Monday, May 30, 2016

Photos: UNC tops Maryland, 14-13, for Men's Lacrosse Title

Philadelphia - Following is a series of tremendous images and captions by Getty Images of today's thrilling game championship game at Lincoln Financial Field. The UNC Tarheels topped the Maryland Terps, 14-13, for their first title since 1991. The Terps were seeking their first title since 1975. (All photos used with permission and are copyright Getty Images) 






Tuesday, May 24, 2016

Southland Conference: Southeastern Louisiana's Fisher is League's Best


Jameson Fisher is the Southland's Player of the Year (photo - SE Athletics)

Frisco, TX - The Southland Conference announced its 2016 baseball honors and topping the list is junior catcher/first baseman Jameson Fisher of Southeastern Louisiana. Fisher was named the league's Player of the Year and as of May 24 led the nation in batting with a .449 average, a full 16 points above Little Rock's Ryan Scott in second place. Within the conference, he is among the top-10 in 10 different categories.

Another junior, Northwestern State's Adam Oiler was named the Southland's Pitcher of the Year. His 1.31 ERA was a league best, and he struck out 67 batters – 20 of them looking – and led the team in victories with eight.

Two programs recently described here as on the rise, Abilene Christian and the University of New Orleans, had representative showings among the postseason accolades. ACU's Russell Crippen earned the conference's Utility Player of the Year award. He played first, second, and third base as well spending time in the outfield and serving as the club's designated hitter. In 2014 he also pitched for the Wildcats. He leads ACU in batting average, hitting at a .309 clip. The Wildcats, who did not qualify for the Southland's postseason, play Arizona today and tomorrow to close out their 2016 campaign.

The UNO Privateers landed two on the Southland's all-conference first team, including senior catcher Kyle Bracey and junior DH Hezekiah Randolph. The two helped UNO to a Southland tournament bid, where they'll face Southeastern Louisiana in Sugarland, Texas on Wednesday. Sugarland is home to the deftly named Sugarland Skeeters of the independent Atlantic League.  

Monday, May 23, 2016

College Baseball: Navy Baseball Wins Patriot League, Notches Tournament Spot

The 2016 Navy baseball team is in the NCAA tourney (photo - T. Flynn)
Annapolis - Navy Baseball's 2016 team continues to prove itself one of the best in Academy history. On Monday, the Mids (42-14-1) fell in the opener of their Patriot League Tournament twin bill with Holy Cross, 3-2. The loss dropped them into a 1-1 tie with the Crusaders and made the second half of the doubleheader the Patriot's de facto title game.

As it has all season, the Mids' staff was at its best in the hour of its greatest need as starter George Coughlin shutout Holy Cross (30-27) through seven innings, yielding only three hits while fanning five and walking one. He then handed the ball over to Sam Sorenson, who pitched two scoreless, hitless innings to stifle the Crusaders for the remainder of the game.

In the eighth, the Mids' bats proved just effective enough as DH Stephen Born, hitting in the three spot, singled a 1-2 offering to center. With one out, senior left fielder Sean Trent doubled down the right field line, moving Born to third.

Following an intentional walk to right fielder Connor Deneen, first baseman Leiland Saile got enough of a fly to center to plate Born on a sacrifice. Following the third out, Sorenson returned to the mound to close out the game, the series, and the Mids' journey to the NCAA tournament. The righty struck out two of the final three batters that he faced.

"I'm so happy for these guys and these seniors. They have really invested in the program and they've worked so hard. In sports sometimes you really don't deserve anything, but its really nice when you see the payoff for guys that work so hard," head coach Paul Kostacopoulos told navysports.com after the game.

This year's Navy team won the most games in the program's history, captured the regular season Patriot League title, then followed through on Monday with the Patriot League tournament title and the automatic qualifier to the NCAA regional round.

Sunday, May 22, 2016

College Lacrosse: Maryland, Loyola Gain Final Four

Loyola marched into the Final Four (photo - T. Flynn)
Baltimore - The NCAA DI Lacrosse Final Four is set and the two of the four entrants are from the Free State.

The Maryland Terrapins (16-2) will face the Brown Bears (16-2) in one of the semifinals in Philadelphia on Memorial Day weekend while Loyola University Maryland (14-3will face North Carolina (10-6) in the other semifinal.

The Terps are the top seeded team in the tournament and advanced through the quarterfinals by beating Syracuse, 13-7, at Brown Stadium. The Greyhounds beat local rival Towson, 10-8, in Columbus, Ohio to earn their trip to Philadelphia.

The Final Four was one goal shy of having Navy in the mix when they fell, 11-10, to Brown in the quarterfinal hosted by the Bears. Navy goalie John Connors had 21 saves and stood on his head throughout the contest in his final game as a Midshipman.

Tuesday, May 10, 2016

Books: Men's Lacrosse in Maryland Signing on Sunday


Frederick MD - For lacrosse fans in the Frederick area on Sunday (or lost travelers on I-70 West in Central Maryland) I'll be at the Barnes & Noble at FSK Mall signing copies of Men's Lacrosse in Maryland. I'll be there from 1-4 and certainly looking forward to meeting anyone who might stop by. - Thanks - Tom

Wednesday, May 4, 2016

Southland Conference: UNO Privateers Rising

UNO celebrates during an early season win (Photo / mlb.com)

New Orleans - The UNO Privateers are members of the Southland Conference in baseball and are pulling out of a series of setbacks endured by the program for the better part of the last decade. The Privateers hit their nadir when they posted a 4-50 mark in 2011.

Under first-year head coach and former LSU standout Blake Dean, the Privateers are above .500 this late in the season for the first time since 2007. The squad is currently 26-17 and 10-11 in the Southland.

The key to their success hasn't been a single component, but the addition of Dean in the dugout was accompanied by his younger brother, Dakota Dean, joining the Privateers' roster. The younger Dean has settled in as a third baseman (he can play multiple positions) for UNO and is currently batting .359 to lead the Privateers. The team, in turn, leads the Southland with a .311 overall batting average.

New Orleans heads northwest to Abilene this weekend to face the Wildcats. As covered yesterday, ACU is in its third year establishing itself as a Division I team. The Privateers are still re-establishing themselves as a quality Division I squad after drifting for several years through a multi-divisional composite schedule as the overall athletics department found its footing.

The matchup should prove a good benchmark of the progress of two programs vying to gain the league's middle tier and above. The series' first pitch is set for Friday at 6 PM at the Wildcats' Crutcher Scott Field.

Tuesday, May 3, 2016

Navy Baseball Captures Second Straight Patriot League Title


Navy (shown here at Max Bishop) repeats as PL champs (photo - Tom Flynn)


Annapolis - The Navy Midshipmen laid claim to the regular season Patriot League title after splitting a doubleheader with Bucknell on Sunday to conclude a four-game series. The Mids are 37-12-1 overall and were 15-5 in the Patriot League, good for their second straight regular season crown. Next up for the Mids is a tournament tune-up game against Division II Chestnut Hill on Saturday at Max Bishop Stadium. The top-seeded Navy squad will face the same fourth-seeded Bucknell (17-32, 8-12 PL) team again on May 14 and (if needed) Sunday May 15 to determine the winner of the best-of-three series. The Mids will host. 

Leaders for Navy going into the postseason are ace left-hander Luke Gillingham (8-2, 75 IP, 80K, 1.32 ERA) on the mound and junior outfielder Robert Currie (.367 BA, 28 RBI, 12-12 SB) at the plate. Navy has yet to receive votes for the NCWBA Top 30 but can expect to change if they advance in the Patriot League tournament and beyond. The PL tournament winner receives an automatic NCAA postseason bid.

Southland Conference: Abilene Christian Baseball Revisited

Abilene Christian continues its aggressive transition to Division I (photo - ACU Athletics) 

Abilene, TX - The ACU Wildcats baseball team of the Southland Conference continues along the hard road of transitioning from Division II to Division I. Earlier this year the move was covered by the  American Sports Network. The Wildcats' first season competing in Division I was 2014 when they went 18-36. In 2015 they went 17-38, while doubling their conference wins.

Coach Britt Bonneau told ASN at the time that since the Wildcats were in a four-year transition period where they couldn't make the postseason, that they were going to, "Play the best teams we can find, so we can get our coaching staff ready to play at that level, and our players are ready to play at that level."

This year, Bonneau and the Wildcats continued their search for top quality opponents and then scheduled them. Oklahoma, TCU, Arizona, Texas A&M, and Oklahoma State are some of the more formidable non-conference names on ACU's 2016 schedule. Their record to date is 13-28 with 13 games remaining and reaching again the 17-win mark, or eclipsing it, will be a task. Remaining non-conference foes include Texas Tech, Arizona, and the perennially strong Dallas Baptist Patriots.

The remainder of the year will prove critical in determining if the Wildcats are still on an upward trajectory as they build the caliber of the team to the top level of Texas - and Division I - baseball. They'll face a greatly improved UNO Privateers club on Friday to begin to find out.

Another Western State Adds Varsity Lacrosse

For several years I've contributed lacrosse articles to the National Association of Intercollegiate Athletics (NAIA).  This week I w...