Male Athlete of the Year: Andrew Bloom

Senior Andrew Bloom has been selected as the Whitworthian’s male athlete of the year. From placing second in the 2016 Northwest Conference Championship to holding the best Division III mark in the nation (220‘2‘‘), it would seem as if Bloom was born with a javelin in his hand.

Bloom grew up on Camano Island, Washington, where he played a variety of sports, including basketball, football and golf. He attended Stanwood High School where he played baseball as his main sport for the Spartans.

As a freshman at Whitworth, Bloom intended to play four years of baseball for the Pirates, but injuries and other obstacles led Bloom to stop after his first year.

“I went from [playing sports] all the time to not playing anything,” Bloom said. “I decided I wanted to compete again in something.”

In a strange turn of events, during his sophomore year, Bloom was challenged by a friend to see who could throw a javelin the farthest. “I was absolutely awful,” Bloom said. “[Chase Wright] who had just won second in the nation [in javelin] was watching and said ‘Hey, you have a good arm but just need to learn the techniques. You should try out next year for the track team.'”

After practicing and learning how to properly throw with friends, Bloom talked to Whitworth’s track and field head coach, Toby Schwarz, and developed into a javelin thrower his junior year.

“[Bloom] is a work horse,” junior Dane Larson said. “He hasn’t been [throwing the javelin] long but he genuinely loves the sport and he’s  always willing to help out his teammates.”

Bloom proved after only a couple meets that he was a force to be reckoned with in the javelin community.

“He has always had a great throwing arm, but in terms of how fast he has progressed in an event that is technically very difficult, it is extraordinary,” assistant coach Eloise Cappellano said. “He made it to nationals his first year; that doesn’t happen all the time and so that in itself is quite an achievement.”

With one season under his belt, Bloom became more comfortable with the mechanics of the javelin and over the span of a couple of weeks improved his personal record by 20 feet.

“I started making a lot of minor adjustments and bringing in more speed from last season that really has taken me over the top,” Bloom said. “My marks would increase every week. I went from 194 to 199 to a 10-foot [personal record] of 209 then to 213 and 219.”

One of Bloom’s biggest feats this season was breaking the Whitworth men’s javelin record with a mark of 220‘2‘‘ at the World War 9 meet, a record that was set back in 2011.

“He is way advanced and off of the charts right now. He has great speed, is a very smart guy and has figured out what needs to happen technically in order to throw [the javelin] very far,” Cappellano said. “[Bloom] is a joy to coach and honestly very easy to coach because he picks up things easily and quickly.”

Bloom has already qualified and will compete in the NCAA Division III Outdoor Championships in Waverly, Iowa at the end of May.

“He is a very level=headed and intelligent young man. I think he will handle the pressure of nationals well,” Cappellano said.

Even though he is graduating this year, Bloom has saved one course to be able to return and compete again for the Pirates next season.

“I am thankful for the opportunities that I’ve had,” Bloom said, “but I don’t want to take personal credit for it because it’s been God, my coaches, my teammates and my trainers that have done so much.”

Jordanne Perry

Staff Writer

Female Athlete of the Year: Makayla Lefever

The Whitworthian has selected junior pitcher Makayla Lefever as the female athlete of the year. When Lefever injured her knee her freshman year, there were some questions about what the future of her career would look like with the Pirates. After an up-and-down freshman year due to the injury, Lefever returned for her sophomore season with renewed strength and focus, putting together a nice 2015 campaign. As the 2015 season developed, Lefever and junior Madi Perez were swapping starts for head coach Cristal Brown.

“Sophomore year she came back over the summer, and she was just a completely new pitcher,” senior Alyssa Hall said. “All of her pitches were just great, she was hitting her spots and increased her velocity a lot. It was really cool to see those changes that she had made after just one season.”

One of the most noticeable changes that Lefever made between freshman and sophomore year was her spinning pitches. Throughout her sophomore year, Lefever consistently produced swings and misses.

Then came 2016, in which all of Lefever’s hard work resulted in some of the best numbers in the league. Lefever earned first-team All-Northwest Conference honors with a record of 19-4 and a second-place ranked ERA of 1.98, leading the Northwest Conference in wins. In 2016, however, the opposition knew what to expect from Lefever and the Pirates’ ace had to make some adjustments.

“Makayla’s strength has always been putting spin on her pitches,” coach Brown said. “She has a great high screw, but hitters knew to expect that this season, so she had to reinvent herself as the season went on.”

Though she put together a fantastic athletic career and a mind-boggling 2016 season on the mound, Lefever made a difficult decision to end her softball career and pursue her academic goals. Lefever will head to Washington State University’s nursing school in Spokane this upcoming fall.

“We knew last year at the end of season that nursing school was in the future for Makayla,” Coach Brown said. “She really has her priorities straight, and while she has accomplished some great things in softball, being accepted to nursing school is a very exciting achievement for her.”

“The friendships I’ve made, I’ll always keep that with me,” Lefever said. “I’ll also still be really close with the girls, even though I won’t be on the team anymore.”

“It’s been really cool to form all of these bonds, and it’s totally off the field too,” senior Megan John said. “We don’t just show up and all of a sudden we are all ‘buddy-buddy’, it’s all of the time.”

As Lefever ends her Whitworth career and the 2016 season comes to an end, there is no doubt she was a force to be reckoned with.

Max Carter

Staff Writer

Track and Field Championships update 4/23/2016

The Whitworth men’s and women’s track and field team took first place victories with scores of 187 and 216.5, respectively, at the Northwest Conference Championship meet this past weekend at Lewis & Clark. With their second consecutive NWC victory, the women’s team had eight athletes take first place finishes and had over 20 with top five finishes.

Some Pirate first place performances came from the throwing events where senior Kerry Wright became the NWC champion in the javelin for the fourth consecutive year with a throw of 140‘ 8.25“. In addition, seniors Dakota Kliamovich and Courtney Fairhart became a third time NCW champions in the hammer (164‘ 11“) and discus (132‘ 2.5“) events, respectively.

The men took earned their seventh consecutive NWC victory after making a comeback from being behind George Fox on the first day.

Over 25 had top five finishes in various events and the men had five athletes take first place victories.

For the second time, Senior Everett Kleven was among the first place victors with a cleared 16‘ jump in the pole vault event. In addition, the 4x400-meter relay team consisting of freshman Jalen Robinson-McClure, senior Alex Hardlund, sophomore John-Robert Woolley, and senior Nicholas Gosselin won first place in a season-best time of 3:17.36.

Whitworth will return to action this Saturday at the Cougar Invite in Pullman, WA beginning 10:00 a.m.

Jordanne Perry

Staff Writer

Softball Recap 4/23/2016

After winning the opening game of the NWC Tournament on Friday at Marks Field, Mother Nature had some different plans for Whitworth Softball as the Bucs fell to Linfield in the semifinal game. The Pirates opened up a commanding 6-1 lead through four innings over the Wildcats before lightning struck for Linfield--both literally and physically.

With a four-run top of the fifth, Linfield had pulled within one as thunder and lightning storms became scattered throughout the Inland Northwest, temporarily stopping play. The lightning ceased and the game resumed around 10 am pacific standard time.

The delay worked in Linfield’s favor, as they scored two in the top of the seventh to take a one-run lead. With a fielder’s choice and a sacrifice fly, Linfield brought in the crucial runs, advancing to the championship game.

With the loss, Whitworth would face George Fox, the winner of the loser’s bracket game in which Pacific (Or.) was eliminated from the tournament.

The game was hard fought, with both pitchers turning in valiant efforts. In the end, George Fox prevailed behind the arm of sophomore Madison Sorenson, who threw a complete-game shutout, allowing only four hits and five baserunners.

Whitworth junior Makayla Lefever started every game for the Bucs in the NWC Tourney. The loss on Saturday morning was only her fourth of 2016, in which she compiled 19 wins and a 1.98 ERA over 148.1 innings of work.

Though the season may not have ended in the way the Pirates wanted, it was a fantastic year and an exciting weekend for the Whitworth Softball program. The first two seniors recruited by head coach Cristal Brown--catcher Megan John and outfielder Alyssa Hall--will be graduating this May. According to Brown, the two have done a wonderful job of instilling the Whitworth Softball culture for years to come. With the epic arm of Makayla Lefever and two straight regular season NWC championships, 2017 is sure to bring riches for Brown and the Pirates.

Max Carter

Staff Writer

Women's tennis championship update 4/23/2016

The women’s tennis team ended their 2016 season with a loss to Lewis & Clark last Saturday. The Pirates entered the NWC Championships with a conference record of 6-6, compared to Lewis & Clark’s record of 12-0. The Pirates lost their match to the Pioneers with a score of 5-0. The second game of the No. 1 singles match was the closest game of the day. Junior Bella Hoyos did her best to redeem her loss of the first game. However, she was unable to take the lead and ended the game with a score of 4-3.

The Pioneers went on to win the Conference Championships with a score of 8 total points. Lewis & Clark also took first in Conference with an overall record of 17-2.

The women’s tennis team will return next year.

Peter Houston-Hencken

Sports Editor

Softball Recap 4/22

Junior Makayla Lefever continued her dominant season on Friday morning with seven more epic innings, allowing only two runs and striking out five as she led the Bucs to a 4-2 victory over the Pacific (Or.) Boxers in the opening game of the 2016 Northwest Conference Tournament. Last weekend, Lefever fired off 15 straight innings in games two and three of their quad with Linfield to secure two crucial victories, and a regular season NWC championship.

“We had a lot of resting time during the week so we could prepare to go in fresh this weekend,” Lefever said. “I think that helped with our success this morning. We weren’t tired and we knew that we prepared well.”

On the other side of the diamond, Pacific senior Marissa Reichard threw the ball well, but the Bucs’ offense got the job done when it mattered.

Sophomore Kelsey Downey picked up a pair of hits and scored two runs, one of which she scored on sophomore Michelle Silva’s two-run bomb with two outs in the bottom of the fourth. Freshman Morgan Portlock got a piece of the action as well, notching a pinch-hit RBI single in the bottom of the sixth to pad the Pirates’ lead.

With one tournament victory in the bag, the Pirates are far from done, as their sights are set beyond the confines of Marks Field and their Northwest Conference opponents. The Bucs will play again this afternoon at 4:30 pm against the winner of George Fox vs. Linfield.

Max Carter

Staff Writer

Pirates race to make final cut at Twilight

The Whitworth men’s and women’s track and field team competed in the Twilight Invite last Thursday in the Pine Bowl where both teams took first place victories. With 124 and 120 total points scored by the men and women, respectively, both teams bested four other teams consisting of Lewis-Clark, Eastern Washington, Spokane Community College, and Washington State.

Since the Twilight Invite was the last opportunity for the athletes to qualify for the Northwest Conference Championships, seven men and 21 women were able to make and/or improve their qualifying marks.

The men’s team won eight events total with 35 top five finishes in various events.

“Since this is my first year [at Whitworth], I didn’t know that we were such a powerhouse team that had won conference six years in a row,” freshman Jared James said. “This year I feel our team has done exceptionally well and even with injuries that we have had, we have performed to the best of our ability.”

James won the triple jump with a personal best of 41‘3.25“ and also took second place in the pole vault with a personal best of 13’11.25“. Both marks qualify James to compete in the NWC Championship Meet.

Other first place wins came from sophomore John-Robert Woolley in the 110-hurdles event (15.60, personal-best), senior Nicholas Gosselin in the 200-meter dash (22.89, season-best), and junior Dane Larson in the long jump (20‘7.25“, season-best).

Larson, who has competed in various events this year including the 100-meter dash, 110-meter hurdles, pole vault, shot put, and others, did not officially qualify for the NWC Championships but received two wild card picks in both the decathlon and long jump events.

“I thought my season was over and I was very frustrated about it,” Larson said. “It was a very nice surprise the next morning when my coach texted me saying I had one more shot.” On the women’s side, the Pirates won six events total with 32 top five finishes.

“It was a high intensity meet because there were a lot of people that hadn’t qualified yet [for conference] and had to get those last minute marks,” freshman Olivia Lytle said.

In the jumping events, Lytle made NWC qualifying marks in a first place triple jump finish with a mark of 10.63m. Lytle also took first place in the high jump with a height of 1.48m and will compete in the championships in the high and triple jump events.

“I’m really excited to see how the team comes together at [the NWC Championships],” Lytle said. “I’ve heard the team aspect is a lot different at conference. Everyone watches and cheers each other on more than they do in the regular season.”

In the 400-meter dash, senior Katie McKay broke Whitworth’s school record with a second place finish and time of 58.56. McKay will move on to compete in the NWC Championships in the 400-, 800- and 1500-meter dash.

Senior Christina Dobbins took first place in the 100-meter hurdles (15.84) and will also compete in the championship meet in three events including the 100-meter hurdles, high jump and long jump.

Whitworth will have athletes compete in 38 different events in the NWC Championships in Portland, Oregon on April 22 and 23 beginning at 9.

“I believe this team is the type of team that will come together and really try to give it our best this year,” Larson said. “No matter the outcome, this team will lay everything out on the track.”

Jordanne Perry

Staff Writer

Baseball ends season first in conference

Whitworth’s baseball team took two games of the three game series at Willamette this weekend, clinching the Northwest Conference regular season crown. After a tough 8-7 extra inning loss in game one, the Pirates upended the Bearcats 7-2 in the nightcap and 3-2 on Sunday. The first game was a dramatic one as both teams gave up sizable leads late in the game. After leading 4-3 heading into the bottom of the eighth inning, Willamette had two walks and a hit batter come around to score courtesy of the double by Ty Wyatt. The Pirates’ last chance at the plate resulted in a string of three runs to take the lead.

But the Bearcats responded tying the game before going on to win the first game in the tenth inning, 8-7.

Whitworth coach Dan Ramsay told his players not to let the first game get to his team.

“We showed a lot of fight that game but just had some things that didn’t go our way,” Ramsay says.

On Saturday, the Pirates responded well. Freshman Ryan Kingma (7-2) picked up the victory throwing eight innings of one run baseball and allowing only three hits and two walks.

Collectively, the Pirates had a batting average of .321 over the weekend and added four home runs to the team total. Senior Jeremey Druffel had an especially productive weekend, finishing seven for 14 with three doubles and three RBIs.

That game helped promise Whitworth at least a share of the conference title and the hosting of the tournament at Merkel Field.

Sophomore TJ Orchard started Sunday’s rubber match, seeking to claim the conference title outright. The game started off rocky when Whitworth fell to 2-0 in the first. The Bearcats led through six innings.

“I was a little jumpy in the first inning and missed a couple of spots,” Orchard said. “I ended up shutting the door by getting my pitches where I wanted them, low in the zone.”

Orchard (6-1) held the Bearcats scoreless for the next seven innings allowing Whitworth to take a 3-2 on a Druffel RBI. With that, the Pirates were able to hold on and take the regular season title on their own.

Winning the conference crown was an awesome feeling, especially considering the changes the team underwent in the off season losing a lot of seniors, Druffel said.

“Just a whole different group of guys from last year, I didn’t know what to expect coming in,” Druffel said.

This Pirate team has a blend of postseason experience and young talent which hope to make them a tough opponent in conference play opening up this Friday, April 22.

Whitworth will take on the Pacific Boxers at noon in their home ballpark, Merkel Field.

Coach Ramsay is already looking forward to the weekend action.

“There is going to be some good baseball,” Ramsay said. “Everyone is fighting for the opportunity to go into postseason play. It’s going to be fun.”

Matt Spencer

Staff Writer

Tennis ends conference play victorious

The men’s tennis team finished out the regular season strong last weekend with a pair of wins against visiting Pacific Lutheran University and University of Puget Sound. The Pirates are now guaranteed the fourth and final bid for the 2016 Northwest Conference tournament. The Bucs led off on Saturday with a sweep in doubles against the Lutes. Court one saw the most contentious match of the day when seniors Drew Brigham and Drew Adams claimed an 8-5 victory. No. 2 doubles team, juniors Shane Sandlin and Caleb Hughes dominated their opponents 8-2 while freshman Layne Ryerson and senior Blake Miller won on court three 8-1.

“I think Shane and I both served pretty well, which set us up for some great put-aways,” Hughes said. “Something we’ve been trying to work on is making sure that our returns are clean and just making sure that we are sharp at the beginning of the match. We closed really strong, but the first couple games were a little iffy.”

The Pirates rolled passed the Lutes in singles as well, managing to win every single set. Every match, from courts one to six was decided in just two quick sets. Whitworth finished out the day with a decisive 9-0 victory, increasing their record to 7-4 in the NWC.

Sunday was more of the same for the Bucs. Once again, Whitworth was able to grab all three matches in doubles play with an 8-0 win on court one and 8-1 wins on courts two and three.

In singles play, Brigham finished first with a 6-0, 6-1 win, putting Whitworth up 4-0. The coup de gras came from sophomore Ryan Adams on court six who won 6-0, 6-1.

Miller beat his opponent 6-1, 6-1 on court 2 and Ryerson grabbed a 6-1, 6-2 victory on court 4.

“I just tried to envision myself playing next week in the conference tournament,” Miller said. “I was really working on my serve. That’s been a focus recently. I’ve just been trying to go a little bit bigger and choose my spots a little bit better.”

Whitworth toppled Puget Sound 9-0, increasing their record to 8-4 in conference. The win secured their place in the conference tournament next weekend.

“It was a good weekend,” head coach Mike Shanks said. “We haven’t swept these two teams like that, I think, ever before. Granted, they aren’t as good as they have been in the past, but we’re playing really good.”

As his team moves forward, Shanks said “don’t count us out.”

Caleb Mathena

Staff Writer

Bucs play intense final home games

Following a rough 15-2 loss to visiting Linfield on Saturday morning, the Bucs held a slim one-game lead over the Wildcats with three games remaining in the weekend quad. However, the Pirates followed the crushing defeat with two crucial, well-fought victories to win their second straight regular season Northwest Conference championship. Led by their two seniors, Alyssa Hall and Megan John, the Pirates have become a close-knit, relationship-focused team. Hall and John have been the driving force for head coach Cristal Brown in helping to establish that atmosphere over the last four years.

“They were our first two recruits, and they both have bought into the culture of Whitworth softball and the vision that we had for that,” Brown said. “They have been the centerpiece for carrying that out and making that transformation from year to year.”

While winning is the primary goal for the Pirates when they take to the diamond, the victories and achievements are not what Hall will remember when she hangs up her cleats.

“I’ll take away the personal relationships, memories and the social aspect of it more than the softball,” Hall said. “Yeah, I’ll always love the sport, but the more important part is the relationships that I’ve made and how that has impacted my life.”

Although Hall and John will be graduating in May, Brown and her team are in good shape for the future, with six players set to return as seniors in 2017. Juniors Makayla Lefever, Shannon Wessel and Tessa Matthews are three of those six, and they all stepped up when it mattered this weekend. But despite pulling off the victory in game two on Saturday, it didn’t look very good for the Bucs until late in the contest.

After the Wildcats scored three in the fifth inning and one in the sixth, the Bucs found themselves down 5-1. Then, in the bottom of the seventh inning, an RBI single from sophomore Chelsey Hayes gave the Pirates the opening they needed.

Down to their final out with the bases loaded, sophomore Kelsey Downey ripped a bases-clearing triple to right field to level the score and send the game into extras. With the score tied 5-5, Lefever pitched a scoreless eighth to get the bats in the Pirates’ hands once again. Following two quick outs, Matthews stepped up to the plate and crushed a walk-off homer to center field to end the game and return the two-game NWC lead to the Pirates.

Of all the fantastic play by the Pirates, the performance on the mound by Lefever was likely the most impressive part of the Bucs’ weekend. There is a reason why Lefever has been one of the most dominant pitchers in the NWC in 2016, assistant coach Bob Castle said.

“It goes back to how hard coach Brown works with the pitchers and catchers to focus on working pitch by pitch,” Castle said.

With the regular season NWC championship in their possession, the Pirates have the upper hand as they will host the NWC tournament as the No. 1 seed. The tournament will open on Friday, April 22 at 9 a.m. as the Pirates take on the No. 4 seed Pacific Boxers.

Max Carter

Staff Writer

Golf plays Spring Classic

After a career-best round of four-under par 68 on Saturday at Wine Valley Golf Club in Walla Walla, senior Austin Billeter followed with a solid two-over par round of 74 on Sunday to finish in sole possession of third place. Billeter’s performance gave him sole possession of first-place after day one, and helped lead the Whitworth men to a second place team finish, falling short of Willamette by only one stroke. In addition to the good showing by the men’s team, the women had a solid fourth place finish, largely in thanks to an opening round of four-over par 76 from senior Chelsea Bayley. Junior Michal Schuster closed out the weekend well, carding a five-over par 77 for the women on Sunday, the Bucs’ only sub-80 round on day two.

For the men, senior Andrew Dodge fired a bogey free five-under par 67 for the low round of the day Sunday, bolstering the strong Sunday efforts from Billeter and senior Oliver Rudnicki, who carded a round of one-under par 71 on day 2. According to head golf coach Warren Friedrichs, the competition is strong this season and the Northwest Conference Championship in Sunriver, Oregon will be a true test.

“We knew it would be close, Willamette is tough this year,” Friedrichs said. “Crosswater will test all phases of your game. It’s a really good course, but we’ll have to be on top of our game.”

Before the Pirates head to Sunriver, Oregon for the NWC Tournament, they will first try and get some hardware in Bend, Oregon at the Willamette Spring Thaw. That will be a big tournament for the men, who are looking to establish their dominance over their close rivals--and the hosts of the tournament--the Willamette Bearcats.

As it stands, the men’s team is tied with Willamette for first place in the Northwest Conference. As far as conference points go, the only remaining event is the NWC Tournament at Crosswater Golf Club. Both Willamette and Whitworth sit at the top with 15 points.

Max Carter

Multimedia Specialist

Pirates enter World War meet

The Whitworth men’s and women’s track and field teams competed at the Northwest Scoring Clash (World War 9) meet this past weekend hosted by Spokane Falls Community College where the Pirates took four event victories. The ninth-annual meet featured 21 schools from Washington competing against programs from Idaho, Oregon and Montana of all three NCAA divisions and NAIA.

The men’s team had two first place finishes from sophomore Andrew Bloom in the javelin and senior Corey Burt in the shot put event.

For the third week in a row, Bloom set a new personal record and took a victory over 30 other competitors.

“I always pray and visualize right before I throw,” Bloom said. “I talk to my coach between each throw for pointers.”

Bloom set a new Whitworth record mark of 219’ 2” breaking the previous 216’ 10” record set in 2011. This season, his throw is currently best in the nation.

“I try not to think so much about the rankings and scores because all that really matters is how I do at conference and nationals,” Bloom said. “The rankings aren’t too important until you get there, but I am happy that I am [setting personal records]”.

In the shot put, Burt finished in first place out of 23 opponents with a mark of 53’ 7.5”. Burt also took second place in the discus with a 46.16 m throw.

Sophomore John-Robert Woolley set a new personal best time of 54.10 with a fifth place finish in the 400-meter hurdles event.

“[John-Robert Woolley] has been really consistent and running close to his lifetime best all year,” senior decathlete Lucas McGill said. “Usually he is one of the fastest guys but this meet was huge so he got to run with better competition and had a really good race.”

The women’s team also had two first place finishes and six top five finishes.

“A lot of people got really close to getting conference qualifying marks, a lot of people came close to season best, a lot of people got season best, and we had some national caliber marks across the board,” senior Katie McKay said.

With a time of 11:11.43, senior Kellyn Roiko posted a first place finish in the women’s 3,000-meter steeplechase.

In the 800-meter event, sophomore Kayla Leland took a first place victory over 35 other competitors and posted a season-best time of 2:11.82.

Six Pirate athletes returned to action  to compete in the NWC Combined Championships. The group of six consists of seniors McGill, Olivia Newman, Ally McConnell, junior Dane Larson, sophomore Kayla Brase and freshman Thomas Harshaw. The Pirates will also host the Whitworth Twilight Invite, beginning on Thursday April 14.

Jordanne Perry

Staff Writer

Women’s tennis gets closer to NWC tournament bid

Still in the running for an NWC tournament berth, the women’s tennis team defeated conference opponents, the Pacific University Boxers, 7-2 last Saturday but fell to non-conference Lewis-Clark St. 5-4 on Sunday. The Pirates improved to 4-6 in the NWC and are now 5-11 overall. The Bucs swept doubles to begin the match, giving them a 3-0 lead over the Boxers. Junior Anabelle Burns and freshman Emma Jo Wiley won by a decisive 8-1 margin at No. 2 doubles. But both the No. 1 and No. 3 doubles matches came down to the wire. On court 1, junior Bella Hoyos and sophomore Jenny Adams won their match 8-6 while court 3 featured a 9-7 victory for senior KC McConnell and freshman Paige Rohrbach.

Junior Ashley Winslow was the first to finish in singles play. Winslow grabbed the quick win, going 6-2 and 6-0. Pacific scored their only two points on courts 2 and 3 against Wiley and Adams, respectively. However, Burns’ 6-0, 6-2 victory decided the match, giving Whitworth an insurmountable 5-1 lead.

“My goal for singles was just to try and stay energized from the beginning,” Burns said. “I think I was able to place the ball really well and move her around more, which gave me the opportunity to get a winner.”

The Pirates ended the day with a 7-2 win over the Boxers.

Sunday’s non-conference match against Lewis-Clark St. gave the Bucs a chance to try out some new combinations in doubles. Hoyos and McConnell made short work of their opponents on court 1 with an 8-2 win.

“I thought we played really well right from the beginning,” McConnell said. “We started out on fire, hit a lot of good shots, and made our opponents just play a lot of balls. We were really excited to play together too. It was a good match up.”

No. 2 doubles team, Wiley and Adams sustained a narrow 8-6 loss, but the Pirates came out on top after Rohrbach and Winslow won 9-7 on court 3.

In singles, Hoyos got up early with a 2-1 lead in her first set, but could not recover after losing the next four games and eventually fell to her opponent 7-5 and 6-4. McConnell defeated her counterpart 6-3, 6-2 on court 4 and No. 6 Rohrbach went to a third set to win hers 6-1, 4-6, and 10-2.

Despite the strong showing, the Bucs ended up losing to Lewis-Clark St. 5-4. Although, this loss does not affect the Pirates’ chances of getting into post-season play. Whitworth will travel to Tacoma next weekend to play Pacific Lutheran, Saturday and Puget Sound on Sunday. The Bucs must win both matches in order to earn the final NWC tournament bid.

“We are cautiously optimistic,” head coach Rachel Aldridge said. “The two teams we play next weekend are solid competitors, so we can’t look past them, but we are definitely playing much better tennis than we were at the front of our season. Whatever the results are, I feel strongly about us competing to the best of our abilities next weekend.”

Caleb Mathena

Staff Writer

Freshmen pitchers prove their talent on the diamond

Losing senior leadership in any sport can be a challenge. For the Whitworth baseball team, the graduation of last year’s seniors did not just mean losing a few mentors. It meant losing its entire starting rotation and some key pieces of its bullpen. However, a trio of freshmen in Ryan Kingma, Hugh Smith and Tim Bever have come in and filled the massive holes left after last year’s graduation.

Pitching coach CJ Perry describes the team’s recruiting focus in attempting to replace the starting rotation filled with seniors who had accumulated multiple First and Second Team All-NWC accolades in addition to a handful of Honorable Mentions.

“We were just looking for guys that could compete and we would take two guys to match one guy’s production,” Perry said.

The coaches sought to find people who could compete and collectively match the production.

Going into the year, the Whitworth coaching staff was pretty happy with where they stood as far as pitching recruits. But good recruiting does not always equal success.

For freshmen pitchers it is difficult to tell how they will perform. Sometimes recruits never pan out or for others it takes a few years, Perry said.

Fortunately, Whitworth’s young pitching additions seem to have college pitching figured out pretty well so far. Smith and Kingma, have filled slots in the starting rotation while Bever has seen significant time out of the bullpen.

But none of these pitchers necessarily fit the mold of power and dominance that came before them. Instead, they are playing to their personal strengths.

Bever defines his pitching style as that of a junk baller.

“I throw a lot of curveballs and changes to keep opposing hitters off balanced,” Bever said.

The Redondo Beach, California native has been a major help as a long reliever, allowing the Pirates to keep their bullpen fresh all year. Despite only making one start and four other appearances, Bever has logged an impressive 24.33 innings with an impressive 2.22 earned run average.

Kingma on the other hand embraces the role of a crafty lefty. The freshman from Bellevue, Washington knows he is not going to overpower opposing hitters. Instead, he focuses in on hitting the edges of the strike zone. In his first season, Kingma has already accumulated six wins, tying him for second in the NWC in that category.

One of the biggest surprises for the Pirates has been 6’7” freshman Hugh Smith. Initially working out of the bullpen, Smith quickly established himself as a force to be reckoned with and moved into the starting rotation.

“He is so long and the arm is so loose that the fastball jumps,” Perry said describing Smith’s style.

His height and velocity combine to really shorten the distance between the pitcher’s mound and the plate. So much so that Smith has an impressive WHIP (walks, hit by pitches, and hits per inning) of 1.01 and ranks second in the Northwest Conference in earned run average at 1.99.

Collectively, all of Whitworth baseball’s freshman class pitchers have posted a 13-3 record. It will be interesting to watch how these freshmen respond to the pressure of crunch time as the conference tournament and postseason play are approaching rapidly.

Matt Spencer

Staff Writer

Softball wins final away games

Whitworth’s softball team won the last three games of its series at Puget Sound in Tacoma after losing the first game 11-7. The Pirates (22-9 overall) continue to have success in Northwest Conference play as they currently hold a three game lead for first place. The weekend started out with a 11-7 loss in which Whitworth allowed  the highest amount of runs against of the season. Puget Sound put up seven runs through two innings, capitalizing on a couple defensive errors. The Loggers also hit two home runs early to the game one win.

Whitworth bounced back and went on to claim game two, 6-0, followed by doubleheader victories on Sunday with 2-0 and 8-1 wins. The difference between the first game and those that followed were defense and pitching.

Junior Makayla Lefever (13-3) collected victories in games 2 and 3 pitching 14 straight innings without a run surrendering a run and allowing only five total hits and two walks.

This strong performance came after those seven runs in game 1.

“I knew my team had my back. I was not thinking too much about [the first game] because I know we could come back from it,” Lefever said.

The Whitworth pitching staff had help throughout the weekend. Softball coach Cristal Brown was happy with the way the team settled down after the first defeat. Brown also credited the players for making adjustments between games 1 and 2.

“They talked amongst themselves and figured it out as a team,” Brown said.

Michelle Silva played a key role in turning things around for Whitworth. The sophomore third baseman had a home run and a double in game two and drove in the only two runs on a fourth inning double during game three.

“It meant a lot. Losing the first game was hard, and it was really cool to see us come together and pick each other up. We came out and played hard,” Silva said.

In the last game, junior Shannon Wessel helped produce run support for Whitworth. Wessel went two for four on the day with a three-run home run in the fifth inning to help break the game open.

For Wessel and her teammates, the weekend signified the team’s ability to work together after a tough loss.

“I think today was about all of us playing for each other. We have put a lot of hard work into the season and it’s getting down to crunch time,” Wessel said.

Next weekend, Whitworth (14-6 NWC) will take on Pacific Lutheran (11-9 NWC) here in Spokane. The dual doubleheaders on Saturday and Sunday will each start at noon.

Matt Spencer

Staff Writer

Track team competes at Sam Adams Classic

The track and field teams competed in the 11th Annual Sam Adams Classic and both claimed victories over five of the six opponents besides Washington State University in a dual meet scoring match-up this past weekend. “We usually get about 75-80 percent of the whole team qualified for [the NWC Championships]. Some years we even get 90 percent,” head coach Toby Schwarz said. In the Northwest Conference, both the men’s and women’s team beat Pacific Lutheran with overall scores of 105-53 and 119-40, respectively.

“Qualifying for conference is one of my main goals and I think the goal of a lot of people on the team,” sophomore Madeline Cook said. Cook, who competed in the 800-meter dash and 4x400 relay,  is “always wanting to improve and keep getting better.”

The women, who are currently No. 18 in the nation, had strong top-two NWC Championship qualifying finishes in the 800-meter run with sophomore Kayla Leland’s first place time of 2:16.06 and senior Katie McKay’s second place 2:16.52 finish.

The Pirate’s 4x100 meter relay team, consisting of junior Maggie Callan, senior Tiara Pajimola and sophomores Kathryn Jentz and Paige Wolter finished in second place with a time of 49.48 behind Washington State.

Senior Christina Dobbins placed fourth in the women’s high jump with a season-best and qualifying height of 5’ .25”. Dobbins also placed within the top six of the women’s long jump with a 16’ 6” jump to tie her season best and is currently qualified for the NWC Championships in three events.

“We really feel that the women’s team is going to win conference,” Schwarz said. “Today was a great example of what we’ve got.”

The men’s team had top-two finishes in the 400-meter dash from freshman Jalen Robinson-McClure and senior Nicholas Gosselin who tied with a time of 49.48. This season best time for Gosselin and personal best time for Robinson-McClure were NWC qualifying marks.

In the 110-meter hurdles event, sophomore John-Robert Woolley posted a NWC qualifying mark and third place finish with a time of 15.44. Woolley would also finish second in the 400-meter hurdles (54.85).

The current first place pole vault competitor in the NWC, junior Everett Kleven, finished the pole vault event in second place with a jump of 15‘5“.

“I did two events for the first time (triple jump and pole vault),” Kleven said. “I think that kind of threw me off because I was expecting a first place finish [in pole vault] today but it’s pretty comforting to know that I can go all the way to nationals now since I’m qualified.”

Overall Whitworth had over 20 athletes post new NWC qualifying marks in various events.

“Hopefully we get people healthier and see even more improvement,” Schwarz said. “I also want to see more people get qualified, go to both the men’s and women’s conference championships and win, and get as many people to nationals as possible.”

The team will return to action at World War #8 beginning on April 8, hosted by Spokane Falls Community College.

 

Jordanne Perry

Staff Writer

Golf teams say goodbye to nine graduating athletes

With six seniors on the Whitworth men’s golf team and three for the women, an unusually large group will look to finish off a superb four years. The Senior Six

When Whitworth head golf coach Warren Friedrichs entered the recruiting season in the spring of 2012, he didn’t expect the talent of the commits that the men’s golf team received. Since then, one member graduated, while another made the decision to focus on academics.

With a roster bolstered by six seniors, five of which have experience in the D-III national championship, the Pirates will look to put the finishing touches on an eventful four years. The senior six, consisting of Austin Billeter, Andrew Dodge, Ryan Hodl, Tyler McQuilkin, Lyle Rudnicki and Oliver Rudnicki, have racked up NWC championships in 2012-2013 and 2014-2015. Strong leadership over the last three to four years has enabled the Bucs to excel, and much of that can be attributed to the example set by Jesse Salzwedel, ‘14 and the contributions of Samson Martinez, ‘16, who graduated last spring in only three years.

“I became pretty close with Jesse sophomore year,” McQuilkin said. “It was a great experience because he was a good leader as far as being a student-athlete. We would talk a lot about how to manage group projects, plus all of your homework and then also take care of practice, while still being a good teammate.”

While at Whitworth, Salzwedel and Martinez were not only successful golfers, but were superior students as well, setting the bar high for future generations of Pirate golfers. That example has clearly paid off for Friedrichs and his seniors, taking the meaning of “student-athlete” to a new level in the golf program.

“The academics have been awesome,” Friedrichs said. “We had our highest team GPA last fall, a 3.59 cumulative with everybody on the team.”

As the class of 2016 nears the finish line, the six seniors will compete in their final months as a team, and it seems, a brotherhood. That said, golf aside, the Pirate men have prepared themselves well for a bright future beyond their college golf careers.

A Passing of the Torch

Coming off a third place finish in the 2014-2015 NWC conference championships, the Whitworth women’s golf team will look to achieve more success this spring, led by seniors Chelsea Bayley, Yvonne LaCoursiere and Cindy Tapia.

That being said, there is a torch to be passed, as junior Michal Schuster will be the lone senior on the roster in the fall of 2016. As Schuster begins to prepare herself for an increased leadership role, Tapia wants to encourage her to remember to keep the team loose and having fun.

“Golf is really easy to get tired of and it’s not always fun,” Tapia said. “I think it’s important to remember that at the end of the day, it’s about the friendships and the relationships that you make.”

While Tapia fills the role of the fun-loving, relaxed leader, Bayley and LaCoursiere provide leadership from their own unique angles.

“They all bring a lot of different perspectives, which is good,” Schuster said. “Chelsea is really intense and competitive, Cindy puts forth the fun atmosphere and Yvonne is steady and constant; she’s the thinker.”

The three contrasting leadership styles have struck a balance that has felt very comfortable, Schuster said. Heading into the 2016-2017 season, Schuster hopes to continue to build on what the class of ‘16 has established.

“I would really like to try and continue the legacy that they’ve built by pulling on each of their different influences,” Schuster said. “I want make sure all of the incoming freshmen get to experience those balanced perspectives as well.”

 

Max Carter

Staff Writer

Track & Field Sam Adams 2016 Meet Update

The ranked Whitworth men’s and women’s track and field teams competed in the 11th Annual Sam Adams Classic and both claimed victories over five of the six opponents besides Washington State University in a dual meet scoring match-up this past weekend. In the Northwest Conference, both the men’s and women’s team bested the Pacific Lutheran Lutes with overall scores of 105-53 and 119-40, respectively.

The women, who are currently ranked 18th in the nation, had strong top-two NWC Championship qualifying finishes in the 800-meter run with sophomore Kayla Leland’s first place time of 2:16.06 and senior Katie McKay’s second place 2:16.52 finish currently seeding them in 19th and 22nd place in the nation, respectively.

The men’s team, currently ranked No. 11 nationally, had top-two finishes in the 400-meter dash from freshman Jalen Robinson-McClure and senior Nicholas Gosselin who tied with a time of 49.48. This season best time for Gosselin and personal best time for Robinson-McClure were qualifying marks for both of them.

Another top performance featured sophomore Andrew Bloom, the current leader the nation in the javelin event, who greatly improved his leading mark by over three feet with a throw of 213' 2" landing him in a first place finish over 19 other competitors.

Overall Whitworth won five events, had 20 athletes finish in the top three places, and over 20 athletes post NWC qualifying marks in various events.

Whitworth track and field will return to action at World War #8 beginning on April 8th hosted by Spokane Falls Community College.

 

Jordanne Perry

Staff Writer

Women's Tennis 4/2/16 update

Whitworth women’s tennis claimed a 7-2 victory against the visiting George Fox Bruins, putting them back in the running for post-season play. The Pirates swept the Bruins in doubles. Junior Bella Hoyos and sophomore Jennifer Adams dominated their George Fox counterparts 8-2. Junior Anabelle Burns and freshman Emma Joe Wiley, the #2 doubles team, won their match 8-6 after a comeback in the sixth game. The #3 duo, freshman Paige Rohrbach and senior KC McConnell also surged back from a substantial deficit late in the match, outscoring their opponents in four straight games to win 9-7.

George Fox answered back, claiming two singles matches. #1 Hoyos lost 6-3, 6-2 and #4 McConnell 7-5, 6-1. But #2 Wiley, #3 Adams, #5 Burns, and #6 Rohrbach all won.

The Bucs improved to 3-5 in conference while the Bruins fell to 4-3. Whitworth faces conference leader, Lewis & Clark at home on Sunday at 11 a.m.

 

Caleb Mathena

Staff Writer

 

Softball 4/2/16 recap

Whitworth dropped the first game to Puget Sound, 11-7. The Pirates fell behind quickly, 7-0, after two short innings of play behind two key Logger homeruns and a couple of errors. While Whitworth was able to rally back to within two runs, they did not complete the comeback. In the afternoon game, the Pirates went 6-0 behind the strong pitching of junior Makayla Lefever. Lefever only allowed three baserunners in the game en route to her 12th victory. Sophomore Michelle Silva had a big day at the plate with both a home run and a double in game two. Whitworth (20-9) plays a doubleheader tomorrow to close out the series at Puget Sound. The first game starts at 12 p.m.

Matt Spencer

Staff Writer