer student from Hardin-Simmons University, and he just started his first semester as a Crusader in the spring. He is currently a junior majoring in business finance and a member of the UMHB tennis team. Aguirre said that playing ping-pong helps him on the tennis court, too. “The strategies in both games are mostly the same. Ping-pong helps with the touch you need to hit drop shots on the tennis court, and it teaches you patience mentally, which is a big part of being a great tennis player.” Aguirre played on the tennis team at HSU. He only started playing ping-pong in his freshman year of college. “A friend on the tennis team introduced me to it,” he said. “We’d stay up for hours and play.” He quickly became the number one player on HSU’s ping-pong club team, which went to two major tournaments during the year. Aguirre played some of the best players in Texas, even from large schools like Texas A&M and the University of Texas. “The other schools have some really amazing players. I couldn’t believe how seriously they took ping-pong,” Aguirre said. The whole club team was supplied with high-quality ping-pong balls for playing in the tournament, and the hosts paid for the cost of their trip. Aguirre also played in recreational tournaments on campus while at HSU. Many students played in the ping-pong tournaments, including beginners, and prizes were offered for the winners. “There needs to be a ping-pong tournament here,” Aguirre said. Aguirre has been playing tennis since the eighth grade. He grew up in Abilene where he played tennis for Abilene High School. Coming from the HSU tennis team, Aguirre said he was welcomed with open arms to the UMHB tennis team. “We’re happy to have the help, and take it away from someone else,” said senior tennis teammate, Casey Wharton. Aguirre was also eager for the meeting of the two teams during the season. “My partner and I won our doubles match against Hardin-Simmons,” he said. Aguirre’s teammates have given him the nickname “the machine from Abilene.” He has worked many different jobs during high school and college. He said that working all the time was very difficult, and it took up a lot...

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Golfers enter spring on the upswing
Mar10

Golfers enter spring on the upswing

The Men The men’s golf team members tucked an important win under their belts at the UMHB Spring Invitational, the first tournament of the 2009 season. The first place prize was an especially exciting one for men’s golf coach, Aaron Rodeffer, because it was his initial win as a college coach. “The most special moment … was (when) it was coming down to the wire, and the score cards were coming in. I thought we had shot ourselves out of it,” Rodeffer said. “As I was taking up the score cards to the sports information director, Jon Wallin, … he said, ‘Congratulations on your first win.’ I didn’t think we’d won it.” The men beat their top competitors, finishing two shots under Baylor University and five under McMurry University on the Cru home course at Wildflower Country Club in Temple. Freshman Mike McQuaid played consistent despite the windy conditions. He shot 79 Monday and 80 Tuesday, putting his name eleventh on the top 20 players leader board. “(On) our team, it’s so hard to qualify top five … and so just to have my score counted both days, it meant a lot,” McQuaid said. “Then to win was even better. Just to have a hand in helping our team win was a great feeling.” Head Coach Rodeffer was impressed. “For a freshman coming in to realize they could potentially contribute to the top five and make a difference is a great opportunity for them, but the fact that they’re able to do it says a lot about them,” he said. Senior Davis Dewald also made it to the leader board. He finished third by individual score with a 154 two-day total. Junior math major Joel Kelley didn’t play as well as he’d hoped due to illness, but knows there’s more that can keep players from the game. Kelley said, “You have to maintain some sort of decency on the course. More importantly than the rules, we represent UMHB, our coach, our families and ourselves, so given all that, we have to maintain a level of decency that’s high and just displays … our character.” On the course, emotions run high and frustrations can distract a player’s focus. “Golf is certainly a sport that plays with your emotions,” Kelley said. “It’s like women.” The Cru men were snowed out of the Callaway Collegiate Invitational Golf Tournament in Georgia, but are playing a tournament in Concan, Texas, through March 9-10. The Women Coach Darla Kirby, who led the women’s team to win the national tournament in 2000 and four national runner-up finishes since was a little disappointed. The women’s team finished...

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