Softball returns with high hopes
Feb24

Softball returns with high hopes

While other athletic programs are coming to the end of their season, Cru softball is just getting started. After a successful 2008 season, the ladies look to once again be a dominate force. The team was 35-11 overall last season and perfect in the American Southwest Conference with a record of 24-0. They set a school record for single-season wins, competed in the NCAA Division III National Championships for the first time and were crowned the ASC West Division champs. Senior left outfielder Joanna Johnson said, “I think I speak for the team when I say that last season was unreal. I don’t think any of us knew what we were capable of.” They are led by head coach Kasey Blomquist who is entering her seventh season with the program. She is a product of UMHB and coached at Killeen High School before taking her place at the university level.  She is helped by coach Denise Lira, who has been the assistant coach for four seasons and is also a UMHB alum. After such a memorable year, the team has high hopes for the approaching season. “Because of last year, the bar is set super high for us,” Johnson said. “This team is completely different from last year’s team, but we work hard, and we have returners who know what it feels like to go above and beyond.” She reflects on the accomplishments of last season.”Being on that team and going that far is something that every single person will always remember.” Although the team has lost some experience with the graduation of six seniors, they have nine players returning to carry the torch. “We had a good nucleus come back from last year’s team,” Blomquist said, “and we have good recruits who will fill in where the holes are.” The squad has made 11 new additions to their roster, including Kirstie Curry, Sabrina Garcia and Caitlin Wells. Wells is a freshman center fielder from Spring, Texas, who is learning what is means to play at the college level. “We are a hard-working, dedicated team,” she said. “The coaches push us to our full potential and then expect a little more. We are getting better each day and have high expectations.” Blomquist believes pitching and defense wins games, so they have been concentrating on those things in preseason. However, with the speed of a few newcomers, the ladies will also serve as an offensive threat for other teams. “I look for great things out of this team,” Blomquist said. “We are very talented and athletic. We just have to put it all together.” The Cru kicked off their season...

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Baseball team hits the field, prepares to swing into action
Feb24

Baseball team hits the field, prepares to swing into action

he Crusader baseball team is known for doing well in it’s seasons, and this one should be no different. Head coach Micah Wells, who has been with the team for eight seasons, believes the team will do great. “We are 4-6 so far, and it’s been a learning process,” Wells said. “We are continuing to grow and build as a team. The goal to this point is to be prepared to win when we enter West Division play.” With several players returning to the field from last season, they are in a good position to accomplish the goal of winning their division. Sophomore exercise sports science major Ryan Swindell plays second base for the Cru. He is a new addition, but already feels the team has great potential. “We don’t care how we win, just as long as we get the job done,” he said. “As long as we keep sticking to our goal, I see no obstacle holding us back from a national title.” One of the outfielders is sophomore computer graphics major Alfredo Melendez. He believes that the main thing the team has to improve on is getting stronger “The only thing I think the team needs to work on is improving and getting better every day so we are competing to the best of out ability,” he said. On and off the field the team needs encouragement and humor according to Melendez, which is the unique quality he contributes to the Cru. “One thing I bring to the team is a lot of speed on the base path and in the outfield,” he said. “I also try to lighten the mood of the team and get things going with a little joking around.” Well’s concern is how the team meshes. Players have been practicing and training since the beginning of the semester, but with the loss of some key seniors, rebuilding is essential to their overall success. “You have to get to know each other as individuals, but you also have to get to know each other as players,” Wells said. “We are still playing with the line-up and figuring out what the best combination of guys is.” The Crusader’s hope is to surpass last year’s 28 wins. The baseball  team’s next game is against LeTourneau University Feb. 27 and 28 at...

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Basketball teams head to tournament
Feb24

Basketball teams head to tournament

Both the women’s and men’s basketball teams have secured spots in the American Southwest Conference play. This is the women’s fourth and the men’s sixth time to consecutively compete in the tournament. The men have made it to ASC play 10 out of 11 years. Women’s Lady Cru head coach Kim Kirkpatrick-Thornton said the team’s success is a result of hard work. “It’s been a good season but a little bit like a roller coaster,” she said. “We’ve played at times the best we have since I’ve been here. We’ve had some good wins and beat some top teams.” The women have had monumental accomplishments. They beat Howard Payne, the defending national champs, Jan. 17, which broke the Yellow Jackets’ 42 home game winning streak. The women have also faced setbacks with early season injuries. Junior Stacie Stephens, a past starter, tore her ACL and junior Courtney Wolfe is out due to a foot injury. The women have designated time to conditioning and strengthening. “They put in a lot of hours of hard work,” Kirkpatrick-Thornton said. “But it’s not just the hours; it’s what they put into the hours.” The coach said the team has made improvements. “Mentally, we’ve grown,” she said. “We were fairly young last year, so I feel like (the players) understand the game as a whole this season, and that helps us.” Kirkpatrick-Thornton believes the lady Cru’s strength is in their defense. “It has been strong in helping us win some games,” she said. “We’ve improved in ball handling. It’s not where it needs to be, but it has improved.” She said the lady Cru have come together as a whole. “This team especially works hard together and competes from beginning to end,” she said.  We are a well balanced team … (and) have some solid players.” The UMHB women are 13-12 overall and 12-9 in conference. They are focused on their goal,  winning the conference tournament. Sophomore Caitlin Barganier said, “Even going in as the fourth place team, we have a great chance of winning.” Barganier said the team works well together and its chemistry has played a major role in this year’s success. “This season has had its ups and downs, but we have all managed to stick closely together and play to the best of our ability,” Barganier said. “Everybody has different roles on this team, and we all use that to our advantage and come together to be the best we can be. We push each other to our limits, but we also pull each other up when we fall down.” The Cru is thankful for their supporters. Kirkpatrick-Thornton said, “We’re...

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Baseball team leaves batting box in a sprint
Feb10

Baseball team leaves batting box in a sprint

Cru baseball split Saturday’s doubleheader against Texas Wesleyan University. UMHB fell 14-12 in game one, and then picked up an 11-2 victory in the second game. This brought the team to a 2-3 season record and knocked them down to third in the American Southwestern Conference rankings. With this being the first week of the season, head coach Micah Wells said he has been anticipating the dynamic of this season’s team because of all the new faces on the field. “We have had the luxury of returners and stability,” he said. “There are a lot of new faces, and with that there is excitement. Seeing these guys come together, start to gel and play as a team is where the real excitement comes in.” He said in preparation for the challenges that lie ahead, the team spent quality time doing drills to learn to work together. “We are looking at having a new short stop, first baseman, second baseman and third baseman. So we are working hard to find out what everyone’s strengths and weaknesses are and communicate. These are all issues that come up in a game,” Wells said. As the team continues to prepare for the season, Wells said the team just needs to focus on playing the game as it knows how. “We have good, talented baseball players that work hard and have great attitudes,” he said. “So, if we can go out there and play hard and do the things we coach and practice like we are trained to do, then I think the wins will take care of themselves.” Junior Andrew White said the team’s youth would not take away from its abilities. “The team has shown a lot of character,” he said. “A lot of younger guys have had to step up in key positions. The older guys have taken them under their wings. It has been a key asset to our team’s growth.” White said as the team continues to play together, kinks will be ironed out. Looking back at the Southwestern game he said the team has put it behind them and will focus on eliminating big innings. “If we could eliminate that one big inning from them, there was no way their team would be able to beat us,” he said. After the team fell to Texas Wesleyan University, White said the team is regrouping and will keep on trucking. “Coach has told us, baseball is a game of failure. If you dwell on the past, there’s nothing to be achieved. Take it one pitch at a time,” he said. Senior pitcher Hunter Hawkins said he, too, has looked forward...

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Cru strives for victory
Feb10

Cru strives for victory

Though their season is not as impressive as it was last year when they won the ASC Championship, the men’s basketball team members hope they can still go far. With the rest of their games against must-win teams, the Cru know what they have to do and plan to work hard to achieve the team goal of repeating what was accomplished last year. Each of the players has his own unique quality that brings the team in sync. Senior transfer Elmo Williams is a guard. “I bring leadership and a strong defense to the team,” he said. As for a more familiar face, forward Colby Waller plays his second season for the team. He believes each team member brings different qualities to the court. “Rounding and getting the team motivated is what I bring to the team,” Waller said. Like the rest of the players and coaches, he has only one thing on his mind, and it involves a progression of last season. Waller said, “Win the Conference Tournament again and make it farther in the NCAA tournament than we did last year is our ultimate goal.” Assistant coach Kenny Deweese, had been alongside his dad for three seasons and helped him build the team. He believes the unity between him and his father is a reflection of that of the team as a whole. “My dad and I have a close relationship, which allows us to work together well,” he said. “We don’t always agree on everything, but I know that he has the experience and has been extremely successful.” Head coach for 11 years, Ken DeWeese has had a successful career at UMHB and has a history of basketball knowledge. With a 171-92 overall record, Deweese was named the ASC West Division Coach of the Year in 2007. The lowest point of every season however, is when the games and practice comes to an end. “When basketball season is over, I feel that I have lost a family member or a best friend,” he said. Whether it’s the players, the coaches or the fans who go loyally to all the home games and even some of the road games, the goal for all is to see the team advance further than the prior seasons. Junior Kent Benedict is in his third season on the Cru basketball team as a guard. He speaks for everyone when he sums up the players’ goal. “We have one thing on our minds; win the West Division, win the ASC Tournament, make the NCAA Tournament, and advance further than the second round,” he said. This goal can be accomplished, but the schedule...

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Player snapshots
Jan29

Player snapshots

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