Coach Ramsay reclaims program’s pride

The Whitworth baseball team hasn’t had an overall winning season in seven years. The team hasn’t been in the top three of the final Northwest Conference standings since the 2001 season, and the Bucs haven’t won a conference title since the 1991 season.

This season is a different story.  With the sweep of Whitman College this weekend, the Pirates finished the regular season atop the Northwest Conference standings along with Pacific University. It is the first conference championship for the Bucs in 11 years.

The program’s conference championship is the culmination of a turnaround that has been building for a while under fourth-year head coach Dan Ramsay, who is The Whitworthian’s choice for 2011-2012 Coach of the Year.

“He is a great guy to be around and have a voice on the team,” senior pitcher James King said. “The passion he has for the game, he lives and breathes baseball. That’s what you want to see out of a coach. He’s making the program as good as it can be.”

Ramsay, hired as head coach in 2009, has led the Pirates to back-to-back 20 win seasons, including a conference title this season. The Pirates’ 26 wins this season are the most wins for a Pirate team since the 1989 season, when the Bucs also won 26 games. Heading into postseason play, Whitworth has a chance to set the school record for wins in a single season.

Even though Ramsay has a four-year record of 66-86-1, he has steadily improved the team over the years.

“We won 10 games my first year, then 13, 20 and now we’re at 23,” Ramsay said. “I came in at 22 [years old] with hardly any coaching experience and I have learned something every year.”

A major part of the team’s success has been because of the offense. Whitworth is in the top three in the Northwest Conference in runs, hits, RBI’s, batting average, doubles and home runs.

An even bigger contribution to this season is how Ramsay has built the team over the past four years.

“I think it’s been a trickle-down effect,” Ramsay said. “It starts at the top with the people we have in our program  — coaches and assistant coaches to players. It’s a good fit with personality and the personnel is a good fit for the team.”

One of those good trickle-down moves has been pitching coach Brandon Harmon.

“One of the biggest things that Coach has done is bring in [pitching coach] Brandon Harmon,” King said. “Thing’s were rough for pitching his first couple of years, but Brandon helped improve our pitching a lot.”

Recruiting quality freshman talent has been a staple in the Ramsay years, with no exception this season. Freshman pitchers have locked down opponents this season. Team leaders in strikeouts, wins and saves are all freshman players. The seniors who Ramsay recruited in his first year, though, have set the tone for the team’s success.

“The seniors have been impact players,” Ramsay said. “It’s been cool to see the work they put in over the years has been starting to pay off. They laid the expectations for the rest of the players and where we are has a lot to do with those individuals.”

Ramsay started his Pirate career as a player in 2007 when he was a catcher, earning Second-Team All-NWC in 2007 and Honorable-Mention All-NWC in 2008. Ramsay, having only been five years removed from playing the game, uses that as an advantage.

“He relates to players really well,” senior third baseman Landon Scott said. “He is a younger guy that understands the mental part of the game and knows what the players are going through.”

Ramsay said the culture of Whitworth baseball has changed dramatically from his playing days.

“When I played here there were times when I didn’t want to wear my baseball cap around campus because I didn’t want people to ask how we did that weekend. I didn’t want to tell them that we always lost,” Ramsay said. “That’s not the case now. People are excited about this team. I get people coming up to me wanting to buy baseball caps, and everyone wears their gear around campus.”

As evident with the recent turnaround of the program and conference championship, the culture has changed and Whitworth baseball has regained swagger.

“My expectations for the players at the beginning of the season were if they didn’t want to win a championship, then I don’t want them on this team,” Ramsay said.

With the sweep of the Missionaries this weekend, the Pirates have been able to celebrate with a dog-pile. With Ramsay at the helm, Whitworth now heads into the National Division III Tournament representing the Northwest Conference.

 

Story by Nathan Webber Staff Writer

Photographer: Greg Moser

 

Contact Nathan Webber at nathanwebber14@my.whitworth.edu.

Whitworth earns sweep of Willamette

The Whitworth baseball team kept its playoff hopes alive with a three-game sweep of Willamette University in Salem, Ore., last weekend.

Freshman pitcher Dan Scheibe pitched nine innings and struck out 13 batters in game one of Whitworth’s three game contest against Willamette at Merkel Field last weekend to help the Bucs grab an 8-1 victory in the front end of Saturday’s doubleheader before they secured a 7-6 win in the tenth inning of the nightcap. The action continued Sunday as the Bucs completed the three-game series and improved their record to 16-5 in Northwest Conference action, still close behind first place Pacific University.

“What really stood out this weekend was our guys’ ability to pick one another up,” head coach Dan Ramsay said. “If one guy failed the next guy behind him seemed to come through with a big hit or shut down inning out of the bullpen.”

Whitworth took the lead early when senior center fielder Kevin Valerio scored right fielder Erik Nikssarian with a squeeze bunt and freshman catcher Joshua Davis scored off of freshman shortstop Nick Motsinger’s RBI single in the second inning. In the third, senior first baseman JR Jarrell scored sophomore second baseman Gerhard Muelheims with an RBI single and freshman left fielder Tyler Pfeffer’s league-leading 11th homerun of the season boosted the Pirates to a 5-1 lead in the fifth.

“Tyler has also been playing lights out,” Ramsay said. “If he can finish what he’s started he should be a candidate for NWC Player of the Year.”

The final three runs came in the seventh when senior third baseman Landon Scott scored off Motsinger’s RBI double to center field, Nikssarian’s RBI single scored Miller and Valerio’s RBI double brought Nikssarian home.

After rolling past the Bearcats in game one, Whitworth trailed 1-0 until the sixth inning in game two. Davis hit a two-run single that gave the Pirates the lead, but Willamette answered in the seventh with another run.

“They really struggled against Scheibe in game one [but] did a good job of battling against our pitchers in game two,” Ramsay said.

Whitworth scored three runs in the eighth inning sparked by Nikssarian’s single that brought home Pfeffer, who had singled to shortstop. Jarrell and Nikssarian scored when, with the bases loaded, Scott and Valerio were hit by pitches.

The Bearcats tied it up in the bottom of the ninth to force an extra inning, but Whitworth scored two runs in the tenth when Muelheim’s RBI single brought Davis home and Pfeffer’s RBI single scored senior center fielder Ryan Beecroft.

illamette scored one run in the bottom of the 10th, but it wasn’t enough to steal the Bucs’ lead.

On Sunday, Whitworth drove in eight runs in the second inning to grab a significant early lead against the visiting Bearcats en route to a 10-6 win.

“When each guy trusts and has confidence that his teammates are going to come through, he plays with more confidence and it eases the pressure,” Ramsay said.

Willamette fought for six runs, but the Pirates secured the win with an extra two runs in the eighth inning when Davis walked, Valerio singled, and Pfeffer drove them home with a double up the left side.

Whitworth will host its final conference games with a three-game series against Whitman on April 28 and 29. The Pirates currently sit one game back of conference-leader Pacific.  Each team has three games remaining; however, the Boxers hold the tiebreaker advantage over the Bucs.

 

Story by Corina Gebbers Staff Writer

File Photo by Chrissy Roach

 

Contact Corina Gebbers at cgebbers15@my.whitworth.edu.

Women’s tennis eliminated by Whitman

Whitworth’s season comes to a close after conference tournament loss

The Whitworth women’s tennis team’s season came to an end on Saturday as the Missionaries of Whitman College beat the Pirates 9-0 in the semifinals of the Northwest Conference Tournament at the Linfield Tennis Center in McMinnville, Ore.

“Yesterday’s match was bitter sweet because it was our last match,” senior Alli Marshall said. “We knew Whitman was going to be really tough. They won the right points and beat us, but we definitely played our hardest.”

Whitworth finished the season with a 9-4 conference record, a 13-7 overall record and 10th place ranking in the region.

“The season was a lot of fun,” head coach Jo Ann Wagstaff said. “We came a long way and improved a lot.”

After sweeping the doubles portion of the match, Whitman won the next two singles matches for the team victory, which left the four other singles matches unfinished.

Five seniors saw their Pirate tennis careers end on Saturday, including the top two singles players and the No. 1 doubles team of Marshall and Erica Bosman.

“I feel really blessed to have been on this team for four years,” Marshall said. “It’s been amazing and I wouldn’t change anything.”

Bosman finishes her career with 123 total wins, and Marshall leaves with 101 wins. The three other Pirate seniors are Claire Hemming (52 wins), Siri Carlson (31 wins) and Janell Talbot (12 wins).

“It is a huge loss (about losing the graduating seniors),” Wagstaff said. “They all contributed a whole bunch and we’ll miss them a lot. Erica went from the No. 5 player her freshman year to the No. 2 this year. Claire went from our No. 10 or 11 player her freshman year to our No. 6 player this year. As a coach it’s fun to watch players improve and succeed.”

Ranked 8th in the region, the Missionaries overcame stiff competition from the Pirates in the opening doubles matches.

The No. 1 doubles team of Marshall and Bosman were overpowered by Whitman’s No. 1 doubles team of junior Alyssa Roberg and freshman Courtney Lawless 8-2.

The No. 2 doubles match was the closest of the day. Pirate junior Jessi Steele and freshman Saryn Mooney couldn’t overcome the Missionary team of senior Emily Rolston and freshman Morgan Lawless, losing 8-6.

Junior Megan Wingfield and Hemming had the second closest match on Saturday but fell to Whitman’s No. 3 doubles team of sophomore Hannah Palkowitz and freshman Madison Webster 8-4.

“The match could have gone either way -especially in doubles - even if the score didn’t reflect that,” Talbot said.

Starting the singles matches with a 3-0 lead, Whitman left the rest of the match in the hands of the Lawless twins. Courtney Lawless defeated Bosman 6-0, 6-0 in No. 2 singles and Morgan Lawless beat Steele 6-0, 6-2 in No. 3 singles to close out the match.

“Whitman was just tough,” Wagstaff said. “We stuck with them but couldn’t come through.”

There were four matches that remained unfinished at that point. Whitworth was actually leading in three of those four matches but they stopped after Whitman earned the necessary five wins.

Mooney was beating junior Kate Kunkel-Patterson 6-3, 3-1 in No. 4 singles. Wingfield, who almost completed her match, was winning in No. 5 singles against Missionary Webster 6-2, 5-2. Hemming was ahead of Rolston 6-0, 1-3 in No. 6 singles.

The other unfinished match was in No. 1 doubles with Whitman junior Roberg leading Whitworth senior Marshall 2-6, 2-3.

“It was a really great season,” Marshall said. “It was nice to have new people. We definitely improved over the season and our scores reflect that.”

Whitman advanced to the Northwest Conference Championship game on Sunday with an 11-2 conference record and a 16-4 overall record. Whitman defeated hosting Linfield College Wildcats 5-1 to win the tournament, advancing the team to the NCAA Division III Tournament.

Whitman has a young team, which will be hard to beat in the coming years. Whitworth hopes to follow suit.

“I’m looking forward to next season,” Wagstaff said. “We have good recruits coming in and the players coming back had a great year.”

 

Story by Nathan Webber Staff Writer

Photography by Hope Barnes

 

Contact Nathan Webber at nathanwebber13@my.whitworth.edu.

Missionaries best Pirates in NWC playoffs

The Whitworth men’s tennis season came to an end on Saturday after host Whitman College defeated the Bucs 9-0 in the semifinals of the Northwest Conference Tournament in Walla Walla, Wash. “We knew [Whitman was] going to be difficult to beat,” senior Daniel Redfern said. “We were hoping to pull off the upset but it’s pretty impossible to come back at Whitman after going down 3-0.”

Whitman was the No. 1 seed in the tournament and the No. 1 team in the region, and eighth in the nation. The Missionaries won the first five games of the match, leaving the other four unfinished.

“It’s no fun to lose the last match of the season,” senior Ben Hamming said. “Whitman is really tough, a very, very good team.”

Whitworth, finishing the year 8-4 in the conference and 11-9 overall, stayed with the Missionaries in a lot of the matches.

Whitman started out the day by winning the first three doubles matches. Whitworth’s No. 1 doubles team of Redfern and junior Micah Spaun were outmatched by Whitman’s No. 1 team, losing 8-2.

The Pirates’ No. 2 doubles team of seniors Hamming and Stefan Dernbach had a tough time against Whitman’s No. 2 doubles team, falling 8-0. The Missionaries closed out the doubles portion of the match with an 8-3 win in No. 3 doubles against sophomore Dustin McConnell and freshman Chris Engelmann.

“I thought we played well, [the match] was very competitive,” Engelmann said. “We played a good team and even though the score didn’t show it the match was very competitive. Could have gone either way.”

The singles matches were highly competitive, but only two matches were finished as Whitman reached the necessary five wins before Whitworth could mount a comeback.

The two matches that finished first were No. 2 and No. 4 singles. In No. 4 singles, McConnell lost a competitive match, losing 6-2, 6-0.

In the last match of the semifinal, junior Cameron Williams lost a close two-set match, falling to Whitman junior Jeff Tolman 6-4, 7-5.

Of the four matches that were left unfinished, two of them went into tiebreakers. Redfern, playing his last game as a Pirate, was on the losing end of a first set tiebreaker, leaving the match at 7-6 (7-0), 2-1. The other tiebreaker was at No. 3 singles where Spaun’s second set ended in a tie, leaving the score 6-2, 6-6 (4-4).

In No. 5 singles, Hamming, also in his final match as a Pirate, finished his first set against Whitman junior Sam Sadeghi where he was behind 6-2. The No. 6 singles match never got started.

“It’s very different playing outside but we had decent weather,” Hamming said. “There’s wind that you have to take in account for and the depth perception on the ball is a little different, but we were ready for it.”

Redfern, who had his best season as a Pirate after transferring from Skagit Valley College after his sophomore year, finished with 22 wins on the season and 40 in his two-year Pirate career.

Hemming, who was a four-year contributor for the men’s tennis team, finished his best season in a Bucs uniform, compiling 14 wins between singles and doubles this season.

“It’s been a lot of fun,” Hamming said. “I’ve enjoyed the team and the coach for four years and I’m sad it’s over. “

This was the second time this season that Whitworth played Whitman in Walla Walla, but the outcome was no different from the March 31 match-up which Whitman won 9-0.

The Missionaries played Sunday against George Fox University and swept the Bruins 5-0 for the Northwest Conference Tournament Championship.

Even though the tennis season is over, there is always hope for the coming years.

“Next year is going to be an uphill challenge because everyone in our conference is young and every team is deep,” Engelmann said. “It’s going to be a dog fight on our team for the last spots in our line-up next year. It’s going to be very competitive, but we’ll be good.”

 

Story by Nathan Webber Staff Writer

Contact Nathan Webber at nathanwebber13@my.whitworth.edu.

Spotted from the crow's nest: Alli Marshall, women’s tennis

Senior tennis player Alli Marshall is on the verge of finishing a strong four year career at Whitworth. In her Whitworth career, Marshall has won three Northwest Conference Championships, been Second Team All-NWC once and First Team All-NWC twice. Currently, she is Whitworth’s No. 1 singles player and is part of the No. 1 doubles team.

Marshall has won at least 20 games in each of her four seasons on the team, the most coming in her freshman year when she won 29 games. Recently she won her 100th game as a Pirate after she and her doubles partner, senior Erica Bosman, beat George Fox’s No. 1 doubles team 8-4 last Saturday.

“She has been a really solid No. 1 for us,” head coach Jo Ann Wagstaff said. “She is a great example of a person that plays hard and never gives up on a point. She goes for every ball as hard as she can and it inspires the rest of the team to play hard.”

The senior from Salem, Ore., has been playing tennis since she was 8 years old and excelled at the sport at Sprague High School. Marshall wanted to continue playing tennis after high school, which led her to Whitworth. “I wasn’t sure where I wanted to go but my sister, who’s a year older, went here [Whitworth] so I came to check out the campus,” Marshall said. “I loved it.”

Throughout her four years Marshall has made a lot of memories.

“Every Spring Break trip we went on was amazing,” Marshall said. “All the girls get along so well. We won conference and went to nationals in California my freshman year. It was also really fun to win conference three years in a row, too, it was wonderful.”

Marshall works hard on and off the court as she is double majoring in journalism and mass communication and kinesiology. She is currently planning on taking a year off after school is over to prepare for her Graduate Record Exam for graduate school.

“Since her freshman year she has worked really hard on becoming a more consistent and powerful player, and it’s paid off,” Wagstaff said.

That hard work has paid off on the court as Marshall currently leads the team in doubles wins and is third in the conference in singles win percentage as Whitworth’s No. 1 singles player.

“Her forehand is really great, definitely her best shot,” teammate Claire Hemming said.

Hemming, a fellow senior and roommate, had a lot of good things to say about Marshall when asked what she is like off the court.

“I have lived with Alli for a couple of years,” Hemming said. “She is very personable, always engaging people and making them feel good.”

Marshall is sitting at 21 wins so far this season and  said she hopes to continue her streak on April 21 when the tennis team takes on Whitman in the first round of the Northwest Conference Tournament. The team, and Marshall, are striving for their third tournament championship in three years.

 

Story by Nathan Webber Staff Writer

Photography by Greg Moser

 

Contact Nathan Webber at nathanwebber13@my.whitworth.edu.

Whitworth softball season comes to a close

With a Northwest Conference Tournament berth on the line, the Whitworth softball team traveled to Newberg, Ore., last weekend to take on the Bruins of George Fox University. Whitworth needed to sweep the series in order to reach the conference tournament.  The Pirates went down in a hard-fought battle on Saturday afternoon, zapping their playoff hopes.

Still, head coach Cristal Brown was optimistic in her reflections.

“I’d say we actually did really well overall all weekend,” Brown said on Sunday. “Our loss yesterday came down yesterday to one pitch that could have made a difference.”

The series was ultimately split 2-2. Neither team won two consecutive games.

In Saturday’s first game, the Pirates came out energized and crushed the Bruins in a 9-1 victory, called off after six innings in compliance with the NCAA eight-run mercy rule. Taylor Gilbert allowed just two hits in the game and would be the backbone of the Whitworth team for the rest of the weekend.

“Taylor Gilbert did an awesome job,” Brown said. “She threw all but 1.2 innings for us this weekend and did amazing.”

Whitworth didn’t quite have what it would have taken to round the corner in game two. Senior second basemen Sami Parr led the team with one run, one hit and two RBIs on the game. The Bruins won 5-4, thanks to pitching, which held Whitworth to no hits following the second inning.

Gilbert was again phenomenal in Sunday’s earlier game, leading Whitworth to the 6-0 victory. Junior Jamie Brunner dominated offensively with a pair of runs, hits and RBIs, respectively.

The final game of the season for the Bucs came down to one inning. All three of GFU’s runs were scored during the fourth, and Whitworth never recovered. Again, Brunner led the team with two hits and one run. Gilbert was relieved from the circle for the first time all weekend for the final 1.2 innings.

The Pirates finish their season 19-21 overall and 13-15 in the Northwest Conference.

“I think the weekend was a little bit indicative of what the season was like, where we played some good softball and it didn’t always turn out how we wanted it to,” Brown said. “We’re excited for next year.”

 

Story by Sena Hughes Staff Writer

Contact Sena Hughes at shughes15@my.whitworth.edu.

Baseball takes on Pacific for NWC lead

In a Northwest Conference baseball show down last weekend, second place Whitworth met conference leader Pacific on Merkel Field in a best out-of-three game series that went to the wire. The Pirates were topped 6-2 by the Boxers in the opening game Saturday, but took control in the nightcap, gaining a 7-1 victory that boosted them to 3-1 win on Sunday.

“We haven’t been in the situation to win the conference in a very long time,” senior catcher Michael Takemura said. “We started a little slow but I think the confidence came when the series got going.”

After sophomore second baseman Gerhard Muelheims doubled in the first inning, senior third baseman Landon Scott drove him home on a single that put the first run on the board for either team.

“We thought we’d be able to keep adding on after that first run,” Muelheims said. “[But] their pitcher was throwing really well [and] we had a tough time seeing the ball.”

But Pacific answered with a flurry of runs over the next three innings, scoring six runs, while Whitworth struggled to connect at the plate.

Freshman shortstop Nick Motsinger got the offense rolling with a single to third base in the sixth inning, and Whitworth scored its second run off sophomore left fielder Tyler Pfeffer’s sacrifice fly to right field.

“I thought the first game we were a little tight [but] the second game we played pretty loose,” Takemura said. “These games didn’t mean anything unless we won them out.”

After freshman pitcher Carson Blumenthal tossed the first four innings, freshman pitcher Nick Scourey stepped on the mound and shut out Pacific in five innings of relief. But the Pirates were unable to close in on the Boxers’ lead, and with the loss surrendered the top spot in the conference to Pacific for now; final conference standings have not been determined.

“Everyone was disappointed we lost,” Muelheims said. “But we’ve lost the first game of a series before and ended up winning the next two games.”

Whitworth grabbed an early 2-0 lead in game two after Motsinger walked and Pfeffer singled up the middle to score Motsinger in the first inning. Miller singled to right field in the second inning, advanced to second base on a balk, then to third when senior center fielder Kevin Valerio grounded out to second base, and scored on freshman right fielder Erik Nikssarian’s single to left field.

“I think this whole year we’ve done a great job coming back from losses,” Takemura said. “We wanted to punch back.”

Pfeffer’s three-run homer in the third and Nikssarian’s homerun in the fourth boasted a 6-0 lead for the Bucs. Senior first baseman JR Jarrell’s RBI single brought Pfeffer home again in the fifth inning to score Whitworth’s final run.

Freshman pitcher Dan Scheibe pitched a full game, striking out 12 batters with no walks. In his past two pitching performances  for the Bucs he has struck out 25 batter without a walk, and his presence on the mound Saturday secured the win for the Pirates, as Pacific scored just one run off six hits.

“The second game Dan threw great,” Takemura said. “He gave us a lot of confidence by shutting them down.”

It took until the fourth inning for either team to earn a run on Sunday, but after Scott singled to center field, he scored off Valerio’s sacrifice fly. Jarrell got on base with a single up the middle, and then scored thanks to Nikssarian’s RBI single through the left side.

“I think it was pretty key that we got on the board first,” Muelheims said. “Scoring those two runs was big especially because it was right after an inning where they had the bases loaded and we struck their guy out.”

Whitworth’s final run came in the fifth when Takemura was hit by a pitch, advanced to second when Motsinger grounded out to the catcher, and scored off Muelheims RBI single to center field.

Pacific also scored in the fifth, plating their lone run of the game. But the Boxers had several opportunities to take the lead, leaving 13 runners on base by game’s end.

“In the dugout the players knew we were going to win,” Takemura said. “But we gave [Pacific] too many shots.”

Spencer Ansett pitched the first six innings, allowing one run off seven hits. Jason Renner finished the game, grabbing his sixth save of the season.

“We used a lot of the momentum we had from the second game [on Saturday],” Muelheims said. “Holding those guys to one run took away some of their confidence.”

Whitworth improved its record to 13-5 in NWC action, just one game behind Pacific in conference standings, and will face Willamette University in Salem, Ore., April 21 and 22.

 

Story by Corina Gebbers Staff Writer

Photography by Chrissy Roach

 

Contact Corina Gebbers at cgebbers15@my.whitworth.edu.

Bucs stay in conference title contention with weekend sweep of pioneers

After NAIA powerhouse Lewis-Clark State edged past the Whitworth baseball team 9-8 in extra innings last Tuesday, the Bucs rolled past Lewis & Clark College in a three-game sweep Friday and Saturday. Whitworth improved its record to 17-10-1 overall and 11-4 in Northwest Conference action, and now sit just two games behind first place Pacific University. Despite taking an 8-5 lead in a late rally on Tuesday night, the Bucs fell 9-8 to host Lewis-Clark State in the 13th inning.

“We were proud of how our guys battled and played last Tuesday,” said head coach Dan Ramsay. “Tough games like that help develop our team’s character and bring us closer together.”

Whitworth trailed 3-0 after six innings but took the lead with a five-run rally in the seventh. Senior third baseman Landon Scott was hit by a pitch with the bases loaded to bring in the first run, followed by an RBI single to left field from freshman designated hitter Paul Miller, an RBI ground out by senior first baseman JR Jarrell, and a two-run single from freshman catcher Josh Davis.

The Warriors answered with two runs in the bottom of the seventh to tie the game 5-5, but the Bucs took advantage of three Lewis-Clark errors in the eighth and scored another three runs. Lewis-Clark sent the game into extra innings and took the win when, with bases loaded, senior pitcher Nick Combo walked the Warrior batter on a 3-2 count to force in the winning run for Lewis-Clark.

“We battled them tough to come back and make a good game of it,” freshman pitcher Dan Scheibe said. “The intensity of our extra innings battle with them will probably prove valuable later on down the road in other high-intensity situations.”

In Friday night’s game, sophomore left fielder Tyler Pfeffer hit his eighth and ninth home runs of the season to drive the visiting Bucs 9-1 past Lewis & Clark in the first game of the weekend.

Pfeffer’s first homer boosted Whitworth to a 3-0 lead in the third inning, and his second scored three more runs in the fifth. Senior center fielder Kevin Valerio followed with a single up the left field line, extending the Pirates’ lead to eight.

“Tyler’s two three-run home runs were huge in terms of momentum in game one,” Ramsay said. “Our ability to score runs increases when we execute on offense.”

Miller claimed his first home run as a Buc in the seventh inning to give Whitworth a 9-0 lead over the Pioneers. Lewis & Clark’s sole run came off an RBI single in the bottom of the eighth.

Scheibe was the starting pitcher for the Bucs and struck out eight straight batters in Saturday’s opener, helping Whitworth to a 6-2 win over the Pioneers. He tossed seven innings for the Bucs, allowing one run off five hits and striking out 13 batters. Jason Renner relieved Scheibe, pitching the final one and one-third innings.

“I was hitting spots and getting stronger as the game went on,” Scheibe said. “It’s easy to go out and throw when I’ve got confidence in my hitters to pick me up and have my back offensively.”

Whitworth led 3-1 after three innings off an RBI single by Valerio, a Lewis & Clark error, and an RBI single by Scott. Sophomore second baseman Gerhard Muelheims scored off freshman short-stop Nick Motsinger’s RBI single to first base in the sixth inning, Jarrell scored in the seventh when Lewis & Clark’s pitcher hit senior catcher Michael Takemura with the bases loaded, and Valerio scored the Pirate’s final run off freshman right fielder Thomas Wakem’s RBI single up the middle in the ninth.

“We respected Lewis & Clark as a club and knew that if we backed down they could come up and beat us,” Scheibe said. “The key was showing up and playing our game, and we were able to do that for the most part.”

But after cruising past the Pioneers in games one and two, Whitworth played 10 innings in the final game of the series after Lewis & Clark rallied back from an 8-4 deficit to tie the game 8-8 in the ninth.

“[Lewis & Clark] is a young team with some talented players,” Ramsay said. “We knew they weren't going to roll over and knew they were going to put up a fight.”

But Jarrell stepped to the plate in the 10th inning with the bases loaded and polished off the three-game sweep with a grand slam over the left field wall.

“Game three's big momentum changer was obviously JR’s grand slam in the top of the 10th,” Ramsay said.

The Bucs are set to host Central Washington University on April 10 in a double-header makeup game before facing Pacific on Merkel Field April 14 and 15.

“[Friday and Saturday’s games] will be some of the most important baseball games we've had on our campus in 20 years,” Ramsay said. “It would be awesome to have a ton of support and get as many fans out to the field as possible.”

Whitworth currently stands second in the NWC behind Pacific, so the winner of Friday and Saturday’s series could potentially be the champion of the conference.

 

Story by Corina Gebbers Staff Writer

Contact Corina Gebbers at cgebbers15@my.whitworth.edu.

Time to re-value athletics

For centuries upon centuries, human beings have enjoyed some form of athletic competition, and in the United States especially, sports play a huge role in society. Sporting events of many categories bring in massive revenues, provide hours and hours of entertainment for countless fans, and often serve to bridge the gaps between individuals with little else in common. Today, however, sports have gone beyond simple fun and games, and athletic competition has shifted into a defining attribute of American society, one that is overvalued on multiple fronts. Overemphasizing sports has negative effects that begin with the most impressionable demographic: children. Starting at a very young age, parents and coaches often encourage children to engage in athletic activities, and to strive for a competitive edge all the way through high school, as an added bonus for college enrollment. On the surface level this is natural, but problems arise when these authority figures, influenced by the culture that surrounds them, push children too far. According to Children’s Hospital Boston, “Most organized sports-related injuries (62 percent) occur during practice.”

Children are pushed to a point beyond safety, and often succumb to delusions of grandeur in the pros. While striving for excellence is rarely a negative influence, this need for children to perform above average in areas of athleticism often comes at great expense to the child. Often parents and coaches will try to push children to develop skills in a particular sport so hard that it causes psychological damage. An organization called Moms’ Team says that child psychologists claim that “Early specialization and intense participation on select teams may interfere with normal identity development.” This extreme need for athletic perfection comes from a deep-rooted societal influence.

Even further than children, America’s obsession with sports has produced a society where athletics are more important than pressing national issues such as politics or global humanitarian conflicts. In an article for Journal-News.net, journalist Don Smith claims that he, like many other Americans, spends far more time “following sports than topics that are really much more important.” Smith says that sports is followed with much more vigor even than politics, a topic directly relevant and affected by almost every American. Humanitarian crises go virtually unnoticed by comparison, and Smith opens up in his article, saying “I'm aware that thousands of people are starving today in Africa, but I have spent more time studying Derek Jeter's hitting stats…” This confession is not only true for Smith, but for thousands of Americans every day.

Entire media organizations are devoted to sports coverage, analysis and commentary, something not true for academics or humanitarian causes.

What’s more, American value systems have placed sports on such a pedestal,that some social commentators believe they even affect the religious communities negatively.  Biblical condemnation of idolatry is often a struggle for current day American Christians, and idols such as money, fame, power or work are often cautioned as things that can be detrimental when placed above God. In a blog by Brent Nelson entitled “When Does Sport Become Idolatry?” Nelson suggests that sports can easily become an idol in a person’s life, especially when so many sacrifices are made to accommodate it.

This is clearly emphasized in American society where physical health, academic success and often family life are sacrificed in the pursuit of athletics.

So often are we told that athletes are given millions of dollars to devote a short portion of their life to a game, while teachers are drastically underpaid to educate our very own children. And yet what is being done to change this?

A recent conflict over billion dollar contracts left the NBA in a state of turmoil for months, while athletes and coaches argued over ridiculously high salaries. Fans were outraged and fearful.  During this time, Joseph Kony, a recently famous criminal in Uganda, was kidnapping children for an army of child soldiers. And yet it was not until this year, thanks to a viral video that shocked news organizations across the board, are we aware that something so horrendous has been going on for almost 30 years.

Too much of a good thing becomes a bad thing, or so the saying goes. Perhaps it’s time to consider the ramifications of this in the world of sports.

 

Story by Ryan Stevens Columnist

Graphic by Hannah Charlton

Stevens is a sophomore majoring in English and French. Comments can be sent to rstevens15@my.whitworth.edu.

Women's tennis splits weekend home matches

The Whitworth women’s tennis team came out of the weekend 1-1 after a decisive win against Willamette University and a close loss to Linfield College on Friday and Saturday at the Scotford Tennis Center. The Pirates, who finished out their final conference matches at home, moved to 7-3 in the Northwest Conference and 11-5 overall.

"The team played very well this weekend; I’m pleased with pretty much everything,” head Coach Jo Ann Wagstaff said. “We played much better against Linfield. We had a shot at winning the match.”

Junior Jessi Steele won three of her four matches on the weekend, two of them singles matches, improving her singles win-streak to 14 matches. She hasn’t lost a home match this season and is 15-1 in singles overall this year.

On Friday the Pirates swept the Bearcats in doubles and pulled out several close three-set matches on their way to a 7-2 win.

The No. 1 singles team of Alli Marshall and Erica Bosman made quick work of Willamette’s No. 1 doubles team, winning 8-2. Steele and freshman Saryn Mooney defeated the Bearcats No. 2 doubles team 8-4. In No. 3 doubles, senior Claire Hemming and junior Megan Wingfield finished out the sweep with an 8-1 win.

“We beat Willamette’s second doubles team fairly decisively after they beat us last time we played. It was a good win,” Wagstaff said. “We worked really hard on our volleys since spring break with our doubles team, and it’s paying off.”

Marshall also took care of business in No. 1 singles as she defeated senior Bearcat Shannon Palmer 6-2, 6-2. It was Marshall’s eighth win in singles and 18th win overall.

After taking an early 4-0 lead against the Bearcats, the Pirates lost their next two matches but won the final three to halt Willamette’s comeback and seal the victory.

Bosman lost in one of the most competitive matches of the day, falling to Willamette’s No. 2 singles player 6-4, 3-6, 7-6 (7-3). Mooney also lost a close three-setter in No. 3 singles 6-4, 3-6, 6-3.

“Longer matches are physically harder, obviously, but they prepare me mentally for similar matches in the future,”  Bosman said.

Steele notched her second win of the day in No. 4 singles, defeating Bearcat senior Emily Bee 6-1, 3-6, 6-1.

Wingfield won a close match in No. 5 singles, defeating Willamette sophomore Emily Funabiki 6-3, 3-6, 1-0 (10-6). Senior Siri Carlson finished off the Bearcats in No. 6 singles, wining 6-3, 6-4.

The Bucs fought just as hard on Saturday, but fell to the Linfield Wildcats, the top team in the Northwest Conference, 6-3.

The Pirates fell into a 4-0 hole early after the Wildcats took all three highly competitive doubles matches and the No. 1 singles match. All three doubles matches were within four games, the third match going into extra games as Hemming and Wingfield fell 9-7.

“We need to keep improving at the same rate in doubles,” Wagstaff said. “We have been working so hard at doubles though we need to remind ourselves about ground strokes in singles.”

The first win of the day came in No. 2 singles as Bosman defeated sophomore Caroline Brigham 6-3, 6-3, after Brigham beat her in doubles.

“I think my singles and doubles games are very different,” Bosman said. “When I’m playing doubles I can see my opponents strengths and weaknesses and I can use it against them in singles later.”

Steele followed two matches later who beat Willamette’s No. 4 singles player 6-1, 6-4.

Whitworth’s third win came in No. 6 singles as Hemming defeated freshman Kelly Watanabe 6-1, 6-2. This was Hemming’s 12th singles win of the season and 24th win of the season.

“It’s very helpful to play a team like Linfield right before the conference tournament,” Carlson said. “One through six they are very competitive, especially in doubles, it helps to play teams like that.”

The women’s tennis team will travel to Oregon this weekend to take on Lewis & Clark College and George Fox University on Friday and Saturday in the last conference matches before the Northwest Conference Tournament.

 

Story by Nathan Webber Staff Writer

Contact Nathan Webber at nathanwebber13@my.whitworth.edu.

Men's tennis secures spot in Northwest Conference Tournament

The Pirate men’s tennis team clinched a spot in the Northwest Conference Tournament over the weekend after claiming two key victories over Willamette University and Linfield College on Friday and Saturday. “Winning these two matches was huge,” junior Cameron Williams said. “Willamette was a very tough team and we clinched the post-season with the wins so it was a huge confidence booster for us.”

The Pirates, who improved to 7-3 in the Northwest Conference and 10-6 overall, only lost three matches all weekend and have won five of their last six conference matches.

“We had a great trip,” head coach Mike Shanks said. “We pulled out a great win versus the No. 2 team in the conference last year, Willamette, and got into a good rhythm today against Linfield. It was a very satisfying trip.”

The match went back and forth on Friday but the Pirates finished strong as the bottom three singles players took the last three matches, finishing off the Bearcats.

After dropping the competitive first doubles match of the day, the Bucs took the next two to gain an early 2-1 lead.

Williams and sophomore Dustin McConnell made quick work of the Bearcats’ No. 2 doubles team, winning 8-1. Seniors Ben Hamming and Stefan Dernbach broke the 1-1 tie in doubles with an 8-3 win in the No. 3 slot.

After Willamette junior Joshua Wong helped defeat senior Daniel Redfern in doubles, Redfern returned the favor in No. 1 singles by beating Wong 3-6, 7-5. Wong retired before the conclusion of the third set, giving Redfern the win.

“My opponent started cramping and it just got really bad so he had to retire,” Redfern said. “We got out to a good start in the match though, which was huge. It’s nice to know for sure you made the post-season.” The Pirates dropped the next two match ups, tying the match at three. The No. 4 and No. 5 singles matches each went into three sets but the Pirates pulled out both of them, sealing the victory.

In the No. 4 singles match, Hamming beat Bearcat sophomore Will Cooper 3-6, 6-2, 6-4 and in the No. 5 singles match sophomore John Talbot overpowered Willamette sophomore Will Agnew-Svoboda for the 3-6, 6-3, 6-4 win.

Freshman Chris Engelmann added one more win to the Pirates total, defeating Willamette freshman Jack Schreiber 6-1, 6-1.

“We had four of our six singles matches go into three sets,” Williams said. “They might have had the upper hand but we regrouped after the rain delay and pulled out the victory.”

Saturday the Bucs fought through some close matches to claim the 9-0 victory over the Linfield Wildcats.

Redfern and junior Micah Spaun got Whitworth on the board with an 8-4 win in No. 1 doubles and No. 2 and No. 3 doubles followed suit as the Bucs swept the Wildcats doubles teams.

Redfern added another win on the board as he beat Linfield junior Zach Lyons 7-6 (7-5), 6-2. This was Redfern’s 12th singles win of the season and 20th win overall.

Williams had a similar match as he defeated the Wildcats No. 2 singles player 7-6 (7-5), 6-3.

The rest of the singles matches went smoothly as no other Linfield player won more than three games in a set.

“This was the last road trip of the season for us so it was great to end it like that,” Williams said.

Whitworth will have two nonconference games April 9 and 10 against the Community Colleges of Spokane and Lewis-Clark State College before playing the last two conference matches at home April 13 and 14.

 

Story by Nathan Webber Staff Writer

Contact Nathan Webber at nathanwebber13@my.whitworth.edu.