INDIANA BOYS BASKETBALL STATE FINALS (SATURDAY)
CLASS A: LUTHERAN VS. SOUTHWOOD, 10:30 A.M.
CLASS 2A: FW BLACKHAWK CHRISTIAN VS. LINTON-STOCKTON, 12:45 P.M.
CLASS 3A: GUERIN CATHOLIC VS. NORTHWOOD, 6 P.M.
CLASS 4A: BEN DAVIS VS. KOKOMO, 8:15 P.M.
FINALS PREVIEW: https://www.ihsaa.org/sites/default/files/documents/2022-23%20Boys%20Basketball%20Preview.pdf
INDIANA SOFTBALL SCORES
CREEK WOOD 6 FLOYD CENTRAL 1
FLOYD CENTRAL 4 SMYRNA 2
SOUTH SPENCER 12 WASHINGTON 8
WESTERN BOONE 16 SHERIDAN 0
CATHEDRAL 15 INDIANAPOLIS LUTHERAN 11
FLOYD CENTRAL 11 OAKLAND 2
GIBSON SOUTHERN 13 MIDDLE TENNESSEE CHRISTIAN 1
MEN’S COLLEGE BASKETBALL- NCAA TOURNAMENT
THURSDAY, MARCH 23 (SWEET 16)
KANSAS STATE 98 MICHIGAN STATE 93 OT
UCONN 88 ARKANSAS 65
FLORIDA ATLANTIC 62 TENNESSEE 55
GONZAGA 79 UCLA 76
BOX SCORES: http://hosted.stats.com/cbk/scoreboard.asp
FRIDAY, MARCH 24 (SWEET 16)
NO. 1 ALABAMA VS. NO. 5 SAN DIEGO STATE | 6:30 P.M. | TBS
NO. 1 HOUSTON VS. NO. 4 MIAMI | 7:15 P.M. | CBS
NO. 6 CREIGHTON VS. NO. 15 PRINCETON | 9 P.M. | TBS
NO. 2 TEXAS VS. NO. 3 XAVIER | 9:45 P.M. | CBS
WOMEN’S COLLEGE BASKETBALL SWEET 16 SCHEDULE
FRIDAY, MARCH 24 — SWEET 16
NO. 4 VILLANOVA VS. NO. 9 MIAMI | 2:30 P.M.| ESPN
NO. 2 UTAH VS. NO. 3 LSU | 5 P.M. | ESPN
NO. 2 IOWA VS. NO. 6 COLORADO |7:30 P.M. | ESPN
NO. 5 LOUISVILLE VS. NO. 8 OLE MISS | 10 P.M. | ESPN
SATURDAY, MARCH 25 — SWEET 16
NO. 2 MARYLAND VS. NO. 3 NOTRE DAME | 11:30 A.M. | ESPN
NO.1 SOUTH CAROLINA VS. NO. 4 UCLA| 2:00 P.M.| ESPN
NO. 2 UCONN VS. NO. 3 OHIO STATE |4 P.M. | ABC
NO. 1 VIRGINIA TECH VS. NO. 4 TENNESSEE | 6:30 P.M. | ESPN2
ORLANDO 111 NEW YORK 106
CLEVELAND 116 BROOKLYN 114
NEW ORLEANS 115 CHARLOTTE 96
LA CLIPPERS 127 OKLAHOMA CITY 105
BOX SCORES: http://hosted.stats.com/nba/scoreboard.asp
PHILADELPHIA 5 MINNESOTA 4
BOSTON 4 MONTRÉAL 2
NY RANGERS 2 CAROLINA 1
ST. LOUIS 4 DETROIT 3
TORONTO 6 FLORIDA 2
OTTAWA 7 TAMPA BAY 2
WASHINGTON 6 CHICAGO 1
NASHVILLE 2 SEATTLE 1
VEGAS 3 CALGARY 2
DALLAS 3 PITTSBURGH 2
WINNIPEG 3 ANAHEIM 2
VANCOUVER 7 SAN JOSE 2
BOX SCORES: http://hosted.stats.com/nhl/scoreboard.asp
MAJOR LEAGUE BASEBALL SCOREBOARD
SAN FRANCISCO 6 CHICAGO WHITE SOX 3
CHICAGO CUBS 11 ARIZONA 1
MILWAUKEE 4 SAN DIEGO 2
SAN DIEGO 6 KANSAS CITY 3
ARIZONA 11 LA DODGERS 5
SEATTLE 17 CINCINNATI 6
OAKLAND 7 TEXAS 6
CLEVELAND 10 SAN FRANCISCO 0
TORONTO 3 MINNESOTA 0
NY METS 2 ATLANTA 2
PHILADELPHIA 4 DETROIT 1
BOSTON 7 PITTSBURGH 4
NY YANKEES 1 ST. LOUIS 1
DETROIT 8 BALTIMORE 8
HOUSTON 5 WASHINGTON 4
BOX SCORES: http://hosted.stats.com/mlb/scoreboard.asp
TOP INDIANA (RELEASES)
LAWRENCE CENTRAL COACH AL GOODEN STEPS DOWN
After nine season at Lawrence Central, Coach Al Gooden has stepped down. Gooden has won over 500 games in his career and went 133-79 at LC, and won a state crown at FW Harding.
In 35 seasons, Gooden compiled a 525-307 record with 13 sectional titles, nine regional championships, five semi-state titles and one state title.
GAME PREVIEW: PACERS AT CELTICS
If the first two games were any indication, the regular season finale between the Indiana Pacers and Boston Celtics could prove another classic. But this time around, with just nine games left on the schedule, a win could mean a little more for either team.
The Pacers (33-40) will make stop No. 3 of their four-game road trip on Friday when they take on the Celtics (50-23) at TD Garden.
As of Wednesday night, the Pacers were 1.5 games back of 10th place in the Eastern Conference standings. Seeds one through six will automatically make the playoffs while seven through 10 advance to the Play-In.
The Chicago Bulls (34-47) were in 10th on Wednesday, while spots nine through six were occupied by the Toronto Raptors (35-38), Atlanta Hawks (36-36), Miami Heat (39-34) and Brooklyn Nets (39-33). Out of those teams, the Pacers will just play just one of them – the Hawks this Saturday – before the regular season ends.
Boston enter the game with the second-best record in the East, trailing the Milwaukee Bucks (52-20), but are just a half game ahead of the Philadelphia 76ers (49-23).
PLAYOFF PICTURE: Track the Latest Standings, Remaining Schedules, and More >>
If Indiana beats Boston, it will be the first season series won by the Pacers over the Celtics since the 2013-2014 campaign.
The teams are 1-1 thus far, with both teams winning on the road. The Pacers won 117-112 on Dec. 21 but Celtics took an overtime win, 142-138, on Feb. 23.
Indiana comes into the matchup off an impressive, season-sweeping win over the Raptors.
Rookies Andrew Nembhard and Bennedict Mathurin, who are both from Canada, shined in the win. Nembhard scored 25 points to go along with 10 assists – including making the game-clinching 3-pointers in the 35 seconds – and Mathurin scored 15 points in his second game back from injury.
The Pacers shot 55.8 percent from the field while holding the Raptors to 43.8 percent overall and 20.6 percent from 3-point range. Six Pacers players scored in double figures.
Nembhard, the 31st overall pick in the 2022 draft, has been superb in the last six games with All-Star point guard Tyrese Haliburton out with a sprained ankle, averaging 17.9 points, 6.3 assists and 2.2 rebounds per game. The rookie has scored at least 22 points in four of his last five games.
Haliburton and Chris Duarte are both questionable heading into the game against Boston.
Despite going 5-5 over their last 10 games, Boston has been among the best teams in the league all season. The Celtics started the season 21-5 before going into the All-Star break with a record of 42-17.
Boston is led by the familiar star tandem of Jayson Tatum and Jaylen Brown. This season, the two have each scored 30 points or more in the same game nine times, which is the most by any duo over the last 30 years outside Kobe Bryant and Shaquille O’Neal (10 in 2000-2001, 12 in 2002-2003).
Tatum is averaging 30.1 points per game on 45.9 percent shooting, 8.9 rebounds and 4.7 assists while Brown is putting up 26.7 points on 49.2 percent shooting, 6.9 rebounds and 3.4 assists this season.
Boston also boasts the reigning Defensive Player of the Year in Marcus Smart as well as Pacer point guard Malcolm Brogdon, who is considered one of the leading contenders for this year’s Sixth Man of the Year award.
The Celtics come into their game against Indiana with a Tuesday road win over the Sacramento Kings (43-29). Tatum scored 36 points in the game and Brown had 27.
In both games between the Pacers and Celtics this season, at least one player has scored more than 40 points while a player on the opposite team has dropped 30-plus points. In game one, a Pacers win, Haliburton scored 33 points and Tatum had 41. The second game saw Pacers center Myles Turner drop 40 and Tatum register 31.
After taking on the Celtics, the Pacers will conclude their four-game road trip at the Hawks on Saturday.
Pacers: G – Andrew Nembhard, G – Buddy Hield, F – Bennedict Mathurin, F – Aaron Nesmith, C – Myles Turner
Celtics: G – Marcus Smart, G – Derrick White, F – Jayson Tatum, F – Jaylen Brown, C – Al Horford
Pacers: Chris Duarte – questionable (sore left ankle), Tyrese Haliburton – questionable (sprained right ankle), Kendall Brown – out (right tibia stress fracture)
Celtics: Jaylen Brown – available (facial fracture/face mask), Payton Pritchard – doubtful (left heel pain), Danilo Gallinari – out (left knee ACL repair)
Feb. 23, 2023:In the first game following the All-Star break, the fans at Gainbridge FIeldhouse were treated to an offensive showcase.
Unfortunately for the supporters of the Blue & Gold, the Pacers came out on the wrong side of a 142-138 overtime loss to the then-first place Celtics.
The teams were tied at 138 in overtime before Tatum hit a pair of free throws and then tipped-in a basket off the glass with 10 seconds remaining to help secure the win.
In all, there were 17 lead changes in the game.
Tatum scored 31 points while pulling down 12 rebounds to lead the Celtics, Brown added 30 points and 11 rebounds and Brogdon had 24 points off the bench. Turner led all scorers by matching his career-high of 40 points (13-for-15 FG), Haliburton collected 22 points and 14 assists and Mathurin came off the bench and scored 19 points.
Overall, the Pacers finished one 3-pointer shy of tying the franchise record for shots made from deep in a game by going 22-for-39.
Indiana outshot Boston 52 percent to 51 percent and made four more 3-pointers than the visitors. However, the Celtics won the rebounding margin 50-37 and points in the paint difference 60-44.
Boston owns the all-time regular season series over Indiana 105-83, including a 65-28 record at home.
Indiana has a record of 5-8 on the first legs of back-to-backs this season.
Nembhard moved into third place for most assists by a Pacers rookie in a season on Wednesday, passing Sidney Lowe (269, 1983-1984). Nembhard currently has 272 assists and trails just Chuck Person (295, 1986-1987) and Jamaal Tinsley (647, 2001-2002) in the Pacers rookie record book.
Mathurin, who played most of the season off the bench, has started the last two games for the Pacers since returning from an ankle injury.
Broadcast Information (TV and Radio Listings >>)
TV: Bally Sports Indiana – Chris Denari (play-by-play), Quinn Buckner (analyst), Jeremiah Johnson (sideline reporter/host)
Radio: 93.5/107.5 The Fan – Mark Boyle (play-by-play), Eddie Gill (analyst), Pat Boylan (studio host)
BASEBALL GAMEDAY: HOST OHIO STATE
BLOOMINGTON, Ind. – On an 11-game home winning streak entering the weekend, the Indiana baseball program will open Big Ten play by hosting Ohio State at Bart Kaufman Field in a three-game series. The Hoosiers and Buckeyes have shifted the first pitch of the series opener to 4 p.m on Friday (March 24).
Indiana (14-7) has won four straight games and nine of its last 10 contests, while Ohio State (12-7) enters with a 9-2 record in the month of March. IU has swept each of its last two weekend series with four wins over Bellarmine and three against Morehead State, while Ohio State swept Cal State Bakersfield on the road two weeks ago and too both games of a weather-shortened weekend series with Dayton last weekend.
Indiana and Ohio State will meet for the 287th time since the first encounter in 1902. Ohio State holds the all-time edge in the series, but Indiana has won 19 of the last 28 meetings. MORE ON PAGE 3
The Hoosiers have won the first 11 games at home in 2023, which marks the longest home winning streak in Bart Kaufman Field history and the longest to start a home season since 19 straight home wins in 1987.
Indiana placed four student-athletes on the All-Big Ten Freshman Team in 2022 and redshirt-junior Matthew Ellis was named third-team All-B1G by the conference coaches.
Sophomore Carter Mathison has played in 80 career games and has 74 career RBIs over that span to go along with 22 home runs.
Sophomore Luke Sinnard struck out 13 Morehead State batters in his start last Friday to earn his third win of the season and earn national honors for his outing. MORE ON PAGE 8
Senior Hunter Jessee carried a 34-game reached base streak between the 2022 and 2023 seasons, which marked a career long for the left-handed hitter and the second longest such streak since at least 2005.
Jessee posted his second career multi home run game versus Miami (Ohio) with a first inning home run to right field and a seventh inning shot to the opposite field. His first came against Kentucky in 2022.
Indiana’s pitching staff posted a program record 600 strikeouts in 2022. That mark ranks No. 2 in Big Ten history, behind Iowa’s 602 punchouts in 2022, as well. MORE ON PAGE 8
Head coach Jeff Mercer became the eighth IU skipper to reach 100 victories in the cream and crimson with a series finale win at Auburn on February 19, 2023. FULL BIO ON PAGE 18
Scouting the Opponent
Ohio State enters the weekend with a 12-7 overall record after splitting a pair of midweek games.
The Buckeyes are 9-2 since the calendar turned to March, with wins over Mississippi State and Oklahoma at the Frisco Classic and a three-game sweep of Cal State Bakersfield.
As a team, OSU is hitting .284 with 7.5 runs per game with 112 walks entering the opening weekend of Big Ten play, a total that ranks No. 2 in the conference.
At the plate, graduate student Cole Andrews paces the Buckeyes with a .391 average and is one of four everyday hitters over .300 entering the weekend.
Junior Kade Kern continues to be a do-it-all player for OSU with a .324 average, 20 runs scored, four home runs, 17 RBIs, 17 walks and seven stolen bases.
On the mound, Isaiah Coupet leads the Big Ten in ERA entering conference play at 1.08 over 25 innings of work in four starts. He also ranks No. 1 in the B1G and No. 12 nationally in WHIP (0.80).
There have been 286 meetings in the series since the teams first met during the 1902 season, with the 2023 Big Ten Opening Weekend series the first meeting since the 2021 conference-only season.
Ohio State leads the overall series, 167-119, with Indiana winning 19 of the last 28 meetings between the two programs.
In 18 of the last 23 meetings, IU and OSU has met in either Columbus, Ohio, or at a neutral site, including 11 straight meetings outside of Bloomington between 2015-21.
Over the last 25 meetings between the two programs, a team has reached double-digit runs in just one of those contests, an 11-3 win by Indiana in the 2013 Big Ten Tournament at Target Field in Minneapolis.
Of the 286 previous meetings, 166 have been decided by three-or-fewer runs, with 77 of those decided by one run. Ohio State is 44-33 in one-run games in the series.
Only 14 games in the all-time series were decided by 10-plus runs, the last a 13-3 IU win in 2009.
INDIANA SOFTBALL OPENS CONFERENCE PLAY AGAINST NO. 22 TERRAPINS
BLOOMINGTON, Ind. – Indiana softball (19-9) begins Big Ten play against the No. 22 ranked Maryland Terrapins at Andy Mohr Field with a double header on Saturday. The teams are scheduled to close out the series on Sunday at noon.
LAST TIME OUT
Indiana extended their winning streak to 12 games with a 4-0 weekend at the Memphis tournament.
The Hoosiers swept the two-game series against Northwestern State and Memphis last weekend at the Tigers Softball Complex.
Freshman Taryn Kern had nine hits with a .643 batting avg., eight runs, two doubles, three walks, three home runs and 12 RBI with a 1.429 slugging percentage at the Lady Bison Classic.
Brianna Copeland improved to 9-0 from inside the circle, picking up three wins. Offensively, she totaled five hits, two runs, two doubles, one home run and five RBI.
SCOUTING THE OPPONENT
No. 22 ranked Maryland (22-5) is at the top of the leaderboard in the Big Ten as we begin conference play.
The Terps hosted the Capital City Classic where they went 3-1 on the weekend picking up wins against North Dakota, Bucknell while splitting the series against Texas Tech.
Jaeda McFarland leads the Terps offense with a .400 batting avg. with 34 hits, eight doubles, two triples, three home runs and 21 RBI on the season. She has also totaled 10 stolen bases on 14 attempts this season.
Trinity Schlotterbeck has started 12 games in the circle holding a 10-2 record. She boasts an ERA of 1.85 and has totaled 64.1 innings pitched.
Keira Bucher is 1-0 with nine saves from the mound. The freshman pitcher holds an ERA of 1.27 and 15 strikeouts.
The Terps are hitting .296 with 152 runs scored, 206 hits with 133 RBI.
Indiana leads the series against Maryland 13-7. The two teams last met on May 14-16, 2021 playing a four game series. IU took the first game 2-0, before the Terps won the double header 5-0 and 3-1. The Hoosiers bounced back on Sunday for a 3-2 win to end the series.
TARYN IT UP
Freshman Taryn Kern earns Big Ten Co-Player of the Week and Freshman of the Week for the second straight week.
She batted .667 on the week with an OPS of 2.735. She held an eye-popping slugging percentage of 1.917 and an on base percentage of .818 including four home runs, one double, one triple and 11 RBI.
The San Jose, Calif., native leads the team in home runs (9) and the Big Ten in five categories: slugging percentage (.910), OBS (.574), OPS (1.484), RBI (36) and HBP (9). She is also holds the second most runs scored (30) in the Big Ten.
Last week, Kern totaled eight hits with a .571 batting avg., eight runs, two doubles, three walks, three home runs and 12 RBI with a 1.429 slugging percentage at the Lady Bison Classic.
She leads the team with 32 RBI and nine home runs on the season heading into Big Ten play.
In her rookie debut, she tallied two hits, one RBI and seven assists in her rookie debut, and started in all five games for the Hoosiers at the TaxAct Clearwater Invitational facing four top-25 teams.
HOOSIER BATS ON FIRE
Indiana leads the Big Ten in batting with a .327 average on the season. The cream and crimson have totaled 223 hits, 49 doubles, five triples, and 31 home runs.
They have tallied 175 RBI along with 90 free passes and 46 hit by the pitch.
Sophomore Taylor Minnick leads the Hoosiers with eight doubles on the season.
On the season, she has totaled 26 hits, 27 RBI, eight doubles, four home runs and 10 walks.
The Bloomington, Ind. native, is approaching new career highs in every offensive category and currently holds a multi-hit game streak of five.
In her rookie year, she totaled 30 hits, eight doubles, five home runs and 24 RBI in her freshman season.
KINSEY ON THE LEADERBOARD
Sophomore Kinsey Mitchell ranks second in the league in hitting with an average of .451 just below Iowa’s Nia Carter as the Hoosiers begin conference play.
The New Palestine, Ind., native has totaled 23 hits, 13 runs and two doubles along with seven RBI.
She is also 7-7 on stolen base attempts with a .971 OPS percentage.
OUT OF THE PARK(ER)
Freshman Avery Parker hit her first career home run against Lipscomb. She added three more on the weekend, totaling eight RBI in Nashville, Tenn.
On the season, she holds a batting average of .300 with 15 hits. She has scored 13 runs, four doubles, one triple totaling 13 RBI.
COPELAND IN THE CIRCLE
Sophomore pitcher Brianna Copeland is 9-0 on the season boasting a 1.90 ERA with 62.2 innings pitched and 65 strikeouts.
At Memphis, she picked up three wins with a 1.11 ERA. Copeland pitched 12.2 innings, striking out 11 batters.
She threw her first career no-hitter against Prairie View A&M tallying a career-high ten strikeouts, along with no hits, one run and zero walks. After opening weekend, she has an era of .60 after pitching 11.2 innings and totaling 14 strikeouts.
Offensively, Copeland is hitting .338 with 24 hits and 17 free passes on the season. She has scored 17 runs totaling seven doubles, one triple, three home runs and 20 RBI.
THE NEXT 60 FEET:
The Hoosiers have gone 3,900 feet on the season as they totaled 65 stolen bases heading into conference play.
Indiana had 16 stolen bases at the Lady Bison Classic and added 10 more on their trip to Memphis.
IU’s eight stolen bases against IUPUI is the most in a game from a Big Ten school this season.
Nationally, Indiana ranks 21st in stolen bases and rank second in the Big Ten.
HOLMES NAMED 2023 WADE TROPHY FINALIST
ATLANTA – Senior forward Mackenzie Holmes is one of four finalists for the 2023 Wade Trophy, the Women’s Basketball Coaches Association announced today. The prestigious award is presented by the WBCA each year to the best player in college women’s basketball.
Holmes joins Aliyah Boston of South Carolina, Caitlin Clark of Iowa, and Maddy Siegrist of Villanova as the four finalists. Holmes is the second player in IU’s history to be named a finalist as Hall of Famer Denise Jackson was a finalist for the award in 1983 and 1984.
The Gorham, Maine native averaged a team-high 22.3 points, 7.3 rebounds, 1.9 blocks and is one of the nation’s most accurate shooters by going 68.0 percent from the floor. She is second in the nation and leading the Big Ten in field goal percentage, fifth in field goals made (281), sixth in points scored (692), and seventh in points per game (22.3). Holmes led the Hoosiers in scoring on 25 occasions this season while posting double figures in 31 games, scoring 20 points 19 times and three 30-point scoring efforts. Her nine double-doubles led the team, as six of her double-doubles occurred in conference play which ranks eighth all-time in a single season. She led the league in blocks (58) and blocks per game (1.9) and averages 1.1 steals (35) per game. She set a season-high five blocks against Nebraska and Michigan while recording multiple blocks in 14 games. Holmes is now in the top five in scoring in school history (1,897) and second in all-time blocks (208).
Other awards for Holmes this season included the program’s first Big Ten Defensive Player of the Year and is now a three-time All-Big Ten selection in her career. She has also been named a 2023 Lisa Leslie Award finalist and the first Hoosier to appear on the 2023 Wooden Award national ballot. She is also a candidate for a variety of other national player of the year awards including, 2023 Jersey Mike’s Naismith Trophy, 2023 Wade Trophy and 2023 USBWA Ann Meyers Drysdale Player of the Year.
The Wade Trophy — now in its 46th year — is the oldest and most prestigious national player of the year award in college women’s basketball. It is named in honor of the late, legendary Delta State University head coach Lily Margaret Wade, who won three consecutive national championships with the Lady Statesmen. First awarded in 1978 by the American Alliance for Health, Physical Education, Recreation and Dance (AAHPERD), now known as SHAPE America, the Wade Trophy has been presented to the WBCA NCAA Division I National Player of the Year since 2001.
PURDUE WOMEN’S GOLF
WOMEN’S GOLF REMAINS SOUTH, BACK TO ACTION IN GEORGIA
WEST LAFAYETTE, Ind. – After spending last weekend in the Sunshine State, Purdue Women’s Golf returns to competition by staying south. The Boilermakers join 14 other teams for the 51st annual Liz Murphey Collegiate Classic in Athens, Georgia.
Friday, March 24: Round 1 (Tee Times beginning at 8:30 a.m. ET)
Saturday, March 25: Round 2 (Tee Times beginning at 8:30 a.m. ET)
Sunday, March 26: Round 3 (Shotgun Start at 8:30 a.m. ET)
Ashley Kozlowski – Jr. (10:31 a.m. off No. 10)
Playing in her 24th tournament as a Boilermaker, including her seventh of the season
Holds a 74.4 stroke average this season after recording a 75.1 stroke average over 12 tournaments last season
Tied for 15th at last week’s FSU Match Up, the fourth Top-20 finish of her career
Named B1G Women’s Golfer of the Week (Feb. 15), becoming the first Boilermaker to earn the honor since 2019
Led Purdue to a win at the Tulane Classic, placing runner-up for the best finish of her career
Has recorded a team-best three eagles this season
2021-22 Academic All-Big Ten
Kan Bunnabodee – Sr. (10:22 a.m. off No. 10)
Appearing in her 23rd tournament as a Boilermaker
Tied for 15th at last week’s FSU Match Up, her best finish of the season and eighth Top 20 as a Boilermaker
Made her season debut at the Tulane Classic, tying for 17th to help Purdue capture the team title
Missed the entire fall due to injury
Earned First Team All-Big Ten accolades last season, becoming the first Boilermaker to earn first team honors since 2018
Ranked in the Top 100 of Golfstat’s national rankings throughout the 2021-22 season
2021-22 Academic All-Big Ten
Danielle du Toit – Sr. (10:13 a.m. ET off No. 10)
Has played in 41 tournaments as a Boilermaker, the most on the team, totaling 113 rounds
Leads the team in birdies (62) and ranks second on the team in stroke average (73.8)
Placed a career-best third to help Purdue win the Tulane Classic to start the spring
Tied for the team’s best performance at the Illini Invitational, placing 26th at 3-under (72-67-74—218)
Her 67 (-5) in the second round of the Illini Invitational matched a career low and was the best round of the season by a Boilermaker; it was also her 100th round at Purdue
Won a men’s tournament over the summer, capturing the IGA Challenge Tour’s Road to #5 at Akasia Golf Club in her home country of South Africa
Momo Sugiyama – So. (10:04 a.m. ET off No. 10)
Ranked No. 82 in Golfstat’s national rankings
Leads the team in scoring average (73.1) and pars (243)
Has led Purdue in four tournaments as a Boilermaker, including a fourth-place finish (75-74-69—218) at the Windy City Collegiate Classic
Has produced the lowest score nine out of 21 rounds this season, including a team-best four rounds in the 60s
Making her eighth appearance as a Boilermaker but playing in her 19th collegiate tournament
Transferred to Purdue after earning First Team All-Big West accolades as a freshman at Hawaii
Set new Hawaii single-season records for stroke average (73.40), rounds of par-or-better (13), birdies (85) and 54-hole score (211)
Jocelyn Bruch – R-So. (9:55 a.m. ET off No. 10)
Making her 16th appearance as a Boilermaker, including the sixth of the season
Led Purdue at The Show, tying for 31st at 6-over (75-71-76—222)
Fired a career-best 70 (-2) in the second round of the Illini Invitational before leading the Boilermakers in the final round with a 1-over 73
Holds a 75.1 stroke average after recording a 76.52 stroke average last season
Tied for ninth at the 2022 Michigan PGA Women’s Open over the summer, competing against professionals; her performance featured a hole-in-one during the opening round
2021-22 Academic All-Big Ten
College of Charleston
San Diego State
#4 South Carolina
#9 Texas A&M
One of the oldest sporting events in all of women’s intercollegiate athletics, the Liz Murphey Collegiate Classic will be contested at the University of Georgia Golf Course (Par 72 – 6,327 yards).
The course was designed in 1968 by Robert Trent Jones Sr. before undergoing renovation by Love Golf Design in 2006.
In 1971, the golf course hosted the Division of Girls’ and Women’s Sports Intercollegiate Championship, which was the equivalent of today’s NCAA Women’s Golf Championship.
The Boilermakers remain busy as they look to earn a berth to an NCAA Regional, going through a stretch five tournaments over six weekends.
The Liz Murphey Collegiate Classic (March 24-26) marks the second straight weekend of competition for Purdue after playing in the Florida State Match Up last weekend (March 17-19).
Up next, the Boilermakers travel to Texas to battle foes in The Bruzzy Challenge hosted by North Texas (April 1-2).
After a week off, Purdue competes in the Lady Buckeye Invitational (April 15-16), the final tune-up ahead of the Big Ten Championship at Fox Chapel Golf Club in Pittsburgh (April 21-23).
LAST TIME OUT
The Boilermakers ended all three rounds in sixth place at the FSU Match Up, finishing in the middle of the pack.
As a team, Purdue ranked third among the field in birdies (36), par-4 scoring (+42) and par-5 scoring (E).
Kan Bunnabodee and Ashley Kozlowski tied for 15th at 10-over through 54 holes. Both Boilermakers earned their second Top-20 performances of the season, while Bunnabodee’s finish was her season best.
Danielle du Toit (+13) and Momo Sugiyama (+14) cracked the Top 25, placing 23rd and 25th, respectively.
TULANE CLASSIC CHAMPIONS
Purdue began the spring season on the right note, defeating 17 teams to win the Tulane Classic at English Turn Golf & Country Club in New Orleans (Feb. 12-14).
In just the fifth tournament under first-year head coach Zack Byrd, the Boilermakers captured their first team title since winning the 2018 Illini Women’s Invitational.
The Boilermakers (+33) used Top-5 individual performances from Ashley Kozlowski (second), Danielle du Toit (third) and Momo Sugiyama (fifth) to secure a four-shot victory.
The Boilermakers recorded 37 birdies throughout the 54-hole tournament, the most by any team. Purdue also paced the field in par-3 scoring (E) and par-5 scoring (+1) on the difficult par 72 course.
For leading Purdue to victory, Kozlowski was named B1G Golfer of the Week following the tournament.
YEAR OF THE BYRD
Following the retirement of legendary coach Devon Brouse, Zack Byrd was named the new head coach of Purdue Women’s Golf prior to the start of the 2022-23 campaign.
One of the top recruiters in the country, Byrd made the move to West Lafayette after spending four seasons at Ole Miss.
Byrd helped the Rebels capture the 2021 NCAA National Championship, the first women’s team national championship in Ole Miss history.
Prior to beginning his coaching career, Byrd spent 10 years as a professional golfer; his career featured an appearance in the 2011 U.S. Open and qualifying for the final stage of PGA Tour Q School.
Byrd hired Lauren Guiao as assistant coach; Guiao made the move to coaching and returned to the program after playing in 20 tournaments over her Purdue career (2017-21).
PURDUE TO FACE A LOAD OF LEFTIES AS BIG TEN PLAY BEGINS AT MSU
Purdue (9-10) at Michigan State (11-7)
Friday to Sunday, March 24-26
Friday, March 24 at 4 p.m. ET on BTN
Saturday, March 25 at 3:30 p.m. ET on B1G+
Sunday, March 26 at 1 p.m. ET on B1G+
McLane Stadium at Kobs Field / East Lansing, Mich.
PROBABLE PITCHING MATCHUPS
Friday: Khal Stephen (So, RHP) vs. MSU’s Joseph Dzierwa (Fr, LHP)
Saturday: Jonathan Blackwell (Jr, LHP) vs. MSU’s Nolan Higgins (Fr, RHP)
Sunday: Kyle Iwinski (Jr, RHP) vs. MSU’s Nick Powers (Jr, LHP)
All-Time: Michigan State leads 86-75
All-Time in East Lansing: MSU leads 44-28
2022: Did Not Play
2021 Season Series: Purdue Won 3 of 4
Last Meetings: Purdue swept a 2-game set in Champaign (April 2021)
Last Meetings in East Lansing: Split a 2-game set (April 2021)
Purdue’s Last Series Win in East Lansing: Won 2 of 3 (May 2009)
First Meeting: Purdue 6, MSU 3 (May 1949 in West Lafayette)
WEST LAFAYETTE, Ind. – Purdue baseball opens conference play in the Big Ten state where it has played the fewest games over the last eight seasons, squaring off with Michigan State to begin league play for the first time since 2000.
First pitch at McLane Stadium is slated for 4 p.m. ET on Friday, 3:30 p.m. Saturday and 1 p.m. Sunday. Friday’s game is live on the Big Ten Network. There is a high likelihood of a rain out Saturday.
Since the start of the 2017 season, the Boilermakers have played only seven games against Michigan State. Just two of those were in East Lansing – as part of a three-team pod weekend in April 2021 that also featured Penn State. With Purdue having not traveled to Ann Arbor since April 2015, the Boilermakers’ four games in the state of Michigan since 2016 are easily their fewest in any state in the Big Ten footprint.
From 2013-15, Purdue played 15 games in the state of Michigan – nine in East Lansing, six in Ann Arbor. The Boilermakers visited East Lansing for three straight seasons during that stretch. Purdue’s 2020 schedule featured trips to both Michigan schools – Ann Arbor for the opening weekend of Big Ten play and East Lansing for the final series of the regular season.
OPENING WEEKEND OF BIG TEN PLAY
• Purdue at Michigan State
• Ohio State at Indiana
• Penn State at Michigan
• Illinois at Nebraska
• Maryland at UCF (Non-Conference)
• Creighton at Minnesota (Non-Conference)
• Rutgers at Connecticut (Non-Conference)
• Western Michigan at Iowa (Non-Conference)
GAMES BY STATE IN BIG TEN COUNTRY (Since 2016, Excluding Indiana)
• Michigan: 4 (4 in East Lansing in 2021)
• New Jersey: 6 (3 in Piscataway in 2017, 2019)
• Iowa: 6 (3 in Iowa in 2017, 2022)
• Minnesota: 7 (3 in Minneapolis in 2017, 4 in Minneapolis in 2021)
• Maryland: 9 (3 in College Park in 2016, 2018, 2021)
• Nebraska: 9 (4 in Omaha in 2018, 3 in Lincoln in 2019, 2 in Omaha in 2022)
• Ohio: 9 (3 in Columbus in 2017, 2018, 2021)
• Pennsylvania: 9 (3 in University Park in 2016, 2018, 2022)
• Illinois: 18 (3 in Evanston in 2019, 2022; 3 in Champaign in 2019, 2022; 4 in Champaign in 2021; 2 Non-Conf in 2022)
Purdue closes out its stretch of six consecutive weekends on the road to open the season, marking the program’s heaviest early-season travel slate since 2019. Michigan State opened its home season Wednesday with a victory vs. Western Michigan. In April, the Boilermakers are slated to play 14 of their 20 games at Alexander Field.
While Purdue enters league play looking to right the ship after a 1-6 stretch, the Spartans have won six straight since March 10. Sunday, MSU swept a doubleheader in Terre Haute against an Indiana State team the Boilermakers are scheduled to play March 28 (on the road) and April 11 (at home).
Purdue aims to minimize the impact of the lefthanders on Michigan State’s roster, including a lineup loaded with them.
The Spartans are expected to throw a pair of lefties on the mound – freshman Joseph Dzierwa on Friday and junior Nick Powers in the series finale. Even with a lineup traditionally featuring seven or eight regulars that bat from the right side, Purdue is 1-4 vs. lefthanded starters while batting .237 as a team (.294 overall, .312 vs. righthanders). Powers worked 7 2/3 innings of one-run ball against the Boilermakers in East Lansing in April 2021 – although Cam Thompson, Steve Ramirez and Evan Albrecht are the only active Purdue players that faced Powers that day.
Meanwhile, two of the top power hitters in the Big Ten occupy the 3-hole in the lineup for the Boilermakers and Spartans. Paul Toetz (31 RBI, .800 slugging, 1.263 OPS) and MSU’s lefthanded hitting first baseman Brock Vradenburg (28 RBI, .779 slugging, 1.302 OPS) are both among the top five in the league in RBI, slugging percentage and OPS.
McLane Stadium features the most unique right field in the Big Ten, including a berm that’s in play, propping up the short porch and tall right field fence adjacent to the Red Cedar River. Vradenburg is one of six lefthanded hitters in Michigan State’s regular lineup.
• Evan Albrecht – 22-game on-base streak dating back to the end of 2022, 5-game hit streak
• Mike Bolton Jr. – 11-game on-base streak
• Paul Toetz – 11-game on-base streak, 4-game hit streak
• Couper Cornblum – 6-game on-base streak
TOP 10 IN THE BIG TEN ENTERING THE WEEKEND
• Paul Toetz – T-1st in HR (8), 2nd in Slugging (.800), 3rd in RBI (31), 3rd in OPS (1.263)
• Couper Cornblum – T-1st in Steals (13)
• Mike Bolton Jr. – T-1st in Sac Bunts (3), T-4th in Triples (2), 4th in HBP (7), T-8th in Steals (9)
• Evan Albrecht – T-3rd in Steals (10), 5th in Batting Avg. (.424), T-9th in Hits (28)
• Kyle Iwinski – 4th in ERA (2.02), 6th in B/Avg (.190)
• Jake Jarvis – T-5th in HBP (6), T-7th in HR (5), 8th in OPS (1.138), 9th in Slugging (.667)
• Jake Parr – T-4th in Triples (2)
• Cam Thompson – T-5th in HBP (6)
• Jonathan Blackwell – 10th in Innings (25 2/3)
RACKING UP THE RBI EARLY – RBI IN THE FIRST 19 GAMES
• Paul Toetz in 2023: 31 (8 multi-RBI games – 2 Six-RBI, 1 Four-RBI, 3 Three-RBI, 2 Two-RBI)
• Cam Thompson in 2022: 30 (10 multi-RBI games – 1 Four-RBI, 2 Three-RBI, 7 Two-RBI)
MULTI-HIT GAMES PILING UP AGAIN FOR ALBRECHT
• First 19 Games: .424/.474/.545, 28 Hits, 7 XBH, 16 RBI, 10 SB
• Multi-Hit Efforts: 7 – 3 Two-Hit, 3 Three-Hit, 1 Four-Hit
• Also Excellent Situational Numbers: .500 w/ RISP, .474 w/ 2 Outs, 6 2-Out RBI
• First 19 Games: .387/.472/.565, 24 Hits, 9 XBH, 10 RBI, 9 SB
• Multi-Hit Efforts: 8 – 3 Two-Hit, 5 Three-Hit
• 2022 Final Season Stats (50 Games): .365/.452/.470, 66 Hits, 16 XBH, 34 RBI, 22 SB
• Multi-Hit Efforts: 19 – 8 Two-Hit, 11 Three-Hit
Last 2 Seasons
• Since the Start of 2022: .381/.458/.489, 94 H, 29 XBH, 50 RBI, 32 SB
• Multi-Hit Efforts: 26 – 11 Two-Hit, 14 Three-Hit, 1 Four-Hit
BUTLER MEN’S BASKETBALL
BATES TO ENTER NBA DRAFT
Butler center Manny Bates has decided turning pro is a better option than returning to the Bulldogs program. The 6-11 post player appeared in 26 games this season, averaging 11.6 points and 5.5 rebounds.
Bates transfered from North Carolina State and had his best games of 22 points and 10 rebounds against Kansas State and 19 points against Xavier on Feb. 10.
BUTLER BASEBALL ADJUSTS SCHEDULE FOR CINCINNATI SERIES
INDIANAPOLIS – Rain in the forecast has shifted the weekend series between Butler and Cincinnati. The Bearcats will now host a single game on Saturday with a 2 PM first pitch followed by a Sunday doubleheader that features a Noon start. All three games will stream on ESPN+.
Saturday, March 25 – 2 PM
Sunday, March 26 – 12 PM (Doubleheader)
* All Games Played at UC Baseball Stadium
The Bearcats snapped a five-game skid on Wednesday afternoon by crushing Xavier 19-6. The Bearcats hit four home runs, including a pair of grand slams, to win the cross-town matchup vs. the Musketeers. Head Coach Scott Googins is in his sixth season leading the program. In 2021, Googins led the team to its first winning season since 2011.
Redshirt-junior Ryan Nicholson leads this year’s Cincinnati squad. The UC first baseman is batting .325 with seven doubles, one triple and five home runs to help him reach 12 RBI. Cross Kerrington is another threat in the Bearcat lineup. The Brownsburg, Indiana native is second on the team with 17 hits. He has 11 RBI and is near the team lead with four stolen bases. Cole Harting is the RBI leader for Cincinnati along with Kameron Guidry with 13 each. Alec Jones gives Cincinnati five players with 10+ RBIs this season.
On the mound, Cincinnati has four quality starters in Chase Hopewell, Dylan Brosky, Chase Horst and Garrett Harker. Hopewell has the best ERA of this group at 3.63 while adding 18 strikeouts in 22.1 innings pitched. Horst has six starts, the most of any Cincinnati pitcher. He and Brosky are both 1-2 this season. Out of the pen, Mitch White, Griffin Hugus, Zach Segal and Jackson Murphy are candidates to see action. White has two saves over 10 innings of action. Segal leads that group with 15 strikeouts and Hugus has been credited with one save this year. Every member of that foursome has made eight appearances in 2023.
Butler played single games on Sunday, Monday, Tuesday and Wednesday this week. They went 2-2 during that stretch with each win coming at Bulldog Park. Carter Dorighi hit .400 as a starter in those four contests. He collected six hits in 15 at-bats while supplying BU with two runs scored and two RBI. Extra base hits belonged to Lukas Galdoni, Cade Vota, Evan Parks and Joey Urban. Nick Miketinac and Dawson Taylor earned wins on the mound for BU. Jon Vore also had an impressive outing to collect a four-inning save.
The Bulldogs reached base on balls a season-high 11 times in the win over Eastern Michigan. BU currently ranks second in the BIG EAST in walks with 92. They trail only UConn (95).
On the Move
Butler stole at least one base in four-straight games from March 12-21. They rank fourth in the BIG EAST with 17 total steals and set their season-high total on Feb. 18 with four in one game.
All Playing Ball
Kollyn All had his third multi-hit game of the season at Ball State on Wednesday going 2-for-3 from the plate with an RBI and a run scored. All has started at third base in recent games and now has an RBI in back-to-back games.
Bosecker on the Bump
BU ace Cory Bosecker has pitched five full innings in three of his five starts this season. He struck out a season-high 10 batters at Campbell (Feb. 24) and recently struck out nine batters in his last start vs. Northwestern (March 19). Overall this season, Bosecker has a team-high 36 strikeouts in 24.2 innings of work.
Dorighi Doing Work
Carter Dorighi has eight hits over Butler’s last six games. He opened the year with eight hits over Butler’s first four games. A 20-game starter, Dorighi currently leads BU with a .276 batting average. He is also the team leader in walks with 12.
Fans with a ticket for Friday’s game can choose to use it at either Saturday or Sunday’s games. To purchase single-game tickets or flex packs, visit GoBearcats.com/Tickets or call 1-877-CATS-TIX (1-877-228-7849).
Butler will play at Notre Dame on Tuesday, March 28. The game in South Bend will start at 5 PM. Weekend action for BU will feature a doubleheader at Eastern Illinois on April 1. BU will then host the Panthers on Sunday at 2 PM.
BUTLER SOFTBALL TRAVELS TO PROVIDENCE FOR BIG EAST SERIES
Game Information – Butler at Providence
DATE: Friday, Mar. 24 – Sunday, Mar. 26
LOCATION: Providence, R.I. | Glay Field
LIVE STATS: friars.com
LIVE VIDEO: FloSoftball
The Butler softball team travels to Providence this weekend for a three-game BIG EAST series from Mar. 24 – Mar. 26. The Bulldogs (9-18, 3-0 BIG EAST) are on a five-game winning streak as they most recently beat IUPUI, 6-3. The Friars (9-14, 2-4 BIG EAST are coming off a 3-1 loss to Stonehill College.
(as of 3/19/23)
Kieli Ryan has thrown out 8 runners attempting to steal. She sits atop the BIG EAST and is 19th nationally in that category. With 6 doubles, she ranks sixth in the conference in doubles per game.
Monique Hoosen is fifth in the BIG EAST with 5 home runs. With 18 for her career, she is 7th on Butler’s all-time list.
Kaylee Gross has four sacrifice bunts this season, which ranks second in the BIG EAST in per-game average.
SCOUTING PROVIDENCE (9-14, 2-4 BIG EAST)
Series: Providence leads, 13-11-1
last series- Apr. 29-May 1, 2022, at Butler: PU 3 – Butler 2 | Butler 3 – PU 0 | Butler 5 – PU 4
The 2021 series ended with each team winning one game and the third game ending in a 4-4 tie.
Providence swept the 2018 series. In the last 12 games, Providence leads: 6-5-1.
Providence lost the St. John’s series, 1-2, and the UConn series, 1-2. The Friars split with Lipscomb, Saint Louis, Charleston Southern, and Fairleigh Dickinson.
PROVIDENCE vs. (opponents)
Jacque Harrington (.348) 23 H, 5 HR, 13 RBI
Rachael Petrarca (.281) 5 2B, 2 HR, 10 RBI
Emma Douma (.222) 10 RBI
Elysia Cunnigan (3-1) 2.24 ERA, 13 K
Tori Grifone (4-6) 3.99 ERA, 83 K
Riley Quirk (1-1) 5.70 ERA, 7 K
Emily Jonte (1-6) 6.44 ERA, 10 K
SOFTBALL CONTINUES HORIZON LEAGUE PLAY WITH THREE-GAME SERIES AT CLEVELAND STATE
CLEVELAND, Ohio – The IUPUI softball team will continue Horizon League play when they travel to Cleveland State for a three-game series this weekend. The Jags are slated for one game on Friday, March 24 at 3:00 PM and two games on Saturday, March 25 with first pitch for game one set for 1:00 PM.
The Jags enter the weekend, 1-1 in conference after splitting the doubleheader with Oakland. Jaida Speth leads the IUPUI offense hitting .404 (21-for-52) with a team high seven doubles. Three Jags add six RBI each coming from Kennedy Cowan, Rachael Gregory and Kayla Freiberg. Cowan is batting .385 (20-for-52) and leads the team in home runs with three and runs with 10.
Madison Bryant earned her first win of the season in the victory over Oakland. Bryant holds the lowest ERA for IUPUI with a 4.16 mark and has the most strikeouts with 58 in 38.2 innings pitched.
The series marks the first conference games for Cleveland State who hold a 4-20 overall record. The Vikings are currently on a 10 game losing streak but have recorded wins over Jacksonville, Butler, Marist and College of Charleston.
The Vikings and Jags face off on Friday at 3:00 PM to open the three-game series. With cooperation from weather, IUPUI and Cleveland State will continue the series with a doubleheader on Saturday, March 25 at 1:00 PM.
BALL STATE GYMNASTICS
PFISTER NAMED TO WCGA ALL-AMERICA SECOND TEAM
MARLBORO, NEW JERSEY – – Ball State junior Suki Pfister made history Thursday afternoon, becoming the first gymnast in program history to earn regular-season all-America honors as announced by the Women’s Collegiate Gymnastics Association (WCGA).
By finishing the regular season tied for 14th nationally with a National Qualifying Score (NQS) of 9.915 on vault, Pfister earned a spot on the WCGA All-America Second Team.
“I am very proud of the hard work Suki has put into developing herself and her gymnastics during the past few years,” head coach Joanna Saleem said. “The time she has spent focusing on incremental gains to achieve the ability to consistently perform at this level is paying off. We have all witnessed the results of her hard work and the passion she has for her team. She has gained confidence and repeatedly showed up to compete.”
The Mid-American Conference Specialist of the Year the last two seasons, Pfister has registered six vault scores of 9.900-or-higher this season. Her best vaults came versus Central Michigan (Feb. 26) and Western Michigan (March 12) when she tied her career-best score of 9.950. Pfister has also won the vault competition in seven of Ball State’s 12 meets, including four of six league competitions.
In addition to her strong NQS score, the two-time First Team All-MAC selection has been one of the nation’s most consistent vaulters, tying for 14th nationally with an average vault score of 9.887. All 12 of her vaults have come in at 9.800-or-higher, including her 9.850 to tie for third at last Saturday’s MAC Championship.
“Being the first gymnast in program history to be named an all-American is something Suki should take great pride in,” Saleem added. “This recognition shows her teammates and others that with hard work, big dreams, and a competitive spirit, great things are being achieved here at Ball State.”
The Fort Wayne, Indiana, native has also made a name for herself on floor this season, including trying the program record with a score of 9.950 at the Tennessee Collegiate Classic (Jan. 20). Pfister finished third overall on floor at the MAC Championships with a 9.925 and has nine scores of 9.800-or-better this season.
Student-athletes with the top eight NQS scores (including ties) in each event during the regular season earn WCGA First Team All-America honors. Gymnasts ranked ninth to 16th (including ties) in the NQS receive All-America Second Team accolades.
Pfister and the Ball State gymnastics program return to action Wednesday, March 29, when they take on NC State in the first round of the NCAA Norman Regional.
BALL STATE MEN’S VOLLEYBALL
MEN’S VOLLEYBALL RETURNS HOME FOR BACK-TO-BACK MIVA MATCHES THIS WEEKEND
Ball State (12-8, 5-3 MIVA) | Quincy (7-13, 0-8 MIVA)
Last Meeting: Ball State 3, Quincy 0 (2/25/23)
Series History: Ball State has defeated Quincy in 56 of 61 all-time meetings and has won the last six.
Ball State (12-8, 5-3 MIVA) | Lindenwood (9-7, 6-2 MIVA)
Last Meeting: Ball State 3, Lindenwood 2 (2/24/23)
Series History: Ball State leads the all-time series 22-4
CRUZ’S FIRST MEMORABLE SEASON: The Cardinals are looking to build off a historic 2022 season which saw Donan Cruz, in his first year at the helm, lead Ball State to a 23-4 overall record and the No. 2 seed in the NCAA Men’s Volleyball Championship. BSU was also ranked third in the final NVA/AVCA Men’s Division I-II Coaches Poll: the highest ranking in program history. Ball State was also the 2022 Midwestern Intercollegiate Volleyball Association regular season and tournament champions. Cruz was named the 2022 AVCA Coach of the Year last season and MIVA Coach of the Year.
SCOUTING QUINCY: The last time the Cardinals and the Hawks faced off was this season on the road in Quincy, Ill. which saw Ball State move past the Hawks earning a 3-0 sweep, Feb. 25, 2023. The Hawks come to Ball State on a 22-match MIVA losing streak and have not won a conference contest since the 2021 season on April 3 after defeating Ohio State, 3-2.
SCOUTING LINDENWOOD: The Lions come to Ball State looking to extend a four-game winning streak. Lindenwood recently defeated Quincy 3-0 Saturday, March 18. The Cardinals and the Lions last faced each other Feb. 24 in St. Charles, Mo., earning a five-set thriller against Lindenwood. Kaleb Jenness led BSU offensively with 17-kills that match while adding 12 defensive digs. AJ Lewis turned in a 16-kill performance for Lindenwood. The Lions had taken sets one and two from the Cardinals (25-14, 25-18) but the Cardinals fought back to take frames three, four and five (25-17, 25-22, 15-8).
SCOUTING BALL STATE: The Cardinals are ranked 12th in the nation after splitting their two-match rival series against Ohio State last week. Ball State earned a 3-0 sweep over Ohio State Wednesday, March 15 in Worthen Arena and then dropped a 3-2 heartbreaker in Columbus against the Buckeyes March 18. For the week, Kaleb Jenness led Ball State with 28 kills while hitting .350 from the floor. He earned 30 points for the Cardinals and ranked second in digs with 13.
MIVA STANDINGS: Loyola Chicago still leads the MIVA with an 8-1 conference mark. Lindenwood comes in second at 6-2 while Ohio State is third owning a 6-3 record. Ball State sits in fourth place with a 5-3 ledger. There’s only a few more weeks of regular season play with the MIVA Tournament quarterfinals beginning April 15.
NEXT UP: Ball State will head on the road for one last time in regular season play when it competes at McKendree (3/30) and at Lewis (4/1).
BALL STATE SOFTBALL
WELCOME HOME; SOFTBALL OPENS HOME SLATE SATURDAY VS. CMU
» THIS WEEK IN BALL STATE SOFTBALL: The Ball State softball team opens the home portion of its 2023 schedule Saturday with a 1 p.m. doubleheader versus Central Michigan … The Cardinals and Chippewas will also play a single game Sunday at Noon.
» A QUICK LOOK AT THE CARDINALS: Ball State enters the weekend with an 11-12 record after splitting last Friday’s doubleheader at Kent State … The Golden Flashes took the opener by a score of 4-3, while the Cardinals rallied back to take the nightcap 15-9 … Ball State currently boast two of the nations’ top 61 hitters with senior Haley Wynn ranking 33rd among all NCAA Division I batters with a .443 average, while senior Amaia Daniel is 61st with her .421 mark … In the circle, sophomore Angelina Russo leads the Ball State pitching staff with her 3.68 ERA and .226 batting average against.
» THE OVERALL RECORD: Ball State enters this weekend’s series versus Central Michigan with a 1132-1128-4 (.501) overall record dating back to the 1975 season … The Cardinals have tallied 30-or-more wins in 16 seasons, most recently a 37-18 mark under current head coach Lacy Schurr in 2021 … Of the 16 seasons with 30-or-more wins, 11 have come in the past 15 seasons.
» ABOUT CENTRAL MICHIGAN:
– The Chippewas enter Saturday’s doubleheader with a 10-13 overall record after suffering a 3-0 loss to Michigan State on Tuesday … It was CMU’s first game since an 8-5 victory over St. Thomas to end play in the University of Minnesota Tournament on March 12.
– Abbey Tolmie leads the Central Michigan offense with a .438 batting average, while Kelsey Alexander is batting .343 with team highs of 14 RBI and six home runs … As a team, the Chippewas are batting just .286.
– Madelyn Wallace leads the CMU pitching staff with a 3.00 ERA over 33.0 innings of work … Grace Lehto has thrown a team-high 56.2 innings and owns a 4.45 ERA … Lehto also leads the team with 71 strikeouts, while holding opposing batters to a .221 average.
– Last season, the Chippewas took both ends of a March 25 doubleheader in Mount Pleasant, Michigan, earning a pair of walk-off wins by scores of 4-3 and 9-8 (9) … Ball State won all four games in the 2021 series, also played at Margo Jonker Stadium … CMU last visited Ball State in 2018, winning the first of a three-game series by a score of 2-1 on April 20 … The Cardinals responded by sweeping an April 21 twinbill by identical scores of 2-1.
BALL STATE NEWS & NOTES:
» GONE WITH THE WYNN: Senior infielder Haley Wynn opened the year with a bang, smashing a solo home run to center field for Ball State’s first hit of the 2023 season in the team’s 5-3 victory over Samford (Feb. 17) last Friday … She currently leads the team with three home runs this season, with the other two coming in last Friday’s win over Kent State … The first was a three-run shot in the fifth inning which drove in what proved to be the game-winning run, while the second was a solo shot to lead off BSU’s four-run seventh inning.
» MORE ON WYNN: Haley Wynn has only picked up speed after her season-opening performance, as she currently leads the squad and is 33rd nationally with a .443 batting average … She has reached base safely in 22 of Ball State’s 23 games, including a career-best 12 game hitting streak … Wynn also leads the squad with 23 runs scored, with her 1.00 runs-per-game average ranking 36th nationally.
» DRIVING THEM HOME: Amaia Daniel enters the weekend tied for the team lead with 18 RBI … With her final of four RBIs in Ball State’s 14-4 (6) victory over Bellarmine (Feb. 25), Daniel became just the 16th player in program history to reach 100 career RBI … The moment came on a bases loaded sacrifice fly in the sixth inning to make the score 12-4 … She is currently tied for 13th in program history with 107 career RBI and needs seven more to reach 12th.
» MORE ON DANIEL: Amaia Daniel, who has reached base safely in 20 of Ball State’s 23 games this season, enters Saturday’s doubleheader ranked eighth in program history with a .422 career on base percentage … She is also tied for 11th in career runs scored (110), tied for 12th in career doubles (37), and 16th in career home runs (16) … On defense, she has helped turn 42 career double plays, which is the second-most in program history.
» SPEAKING OF DOUBLE PLAYS: Ball State’s defense has registered 10 double plays over its first 23 games of the season and currently ranks second in the MAC and 28th nationally with a 0.43 double plays-per-game average … First baseman Samantha-Jo Mata has had a hand in eight double plays, while Amaia Daniel at shortstop has factored in seven.
» ON THE BASE PATHS: Ball State picked up right where it left off last season, stealing a total of 30 bases over the first 23 games of the season … The Cardinals currently rank second in the MAC and 90th nationally with a 1.30 steals-per-game average … Junior Remington Ross leads the way, going a perfect 8-for-8 in stolen base attempts … With the mark, Ross remains first in program history with a .968 (30-for-31) stolen base percentage … In addition, her 30 career stolen bases are tied for 18th in program history.
» NEAR PERFECTION: Sophomore pitcher Angelina Russo, who threw the first perfect game in program history last season, added to her lore in the 10-1 (5) victory over Lindenwood (Feb. 19), collecting just the 18th recorded no-hitter in program history dating back to the 1980 season … The 2022 MAC Freshman Pitcher of the Year and a MAC All-Freshman Team selection, Russo retired 15 of the 17 batters she faced against the Lions with a walk and an error being the lone blemishes … She also struck out three batters on her way to her second win of the weekend.
» WELCOME BACK MCKAYLA: After missing the last 18 games of the 2022 season due to injury, minus a pair of pinch running appearances in the Akron series, redshirt sophomore McKayla Timmons has reached base safely in 16 of the 21 games she has played for the Cardinals this season … In fact, she ranks third on the team with a .364 batting average and is tied for the team lead with 18 RBI … She has also smashed a pair of two-run home runs … Timmons, who blasted four home runs in her debut season in 2022, enters the weekend tied for fourth among active Ball State players with six career home runs.
» WELCOME TO THE #BALLSTATESB BOMB SQUAD: Redshirt freshman McKenna Mulholland made sure her first collegiate hit was a memorable one, as she blasted a solo home run in her first collegiate at bat to open the bottom of the second inning in the 10-1 (5) win over Lindenwood (Feb. 19) … Sophomore Kaitlyn Gibson added her first collegiate round tripper in the 14-8 setback at No. 16 Georgia (March 3) … Overall, nine active Cardinals have at least one career home run heading into Saturday’s doubleheader versus Central Michigan.
» TRIPLE THREAT: Ball State enters the week ranked 55th nationally with a 0.26 triples-per-game average … McKenna Mulholland leads the way with three triples, followed by Haley Wynn with two and McKayla Timmons with one.
» FIRST MAC WIN: After a solid relief effort in last Friday’s win over Kent State, freshman Bridie Murphy was named the MAC Pitcher of the Week … Murphy picked up her first career MAC pitching victory by throwing 6.0 innings of solid relief work against the Golden Flashes … She limited KSU to four hits and four unearned runs, while striking out four of the 24 batters she faced … She also held Kent State to a .190 batting average during her time in the circle … Murphy currently owns a 3-0 record on the year and is second on the squad with a 4.47 ERA over 31.1 innings of work … She has also struck out 25 batters.
BALL STATE BASEBALL
BALL STATE TRAVELS TO EASTERN MICHIGAN FOR FIRST MAC ROAD TEST
MUNCIE, Ind. – The Ball State baseball team returns to action for its first Mid-American Conference road series against Eastern Michigan. The three-game series begins on Friday with first pitch at 3 p.m.
The Cardinals are coming off a series sweep over the Toledo Rockets and a midweek victory over Butler. Ball State enters with a 14-6 overall and 5-1 in MAC play. Eastern Michigan boasts a 10-7 record and are 4-2 in league games.
Gold Glove Peltier
At the conclusion of last season, Ryan Peltier was honored as the best defensive third baseman in the NCAA and received an ABCA/Rawlings Gold Glove. After being named the MAC Defensive Player of the Year and earning a spot on the All-MAC Second Team for back-to-back seasons, Peltier was awarded the first Gold Glove in BSU history. He was a 2023 Preseason All-American honoree from Collegiate Baseball Newspaper.
Peltier leads the Cardinals with a .436 batting average. He has pelted a team-best six homers and has a team-high 21 RBIs. His six home runs are tied for 106th in the NCAA and tied for fifth in the conference. He has a slugging percentage of .782, which is 49th in the country and second in the MAC. Peltier has scored 29 runs, which is tied for 20th in the NCAA and is tied for first the MAC.
What Can Brown Do for You?
Ryan Brown was named the No. 49 prospect in college baseball by D1 Baseball. Brown was the only Mid-American Conference player selected to the top-100 list. He was also tabbed as one of the top mid-major prospects for the 2023 season. Brown also landed on the 2023 MLB Draft: Rising Righthanded Pitchers watch list. Last season, Brown earned recognition as a Collegiate Baseball Newspaper Freshman All-American along with the MAC Freshman Pitcher of the Year. He also earned a spot on the All-MAC Second Team.
Brown is currently tied for 66th in the NCAA with 35 strikeouts. He his 3-1 on the year and has thrown 17 2/3 innings. Opponents are hitting just .150 against him for the season.
Scouting the Cardinals
Matthew Rivera is second on the team with a .370 batting average. He has 18 RBIs, 10 runs scored, six doubles, and four home runs. He has a slugging percentage of .761. Adam Tellier is tied for third on the squad with a .347 average. He has 20 runs scored, 11 walks, 10 RBIs, six doubles, two triples, and one home run. Decker Scheffler is tied for third on the squad with a .347 batting average. He has 14 RBIs, 11 runs scored, three doubles, two homers, and one triple. Scheffler is tied for the 94th toughest player to strikeout in the NCAA and is tied for fourth in the MAC. Blake Bevis is hitting .333. He is tied for second on the team with 18 RBIs and is tied for second in home runs with four. He has scored 14 runs and has seven doubles. Andrew Wilhite is batting .323 with 10 runs scored, nine RBIs, and two home runs. Nick Gregory might only be hitting .244, but he leads the team with 19 walks. He has scored 19 runs and driven in five runs.
The Cardinal pitching staff is led by Trennor O’Donnell with a 1.95 ERA, which is tied for 45th in the NCAA and leads the MAC. He has 32 strikeouts in 27 2/3 innings of work. Tanner Knapp as added 20 1/3 innings in seven relief appearances for the Cardinals. Knapp has 21 strikeouts on the year. Jacob Hartlaub is third on the team with 24 strikeouts. Logan Schulfer and Ty Johnson are tied for fourth on the team with 21 strikeouts.
Ball State vs. Eastern Michigan: The Series
Ball State and Eastern Michigan will meet for the 167th time on Friday. The Cardinals are 82-83-1 against the Eagles. BSU is 34-45 at EMU. Ball State is 44-15 against Eastern Michigan under Head Coach Rich Maloney.
Scouting the Eagles
EMU is led Josh Kross who’s hitting .373. He is tied for the team lead in home runs with four. He paces the squad with 23 RBIs. He is the 18th toughest batter to strikeout in the NCAA at 16.8. He has added 14 runs scored and has five doubles. Cory Taylor is second on the team with a .346 average he is tied for the team lead in homers with four. He has 14 runs scored, 12 RBIs, four doubles, and one triple. Matt Kirk is also tied for the team lead in home runs with four. He is third on the team with a .338 batting average. He is tied for a team-best 18 runs scored. He has 17 RBIs, a team-best nine doubles, and one triple. Cole Wilcox is hitting .325 with 11 runs scored, seven RBIs, four doubles, and one home run. Glenn Miller his hitting .300. He is the 12th toughest to strikeout in the nation at 17.5.
The Eagle pitching staff is led by Bobby Jones with a 3.18 ERA. He has appeared in six games in relief. Luke Russo has a team-best 29 strikeouts in 22 innings of work. He is a perfect 3-0 on the season and has a 4.91 ERA. Thomas House has a 5.79 ERA in 18 2/3 innings for EMU. He has tallied 19 strikeouts. Nick Chittum has only thrown 15 innings on the season but has a 1.80 ERA.
1. Kent State – 15-5, 3-0
2. Ball State – 14-6, 5-1
3. Eastern Michigan – 10-7, 4-2
4. Central Michigan – 11-8, 2-1
5. Toledo – 9-10, 3-3
6. Akron – 8-11, 3-3
7. Ohio – 5-13, 3-3
8. Bowling Green – 6-12, 2-4
9. Western Michigan – 5-13, 2-4
10. Miami – 4-18, 2-4
11. Northern Illinois – 4-15, 1-5
NOTRE DAME WOMEN’S BASKETBALL
NOTRE DAME SEEKS REVENGE AGAINST MARYLAND IN GREENVILLE
GREENVILLE, S.C. — Karen and Kevin Keyes Family Head Coach Niele Ivey knew the goal for the 2022-23 season the moment the buzzer sounded at the 2022 Bridgeport Regional. Notre Dame had just suffered a narrow 3-point defeat at the hands of NC State, the ACC champion and a team that Notre Dame had topped in South Bend earlier that winter.
Hungry for more.
It wasn’t that Ivey was disappointed in her team’s path ending in the Sweet 16. After all, it was her first appearance at that level as a head coach and Notre Dame’s first since 2019. The rebuild was underway, perhaps even quicker than many imagined. Instead, it was the fashion in which the Irish lost, turning the ball over in the waning seconds of the contest. They were so close. They’d be back.
The slogan has since become all too familiar for those around the program. Ivey used it when talking with her team and in various media appearances prior to the start of this year. Season ticket holders donned it across their chests all year, as the famed season ticket-holder shirts were Kelly Green with navy block font saying “Hungry For More.”
As promised, the Irish are back, and the hump over which they are trying to get is now on the calendar.
Notre Dame will see a familiar opponent when it takes the court in Greenville on Saturday for the Sweet 16: a second-seeded Maryland team that came into Purcell Pavilion on Dec. 1 and beat Notre Dame at the buzzer, 74-72. That was with starters Olivia Miles and Dara Mabrey, prior to their respective season-ending injuries.
Diamond Miller and Sonia Citron were the stars of the show that night. Miller, a 6-3 senior guard for the Terrapins and AP Second-Team All-American, put up 31 points via an 11-for-21 performance from the floor and a 9-for-11 showing at the free throw line. Citron had 24 points and 10 rebounds of her own, leading Notre Dame in both categories.
“Maryland is playing with a ton of confidence,” Ivey said this week. “Their offensive efficiency is amazing. They’ve really figured it out this season. You can tell they’ve grown and matured.”
For the Irish, it is critical that Citron break out of a recent shooting slump. She has put up 14 points in each of Notre Dame’s two NCAA Tournament games, but she has been 8-for-27 from the floor and just 1-for-9 from behind the arc. That mark is well below her average from deep this year, which still sits above 43 percent.
Ivey will also be heavily reliant on her two freshmen, KK Bransford and Cassandre Prosper. Bransford has now made 11 starts thanks to the aforementioned injuries, and Prosper is just 17 years old but playing defense like a veteran. She has 17 blocks this season, which ranks third amongst ACC freshmen. She did not play in a game until after Christmas.
“They’re not nervous at all,” Ivey said of the rookies. “They’ve embraced this moment. They get a chance to play through things that maybe they wouldn’t have [without the injuries]. There’s always a silver lining in things, and I know that this experience and these opportunities they’re getting right now will expand their game and help them down the road.”
Notre Dame-Maryland tips off at 11:30 a.m. on ESPN. The Irish are 5-5 all-time against the Terrapins, but they are 2-0 when seeing them in the NCAA Tournament.
NOTRE DAME SOFTBALL
IRISH HOST SYRACUSE IN ACC WEEKEND SERIES
SOUTH BEND, Ind. – The University of Notre Dame softball team host the Syracuse Orange this weekend in a three-game Atlantic Coast Conference series. The weekend is slated for Friday at 4:30 p.m., Saturday at 2 p.m. and Sunday at 4 p.m. at Melissa Cook Stadium. Friday and Saturday will air on the ACC Network Extra, with Sunday’s 4 p.m. start being aired live on ACC Network.
The Fighting Irish enter the weekend on a season-best six game winning streak, winning three of those games by mercy rule. In the six-game stretch, Notre Dame has outscored opponents 63-12. In conference play, the Irish have gone 3-3, taking one of two games at Duke, and taking the series at NC State.
After a five-inning home opener Tuesday evening, the Irish return Friday night. Notre Dame is 43-3 over the last four seasons at Melissa Cook Stadium, and Tuesday’s win was the third-straight season with a run-rule shortened win to begin the home slate.
Leea Hanks and Joley Mitchell led the way with three hits and four RBI each Tuesday night. Overall, lead-off hitter Carlli Kloss owns the team-best batting average at .366, hitting nine doubles a triple and three home runs, and lead the team with 21 runs scored. Lexi Orozco and Karina Gaskins have each hit six home runs this year, and Orozco leads the team with 24 RBI. Mitchell owns four home runs and four doubles, to go with 21 RBI this season.
The circle has been owned by Payton Tidd in her graduate season. She’s started nine games, appeared in 14, throwing 70.1 of the team’s 159.0 innings. She’s earned nine wins, throwing two complete games and picking up 66 strikeouts. Micaela Kastor owns a team-best 0.88 ERA in 39.2 innings of work. She’s earned a 4-0 mark with a team-best three saves. She holds opponents to a .183 average against to go with 35 strikeouts. Shannon Becker has 15 appearances, starting nine. She’s logged 47.0 innings, striking out 37 and earning four wins.
Syracuse enters the weekend having on a high note, taking two games in a doubleheader at Canisius Wednesday night. In conference play, the Orange have had to battle some of the top teams in the league, falling in all three games at #4 Clemson and #6 Florida State. Overall, Syracuse is 9-14 on the season.
As a team, the Orange hit for a .218 average in their 23 games, led by a .295 average by Madelyn Lopez. Lopez has started 17 games, appearing in 19 as the freshman has 13 base knocks, a double and a home run. Kelly Breen and Madison Knight lead the team with nine RBI each, as Breen is the only member of the squad to leave the yard multiple times.
The Syracuse pitching staff owns a .477 staff ERA in 145.1 innings of work. Lindsey Hendrix has started a team-high 12 games, appearing in three more in relief. She owns a 4.02 ERA with four wins in 54.0 innings of work. She holds opponents to a .237 average with 37 strikeouts. Madison Knight adds eight starts in 14 total appearances. She’s logged 48.1 innings to go with 36 strikeouts.
NOTRE DAME BASEBALL
PREVIEW: NO. 2 LOUISVILLE
SOUTH BEND, Ind. — The Fighting Irish (10-8) are back into ACC play as they host the No. 2 Louisville Cardinals (18-2) at Frank Eck for a three game series this weekend. Notre Dame is 2-4 in the conference after falling to No. 4 Wake Forest in the three-game series in Winston-Salem, NC. The Irish are coming off of a win over Valparaiso in their home opener at Frank Eck on Tuesday, and a win over Wake Forest on the road on Sunday, giving the Demon Deacons their first loss at home this season.
No. 2 Louisville Comes to South Bend for First ACC Series at Home
This will be the 46th matchup between Notre Dame and Louisville as the Irish trail 9-36 in the overall series.
The Irish are 2-15 at home, 5-18 at Louisville, and 2-3 in neutral site games.
After being swept on the road in 2022, the last Notre Dame win over the Cardinals was March 27, 2021 at Frank Eck where the Irish won 5-3.
At the time, the No. 12 Notre Dame and No. 6 Louisville game two matchup was back and forth as it came down to the final inning.
With Louisville tying the game in the top of the ninth, 2022 graduate Ryan Cole was at it again with another walk-off home run as the Irish defeated No. 6 Louisville 5-3 to tie the weekend series.
Notre Dame Opens up at Home Against Valparaiso
The Notre Dame Fighting Irish took down the Beacons in the 106th matchup between Valpo and Notre Dame as the Irish lead the overall series 86-21 with the very first game taking place on May 14, 1918.
The Irish defeated Valpo in a 8-4 victory in their home opener on Tuesday, March 21 at Frank Eck.
Both graduate students, Zack Prajzner and Jack Zyska both recorded their first home runs of the season in Tuesday’s win. Prajzner’s homer to left field came in the bottom of the third and Zyska followed with his left field home run in the bottom of the fourth.
David Lally Jr. made his second career start on the mound, throwing 2.1 innings before he was relieved in the third inning by Carter Bosch. Bosch recorded a season-high six strikeouts across 3.2 innings and gave up no runs while allowing only two hits. Sammy Cooper came in to close in the top of the seventh, taking home his second win of the season.
Irish Resume Conference Play at No. 4 Wake Forest
The Notre Dame Fighting Irish finished the series 2-1 at No. 4 Wake Forest last weekend after falling in both doubleheader games on Saturday, but taking home Sunday’s game in a 3-1 victory.
The Irish are now 9-8 on the year and 2-4 in the ACC after the road series.
Due to Friday’s game being postponed for inclement weather, the Irish and Demon Deacons played a doubleheader on Saturday, March 18.
Wake Forest took game one 4-1 and game two 12-3.
Jackson Dennies started on the mound for the Irish in game one, finishing the day with three strikeouts while allowing two runs and five hits across 3.2 innings pitched.
Aidan Tyrell came in relief with two outs in the bottom of the fourth, throwing 3.1 innings, recording four strikeouts, and giving up just one run and one hit.
Trailing 1-0 heading into the top of the third, Danny Neri led off for the Irish with a double down the left field line and advanced to third on a sac bunt from TJ Williams. Estevan Moreno followed with his first hit of the day as he singled through the left side to score Neri for Notre Dame’s only run of the game
The Irish struggled to score in game two on Saturday. Trailing 12-1 heading into the top of the ninth, Connor Hincks singled to center field for his first career hit and was sent home on a two-run home run from Tony Lindwedel. Lindwedel’s first career home run would close the gap to 12-3 as Wake Forest took home the second game of the series.
Wake Forest was undefeated 14-0 at home so far this season until Notre Dame took game three with a score of 3-1.
The Irish offense sparked in the top of the second with a double to right center from Carter Putz, who scored after Jack Zyska hit a single to left field.
The Irish posted an early 1-0 lead, while Findlay continued to shut down the Demon Deacons from the mound as he closed the first two innings with three strikeouts.
DM Jefferson started the third with a lead-off single to center field and advanced to second on a passed ball with TJ Williams up to bat. Jefferson was able to score and tack on another run for the Irish as an RBI single from Brooks Coetzee brought Jefferson home for the 2-0 lead.
Coetzee led off the sixth with a double to right center field, which was followed by a walk from Putz. With runners on first and second and Jack Penney up to bat, Coetzee was able to steal third on a wild pitch. Penney reached on a fielder’s choice, recording an RBI as Coetzee ran home to give the Irish a 3-0 edge heading into the bottom of the sixth.
Findlay recorded his 10th strikeout of the day before he was relieved by Blake Hely with two outs in the sixth. Findlay absolutely dominated from the mound, throwing 10 strikes across 5.2 innings and allowing just two hits and no runs.
Midweek matchup in Holly Springs
The Irish took down the Hawks on Tuesday, March 14, and Wednesday, March 15, in their first midweek matchup of the year.
Notre Dame defeated Saint Joseph’s 6-3 on Tuesday and 10-9 on Wednesday at Ting Stadium in Holly Springs, NC..
Matt Bedford made his first start of the year in game one and freshman David Lally Jr. made his first career start on the mound in game two.
Carter Putz recorded his second home run of the year in game one with a 440’ rocket to right field in the game one win.
The Irish took game two in a close 10-9 win, finishing the game with a bases loaded walk-off HBP as Coetzee was hit by the pitch for the fourth time that game for the walk-off win.
Putz, Penney, and Neri each recorded their third home runs of the year in game two against Saint Joseph’s.
Conference Play Opens Up at Georgia Tech
The Notre Dame Fighting Irish start the 2023 conference season 1-2 in the ACC after falling in games one and two, but taking home game three against the Yellow Jackets on the road.
The Irish fell in a close one on Friday night (March 10) at Russ Chandler Stadium. While the Irish trailed 2-0 early, a strong fifth inning that included five singles allowed Notre Dame to put four runs on the board to take the lead 4-3. However, the bottom of the seventh inning would lift the Yellow Jackets to the 7-4 victory in game one.
Due to Sunday’s weather, a double header was played on Saturday where the Yellow Jackets took the first game of the day 15-2.
While the Irish struggled to find the strike zone, the Yellow Jackets were hot from the plate, bringing in nine runs in the first three innings.
The Fighting Irish scored their first run of the day in the top of the third after Estevan Moreno singled up the middle and was sent home from an RBI double down the right field line from Jack Penney.
The Yellow Jackets would tack on another two runs in the bottom of the fourth to extend the lead 11-1 and wouldn’t score again until the bottom of the seventh.
Freshman Caden Spivey made his debut on the mound in the bottom of the fourth, striking out his very first batter faced. Spivey allowed only one hit and gave up no runs in his two innings pitched.
Norte Dame wasn’t going anywhere though, as they came out strong to start the second game of the day and went on to take the final game 17-4. The Irish finished with 16 hits, their best offensive outing of the season.
Zack Prajzner started the Irish offense with a double to left field, followed by a base hit from Brooks Coetzee. Nick Juaire reached first after being hit by a pitch and it was bases loaded for the Irish. Jack Zyska was walked in his first at bat of the game, which scored Prajzner and put Notre Dame on the board 1-0.
Jack Penney stepped up to the plate with bases loaded and two outs and crushed a ball down the right field line for a grand slam. Penney’s second home run of the season scored Coetzee, Juaire, and Zyska to give the Irish the 5-0 advantage after one.
Leading 5-2 heading into the third, Carter Putz led off and started the inning with his first home run of the season with a 418’ homer to deep center field. Juaire followed with a base hit to left field and scored on an RBI double from Penny, his fifth RBI of the game.
Jackson Dennies started on the mound for the Irish, pitching 2.2 innings, throwing three strikeouts, and giving up three runs.
Dennies would give up one run in the bottom of the third before he was relieved by Aidan Tyrell, who finished with a game-high five strikeouts. Tyrell allowed no runs and only gave two hits across four innings pitched.
Vinny Martinez kept the offense going with a 434’ rocket out to left field, his first home run of the season with the Irish in the top of the seventh. Notre Dame tacked on another five runs in the seventh to take home the 17-4 victory.
Irish Travel to UAB
The Irish took home their second series win of the season after taking down the Blazers 2-1 last weekend in Birmingham, AL.
Danny Neri led the Irish against UAB, batting .500 (4-8 at the plate) and scoring three runs. Neri finished with a triple, a home run, and three RBI.
Zack Prajzner batted .333 on the weekend recorded three hits and two runs. Pinch hitter Nick Juaire came in and went 2-2 at the plate and scored one run while also recording two RBI.
The Irish took home game one of the series 7-2 on Friday, March 3 at Young Memorial Field after tallying runs in each of the first three innings and out-hitting the Blazers 10-5 on Friday. Jack Findlay (2-0) took home his second win of the season, finishing with six strikeouts on the day.
Game two went to the Irish 7-3 after trailing 3-0 to start the top of the sixth. Notre Dame scored six runs in the top of the sixth, including a first career home run from Estevan Moreno. Will Mercer took home his first win of the season in game two.
The Irish fell 5-2 in game three, falling to 5-4 on the season.
Notre Dame Wins First Series of the Year at UNCG
The Notre Dame baseball team won their first series of the 2023 season after taking down UNCG on the road.
Carter Putz led the way for the Irish, batting .400 on the weekend, finishing with four hits and three runs.
The Irish took home game one on Friday, Feb. 17 in a 6-5 win after Danny Neri stepped up to the plate and homered to right field. After an even ballgame at 4-4 heading into the top of the ninth, Neri’s homerun scored Putz and added two more runs to the board.
Findlay’s three strikeouts in the bottom of the ninth closed out Notre Dame’s game one win.
Despite falling 12-0 to UNCG on Saturday, the Irish responded with a game three win 7-4 over Sunday to take the series.
The Irish struck first as grad students Zack Prajzner and Brooks Coetzee got the Notre Dame offense rolling. Coetzee recorded an RBI single to send Prajzner home and put the Irish on the board. Notre Dame held the Spartans scoreless the first three innings and led 1-0 to start the fourth.
Notre Dame scored another four runs in the top of the fourth with runs from Prajzner, Putz, Penney, and Martinez.
Bedford, who got the win for Notre Dame, dominated at the hill for the Irish. He threw four strikeouts over three innings and allowed no runs and only one hit.
Irish Open Campaign at Lipscomb
The Notre Dame baseball team took on the Lipscomb Bisons for just the second time in program history Feb. 17-19 in Nashville, Tennessee.
The Irish fell 5-4 in game one despite scoring two runs in the top of the ninth to close the gap within one.
Norte Dame bounced back in game two, defeating the Bison 8-4 after a big seven-run inning in the top of the seventh.
Despite taking home game two, the Irish struggled to connect at the plate and fell in game three 4-2, falling to 1-2 to start the 2023 season.
With only 10 hits as a team on the weekend, TJ Williams and Jack Penney both hit their first home runs of the 2023 season.
Freshmen Rory Fox and David Lally Jr. made their debuts on the mound on Sunday, as well as graduate transfers Carter Bosch and Blake Hely who pitched in an Irish uniform for the first time.
NOTRE DAME HOCKEY
PRIMEAU SIGNS PROFESSIONAL DEAL WITH EVERBLADES
NOTRE DAME, Ind. – Former Fighting Irish center, and the team’s leading scorer in 2022-23, University of Notre Dame hockey’s Chayse Primeau has signed his first professional contract with the Florida Everblades of the ECHL.
“My time at Notre Dame was nothing short of special,” Primeau said. “The friendships with the coaches, teammates, and classmates will last a lifetime.”
Primeau joined the Irish as a graduate student from Omaha prior to the start of the 2022-23 season and quickly made an impact centering the team’s top line. Appearing in 37 games for the Blue and Gold this season, the Margate City, New Jersey native led the Irish in goals (eight), assists (15) and points (23).
In 154 career games played between Omaha and Notre Dame, Primeau registered 95 points off 37 goals and 58 assists.
“I’m excited to get the chance to take the next step in my career down here in Florida,” Primeau added.
He made his professional debut in the Everblades’ 4-2 win Wednesday evening over the Newfoundland Growlers.
INDIANA STATE TRACK
SYCAMORE MEN TABBED FAVORITES, WOMEN SECOND IN MVC OUTDOOR TRACK AND FIELD PRESEASON POLL
ST. LOUIS – Indiana State has been picked to repeat as MVC Outdoor Track and Field champions, as the Sycamores were selected first in the MVC Preseason Poll, as announced Thursday afternoon by the conference.
In addition, the Sycamore women were picked to finish second. The men received 96 points out of a possible 100, while the women earned 126 points out of a possible 144.
The Sycamores return the majority of last year’s men’s outdoor championship winning team, including each of its individual champions in the form JaVaughn Moore (100m), Shomari Rogers-Walton (triple jump) and William Staggs (pole vault). Indiana State also returns a plethora of all-conference honorees from last season, with every event group represented by at least two returning indoor or outdoor All-MVC honorees. All-conference honors go to student-athletes who finish in the top three of their respective events at the MVC Championships.
Moore broke the conference championship record in the 100m last season at 10.13 and, most recently, earned Second Team All-America honors at the 2023 NCAA Indoor National Championships. Rogers-Walton had a career-best mark of 15.57m (51-01.00) in the triple jump at last year’s MVC Outdoor Championships, while Staggs recently broke Indiana State’s indoor record in the pole vault by clearing 5.41m (17-09.00) at the MVC Indoor Championships. In addition, three-fourths of the Sycamores’ MVC-winning 4x100m relay team (40.06) return in the form of Moore, Tahj Johnson and Noah Malone. Also adding to the talent for the Sycamores is a throws group that scored 35 points in two events at the MVC Indoor Championships. Brett Norton won the weight throw and was third in shot put, while Wyatt Puff also earned all-conference honors in the shot put.
ISU returns eight NCAA East Preliminary Round qualifiers on the men’s side, with Moore, Rogers-Walton, Staggs, Norton and Puff all among those who were regional qualifiers last season. Quincy Armstrong (400m hurdles), Noah Malone (200m) and Luigi Rivas (110m hurdles) round out the returning regional qualifiers on the men’s side. In addition, Trevor Thompson was an NCAA West Preliminary Round qualifier in the high jump last season at Southern Illinois.
On the women’s side, Ryann Porter and Selene Weaver are the headliners for the Sycamores after both were NCAA East Preliminary Round qualifiers last year. Porter has earned Honorable Mention All-America in each of the last two seasons in the triple jump, winning the MVC title in the event in both seasons. She has also scored in multiple events at each of the last three conference championships, winning the triple jump and scoring in the hurdles events at the last two indoor and outdoor conference championships. Weaver swept the indoor and outdoor pole vault titles last season for the Trees and placed second in the event at this year’s indoor championships. Indiana State also returns last year’s heptathlon champion in Kamille Gaskin-Griffith, who gave the Sycamores their first MVC Champion in the event since 2010.
Also back for the Blue and White after earning all-conference honors last season are Landis Brandon (pole vault), Eva Grace Quinlan (heptathlon), Riley Tuerff (400m hurdles) and Dominique Wood (long jump). Quinlan also earned all-conference honors in the high jump at the indoor championships in February, while Claire Pittman (long jump) also picked up an all-conference nod.
Indiana State’s outdoor season kicks off Friday at the Don McGarey Invitational in Kennesaw, Georgia. The first events begin at 12:30 p.m.
INDIANA STATE BASEBALL
SYCAMORES SET TO OPEN MISSOURI VALLEY PLAY THIS WEEKEND AGAINST VALPARAISO
TERRE HAUTE, Ind. – Indiana State opens up Missouri Valley Conference play this weekend as the Sycamores welcome Valparaiso University on March 24-26 for a three-game series at Bob Warn Field.
SCHEDULE UPDATE: Friday afternoon’s opener has been moved to a 2 p.m. ET first pitch at Bob Warn Field. Saturday (2 p.m.) and Sunday (1 p.m.) are scheduled to remain the same. Follow Indiana State Baseball Twitter for more updates throughout the weekend. All three games are still scheduled to be streamed live on ESPN+. The games will also be carried live on 105.5 The Legend.
Indiana State enters the weekend on a three-game losing streak to put their 2023 overall record at 8-11. The Sycamores fell in their home opening doubleheader to Michigan State last weekend by scores of 8-2 and 10-7, before dropping their Tuesday night contest at Indiana, 15-5.
The Sycamores dropped their midweek contest to Indiana following a late seventh-inning rally by the Hoosiers. Indiana State rallied to tie the game up at 4-4 in the top of the frame thanks to three-run rally highlighted by Luis Hernandez drawing a bases-loaded hit-by-pitch and back-to-back bases-loaded walks drawn by Keegan Watson and Parker Stinson. The Hoosiers rallied back with an 11-run bottom of the seventh inning to take the 15-5 win in the first scheduled games between the two teams this season. Indiana returns the trip to Terre Haute on April 4.
Keegan Watson continued his recent resurgence at the plate over the last week. The redshirt senior boasts a .556 batting average with five hits and his first home run of the season, while adding a team-high six RBI. Seth Gergely (.385) and Adam Pottinger (.300) have also been among ISU’s leaders at the plate over the last four games, while five different Sycamores have homered during the stretch including freshman Dom Krupinski connecting on his first blast in the Sycamore Blue & White.
Jared Spencer continues to spotlight the ISU pitching staff over the last week with the sophomore boasting a 3.18 ERA and a 12:2 strikeout-to-walk ratio over two appearances. Brennyn Cutts made a pair of midweek starts against Illinois and Indiana over the last week, while Cam Edmonson made a team-best three appearances on the mound.
Gergely is the team’s hitting leader through the first 19 games. The redshirt senior has posted a .305 average and is tied for the team lead with five doubles while adding 10 RBI. He’s also second on the squad with 12 walks and seven hit-by-pitches and leads the team with a .463 on-base percentage. Keegan Watson (.286) has continued to come on strong recently, while Luis Hernandez (.282) leads the team with 20 hits and 13 runs. Adam Pottinger is tied with Hernandez with 13 runs scored and is the conference leader with 10 hit-by-pitches. Mike Sears is the team-leader with four home runs and 15 RBI.
Fifteen different Indiana State pitchers have seen time on the mound this year with the Sycamores boasting a team 6.20 ERA and a 183:89 strikeout-to-walk ratio. Zach Davidson and Jared Spencer pace ISU with two wins apiece, while Matt Jachec and Connor Fenlong are among the team leaders in both games started and strikeouts. Cameron Holycross (0.82 ERA) and Spencer (3.77 ERA) are among the team’s ERA leaders on the year.
The Sycamores continue to be elite defensively. Indiana State entered the week third in the NCAA and first in the MVC in fielding percentage. The Sycamores are fielding at a .987 clip on the season with five players posting perfect 1.000 percentages with at least 20 chances.
Scouting the Opposition
Valparaiso enters the weekend series with a 7-7 overall record on the year following their midweek 8-4 loss at Notre Dame. The Beacons have lost five of their last six dating back to March 5 against Arkansas Little Rock, but the win came in the weekend series at No. 22 Southern Miss on March 10. Last weekend’s series at Omaha was canceled due to the winter storms that came through the Midwest. All 14 of Valparaiso’s games have come away from home.
Nolan Tucker leads a Valparaiso offense that is hitting .404 from the plate this season with a team-high 21 hits, while sitting second in RBI (13) and third in runs (12). Kyle Schmack (.316) is also among the team hitting leaders with bests in home runs (4) and RBI (17), while Kaleb Hannahs is Valpo’s leader with 19 runs scored. The Valparaiso pitching staff has posted a 6.54 ERA on the year with 11 different pitchers making appearances so far in 2023. Griffin McCluskey (1-2, 6.00 ERA) and Connor Lockwood (2-0, 2.88 ERA) have been among the team’s top starters so far this season, while Nathan Chasey and Grant Jablonski have both made six appearances. Overall, Valparaiso has posted a team ERA of 6.54 and a 109:70 strikeout-to-walk ratio.
Valparaiso was picked 10th overall in the Missouri Valley preseason poll as announced by the conference office. The Beacons returned their top six hitters in terms of batting average including 2022 MVC First Team selection and Freshman All-American Nolan Tucker. Relievers Nathan Chasey and Bobby Nowak posted the top team ERAs in 2022.
Valparaiso and Indiana State only have one common non-conference opponent this season. Valpo will travel to Purdue on April 25, while ISU takes on the Boilermakers at home on March 28 and in West Lafayette on April 4.
Indiana State – Valparaiso History
Indiana State leads the all-time series against Valparaiso with a 53-29-1 overall record dating back to their first competition in 1948. ISU holds the all-time 45-19 edge in Terre Haute against the Beacons including winning their last 11 games between the programs at Bob Warn Field dating back to 2007. Overall, Indiana State has won 19 consecutive games against Valparaiso dating back to 2007, including a 16-inning contest back on April 17, 2012, thanks to a game-winning squeeze play in the 2-1 win.
Last Season against Valparaiso
The Sycamores swept all four games against the Beacons last year. ISU took all three games at Bauer Field while Matt Jachec carried a perfect game into the ninth inning in the MVC Championships First Round on their way to adding to their winning streak against the Beacons. Keegan Watson and Luis Hernandez both homered twice against the Beacons last year with Watson posting nine RBI over the four games. Matt Jachec (2-0) posted a 0.00 ERA with a 13:0 strikeout-to-walk ratio in two starts against the Beacons, while Joey Hurth and Connor Fenlong both added saves.
Recapping the Early Non-Conference
Indiana State went 8-11 in the early non-conference season following their first 19 games of the season. The Sycamores opened the year at the Snowbird Baseball Classic in Port Charlotte falling to Iowa in extra-innings, while topping Quinnipiac and Florida Gulf Coast.
Following a midweek loss to then-No. 22 Miami (Fla.), ISU went on a seven-game losing streak including getting swept in weekend series by both Northeastern and Kentucky. The Sycamores rebounded with a six-game winning streak started by taking two midweek games against SEMO, sweeping the weekend at Memphis (Mar. 10-12), and ISU’s first win at Illinois since 2007.
The Sycamores fell in each of their last three games heading into conference play with Indiana State falling to Michigan State (twice) and Indiana.
Strength of Schedule
Indiana State entered conference play boasting the top nonconference strength of schedule in the NCAA Division I through March 23. The Sycamores have faced off against three teams in the top-20 in RPI and six in the top-50. These opponents include Kentucky (4), Miami (12), and Northeastern (15), while Vanderbilt (11) and Missouri (18) are still on the schedule for later in the season.
The Sycamores currently trail just Oregon for the second hardest strength of schedule overall in 2023, while Florida State (3), Dayton (4), and UCLA (5) round out the top five.
Indiana State Baseball Season Tickets
Season tickets for the 2023 Indiana State baseball season are on sale now as the Sycamores continue to gear up for the upcoming season. ISU will play 19 games at Bob Warn Field this season starting on March 17-19 with a weekend series against Michigan State.
Overall, the Sycamores home schedule features nonconference contests against Michigan State (Mar. 17-19), Purdue (Mar. 28), Indiana (Apr. 4), Illinois (May 2), and Ball State (May 9). The conference slate features Valparaiso (Mar. 24-26), Illinois State (Apr. 7-9), Southern Illinois (Apr. 21-23), and Murray State (May 12-14).
INDIANA STATE SOFTBALL
SYCAMORES CONTINUE MVC PLAY WITH THREE-GAME SERIES AT DRAKE
TERRE HAUTE, Ind. – Indiana State softball will be on the road this weekend for a three-game conference series at Drake beginning Friday, March 24 at 4 p.m. ET at Buel Field.
Game two will be at 3 p.m. ET on Saturday, March 25 with the series finale being played at 1 p.m. ET on Sunday, March 26.
The Sycamores (14-12) are off to a 3-0 start in MVC action after a series sweep of UIC. Indiana State also split a doubleheader at Purdue on Tuesday. The Bulldogs (6-17) were swept in a series at Missouri State to open league play.
Indiana State’s 6-2 win over the Boilermakers marked the second Power Five victory of the season for ISU. The Sycamores also defeated ACC foe Pittsburgh 3-0 on March 12 at the Tiger Classic in Memphis.
The Indiana State offense is led by Kennedy Shade and Isabella Henning who are batting .448 and .438, respectively. Henning leads the team with 32 hits while Shade is second with 26. Annie Tokarek leads ISU with 17 RBIs. Kaylee Barrett has 15 RBIs and has two five RBI games on the season. Olivia Patton is third on the team with a .274 average and 23 hits.
In the circle for ISU, Lexi Benko leads the pitching staff with a 1.60 ERA and a 6-3 record. She has recorded 44 strikeouts in 61.1 innings of work. Cassi Newbanks is 4-5 with a 2.67 ERA, logging 42 innings of work. Lauren Sackett is 3-3 on the year with a team-high 50 strikeouts and three saves on the season. Hailey Griffin has a 2.59 ERA in 24.1 innings in relief with 19 strikeouts. Lyndsi Adamson has worked 11.2 innings this season including a pair of starts.
Drake is led by longtime head coach Rich Calvert who has been at the helm since 2003. MaKayla Rice leads the Bulldog offense with a .306 average and 22 hits. Emma Dighton has a team-best three home runs and 16 RBIs. In the circle, Mackenzie Hupke has a team-best 3.55 ERA in 45.1 innings. She has struck out 49 batters which also leads the team. Emma Dighton also pitches for Drake and has made six starts on the season.
Drake took last year’s series 2-1 in Terre Haute and leads the all-time series 50-35.
Indiana State will travel to Champaign, Illinois on Wednesday, March 29 for a midweek doubleheader at Illinois beginning at 5 p.m. ET.
PURDUE FT. WAYNE SOFTBALL
MASTODONS ADD GAME AGAINST WESTERN MICHIGAN
FORT WAYNE, Ind. – Purdue Fort Wayne softball added a game against the Western Michigan Broncos for Friday (March 24) at noon at the Purdue Fort Wayne Softball Field.
Game Day Information
Who: Western Michigan Broncos
When: Friday, March 24 | 12 PM
Where: Fort Wayne, Ind. | Purdue Fort Wayne Softball Field
Live Stats: Link
Know Your Foe
Western Michigan is 6-11 this season with wins over Lindenwood, Houston Christian, Louisiana Monroe, Memphis, Eastern Illinois and Samford. The Broncos played No. 9 Alabama close, but fell 3-1. The Broncos have not played since March 11 due to weather. Courtney Farrish is leading the team with a .681 slugging percentage, coming on 17 hits, nine doubles and two home runs. Autumn Goodwin is throwing a team-best 2.97 ERA, while the team is combining for a 3.83 ERA.
Western Michigan leads the all-time series 5-3, with two of the three losses coming in Fort Wayne. The two teams have not played since 2019.
Purdue Fort Wayne is leading the Horizon League with 0.48 home runs per game.
Purdue Fort Wayne beat Green Bay 2-1 in a non-league game at the Hoosier Classic. The Phoenix were picked to finish fourth in the Horizon League.
Grace Hollopeter and Alanah Jones have the most and second-most home runs in the Horizon League with four and three, respectively.
Alanah Jones is second in the Horizon League with 58 strikeouts this season. This mark is also top-150 nationally.
Graced By Her Presence
Grace Hollopeter was named Horizon League Player of the Week on February 21. The freshman finished the week with seven hits with a .368 batting average and a 1.053 slugging percentage. Hollopeter had nine RBI behind four home runs, three of which were 2-run shots. In the first game against Rhode Island, Hollopeter had two two-run home runs in her first two at bats, the second of which was on the first pitch she saw. Defensively, she was a perfect 1.000 in the field with eight putouts.
Last Time Out
Purdue Fort Wayne fell to Youngstown State in a pair of come-from-behind games to open Horizon League play.
Next Time Up
The Mastodons will play another non-league game against the Valparaiso Beacons on Wednesday (March 29).
PURDUE FT. WAYNE BASEBALL
‘DONS HOME THIS WEEKEND TO FACE NKU
FORT WAYNE, Ind. – It is baseball time in Fort Wayne. The Mastodon baseball team will welcome Horizon League foe Northern Kentucky this weekend for a three-game series.
Game Day Information
Who: Purdue Fort Wayne (4-17, 1-2 Horizon League) vs. Northern Kentucky (11-8, 3-0 Horizon League)
Friday, March 24 | 3 PM
Saturday, March 25 | 2 PM
Sunday, March 26 | 1 PM
Where: Fort Wayne, Ind. | Mastodon Field
Weather: Friday: 44, cloudy | Saturday: 49, rain | Sunday: 52, partly cloudy
Live Stats: Link
Series History: Northern Kentucky leads 17-14. The ‘Dons took 4-of-5 last season from Northern Kentucky.
Purdue Fort Wayne: RHP Mac Ayres (0-1), LHP Jacob Myer (0-2), RHP Owen Willard (0-0)
Northern Kentucky: RHP Clay Brock (3-0), LHP Ben Gerl (2-2), RHP Kaden Echeman (1-1)
Scouting the Norse: Northern Kentucky opened league play with a three-game sweep of Milwaukee. They outscored Milwaukee by a combined score of 27-5. Colton Kucera leads the team in hitting at .423. Noah Fisher has a team-best 25 RBIs. Carson Werrmann and Clay Brock are both 3-0 on the season.
Hey Batter Batter (of the Week):Braedon Blackford hit .429 and slugged 1.357 with four home runs in 14 at bats over four games played in Winston-Salem, N.C. (March 3-5). He also recorded one double, seven RBIs, five runs scored, two walks and 19 total bases to earn the Horizon League Batter of the Week honor. The Peoria, Ill. native began a doubleheader against Cornell going 3-for-4 with two home runs and a double to drive in two runs and score three times in a 6-3 victory. He ended the week driving in five more runs against Ball State on Sunday as he blasted two more long balls and finished the day going 3-for-4 with two runs scored and a walk. He now has three career multi-home run games for the ‘Dons. Last season he had two against Cal Baptist on Feb. 26, 2022.
D1Baseball Top 30: Blackford was named a Top 30 Hitter of the day for his two-run home run game vs. Cornell. He was ranked No. 11. JD Deany was selected as a Top 30 pitcher for his five shutout innings vs. Cornell.
Home Run Time: Braedon Blackford owns a Horizon League-best six home runs. He is sixth in the league in slugging (.623) and RBIs (17).
Save X3: Three different Mastodons have recorded a save this season. Brody Fine, Mac Ayres and Justin Miller own saves for the ‘Dons.
‘Dons Dig The Long Ball: Seven different Mastodons have hit a home run this season. On Tuesday at Bowling Green Brooks Sailors hit his first career home run.
Get On Base: Three Mastodons enter the weekend with active double-digit on-base streaks: Eli Tencza (13), Jacob Walker (13) and Braedon Blackford (12).
Turn It!: The Mastodons are 26th in the nation double in plays turned with 18 this season.
Multi-verse: 12 different Mastodons have had a multi-hit game this season.
Up Next: The ‘Dons will host Bowling Green on Tuesday in a 3 p.m. start.
SOUTHERN INDIANA BASEBALL
USI-MOREHEAD STATE BASEBALL SERIES SHIFTED DUE TO RAIN
EVANSVILLE, Ind.— The forecast of heavy rain Thursday and Friday has forced a schedule change for the Ohio Valley Conference three-game baseball series between the University of Southern Indiana and Morehead State University at the USI Baseball Field. Friday’s 6 p.m. single game has been postponed and will be a part of a 2 p.m. Saturday doubleheader, while Sunday’s single game remains slated for a noon start.
For more information about possible USI Baseball weather-related schedule changes, visit USIScreamingEagles.com and the USI Baseball schedule page. Schedule information also will be posted on Facebook and Twitter.
The Screaming Eagles, who will be playing their first OVC game, is 7-14 overall in 2023, while Morehead State enters the series with a 10-10 mark this spring.
VALPO MEN’S BASKETBALL
VALPO ANNOUNCES CHANGE IN LEADERSHIP OF MEN’S BASKETBALL PROGRAM
Valparaiso University Director of Athletics Dr. Charles Small has announced that Matt Lottich will no longer serve as the head coach of the Valpo men’s basketball program.
In his seven seasons as head coach, Lottich compiled a record of 108-117 (.480). He spent 10 total seasons on the Valpo coaching staff including three as an assistant coach. Lottich led Valpo to the championship game of the Missouri Valley Conference Tournament in 2019-20 and guided the team to the Horizon League regular-season title and an NIT appearance in 2016-17
“I would like to sincerely thank Matt Lottich for his contributions to Valpo Athletics during his time leading our men’s basketball program,” Small said. “Coach Lottich is a man of high character and he has led our team with integrity and class. This was a difficult decision and not one that I took lightly. I wish Matt and his family all the best in their future endeavors.”
Valpo will immediately launch a national search to identify the program’s next head coach.
With 14 NCAA tournament appearances, 18 regular-season conference championships and 10 conference tournament championships, Valpo men’s basketball has a tradition of excellence. The program has produced eight NBA players, 10 conference players of the year and 20 20-win seasons.
U OF I VOLLEYBALL
REED FINALIZES 2023 VOLLEYBALL ROSTER WITH FOUR ADDITIONS
INDIANAPOLIS – UIndy volleyball head coach Jason Reed has announced the addition of four student-athletes to the program, rounding out the 2023 fall roster.
The latest crop of Greyhounds joining the family are Elana Brueggemann, Macy Bruton, Addison Putt, and Allie Wuestenfeld.
No stranger to the Indianapolis area, Carmel High School graduate Elana Brueggmann comes to UIndy following a stint at crosstown Butler for three years. Prior to the Bulldogs, Brueggmann played one season at DePaul.
“We’re very excited to bring Elana into the fold,” said Reed. “She’s had experience in the Big East and we look forward to having her in our gym. She is from the area and has already played with a number of our team members, prior to college.”
The 6-0 outside played in 61 sets at Butler, totaling 106 kills and 27 blocks in two seasons of action. Brueggemann posted solid numbers as a rookie in 2019, recording 145 kills and 110 digs in 97 sets while at DePaul. She plans to work toward her Masters in Business Administration, following four straight years of earning Big East All-Academic accolades.
Reed continued: “She has great length and IQ and hits a heavy ball. I would expect Elana to make an immediate impact on our team.”
Bruton was a force at Crawfordsville as a prep, accumulating more than 2,000 kills and 1,000 digs in four seasons. She led the state of Indiana in kills as a senior, earning Journal Review Player of the Year.
“We have an incredible group in the backcourt with Macy joining us in the fall,” Reed said. “She’s coming from Circle City right here in town and is yet another defensive player who has had years of success on her resume playing for a club who competes on a national scale.”
Prior to the 2022 campaign, Bruton was named to the AVCA All-America Watchlist.
Said Reed, “She is a great athlete who has seen the front row in high school – but we anticipate her playing primarily as a back row player for us. She’s quick and athletic, and comfortable competing when it really counts.”
A four-time Academic All-State honoree, Putt brings a wealth of winning experience to the Greyhound program. The Fisherville, Ky., native was a part of Assumption’s 34 victories this past fall.
“Addison comes from two incredible programs – KIVA and Assumption, in Louisville,” said Reed. She’s had success every place she has suited up and we expect the same to continue as she joins UIndy.”
Putt was also a member of the honor roll, with her Academic All-State first-team award highlighting her classroom accomplishments.
“We were very impressed with her athleticism and nose for the ball and believe she will be ready to compete right away,” continued Reed. “She’s a bright player with great ball control.”
A to-be graduate of Joliet Catholic, Wuestenfeld was a member of a pair of state tournament runs for the Angels, including a third-place finish at last season’s event. The 5-8 defensive specialist totaled a combined 607 digs plus serve receives as a senior, earning IHSA All-Mention honors.
“Allie will make a short trip south from Chicagoland and bolster our already strong core of back row players,” boasted Reed. “She’s had opportunities to play at the next level and we’re glad she made the choice to join our group.
Wuestenfeld plans to major in Criminal Justice upon her arrival to the Circle City.
Reed concluded: “She has a great platform and versatility in the back court. I know she’d do a great job in any position in the back row.”
SMALL COLLEGE ATHLETIC SITES:
INDIANA WESLEYAN ATHLETICS: https://iwuwildcats.com/
EARLHAM ATHLETICS: https://goearlham.com/
WABASH ATHLETICS: https://sports.wabash.edu/
FRANKLIN ATHLETICS: https://franklingrizzlies.com/
ROSE-HULMAN ATHLETICS: https://athletics.rose-hulman.edu/
ANDERSON ATHLETICS: https://athletics.anderson.edu/landing/index
TRINE ATHLETICS: https://trinethunder.com/landing/index
BETHEL ATHLETICS: https://bupilots.com/
DEPAUW ATHLETICS: https://depauwtigers.com/
HANOVER ATHLETICS: https://athletics.hanover.edu/
MANCHESTER ATHLETICS: https://muspartans.com/
HUNTINGTON ATHLETICS: https://www.huathletics.com/
OAKLAND CITY ATHLETICS: https://gomightyoaks.com/index.aspx
ST. FRANCIS ATHLETICS: https://www.saintfranciscougars.com/landing/index
IU KOKOMO ATHLETICS: https://iukcougars.com/
IU EAST ATHLETICS: https://www.iueredwolves.com/
IU SOUTH BEND ATHLETICS: https://iusbtitans.com/
PURDUE NORTHWEST ATHLETICS: https://pnwathletics.com/
INDIANA TECH ATHLETICS: https://indianatechwarriors.com/index.aspx
GRACE COLLEGE ATHLETICS: https://gclancers.com/
ST. MARY OF THE WOODS ATHLETICS: https://smwcathletics.com/
GOSHEN COLLEGE ATHLETICS: https://goleafs.net/
HOLY CROSS ATHLETICS: https://www.hcsaints.com/index.php
TAYLOR ATHLETICS: https://www.taylortrojans.com/
VINCENNES ATHLETICS: https://govutrailblazers.com/landing/index
TOP NATIONAL NEWS
NCAA MEN’S SWEET 16
GONZAGA BEATS UCLA 79-76 IN SWEET 16 ON STRAWTHER’S SHOT
LAS VEGAS (AP) Gonzaga and UCLA played one NCAA Tournament game that left the Zags’ star player bawling, and another game that stunned the Bruins.
Add another to the list. Maybe the maddest one in March yet.
Julian Strawther hit a 3-pointer with 7.2 seconds left to answer a 3-pointer by UCLA’s Amari Bailey, lifting Gonzaga to a wild 79-76 win over UCLA Thursday night in the Sweet 16.
“It’s moments like that you can’t make up,” said Strawther, a Las Vegas native. “Those are literally the moments you dream of. To even make a shot like that in March Madness and just to be back home in Vegas is like the cherry on top.”
The Bruins (31-6), the West Region’s No. 2 seed, stormed back from an eight-point deficit in the final 1:05 and took a 76-75 lead on Bailey’s 3-pointer with 12.2 seconds left.
The Zags (31-5) brought the ball up the floor and Strawther stepped into a 3-pointer after a drop pass from Hunter Sallis, sending Gonzaga fans to their feet.
“As soon as it came off, it looked like it was on line,” Strawther said.
The Zags still had to sweat it out.
Gonzaga’s Malachi Smith stole the ball from UCLA’s Tyger Campbell, but Strawther only hit 1 of 2 free throws at the other end, giving the Bruins a chance.
Campbell’s 3-pointer at the buzzer hit the back of the rim, sending the Zags rushing off the bench and into the Elite Eight against UConn on Saturday while leaving the Bruins disappointed again.
“Every game, try not to get too high, try not to get too low,” said UCLA’s Jaime Jaquez, who had 29 points and 11 rebounds. “He hit a big shot and we lost.”
Strawther’s shot was reminiscent of the one Villanova’s Kris Jenkins made off a drop pass to clinch the 2016 national championship – a shot that came after North Carolina’s Marcus Paige hit an off-balance 3-pointer with 4.7 seconds left.
There’s a reason it looked familiar.
“That’s Jay Wright’s play that he used in Villanova-Carolina, the championship,” Gonzaga coach Mark Few said. “That’s what we call it. He makes it all the time.”
It also is the latest chapter in what’s become the best West Coast rivalry in college basketball.
UCLA got the better of the teams’ first NCAA Tournament go-around, rallying from 17 points down to send the Zags out of the 2006 bracket and star Adam Morrison to the floor crying.
Jalen Suggs crushed the Bruins the last time, hitting a running 3-pointer at the buzzer to send the Zags to the 2021 national championship game.
“I can’t even describe what he did. It’s crazy,” Gonzaga’s Drew Timme said of Strawther’s game-winner. “It’s just like that Jalen shot, man.”
Timme had 36 points for his record 10th NCAA Tournament game with 20 points.
The flurry of a finish started off more like a prize fight, each team taking its turn landing blows in a game of wild swings.
UCLA led by 13 at the half, but went on an 11-minute field goal drought as Gonzaga went up by 10 with 2:40 left. The Bruins took their rally turn and retook the lead, but left Gonzaga with too much time on the clock.
“We should have been tighter on Strawther,” UCLA coach Mick Cronin said. “We were the whole game. We just weren’t on that play. If we were tighter then he couldn’t have looped behind.”
Timme kept Gonzaga in it during UCLA’s torrid first half and Gonzaga’s porous first-half defense tightened in the second, giving them a seven-point lead with 53 seconds left.
Jaquez brought the Bruins back in his final college game.
The Pac-12 player of the year scored on a three-point play and a layup to cut it 74-71 with 45 seconds left. Timme then missed two free throws, setting up Bailey’s shot.
Thankfully for the Zags, Strawther was on the mark with his long 3-pointer and Campbell was off the mark on his, sending Gonzaga to the Elite Eight for the fifth time under Few.
NOWELL BREAKS NCAA ASSIST RECORD, KSU BEATS MSU 98-93 IN OT
NEW YORK (AP) Markquis Nowell walked the ball up the floor with the score tied in the final minute of overtime and exchanged animated hand signals with his coach, Jerome Tang.
Standing on the March Madness logo at Madison Square Garden, the 5-foot-8 Kansas State point guard who grew up in Harlem glanced at the basket for a split second and flicked a chest pass into the lane. Keyontae Johnson slipped behind the Michigan State defense, elevated with his back to the basket, grabbed the ball and slammed it down.
It was the signature play of a towering performance by the shortest player on the floor.
Nowell broke the NCAA Tournament record for assists in a game with 19, his last two on spectacular passes in the last minute of OT, and Kansas State beat Michigan State 98-93 on Thursday night in a Sweet 16 thriller.
“Today was a special one, man,” said Nowell, who fought through a second-half ankle injury. “I’ve got to give a lot to credit to my teammates for battling, for fighting through adversity when we was down. I can’t even explain how I’m feeling right now. I just know that I’m blessed and I’m grateful.”
Nowell’s alley-oop to Johnson with 52 seconds left in overtime gave the Wildcats (26-9) the lead for good in this back-and-forth East Region semifinal.
“I mean, it was just a basketball play between me and Keyontae,” Nowell said. “We knew how Michigan State plays defense. They play high up, and Keyontae just told me, we got eye contact, and he was like, lob, lob. I just threw it up, and he made a great play.”
Michigan State cut the lead to one before Nowell bounced an inbound pass from under the basket to Ismael Massoud, who knocked down a jumper with 17 seconds left that put Kansas State ahead 96-93 and gave Nowell the assists record.
With Michigan State needing a 3 to tie, Nowell stole the ball from the Spartans’ Tyson Walker and drove for a clinching layup at the buzzer. Nowell finished with 20 points and five steals in a signature performance at basketball’s most famous arena that drew tweets of praise from Patrick Mahomes and Kevin Durant.
“That was a legendary display of controlling a basketball game Markquis,” Durant tweeted.
UNLV’s Mark Wade had the previous NCAA tourney assists record with 18 during the Runnin’ Rebels 1987 Final Four win over Indiana.
Tang, the energetic, 56-year-old first-year head coach who was hired to lead the Wildcats after two decades as an assistant at Baylor, gave all the credit to his senior point guard.
“Well, what really helps is that all 10 eyes on the defense have to pay attention to him, and that’s what allows everybody else to get open,” Tang said. “It’s not just that he sees it, but they all have to pay attention to him when he has the ball in his hands.”
Johnson – the Florida transfer who was sidelined for nearly two years after he collapsed on the court during a game in December 2020 – scored 22 points for the No. 3 seed Wildcats. Kansas State will face ninth-seeded Florida Atlantic on Saturday as it seeks the program’s first Final Four berth since 1964.
A.J. Hoggard scored a career-high 25 points for seventh-seeded Michigan State (21-13). Joey Hauser added 18 points and Walker had 16, including a layup with 5 seconds left in regulation that forced the first overtime of this year’s NCAA Tournament.
Nowell turned his ankle early in the second half, was helped off the court and had it taped. Michigan State took the lead with him sidelined, and when he returned, he pushed off the ankle to bank in a 3-pointer that beat the shot clock and tied the game at 55-all.
Turns out he was just getting started. Neither team led by more than seven points in the final 15 minutes of regulation, and Nowell steadied Kansas State’s offense down the stretch, finding Massoud for a 3-pointer that made it 80-75 and hitting a jumper with 1:04 left for the Wildcats’ final basket of regulation.
Massoud, who like Nowell honed his game on the playgrounds of Harlem, finished with 15 points for the Wildcats, who shot 55.9% from the field. They become only the second team to shoot better than 50% against the Spartans this season. Cam Carter added 12 points.
Jaden Akins added 14 points for coach Tom Izzo’s Spartans, the final Big Ten team in the tournament. Michigan State outrebounded Kansas State 37-31 and finished 31 of 63 from the field (49.2%).
“We got caught mesmerized on Nowell,” Izzo said. “He’s a special player. We actually did a pretty good job on him. … It was the assists that really killed us, and the back cuts.”
Both teams were efficient from 3-point range in a tournament that’s featured shaky outside shooting, with Michigan State hitting 13 of 25 (52%) and Kansas State connecting on 11 of 24 (45.8%).
Nowell was the difference, putting his name alongside New York City point guard greats like Kenny Smith, Kenny Anderson, Mark Jackson and Bob Cousy, and sending Kansas State to its first Elite Eight since 2018.
Michigan State: The 68-year-old Izzo has led the Spartans to 25 straight NCAA Tournaments but is still seeking his second national title. Since their championship in 2000, the Spartans have made six Final Fours, most recently in 2019.
Kansas State: Nowell has 64 points and 42 assists in three games, including 14 assists in the first round against Montana State. He had nine assists against Kentucky; one more would have given him double-doubles in all three games.
FLORIDA ATLANTIC MAKES FIRST ELITE EIGHT, BOUNCES TENNESSEE
NEW YORK (AP) When the horn sounded on the greatest victory in the history of Florida Atlantic athletics, Nick Boyd and Bryan Greenlee hopped onto the press row table to celebrate.
Instead of going to the locker room, some of the Owls players made their way up into the stands to sing “New York, New York” with their fans.
The Boca Raton, Florida-based school that has only been competing in Division I for the last 30 years, and had just one previous appearance in the NCAA Tournament, is now a victory away from the Final Four.
The Owls used a second-half push led by Michael Forrest to beat fourth-seeded Tennessee 62-55 on Thursday night in the Sweet 16.
Ninth-seeded FAU (34-3) will play third-seeded Kansas State in the East Region final at Madison Square Garden on Saturday.
“Yeah, our guys definitely feel like they belong on this stage,” fifth-year coach Dusty May said.
Even before the tournament started, this was the unquestionably the greatest season in FAU history. Now the Owls are one of the biggest stories in all of sports.
“We’re just a scrappy group,” Boyd said. “Unbreakable.”
Johnell Davis led the Conference USA champions with 15 points and Forrest finished with 11, including eight in a crucial second-half run where FAU took control.
The Volunteers (25-11), who were looking for the second Elite Eight appearance in program history, shot just 33% – including 6 of 23 from 3-point range. Josiah-Jordan James and Jonas Aidoo scored 10 points apiece.
“Certainly proud of the effort that these guys have given us all year, through tough times with injuries, but when it ends like this, it’s always disappointing because we want it all and came up short,” Tennessee coach Rick Barnes said.
Barnes has made 27 NCAA appearances with four schools, but he has reached the Elite Eight only twice and never gone to a Final Four.
The game was slogging along at Tennessee’s style and pace. The No. 1 defense in the country, according to KemPom metrics, out of the rugged Southeastern Conference was making FAU work hard for shots.
Then the Owls started hitting the 3-pointers they had been missing for much of the first 30 minutes.
“We got great shots even in the first half when they were in us a little bit,” Boyd said. “The second half, they dropped, we broke it open a little bit.”
Forrest made consecutive 3s to put FAU up 41-39 with 9:49 left, the Owls’ first leads since the opening minute.
Forrest capped a personal 8-0 run with driving layup that put the Owls up by four.
Meanwhile, Tennessee couldn’t buy a bucket. The Vols went six minutes during which they scored four points.
“Obviously we missed open shots, they missed open shots,” James said. “But we were disappointed in the way we played. We knew we had to play tougher, but we were up five points, so …”
Brandon Weatherspoon’s putback of a 3-point miss off the side of the backboard made it 51-41 with 6:47 left.
The Vols had one more push left. James swished a 3 with 3:33 left to cut the Owls’ lead to 55-50.
The Owls then turned up the defense, getting a key stop that led to a fast-break layup by Boyd that put FAU up 57-50 with 2:31 left.
The Owls salted it away with free throws from there, as the orange-clad Vols fans emptied out of MSG and the outnumbered FAU fans took over.
Owls fans serenaded May’s wife, Anna, with an “F-A-U!” chant before finally filing out of The Garden.
May compared Tennessee’s defensive physicality to rugby. He meant it as a compliment, and his Owls showed they could play tough, too.
“We feel like we’re physical as well,” Boyd said.
FAU: The Owls managed to outrebounded the bigger Vols 40-36, including 12 offensive rebounds that they turned into 14 second-chance points.
“We know we’re not the tallest team,” 7-foot-1 center Vlad Goldin said. “So we know we have to be quick to the ball. We have to be physical. We have to raise our physicality. But it’s not something to be scared of.”
Tennessee: The Vols were challenged offensively much of the season, and became even more limited when they lost point guard Zakai Zeigler.
Zeigler blew out his right knee against Arkansas on the last day of February, but there was no way the Long Island native was missing a trip back to New York. Zeigler was on the sideline, using a scooter to roll onto the court at times to join team huddles and provide encouragement.
Tennessee went 7-8 from Feb. 1 to the end of the season.
The Owls have never played Kansas State.
UCONN A STEP FROM FINAL FOUR AFTER 88-65 BLOWOUT OF ARKANSAS
LAS VEGAS (AP) After UConn lost as a 5 seed to 12th-seeded New Mexico State in the first round of last year’s NCAA Tournament, Huskies coach Dan Hurley told his core players they would be back on this stage.
Not only would they return, but Hurley said he would surround them with players capable of taking them deep into March.
They are certainly doing that.
The Huskies’ 88-65 victory over Arkansas in the West Region semifinals on Thursday night was their third by double digits in as many games. Jordan Hawkins scored 24 points to lead the dominant effort.
Fourth-seeded UConn (28-8) will play No. 3 seed Gonzaga on Saturday for a spot in the Final Four, a stout response to last year’s early exit.
“We really from that day on really held each other to a higher standard and just told each other we’re going to push for a national championship,” UConn guard Andre Jackson Jr. said. “We’re going to push for that type of standard every day in practice and we’re going to hold each other to that.”
UConn is playing like a team capable of winning its fifth national title and first since 2014. The Huskies have outscored their three March Madness opponents by 62 points.
“They’ve got a real complete team, probably the most complete team in the country,” Arkansas guard Ricky Council IV said. “I think they can definitely win it all.”
The Huskies won their first two games by outscoring Iona and Saint Mary’s by a combined 86-49 in the second half. UConn surged early against Arkansas with a 14-point run and took a 46-29 lead into halftime.
The Huskies never trailed and led by as many as 29 points.
UConn, which has won nine of its past 10 games, shot 57.4% compared to 31.7% for Arkansas. The Huskies dominated inside, outrebounding the Razorbacks 43-31 and outscoring them 42-24 in the lane.
Adama Sanogo scored 18 points, Alex Karaban had 11 and Nahiem Alleyene 10 for UConn. Sanogo, who also had eight rebounds, has scored 71 points in 75 minutes in this tournament.
Anthony Black led Arkansas (22-14) with 20 points, Council had 17 and Nick Smith Jr. 11.
“I’m just proud of the way we’ve built this thing,” said Hurley, who is in his fifth season. “We’ve got an incredible group of players, and we get the right type of people and we’ve got great culture. We’re right where we thought we would be.”
MAKING PROGRAM HISTORY
Eighth-seeded Arkansas was seeking a third straight appearance in the Elite Eight, which would have been a first for the program. The Razorbacks made three consecutive Sweet 16s for the second time.
“There are not a lot of teams that have been to three straight Sweet 16s in the entire country, and we are one of them,” coach Eric Musselman said. “The culture is strong. As a staff, we’ll start working towards next year tonight as soon as we get back to the hotel.”
Senior Kamani Johnson won’t be around next season to see if the Razorbacks can get back to this point, but he said the program is in good hands.
“We’re doing something special in Arkansas and we’re of building on that,” Johnson said. “It hurts right now, but I’m really proud of this group.”
UConn improved to 15-0 in nonconference games, all by double digits. Oklahoma State came the closest, losing 74-64 on Dec. 1.
“When people see us for the first time, it’s a great advantage to us because we are not a ball-screen heavy team,” Hurley said. “We have a lot of movement on offense. We’ve got the two centers (Sanogo and Karaban) that can dominate a game. We’re a unique team to play against if you haven’t seen us.”
SPREADING THE WEALTH
As dominant as UConn was inside, the Huskies also made 9 of 20 3-pointers and had 22 assists.
“To me, the most impressive thing is that they had 22 assists,” Musselman said. “We tried to cause turnovers and rush the quarterback, but 22 assists is a lot of assists.”
UConn entered the game averaging 17.4 assists.
NCAA SWEET 16 PREVIEW: SAN DIEGO STATE VS. ALABAMA
Win or lose in the Sweet 16 matchup with No. 1 overall seed Alabama, San Diego State strives to control the pace.
For the Aztecs to defeat the Crimson Tide in the South Region semifinal on Friday in Louisville, Ky., the No. 5 seed has to live up to its reputation.
“San Diego State’s defense is elite,” Alabama coach Nate Oats said.
The Aztecs (29-6) led the nation in transition defense, and with a rotation that touches 10 players and beyond, San Diego State follows an old-school philosophy: Defend and offense will follow. The Mountain West champions expected to be in Louisville with this opportunity, even if others didn’t.
“Defense travels,” Aztecs guard Darrion Trammell said. “That’s something we have on the paper every game, every away game. That’s something that we hang our hats on. I think that’s going to take us very far. Like (in the second round against Furman) if the offense is flowing, I feel like we’re a very hard team to beat, but it’s not something we have to rely on like a lot of teams do. I feel like that’s an advantage against our competition.”
San Diego State coach Brian Dutcher confessed upon his team punching a ticket to the Sweet 16 with a takedown of Furman in Orlando, he knew “nothing” about Alabama. A former Steve Fisher assistant who followed from Michigan, Dutcher has been at San Diego State since 1999 and has the team in the Sweet 16 for the first time since 2014.
His focus as long as the Aztecs, who hold opponents to 63.1 points and 6.4 made 3s per game, are around is to convince his players to focus first on themselves, their job and role, and being too connected as a team to lose.
“Teams don’t win that play on their heels. We’ve got to play on our toes and with that comes intelligence,” Dutcher said. “You can’t go out and play crazy. I think we play connected, we play the right way, and we play with confidence.”
Oats might be interested in thoughts from San Diego State’s NCAA Tournament victims so far, Charleston and Furman, to get to know his Friday night date. Charleston coach Pat Kelsey said SDSU “kicked out butts” physically. Furman coach Bob Richey sounds like a believer, too, saying the Aztecs “could advance as far as they want in this thing because of how physical they are.”
Of course, Alabama stands on the pedestal as the No. 1 seed for a reason. The Crimson Tide won two games in Birmingham by an average margin of 21.5 points, led by point guard Jahvon Quinerly and All-American Brandon Miller.
Maryland fell short in a second-round matchup with Alabama last week, and Terrapins coach Kevin Willard said a prime takeaway for his team was the way the Crimson Tide committed to using collective athletic ability to defend.
“There’s a reason why they were second in 3-point field-goal defense,” Willard said. “I think they are (third) in overall field-goal defense. They have a very simple game plan, which works. They just funnel everything into the big guy and they take away the strong side and the kicks — they do a great job of it. They use their length tremendously.”
The Crimson Tide will appear in the Sweet 16 for the ninth time in program history, last making it in 2021 and losing to UCLA.
“Losing to UCLA two years ago, I remember that feeling,” Quinerly said. “I’m just going to let the guys know that, you know, we’re close. We’re very close, but we still got a ways to go.”
NCAA SWEET 16 PREVIEW: HOUSTON VS. MIAMI
Top-seeded Houston is in the Sweet 16 for the fourth consecutive NCAA Tournament, but the Cougars don’t feel they receive the proper respect.
Heading into the second weekend of the tournament, that feeling lingers despite the Cougars being just one victory away from their third straight Elite Eight appearance.
“A lot of people were pushing for us to lose,” Houston guard Tramon Mark said. “They didn’t believe we were a real 1 seed because of the conference (American Athletic) we play in. But I think we’re one of the best teams in the country still, and we proved it.”
The Cougars (33-3) look to take the next step when they battle fifth-seeded Miami (27-7) on Friday night in Midwest Region play in Kansas City, Mo.
Houston spent the entire season near the top of the national rankings and surely isn’t a surprise Sweet 16 participant.
“I put ourselves in a whole different category,” forward J’Wan Roberts said. “I don’t compare us to other teams. We just stick to what we do, and it shows. Other No. 1 teams got beat, but we didn’t.”
The Cougars and Alabama are the No. 1 seeds still playing. Purdue lost in the opening round and Kansas fell in the second.
Houston coach Kelvin Sampson tries to simplify the approach during March Madness.
“We’ve been here many times in the final 16,” Sampson said. “The next 40 minutes are going to be big. We’ve got to find a way to get the next 40 minutes, and then we’ll move on from there. If not, it’s over.”
Star guard Marcus Sasser (groin) is still gimpy despite scoring 22 points in Saturday’s 81-64 win over Auburn. On Thursday, Sasser proclaimed he will be “around 90 percent” for the game. Teammate Jamal Shead (knee) said he is 100 percent recovered.
Mark scored a career-high 26 points against Auburn.
The Hurricanes are in the Sweet 16 in consecutive seasons for the first time in program history. Last season, they reached the Elite Eight before being routed 76-50 by eventual national champion Kansas.
Star guard Isaiah Wong said it is a great era for the Hurricanes, who are just two victories away from matching the school record.
“It’s just an honor being part of this program, with the history we have,” Wong said. “We have a great team this year and last year too, and I feel like it’s great to see how we came up.
“My first year we wasn’t as good, but for the last two years, we’re going to the Sweet 16, and last year the Elite Eight.”
Still, guard Jordan Miller said that Miami also doesn’t receive the level of respect it should.
“I wouldn’t say underappreciated, but at the end of the day, all we can do is just come out and win basketball games,” Miller said. “I feel like winning a game in itself is a way to get recognition. We’re going to the Sweet 16. That’s a lot of recognition. We don’t necessarily care about what the media says.”
Wong averages a team-best 16.1 points and Miller is right behind at 15.1 Nijel Pack and Norchad Omier both average 13.4 points with the latter collecting a team-leading 10.1 rebounds per game.
Omier grabbed 17 rebounds in Sunday’s 85-69 victory over Indiana. That was a program record for boards in an NCAA Tournament game, surpassing the 14 he collected two nights earlier in a 63-56 victory over Drake.
“If I’m being honest, I really don’t know,” Omier said of his success. “I just like playing with my teammates. They always motivate me to go do what I love to do, and I love rebounding.”
Wong scored 27 points against Indiana.
Miami guard Wooga Poplar, who injured his back against Indiana, has yet to be cleared but will be in the starting lineup if he can play.
Houston holds a 9-5 series edge over Miami but the schools haven’t met in 52 years.
The winner faces either second-seeded Texas or third-seeded Xavier in Sunday’s regional final.
NCAA SWEET 16 PREVIEW: PRINCETON VS. CREIGHTON
For the third straight year, a No. 15 reached the Sweet 16. For the second straight season, a private school from New Jersey is the noisemaker in the NCAA Tournament.
Princeton coach Mitch Henderson said the Tigers received celebrity treatment since returning home from consecutive bracket-busting upsets of South No. 2 seed Arizona and No. 7 Missouri. Henderson and Princeton wade deeper into uncharted territory in a South Region semifinal game against sixth-seeded Creighton on Friday in Louisville.
“I was on a show today with Coach K (Mike Krzyzewski), and he asked me the same thing,” Henderson said. “I was like, ‘Well, you tell me. What do we do here?'”
It’s not a mystery for the Ivy League champions. Henderson intends for everyone to remember what got them to this point, to stay themselves while enjoying the moment.
The Tigers (23-8) haven’t played like a No. 15 seed in their two tournament wins. They never trailed after the opening minutes against Missouri, made twice as many 3-pointers (12 to six) as their opponent and dominated the boards 44-30, all while handling the Tigers’ pressure defense.
Princeton’s Ryan Langborg scored a game-high 22 points, adding six rebounds and four assists. Freshman Caden Pierce grabbed a career-high 16 rebounds — seven on the offensive glass — to go with nine points, and Tosan Evbuomwan finished with nine points, nine rebounds and five assists.
“We’re playing a brand of basketball that’s conducive to winning at the highest levels, and that’s rebounding,” Henderson said. “You’ve gotta be physical and you’ve got to go up there and get it, and you’ve got to play tough-nosed defense.”
But the rebound margin might not be so lopsided against Creighton (23-12), and Henderson knows it. Creighton hits the boards hard, with guard Baylor Scheierman an answer for Pierce with his team-leading 8.2 rebounds per game. Ryan Kalkbrenner, the Bluejays’ 7-foot-1 leading scorer (15.7 points per game), adds 6.2 rebounds per contest.
Creighton coach Greg McDermott praised Princeton for having a “very efficient” offense.
“This isn’t a true Princeton offense, but a lot of their characteristics are the same,” McDermott said Tuesday, referencing the traditional backdoor cut sets of a bygone era. “Their spacing’s great, their cutting’s elite, their ball security’s really good and they spread you out, space you out with their ability to shoot the basketball.”
While Princeton made its first Sweet 16 in program history, the Bluejays secured their second Sweet 16 appearance in three years by shooting down third-seeded Baylor in the second round, 85-76.
Ryan Nembhard scored a career-high 30 points for Creighton, which shot 45.8 percent from 3-point range (11 of 24) and 100 percent at the foul line (22 of 22).
Not unlike Princeton, Creighton has been on a mission to show it belongs with the best. The Bluejays were ranked as high as No. 7 in the country this season and may have been underseeded on the six line.
“We definitely don’t care who we’re going against,” Nembhard said after the win over Baylor. “We respect everybody. We give everybody the respect they’re due, but at the end of the day, we think we’re just as good as anybody in the country. We come into every game thinking that mentality.”
Princeton is 11th in the country in rebound margin at plus-6.6. Creighton ranks a respectable 62nd with a plus-3.7 margin.
Creighton and Princeton have met just once before, and the Bluejays won in Omaha, Neb., on Dec. 29, 1961.
The Tigers hope to emulate the success of last year’s No. 15 seed from New Jersey. St. Peter’s made it to the Elite Eight, beating Kentucky and Purdue in the process, before bowing out in the regional final to North Carolina.
NCAA SWEET 16 PREVIEW: TEXAS VS. XAVIER
Two wins shy of the Final Four, redemption stories intersect in Kansas City when the Texas Longhorns and Xavier Musketeers collide in the Sweet 16 on Friday.
The second-seeded Longhorns (28-8) are making their return to the regional semifinals for the first time since 2008, a long and winding pilgrimage that included firing head coach Chris Beard following his arrest on suspicion of domestic violence in December.
Xavier (27-9), the No. 3 seed in the Midwest Region, is returning to prominence under the direction of coach Sean Miller. Fired by Arizona in 2021, Miller returned to the Musketeers, the school he coached from 2004-09, one year and a few days ago.
Almost instantly, Miller restored the program’s contender status with a balanced attack that puts up 81.2 points per game and features five players averaging at least 10 points per game.
“We’re thrilled to be in the Sweet 16,” Miller said. “It’s a hard journey to get here, and I’m really thrilled for these guys, each of them, because it’s their first opportunity, and they’ll remember it forever.”
Texas interim coach Rodney Terry continues a fight that could help propel him into the permanent post, from Beard’s top assistant to successor. He led the Longhorns to the Big 12 conference tournament — in Kansas City — and now looks to continue the squad’s NCAA Tournament run. While he claims he is not thinking about titles or salaries in the moment, it’s clear his players are flexing on his behalf.
“I think he embodies what we are and what we try to be every day — tough,” Texas forward Timmy Allen said. “Someone who has been there before, never shakes at adversity, somebody who wakes up and tries to attack the day to be great. When I’ve got somebody like that in my corner, I’ll do anything for them.”
Miller bolted for Arizona in 2009 and went to the Elite Eight three times. However, he came under fire during an FBI investigation into a pay-for-play scheme that caused the program to self-impose a one year postseason ban. He has Xavier back in the Sweet 16 for the first time since 2017.
“I didn’t need a reminder,” Miller said of his ability to coach. “You know, I never lost belief. I really didn’t. I’m grateful for the opportunity, though.
“I have an amazing group to work with. There’s a lot of coaches that could win with this team, and I recognize that, but my hope is that we have more in us, that we’re able to have a great week and make what we already feel good about even better.”
Souley Boum said Xavier didn’t need a reminder Miller could coach, either.
“We’ve been talking about this all summer, all fall,” Boum said.
Boum had 14 points, all in the second half, for the Musketeers in their 84-73 win over Pitt in the second round. Xavier made eight 3-pointers, five by Adam Kunkel.
Texas has been getting the job done on defense in the tournament, sticking shooters around the 3-point arc and challenging with scorers inside and out on the offensive end.
New Mexico State transfer Sir’Jabari Rice had seven 3-pointers in the first-round win against Colgate. Forward Dylan Disu, the most outstanding player in the Big 12 conference tournament, continued his exceptional play with 28 points and 10 boards to lead Texas past Penn State, 71-66, in the second round.
Rice said the Final Four looms as a greater goal, but the Longhorns are taking the business of winning to a new level.
“It sounds representative, but it’s just preparation,” Rice said. “Every single time we are in practice, we’re locked in. Walkthroughs, we’re locked in. We know a time and place when to play and when not to. Obviously every team has a sense of urgency and seriousness because it’s do or die. With us, since the beginning of the season, we had a goal and we set out to complete that goal.
“When we get down and play teams like that that go on runs, I think it’s just a testament to who we are as, like, a culture and how together we are. Us sticking together is just, like I said, is a testimony to who we are and just preparation every day.”
NCAA WOMEN’S SWEET 16
WOMEN HOPE SWEET 16 NEXT STEP TO OWN MARCH MADNESS TV DEAL
Women’s college basketball believes it has the makings for a hit reality TV show with star power driving a marketable product that has a growing audience.
So they’re taking the ensemble on the road for the Sweet 16.
The NCAA changed the format of the tournament this year, featuring two regional sites instead of the traditional four. The games in Greenville, South Carolina, and Seattle are the latest step to grow the sport and show the ladies can stand on their own.
South Carolina coach Dawn Staley believes the question of whether women’s hoops merits its own March Madness TV contract has already been answered, even though the women’s tournament loses money under the current deal.
“Somebody’s watching women’s basketball,” Staley said. “Somebody feels like we’re in high demand, and obviously the decision-makers that put us on now realize that they’ve got to keep putting us on.”
The women’s title game will be broadcast on ABC — the first appearance on network television since 1995. Women’s basketball is part of a current contract that bundles all NCAA championships under one deal except for men’s basketball and football.
The NCAA is expected to decide by the fall if the women’s tournament will become a separate entity after hiring Endeavor, a consulting firm, to determine how to take championships to market.
“It’s an exciting time. Year over year, we continue to demonstrate the value that women’s basketball brings to that space,” said Lynn Holzman, the NCAA vice president of women’s basketball. “It’ll be exciting to see what the results are of this for the sport itself, but also for the NCAA more broadly in our championships.”
TV ratings have been trending up over the last two years. This year’s regular season was the most viewed on ESPN networks in eight years and was up 11% from last season. That came on the heels of last season’s title game between South Carolina and UConn that averaged 4.85 million viewers — the most for a women’s championship game since 2004. The first round had a 27% ratings increase from last year.
“People enjoy watching close games. They like the fact that there’s some semblance of uncertainty of who’s going to win,” UConn coach Geno Auriemma said. “There’s been so many changes in the top 10 all year long. … Teams are in, they start out at the top they go out they come back in. I think all that creates a level of excitement.”
People aren’t just tuning in during March Madness, they have also been showing up.
Attendance at the NCAA Tournament has continued to rise the past five seasons, growing by 60% in the first two rounds from an average of 4,464 in 2016 to 7,240 this year. This season had the highest attendance ever for the first two rounds.
“It makes us very bullish on women’s basketball,” Holzman said. “It is demonstrative of the growth we’ve been seeing in the sport.”
Now the NCAA hopes that growth is reflected in increased television revenue.
ESPN pays $34 million per year for the championships package, which it agreed to in 2011, including women’s basketball. But the law firm the NCAA hired to investigate equity issues in 2021 said in its report that estimated women’s basketball annual broadcast rights would be worth $81 million to $112 million.
The NCAA said the 2019 women’s tournament lost $2.8 million and those losses have multiplied the last two years since the sports’ governing body increased spending after disparities between the men’s and women’s tourneys were pointed out.
If the NCAA can get close to the numbers projected in the 2021 report, it might be able to offer revenue shares — known as financial units — to women’s teams in the tournament in a structure similar to what the men receive from their March Madness tournament.
Men’s teams earn a slice of the money pie for their conference for every game they play excluding the championship. Each unit is paid by the NCAA over a six-year cycle. This year the NCAA will dole out $170 million to conferences from the men’s tournament.
It’s fair to say the women have a lot riding on this weekend at the two regional sites.
The NCAA is hoping the success of the Final Four — which sells out every year — translates to its new “mini Final Fours.”
Holzman believes the new format gave fans a better chance to know where their teams would be headed. The NCAA vice president of women’s basketball also anticipated greater economic impact on host cities would lead to more bids to host in the future.
But for some coaches, it’s all about location.
The regional sites the next two years will again be held in cities on opposite coasts. The closest team playing in Seattle this year is Colorado, located 1,300 miles away.
Texas coach Vic Schaefer is “a little concerned” about the distance some teams will have to travel, but eager to see how the tournament unfolds.
“The powers that be believe it’s going to be great, and I’m hopeful that it will be,” Schaefer said. “Those are two opposite ends of the spectrums, west and east, three time zones between both of them. And there’s just nothing in the Midwest. And we have a lot of teams in the Midwest. We’ll see.”
PRINCETON TIGERS ADD TO THEIR MARCH MADNESS LORE
PRINCETON, N.J. (AP) — Two years ago, Mitch Henderson was coaching a Princeton team that was basically on sabbatical.
The Ivy League had called off sports again amid the pandemic as other leagues and the NCAA pushed ahead so the Tigers blended in with other hoops junkies and watched March Madness like fans. Henderson ordered pizzas and smoothies, gathered the Tigers at their on-campus gym, and they watched tournament games on the big screen.
“That was fun and we got to do something,” Henderson said. “It really brought us closer.”
Princeton’s bonding period over a season of Zooms and tournament watch parties fueled the Tigers’ growth into this season’s brainy basketball bullies of March. See ya, Arizona. Maybe next year, Missouri.
Oh, and that’s not the delivery driver this week dropping pizzas off at Jadwin Gym. That was Phil Murphy, the governor of New Jersey, who made a cameo appearance at a practice before the Tigers left for their first Sweet 16 since 1967. Murphy raised his arm with the rest of the Tigers and coaching staff and broke the huddle on the three count with “together!”
“I don’t think any of us have had a governor roll into practice,” Tigers standout Ryan Langborg said, laughing. “That was a really cool experience. But at the same time, it was just another day at the office.”
The cubicle is getting cramped.
Politicians, professors, media hordes, anyone who can snag a spot has popped by the gym to glean insights on how the 15th-seeded Tigers have pulled this off. Ousting second-seeded Arizona by 4 points looked every bit an upset; blowing out Missouri by 15 in the second round did not.
“Things are going to be different as much as I try to keep it normal,” Henderson said. “At Princeton, we don’t get this that often. I love that they’re getting a chance to feel like celebrities.”
Take 2022 Ivy League Player of the Year Tosan Evbuomwan. He picked up food at Winberie’s — “where extraordinary people are regulars” — and received a standing ovation. Henderson, himself a March hero for Princeton under Pete Carril in the 1990s, was shuttled with his players to New York for spots on CNN and “The Dan Patrick Show.” Blake Peters became a March meme when he channeled Kevin Garnett and yelled “ anything is possible!” Even late night host Jimmy Fallon dropped a lyric that “Missouri got served by some old Princeton nerds, now you’re busted” in a campy song about the spate of extreme upsets.
Up next, Princeton’s biggest game since the 1967 team that boasted three All-Ivy League first-team players lost to North Carolina in the Sweet 16,- when only 23 teams were in the tournament. The Tigers are 9½-point underdogs to No. 6 seed Creighton on Friday in Louisville, Kentucky, according to FanDuel Sportsbook.
Still, Princeton has yet to be overwhelmed by the big stage. Missouri lost as a 6½-point favorite and Arizona was a 13½-point favorite.
Henderson recalled some advice former Wisconsin coach Bo Ryan once offered about the tournament.
“All you’ve got to do is win six game in a row,” Henderson said. “It is a bit of a math thing.”
Princeton kids love a good equation and the late John Nash is perhaps more well-known than Carril, the basketball legend who died last summer. The downtown university store didn’t have a single tournament T-shirt in the window, or on the racks. The stately buildings that house Princeton’s clubs — private social and networking facilities for students and alumni — seemed naked without banners and flags that would fly at more traditional basketball schools.
“It’s not a very big sports school,” sophomore Elise Kait said inside the student union. “I think the athletes are probably all pretty excited. I’d say a good number of students are. But I’d say a good number of them don’t really care.”
Kait was likely to juggle game updates as she hits up a performance Friday night of Princeton’s rock ensemble, PURE.
“It’s unfortunate it happened at the same time so I can’t really cheer on the guys as much,” ensemble singer Samara Samad said. “But that’s how the cookie crumbles”
The Tigers practiced Tuesday at the same time “Star Wars” actress Kelly Marie Tran was speaking at the school’s center for equality. Many of the Tigers consider themselves movie buffs. Langbord, the senior guard, had a midterm essay due this week on the Federico Fellini film “Amarcord.” The Tigers made it a habit of watching movies together before every game. One of last weekend’s selections? The Tom Hanks hijacking film “Captain Phillips.”
Just ask Arizona, the Tigers are the captains now.
“I should have said that in the postgame press conference,” Langborg cracked.
Langborg and Evbuomwan are also focused on the NBA but as fodder for senior theses. Evbuomwan, Princeton’s British big man, is writing about “How Diversity in Executive Management in the NBA Affects Team Performance.” Langborg is researching how traveling through time zones affects players, results and how that could factor into sports betting lines.
Hey, didn’t the Tigers just fly 2,800 miles to Sacramento, California, and win two games?
“Maybe it doesn’t make that much difference after all,” Langborg said, laughing. “It would be hard to throw all those other studies I’ve been looking at out the door.”
What did go out the door? His deadline. Langborg was granted a one-week extension on completing the thesis.
“You’d be surprised at these Ivy League schools, You’d think they’re not going to give you any leeway on this stuff. I have personal relationships with so many professors,” he said.
Langborg, who hit a jumper and then a layup to give the Tigers the lead for good against Arizona, will play next season at another school as a graduate student.
There’s no guarantee that the 47-year-old Henderson, who has only one losing season in 11 years at Princeton, will stay much longer, either. He could parlay this deep run into a job at a school where scholarships and other support await. It’s lately a Jersey thing — Shaheen Holloway bolted Saint Peter’s for Seton Hall after last season’s Elite Eight run and Farleigh Dickinson’s Tobin Anderson used last week’s monumental 16-over-1 win against Purdue to leave for Iona.
Henderson sidestepped questions about his future.
He recalled a lesson from his past, when Carril told Henderson when he was hired, “don’t be me.” Henderson’s retort: “You’re in the Hall of Fame.”
Henderson, though, has grown the program in the era of an Ivy League Tournament and the game has evolved to the point where there is no more Princeton offense in Princeton’s offense. There was not a single backdoor cut — a staple in Carril’s heyday and the spark that punctuated Princeton’s famed upset over UCLA in 1996 — in last week’s wins.
Henderson has picked the basketball minds of national championship-winning coaches such as Jay Wright and Tony Bennett and said he realized “sustained winning over time is on the defensive end.”
One thing Henderson won’t do and that is compare this team to the ’96 team. The photo of Henderson forever frozen with his arms outstretched in his victory leap after that upset remains the iconic snapshot in program history. His players bust his chops over his hang time.
“Why didn’t we try to replicate that moment and all of us just jump up and pump our fists?” Langborg said.
Maybe they will get another chance.
NBA ROUNDUP: CAVS SINK NETS ON LAST-SECOND 3-POINTER
CAVS 116 NETS 114
Isaac Okoro hit a game-winning 3-pointer in the final second as the visiting Cleveland Cavaliers rallied in the final two minutes for a stunning 116-114 victory over the Brooklyn Nets on Thursday night in New York.
The Cavaliers won for the ninth time in 12 games by outscoring the Nets 12-2 over the final 2:13.
Donovan Mitchell scored 31 points to lead the Cavaliers, who trailed by nine with 3:32 remaining. Evan Mobley collected 26 points and 16 rebounds as Cleveland moved five games ahead of the fifth-place New York Knicks.
Mikal Bridges scored 32 points, but the Nets lost their season-high fifth straight and fell a half-game behind the Miami Heat into seventh ahead of Saturday’s visit there. Spencer Dinwiddie added 25 points while Joe Harris contributed 15.
CLIPPERS 127, THUNDER 105
Kawhi Leonard scored 32 points and Russell Westbrook added 24 as Los Angeles took control in the second half and beat visiting Oklahoma City.
Bones Hyland had 16 points and seven assists for Los Angeles, which avenged a 101-100 home loss to Oklahoma City on Tuesday. The Clippers played without All-Star guard Paul George, who sprained his right knee Tuesday and will miss the remainder of the regular season.
Shai Gilgeous-Alexander led Oklahoma City with 30 points against his former team. Josh Giddey scored 18 points, and Jalen Williams added 16.
PELICANS 115, HORNETS 96
Brandon Ingram had his first career triple-double, Jonas Valanciunas had a double-double and host New Orleans defeated Charlotte.
Ingram finished with 30 points, 11 rebounds and 10 assists and Valanciunas had 20 points and 19 rebounds as the Pelicans won their third straight game to strengthen their standing in the tightly bunched battle to reach the Western Conference play-in tournament. CJ McCollum scored 20, Trey Murphy III had 19 and Naji Marshall added 16.
P.J. Washington scored 18, Svi Mykhailiuk had 15 and Gordon Hayward added 12 to lead the Hornets (23-51), who lost starting guards Terry Rozier (foot) and Dennis Smith Jr. (illness) in the first half.
MAGIC 111, KNICKS 106
Paolo Banchero scored 21 points as host Orlando held off New York despite squandering a 19-point third-quarter lead.
Cole Anthony had 18 points off the bench for the Magic, who have won three of four to move within four games of the Chicago Bulls in the race for the final play-in spot in the Eastern Conference. Wendell Carter Jr. and Franz Wagner each scored 16 points apiece.
Quentin Grimes and Immanuel Quickley scored 25 points each for the Knicks, who lost their third straight. Julius Randle had 23 points.
SUCCESS-STARVED KINGS CLOSE IN ON LONG-AWAITED PLAYOFF BERTH
SACRAMENTO, Calif. (AP) — The Sacramento Kings might just be riding the beam all the way to the NBA playoffs.
The resurgent Kings are on the verge of ending the longest postseason drought in league history, with first-year coach Mike Brown employing a fast-paced offense led by the dynamic duo of De’Aaron Fox and Domantas Sabonis to put Sacramento in first place in the Pacific Division.
“It’s a great feeling. It’s great because it’s my first time,” Fox said of being in the playoff hunt. “This is something we want to make annual. We want to be contending for a title. … It’s great for the city and organization. We still want bigger things for ourselves.”
The Kings (43-29) are in third place in the Western Conference and might be able to clinch the franchise’s first playoff berth since 2006 during the final three games of a four-game homestand that ends Monday night against Minnesota.
The 16 seasons without a playoff berth are the longest in NBA history and the longest active postseason drought among any team in the NBA, NFL, NHL or Major League Baseball.
“I do feel that that group believes in themselves, not just because I’m telling them they’re good, but because they’ve actually gone out and proven it time after time after time, whether it’s individually in certain situations or collectively as a team,” Brown said. “When you have a team that believes, they can be dangerous. You’ve got a connected team that believes, they can be a very dangerous team and that’s what our group is right now.”
The Kings are also one of the best feel-good stories of the NBA this season with an entertaining style of basketball that leads the league in scoring at 120.9 points per game for the highest mark in the league since 1983-84.
Each win at home is punctuated with the lighting of the beam — a beam of light from purple lasers atop the Golden 1 Center — and fans have even chanted for the beam at road games around the country.
“There’s like a playoff atmosphere every night,” swingman Kevin Huerter, one of the key offseason acquisitions, said after a recent home win. “The only thing that’s missing is handing out the T-shirts and maybe some towels, whatever they’re doing for the playoffs. But it really is this every night.”
The Kings have been one of the most success-starved franchises since moving to Sacramento in 1985. They had a losing record in each of their first 14 seasons in California, winning just one playoff game.
That all changed in 1999 when general manager Geoff Petrie and coach Rick Adelman built a winner around players like Chris Webber, Vlade Divac and Peja Stojakovic that played an entertaining style in a grind-it-out era that nearly delivered a championship.
The Kings posted eight straight winning records and playoff berths under Adelman, but lost a heartbreaking seven-game series to the Los Angeles Lakers in 2002 and then saw their title hopes derailed the following year when Webber went down with a serious knee injury in the second round of the playoffs.
Adelman kept the team competitive through 2006 but was let go following a second straight first-round playoff exit.
Then the dark era began with 16 straight losing seasons under 11 coaches, an ownership change and fears that the city would lose its only major pro team to Seattle.
Vivek Ranadive bought the team from the Maloof family in 2013 and kept the team in Sacramento by building a downtown arena, but there was no on-court success until this year.
The Kings traded away star DeMarcus Cousins and botched several high draft picks. But they have been revived following last year’s trade with Indiana that sent promising guard Tyrese Haliburton to Indiana for a playmaking big man in Sabonis and the decision to hire Brown as coach.
Sabonis proved to be the perfect piece to team with the speedy Fox, giving Sacramento a dynamic duo.
Fox is averaging 25.4 points per game and has been the best clutch scorer in the league this season, scoring double figures in the fourth quarter a league-high 25 times.
Sabonis, acquired in a controversial trade from Indiana midway through last season for promising guard Tyrese Haliburton, has been the perfect piece to team with Fox with his playmaking ability as a big man. Sabonis is averaging 19 points, 12.5 rebounds and 7.3 assists with 12 triple-doubles.
Add in outside shooting from Huerter and rookie Keegan Murray, the veteran presence of Harrison Barnes and scoring off the bench from Malik Monk and the Kings have gained the attention of other contenders.
“Give a lot of credit to Mike Brown,” Celtics star Jayson Tatum said. “He has the guys playing a lot better. Fox is playing at an All-NBA level. Sabonis has been great for them. They play with so much pace. All those guys have a lot more confidence.
“When you’re playing with confidence, it naturally opens things up for the individual and the group.”
BUCS RELEASE K RYAN SUCCOP IN COST-CUTTING MOVE
The Tampa Bay Buccaneers released kicker Ryan Succop on Thursday, a move that saves them $3.75 million against their cap.
The Bucs also officially announced the re-signing of linebacker Lavonte David.
Succop converted 84 of 99 (84.8 percent) field-goal attempts and 93.6 percent of his extra point attempts in three seasons for the Bucs. His 384 points rank eighth in Tampa Bay history and sixth among kickers.
Over his 14-year career with Kansas City (2009-13), Tennessee (2014-19) and Tampa Bay, Succop has converted 96.1 percent of his PATs and 82.9 percent of FG attempts while scoring 1,430 points.
Terms were not announced for David, but NFL Network reported last week that it’s a one-year deal for a guaranteed $7 million.
David, 33, started all 17 games and registered 124 tackles and three sacks in 2022. It was his ninth season with triple-digit tackles since the Buccaneers drafted him in the second round in 2012. He has 29 sacks, 12 interceptions, 27 forced fumbles and 18 fumble recoveries in 166 games (all starts).
“Lavonte is one of the greatest and most beloved players in the history of this franchise, so it is extremely gratifying that he will remain a Buccaneer,” Bucs general manager Jason Licht said in the news release. “It’s rare for a player to perform at such a high level for so many years in one place. Lavonte has made a big impact on and off the field for our organization and is still critical to our success on defense.”
REPORT: RB EZEKIEL ELLIOTT CONSIDERING EAGLES, JETS, BENGALS
Ezekiel Elliott has narrowed his options to three teams and hopes to sign by the end of next week, ESPN reported Thursday.
Cut by the Dallas Cowboys in a salary-shedding move on March 15, the two-time rushing champion is considering the Philadelphia Eagles, New York Jets and Cincinnati Bengals, according to the report.
Elliott, 28, was scheduled to count $16.4 million against the Cowboys’ 2023 salary cap. Dallas designated him as a post-June 1 cut, per reports, saving the team $10.9 million. The team takes a $5.8 million hit in dead money.
Elliott was slowed in the second half of last season by a knee injury and wasn’t fully healthy in 2021. He rushed for a career-low 876 yards and 3.9 yards per carry in 2022 while backup Tony Pollard emerged as a 1,000-yard rusher and big-play threat.
The Cowboys used the franchise tag in March to retain Pollard at a cost of $10.1 million, resulting in a commitment of more than $27 million to the position for 2023.
Elliott led the NFL in rushing in 2016 and 2018 and registered four 1,000-yard seasons. The 2016 first-round pick (fourth overall) ranks third in Dallas history in rushing yards (8,262) and rushing touchdowns (68) behind Hall of Famers Emmitt Smith and Tony Dorsett.
Elliott rushed for 1,107 yards and seven touchdowns (one receiving) in 12 career games against the NFC East rival Eagles, who signed Rashaad Penny in free agency. Last season’s leading rusher, Miles Sanders, landed with the Carolina Panthers.
REPORT: JETS BRING BACK RB TY JOHNSON ON 1-YEAR DEAL
The New York Jets are re-signing running back Ty Johnson to a one-year deal, ESPN reported Thursday.
Johnson, 25, rushed for 160 yards and a touchdown in 17 games (one start) for the Jets last season. He’s fourth on the depth chart for the club.
Johnson has rushed for 925 yards and four TDs in 62 career games (six starts) for the Detroit Lions (2019-20) and Jets. He was selected in the sixth round of the 2019 draft by the Lions.
SPRING TRAINING ROUNDUP: JEREMY PENA HELPS LIFT ASTROS PAST NATIONALS
ASTROS 5 NATIONALS 4
Jeremy Pena homered in the sixth inning and added an RBI double in a four-run eighth as the Houston Astros surged past the Washington Nationals 5-4 in a spring training game Thursday in Palm Beach, Fla.
Down 4-1 in the eighth, the Astros rallied on Pena’s RBI double, Jose Abreu’s two-run double and Jake Meyers’ two-out single.
The Nationals led 4-0 early, including Dominic Smith’s solo home run in the first inning.
Smith, Jeimer Candelario, Alex Call and Victor Robles each had two of Washington’s 12 hits.
RED SOX 7, PIRATES 4
Jorge Alfaro, Bobby Dalbec and Ronaldo Hernandez each hit two-run homers to power Boston past Pittsburgh in Bradenton, Fla.
Rodolfo Castro homered and Bryan Reynolds went 3-for-4 with a double for the Pirates, who outhit the Red Sox 11-8.
YANKEES 1, CARDINALS 1
The pitching staffs for New York and St. Louis each allowed one run and three hits in a tie game in Sarasota, Fla.
Each squad used four pitchers. St. Louis starter Steven Matz allowed three hits, including Oswaldo Cabrera’s solo homer in the fourth inning. Matz went six innings with no walks and five strikeouts.
New York starter Nestor Cortes yielded two hits and no walks with seven strikeouts in four scoreless innings.
METS 2, BRAVES 2
Atlanta’s Matt Olson hit a two-run homer in the third inning to even the game, and the score held up for a tie with New York in North Port, Fla.
The Mets scored twice in the top of the third on Danny Mendick’s walk, Tomas Nido’s double and consecutive sacrifice flies by Eduardo Escobar and Starling Marte.
BLUE JAYS 3, TWINS 0
Left-hander Yusei Kikuchi recorded nine of Toronto pitchers’ 17 strikeouts in a four-hit shutout of Minnesota in Fort Myers, Fla.
Kikuchi went the first five innings, allowing three hits and one walk. He was followed by Thomas Hatch (one inning), Zach Thompson (1 2/3) and Nate Pearson (1 1/3).
Elliot Soto went 3-for-3 with a double and triple to account for nearly all of the Twins’ hits.
PHILLIES 4, TIGERS 1
Trea Turner hit his first homer of the spring for Philadelphia, but the team suffered a major blow when first baseman Rhys Hoskins tore the ACL in his left knee during the victory over Detroit in Clearwater, Fla.
Hoskins was injured attempting to plant his foot while making a play on a ball as he reached the outfield grass just beyond first base in the top of the second inning. An MRI revealed the tear in the ACL, the team said.
Detroit, which had four hits, scored in the sixth on a single, groundout, walk, wild pitch and infield single.
CUBS 11, DIAMONDBACKS 1
Hadyn McGeary hit a three-run double to conclude the scoring as Chicago handled Arizona in Mesa, Ariz.
Cubs right-hander Hayden Wesneski got the start and went five innings, allowing four hits, one run, no earned runs and two walks with five strikeouts.
The Diamondbacks scored their lone run on Corbin Carroll’s two-out triple and Wesneski’s errant pickoff throw.
GIANTS 6, WHITE SOX 3
Will Wilson smacked a three-run homer in the third inning and Brett Wisely added a solo shot in the seventh as San Francisco doubled up Chicago in Phoenix.
Seby Zavala and Romy Gonzalez went deep for Chicago.
DIAMONDBACKS 11, DODGERS 5
Nick Ahmed, Kyle Lewis, Gabriel Moreno and Dominic Canzone all went deep as Arizona powered past Los Angeles in Scottsdale, Ariz.
James Outman (2-for-3, double) was the lone Dodger with multiple hits as the team totaled seven.
BREWERS 4, PADRES 2
Eight Milwaukee pitchers scattered 11 hits in holding San Diego to two runs for a Brewers victory in Phoenix.
Victor Caratini homered for the Brewers, who had seven singles and eight total hits.
The Padres’ Rougned Odor was 3-for-4 with two RBIs, and Trent Grisham doubled twice in four at-bats.
PADRES 6, ROYALS 3
Luis Campusano hit a three-run homer in the fourth inning to help San Diego double up Kansas City in Peoria, Ariz.
Fernando Tatis Jr., Jackson Merrill, Nelson Cruz and David Dahl had two hits apiece for the Padres.
Salvador Perez and Jackie Bradley Jr. homered for the Royals.
TIGERS 8, ORIOLES 8
Detroit scored three runs in the top of the ninth, including Akil Baddoo’s home run, to forge a tie with Baltimore in Sarasota, Fla.
Nick Maton hit a three-run homer for Detroit in a five-run third inning.
The Orioles had 16 hits, including a solo homer from Daz Cameron (2-for-3, double, two RBIs) and a three-run shot from Cedric Mullins. Ryan Mountcastle was 3-for-4, and Jorge Mateo was 2-for-4 with a triple and two runs.
GUARDIANS 10, GIANTS 0
Cal Quantrill struck out five in 5 2/3 scoreless innings, and he combined with four relievers on a two-hitter as Cleveland blanked San Francisco in Scottsdale, Ariz.
Josh Bell, Amed Rosario and Oscar Gonzalez each had two hits, including a homer apiece, for the Guardians.
Giants starter Anthony DeSclafani was tagged for six runs on six hits in four-plus innings.
A’S 7, RANGERS 7
Kevin Smith went 3-for-4 with three RBIs to help Oakland rally for a tie against Texas in Surprise, Ariz.
The Rangers hit all four of the homers: two from Ezequiel Duran and one apiece from Mitch Garver and Brad Miller.
MARINERS 17, REDS 6
Julio Rodriguez finished 3-for-3 with a homer, three RBIs and three runs as Seattle blew out Cincinnati in Goodyear, Ariz.
Eugenio Suarez, Tom Murphy, Teoscar Hernandez and Sam Haggerty each added a home run for the Mariners.
Reds starter Brandon Williamson yielded nine runs on eight hits in 2 2/3 innings.
ADAM WAINWRIGHT HEADED TO INJURED LIST WITH GROIN INJURY
Adam Wainwright was in line for his seventh opening day start. Instead, the veteran St. Louis Cardinals right-hander will begin what’s slated to be his final season on the injured list with a groin injury.
Cardinals manager Oliver Marmol told reporters Thursday before St. Louis’ spring training game against the New York Yankees that Wainwright could miss several weeks.
The 41-year-old apparently strained his groin in a workout before Team USA lost to Japan 3-2 in the championship game of the World Baseball Classic on Tuesday. Wainwright went 2-0 with a 2.25 ERA over eight innings to help the U.S. reach the final.
“We’ll continue to evaluate over the next few days but no timetable at the moment,” Marmol said, according to the St. Louis Post-Dispatch. “There is a spot in the rotation now open, and we’re going to have to sit down and make sure that we’re not missing anything that goes into that.”
Wainwright has gone 195-117 with a 3.38 ERA over 17 seasons with the Cardinals. He’s a three-time All-Star who’s posted two 20-win seasons, along with winning two Gold Gloves.
The Cardinals welcomed back to camp Nolan Arenado and Paul Goldschmidt, who played for Team USA, along with Lars Nootbaar, an outfielder for Team Japan. The Cardinals posted a picture of them stretching with the caption: “What do you think they are talking about!?”
Goldschmidt and Nootbaar were in the starting lineup Thursday.
PHILLIES’ HOSKINS CARTED OFF WITH APPARENT NON-CONTACT KNEE INJURY
Philadelphia Phillies first baseman Rhys Hoskins was forced to leave Thursday’s Grapefruit League game against the Detroit Tigers with an apparent left knee injury that occurred on a non-contact play.
Hoskins needed to be carted off the field, according to The Athletic’s Matt Gelb.
The Phillies announced that Hoskins will undergo further evaluation and testing, according to The Athletic’s Jayson Stark.
Hoskins is the latest Phillies star to suffer an injury. The reigning National League champions are expected to begin the season without All-Star outfielder Bryce Harper and left-hander Ranger Suarez.
Hoskins has spent his entire six-year career with the Phillies and is scheduled to hit free agency at the conclusion of the season. The 30-year-old is a lifetime .242/.353/.492 hitter with 148 home runs and 405 RBIs across 667 games.
Hoskins was a key piece during Philadelphia’s surprising run to the World Series last season. The slugger hit six home runs and knocked in 12 runs over 17 postseason appearances.
He was off to a hot start this spring, hitting .375 with four home runs and 10 RBIs in 12 games.
NHL ROUNDUP: RANGERS GET BIG DIVISION WIN VS. HURRICANES
RANGERS 2 HURRICANES 1
Adam Fox ended a personal 24-game streak without a goal and the New York Rangers beat the Carolina Hurricanes 2-1 to tighten the Metropolitan Division standings Thursday night in Raleigh, N.C.
Artemi Panarin also scored for the Rangers and Mika Zibanejad had two assists. Igor Shesterkin made 29 saves.
Sebastian Aho had a first-period goal for the Hurricanes, who could have clinched an Eastern Conference playoff spot with a victory. Division-leading Carolina has 11 more games to go, so it will have ample chances. Frederik Andersen had 14 saves.
The third-place Rangers (42-20-10, 94 points) have points in eight of their last nine games. The Hurricanes (46-16-88, 100 points) lost for the fourth time in their last seven games (4-3-0).
PREDATORS 2, KRAKEN 1 (SO)
Matt Duchene and Philip Tomasino scored in the shootout as Nashville defeated visiting Seattle.
Kiefer Sherwood scored in regulation for the Predators, who won their second consecutive game as they try to track down Seattle and others for a Western Conference wild-card playoff berth. Goaltender Juuse Saros made 27 saves.
Daniel Sprong tallied for Seattle, which tied an NHL record for the greatest second-season turnaround by an expansion franchise. The Kraken (86 points) have made a 26-point improvement from their inaugural campaign, equaling the mark set by the 1925-26 Boston Bruins and matched by the 1973-74 New York Islanders. Fill-in goaltender Joey Daccord stopped 23 of 24 shots.
MAPLE LEAFS 6, PANTHERS 2
Auston Matthews scored two goals and visiting Toronto defeated Florida.
William Nylander and Mitchell Marner each had a goal and an assist for Toronto. Michael Bunting and Alexander Kerfoot also scored, while John Tavares had three assists and Mark Giordano added two. Matt Murray stopped 33 shots for the Maple Leafs, who are 2-1-0 three games into a five-game trip.
Matthew Tkachuk and Nick Cousins scored for the Panthers, who have lost two in a row. Sergei Bobrovsky made 21 saves.
FLYERS 5, WILD 4 (SO)
Joel Farabee had a goal and an assist, goaltender Carter Hart didn’t yield a goal in the shootout and host Philadelphia defeated Minnesota.
Scott Laughton, Rasmus Ristolainen and Tyson Foerster each scored a goal, Tony DeAngelo had two assists and James van Riemsdyk scored the lone shootout goal to seal the win for the Flyers. Hart made 20 saves and completed the shootout with a save against Matt Boldy.
Boldy scored two goals while Oskar Sundqvist and Marcus Foligno added one goal apiece for the Wild. Marcus Johansson contributed two assists for the Wild, who went 0-for-3 in the shootout.
BRUINS 4, CANADIENS 2
Tyler Bertuzzi and David Pastrnak each recorded a goal and an assist as Boston beat visiting Montreal.
Bertuzzi scored his first goal as a Bruin just 4:34 into the first period, while David Pastrnak’s 49th of the season came at 2:36 of the second. Jake DeBrusk and David Krejci rounded out the scoring and Connor Clifton had two assists for Boston.
Nick Suzuki and Kirby Dach each logged a goal and an assist for the Canadiens, who have lost three of their last five games.
CAPITALS 6, BLACKHAWKS 1
Defenseman John Carlson collected a goal and an assist in his return from a 36-game absence, lifting host Washington over Chicago.
Carlson was playing in his first game since sustaining a fractured skull and laceration of the temporal artery on Dec. 23. Washington captain Alex Ovechkin and Nicklas Backstrom each recorded a goal and an assist, and Conor Sheary, Anthony Mantha and Nic Dowd also tallied.
Defenseman Nikita Zaitsev scored early in the third period and Anton Khudobin turned aside 22 shots for the Blackhawks, who have lost 10 of their past 13 games (3-9-1).
GOLDEN KNIGHTS 3, FLAMES 2
Jonathan Marchessault and Michael Amadio scored first-period goals and visiting Vegas held on to beat Calgary. Nicolas Roy also scored for the Western Conference-leading Golden Knights, who have won three straight.
Vegas goaltender Logan Thompson made 37 saves in his return to action after missing 18 games due to injury, but he left with 6:07 left in regulation. In relief, Jonathan Quick stopped all five shots he faced, his biggest on MacKenzie Weegar in the final minute.
Milan Lucic and Nazem Kadri scored for the Flames, whose playoff hopes took another big hit. Jacob Markstrom stopped 29 shots.
SENATORS 7, LIGHTNING 2
Alex DeBrincat had two goals and an assist, Brady Tkachuk scored twice and host Ottawa tied its season high for goals in a trouncing of Tampa Bay.
In recording just their second victory in eight games (2-5-1), the Senators also got a goal and a helper from Erik Brannstrom.
For the Lightning, Brayden Point extended his career-high goal mark to 45, and Nikita Kucherov recorded his 102nd point with two assists.
BLUES 4, RED WINGS 3
Joel Hofer made 25 saves to lead St. Louis to a come-from-behind road win over Detroit.
Alexey Toropchenko, Brayden Schenn, Sammy Blais and Jake Neighbours scored for St. Louis. Robert Bortuzzo recorded two assists for the Blues, who split back-to-back games with the Red Wings.
Simon Edvinsson, Jake Walman and Alex Chiasson scored for Detroit, which took its fourth loss in five games.
STARS 3, PENGUINS 2
Joe Pavelski and Jamie Benn scored in the third period and Jake Oettinger made 40 saves as Dallas hung on for a victory over visiting Pittsburgh.
Benn put in a rebound of Max Domi’s shot, providing some important insurance for Dallas, which is 2-0-1 following back-to-back losses to sit atop the Central Division by one point over Minnesota.
Sidney Crosby recorded his 31st goal for Pittsburgh and Pierre-Olivier Joseph scored. The Penguins, who have lost five of six but own the final wild-card spot in the Eastern Conference, failed to convert a 6-on-4 advantage in the final minute.
CANUCKS 7, SHARKS 2
J.T. Miller, Andrei Kuzmenko, Conor Garland, Dakota Joshua and Phillip Di Giuseppe each had a goal and an assist as host Vancouver cruised past San Jose.
Vasily Podkolzin and Sheldon Dries also scored for the Canucks, who defeated the Sharks for the ninth straight time. Thatcher Demko finished with 17 saves to improve to 8-0-0 in eight career games against San Jose. Tyler Myers added two assists.
Tomas Hertl and Andrew Agozzino scored for the Sharks, who lost their eighth straight game (0-5-3) and fell for the 13th in the past 14 games (1-9-4). James Reimer stopped just 14 of 21 shots.
JETS 3, DUCKS 2
Adam Lowry scored the go-ahead goal in the third period and also had an assist to push visiting Winnipeg past Anaheim.
Mason Appleton and Kyle Connor also scored for the Jets, who won for the third time in four games. Connor Hellebuyck turned aside 18 shots.
Cam Fowler and Frank Vatrano found the back of the net for the Ducks, who lost their third game in a row. Lukas Dostal made 30 saves.
NHL’S BLACKHAWKS WON’T WEAR PRIDE JERSEYS, CITE RUSSIAN LAW
At least one National Hockey League team with a Russian player on its roster has decided against wearing special warmup jerseys to commemorate Pride Night because of a Russian law that expands restrictions on activities seen as promoting LGBTQ rights.
The Chicago Blackhawks will not wear Pride-themed warmup jerseys before Sunday’s Pride Night game against Vancouver, a person with knowledge of the matter told The Associated Press, because of security concerns involving the law that Russian President Vladimir Putin signed in December.
The decision was made by the NHL following discussions with security officials within and outside the franchise, according to a person familiar with the situation who spoke to the AP on Wednesday on condition of anonymity because of the sensitivity of the move.
The league declined to comment through a spokesperson, as did agent Dan Milstein, who represents Russian players on the Blackhawks and other teams.
Chicago coach Luke Richardson he and his players were disappointed in the decision.
“It’s an unfortunate situation, but that’s just what we have to deal with,” Richardson said after his team’s gameday skate in Washington. “I don’t think we can control the world issues, so that takes it out of our hands. We’re just making decisions as best we can as an organization and for everybody.”
The decision comes at at time when Russian players have walked a careful line since the invasion of Ukraine, with some cautiously speaking out against the war even with family members still living in Russia. Last year, Minnesota Wild star Kirill Kaprizov ran into several roadblocks as he traveled back to the U.S., raising concerns about his safety.
Chicago defenseman Nikita Zaitsev is a Moscow native, and there are other players with family in Russia or other connections to the country. Zaitsey was not made available to reporters in Washington.
The Blackhawks have previously worn Pride warmup jerseys and donned special warmup jerseys on some other themed nights this season. There had been ongoing conversations with players about Pride jerseys prior to the decision, according to the person who talked to the AP.
The Florida Panthers — whose star goaltender, Sergei Bobrovsky, is Russian — planned to go forward with plans to wear the jerseys Thursday night before their home game against Toronto.
The jerseys are just one part of many initiatives Florida built into its annual event. The Panthers will also auction off the jerseys, then match whatever money is raised and donate to nonprofits that work with the LGBTQ community.
“As an organization, we’ve decided, and rightfully so, to move forward with it and support it and celebrate it,” Panthers coach Paul Maurice said. “Teams around the league and players around the league, they’ve got the right to their opinion, and we’ve got the right to ours.”
Earlier this season, San Jose Sharks goalie James Reimer and Philadelphia Flyers defenseman Ivan Provorov refused to take part in warmups with Pride-themed jerseys, but both cited religious beliefs, not the Russian law. Russians Nikolai Knyzhov and Alexander Barabanov wore the Pride-themed jerseys for the Sharks on Saturday.
The New York Rangers opted not to wear Pride jerseys or use Pride stick tape as part of their night in January despite previously advertising that plan.
Blackhawks defenseman Connor Murphy said he could understand why people might be upset “when things are announced one way and then changed.”
He added: “I do hope that people understand that we all support them, whether it’s someone in the gay community or someone in any other community.”
The Blackhawks have planned a variety of activities in conjunction with Sunday’s game. DJs from the LGBTQ community will play before the game and during an intermission, and the Chicago Gay Men’s Chorus is slated to perform. There also are plans to highlight a couple of area businesses with ties to the LGBTQ community.
“We don’t want the jerseys to represent the entirety of the night,” Blackhawks defenseman Seth Jones said. “We’re still doing a lot for the LGBTQ community, and us as players respect that. We just thought that this was best for our team. We know the organization puts the players on the team first.”
The Buffalo Sabres and Vancouver Canucks have Pride nights upcoming. The Canucks have not announced specific plans for the event, while Sabres officials remain in discussions about what to do.
THREE SHARE FIRST-ROUND LEAD AT LPGA DRIVE ON
Mexico’s Gaby Lopez recorded a 7-under-par 65 on Thursday to grab a share of the first-round lead at the LPGA Drive On Championship in Gold Canyon, Ariz.
Alison Lee and South Korea’s Jenny Shin also shot 7 under at Superstition Mountain Golf and Country Club.
England’s Jodi Ewart Shadoff and Taiwan’s Wei-Ling Hsu share fourth place at 6 under.
Megan Khang, Lilia Vu, Spain’s Azahara Munoz and Carlota Ciganda, Canada’s Maddie Szeryk, Thailand’s Patty Tavatanakit and Moriya Jutanugarn, South Korea’s Jeongeun Lee6 and Na Rin An, and Taiwan’s Peiyun Chien are tied for sixth place at 5 under.
Lopez, starting on the back nine, opened with two birdies, then scattered five more birdies through the rest of her round. The 29-year-old Mexico City native is looking for her fourth career win, with her most recent victory having come in the Dana Open last September in Sylvania, Ohio.
Lopez, who hit just 11 of 18 greens in regulation, said of her approach to the course, “I think it’s going to get just firmer as the week goes on, especially with like cool mornings, so being able to just be very strategic with iron play (is key). Sometimes you want to hold it from the fairway but you have a landing area, so just got to be very disciplined hitting it 5 yards left and making a 15-footer rather than go pin-seeking.”
Shin was at even par through her first seven holes before reeling off four consecutive birdies around the turn. She added consecutive birdies at Nos. 13 and 14 and concluded with another birdie.
“I had a lot of 12-footers and I managed to make quite a lot of them,” Shin said. “Process is going to be the same. Got to keep knocking the door and see if it’ll open up one day.”
Lee had four instances of back-to-back birdies and wound up with nine birdies, though she mixed in one bogey on each nine.
Lee said, “This sounds cliche, but I just feel like it was one of those days. Golf just was easy. The putter was great. I honestly was playing so good, I feel like I could have shot a lower round out there today. Obviously, can’t complain. Happy with the result.”
The two players who are tied for first in the season-long standings, Nelly Korda and South Korea’s Jin Young Ko, are tied for 48th at 2 under. Also at 2 under is defending tournament champion Leona Maguire of Ireland.
CLOSING EAGLE LIFTS RORY MCILROY TO WGC MATCH PLAY WIN
Northern Ireland’s Rory McIlroy eagled the 18th hole to earn a 2-up win over Denny McCarthy in the second round of the World Golf Championships-Dell Technologies Match Play on Thursday in Austin, Texas.
With the Group 3 match all square through 17 holes at Austin Country Club, McIlroy bashed a drive onto the green on the par-4, 375-yard closing hole, leaving himself a 4-foot eagle putt. McCarthy couldn’t keep up, as his 59-yard approach shot landed 7 feet from the hole, giving him a birdie that wasn’t enough.
“I certainly didn’t expect to fly it on the green,” McIlroy said. “It’s almost one of those, when it’s that far much downwind, it’s almost like I could have hit a 3-wood to get the down slope to get the skid. I was imagining the driver was going to land into the upslope and sort of stay 10, 20 yards short. But as I said, I didn’t imagine I could fly it on the green.”
The result left McIlroy with a 2-0 record heading into the final day of group play on Friday.
McIlroy logged five birdies, the one eagle and no bogeys on Thursday. He rallied after McCarthy held a 3-up lead following an eagle on the par-5 sixth hole.
“It wasn’t easy out there,” said McIlroy, who is seeded third in the event. “It’s windy and blustery and tricky. It was good. I’m really proud of myself that I hung in there after being three down early and clawing it back and producing the shots that I did over the last few holes to ultimately get the job done.”
Also improving to 2-0 through two rounds were top-seeded Scottie Scheffler in Group 1, No. 4 Patrick Cantlay and No. 25 Brian Harman in Group 4, No. 5 Max Homa in Group 5, No. 6 Xander Schauffele in Group 6, No. 56 Andrew Putnam in Group 7, No. 34 Si Woo Kim of South Korea in Group 8, No. 32 Jason Day of Australia in Group 9, No. 10 Tony Finau in Group 10, No. 61 J.J. Spaun in Group 11, No. 47 Taylor Montgomery in Group 12, No. 13 Sam Burns in Group 13, No. 46 Lucas Herbert of Australia in Group 14, No. 15 Cameron Young in Group 15 and No. 43 J.T. Poston in Group 16.
The group winners advance to the single-elimination Round of 16.
World No. 1 Scheffler cruised to a 5-and-4 victory over Sweden’s Alex Noren, with the American winning three consecutive holes on the front nine and four in a row on the back nine.
Cantlay registered a 4-and-2 win over South Korea’s K.H. Lee, sealing the result with an eagle on the par-5 16th hole.
No. 9 Collin Morikawa halved his match with No. 44 Adam Svensson of Canada by birdieing the 18th hole. Morikawa has a 1-0-1 mark in Group 9, leaving him in second place behind Day.
THANASI KOKKINAKIS PULLS OUT FIRST-ROUND WIN IN MIAMI
Thanasi Kokkinakis, a lucky loser from qualifying who landed a spot in the Miami Open, extended his stay in the main draw on Thursday.
The 94th-ranked Australian saved three match points before emerging with a 4-6, 6-3, 7-6 (7) win over Belgium’s Zizou Bergs in first-round action.
The players exchanged service breaks in the middle of the third set before ending up in a decisive tiebreaker. Bergs went up 6-4 before Kokkinakis pulled level, then had another chance to close the match at 7-6 before Kokkinakis claimed three points in a row to seal the victory.
“I’ve been feeling happy on court the past couple of weeks and made a pact with myself to at least compete, no matter how I’m feeling,” Kokkinakis said. “My tennis is fine; it’s just my head. I’m just trying to give myself every chance.
“The crowd got behind me, and without them I wouldn’t have pulled through. I’m happy I live to fight another day.”
Kokkinakis advances to a second-round matchup against eighth-seeded Hubert Hurkacz of Poland, who won the Miami Open two years ago. Hurkacz, like all of the tournament’s top 32 seeds, received a first-round bye.
The field is headed by No. 1 Carlos Alcaraz of Spain (the defending champion), No. 2 Stefanos Tsitsipas of Greece, No. 3 Casper Ruud of Norway and No. 4 Daniil Medvedev of Russia.
Elsewhere on Thursday, Roberto Carballes Baena was pitching a shutout in an all-Spanish matchup before Bernabe Zapata Miralles retired while trailing 6-0, 3-0.
U.S. lucky loser Aleksandar Kovacevic earned a 7-6 (4), 2-6, 6-1 win over Spain’s Jaume Munar.
Three qualifiers won: Christopher Eubanks prevailed in an all-U.S. match against Denis Kudla 7-6 (2), 6-2; Chile’s Cristian Garin edged the United States’ Marcos Giron 6-4, 2-6, 6-4; and Japan’s Yosuke Watanuki took an all-qualifier matchup against France’s Benoit Paire 6-4, 7-5.
Other first-round winners were France’s Gregoire Barrere, Argentina’s Tomas Martin Etcheverry, the Czech Republic’s Jiri Lehecka, the United States’ Mackenzie McDonald, Slovakia’s Alex Molcan, Brazil’s Thiago Monteiro, Italy’s Lorenzo Sonego and France’s Richard Gasquet, Quentin Halys and Adrian Mannarino.
|W||L||Pct||Conf GB||Home||Road||Div||Conf||Last 10||Streak|
|1 x-Milwaukee||52||20||.722||—||30-7||22-13||8-5||30-15||7-3||2 W|
|2 x-Boston||50||23||.685||2.5||26-9||24-14||9-4||29-16||5-5||1 W|
|3 x-Philadelphia||49||23||.681||3.0||26-11||23-12||7-6||30-16||9-1||1 W|
|4 Cleveland||47||28||.627||6.5||29-8||18-20||12-3||31-15||8-2||3 W|
|5 New York||42||33||.560||11.5||20-17||22-16||8-8||28-19||4-6||3 L|
|6 Miami||40||34||.541||13.0||25-13||15-21||9-5||21-24||7-3||2 W|
|7 Brooklyn||39||34||.534||13.5||19-16||20-18||7-8||26-20||4-6||5 L|
|8 Atlanta||36||37||.493||16.5||20-15||16-22||7-8||22-23||4-6||1 L|
|9 Toronto||35||38||.479||17.5||23-14||12-24||4-9||20-23||4-6||2 L|
|10 Chicago||34||38||.472||18.0||20-17||14-21||6-8||25-23||6-4||1 L|
|11 Indiana||33||40||.452||19.5||19-17||14-23||7-6||23-22||5-5||1 W|
|12 Washington||32||41||.438||20.5||16-19||16-22||7-6||19-26||2-8||4 L|
|13 Orlando||31||43||.419||22.0||18-19||13-24||6-8||17-28||4-6||2 W|
|14 Charlotte||23||51||.311||30.0||12-24||11-27||7-9||14-34||3-7||1 L|
|15 Detroit||16||57||.219||36.5||9-29||7-28||1-12||7-38||1-9||4 L|
|W||L||Pct||Conf GB||Home||Road||Div||Conf||Last 10||Streak|
|1 xy-Denver||49||24||.671||—||30-6||19-18||10-5||32-13||5-5||2 W|
|2 xy-Memphis||45||27||.625||3.5||31-5||14-22||12-2||27-19||7-3||4 W|
|3 Sacramento||43||29||.597||5.5||21-15||22-14||8-6||27-15||6-4||2 L|
|4 Phoenix||38||34||.528||10.5||23-12||15-22||9-4||24-19||5-5||2 L|
|5 LA Clippers||39||35||.527||10.5||20-17||19-18||7-7||23-22||6-4||1 W|
|6 Golden State||38||36||.514||11.5||29-7||9-29||6-9||25-20||4-6||2 W|
|7 Minnesota||37||37||.500||12.5||21-17||16-20||8-7||25-20||5-5||2 W|
|8 Dallas||36||37||.493||13.0||22-15||14-22||9-6||27-23||4-6||2 L|
|9 New Orleans||36||37||.493||13.0||24-13||12-24||10-5||24-20||5-5||3 W|
|10 LA Lakers||36||37||.493||13.0||20-17||16-20||5-9||21-24||6-4||2 W|
|11 Oklahoma City||36||37||.493||13.0||22-15||14-22||7-7||22-24||7-3||1 L|
|12 Utah||35||37||.486||13.5||22-14||13-23||5-9||22-23||4-6||1 L|
|13 Portland||32||40||.444||16.5||17-18||15-22||6-8||22-21||3-7||1 W|
|14 San Antonio||19||54||.260||30.0||13-25||6-29||2-13||7-38||3-7||2 L|
|15 Houston||18||55||.247||31.0||12-26||6-29||4-11||11-38||4-6||3 L|
Eight teams in each conference qualify for the playoffs.
X – Clinched Playoff Spot, Y – Clinched Division, Z – Clinched Conference
|1 x-Boston Bruins||71||55||11||5||115||53||269||153||29-3-3||26-8-2||7-3-0|
|2 x-Carolina Hurricanes||70||46||16||8||100||42||233||181||24-9-2||22-7-6||6-4-0|
|3 New Jersey Devils||71||45||18||8||98||43||247||193||19-13-4||26-5-4||5-3-2|
|4 Toronto Maple Leafs||71||43||19||9||95||42||245||196||25-7-5||18-12-4||6-3-1|
|5 New York Rangers||72||42||20||10||94||38||243||195||21-12-4||21-8-6||7-2-1|
|6 Tampa Bay Lightning||73||42||25||6||90||39||252||228||25-7-5||17-18-1||5-4-1|
|7 New York Islanders||72||37||27||8||82||37||215||198||21-12-3||16-15-5||7-2-1|
|8 Pittsburgh Penguins||72||35||27||10||80||34||231||233||19-11-5||16-16-5||4-5-1|
|9 Florida Panthers||72||36||29||7||79||34||252||247||21-11-4||15-18-3||6-3-1|
|10 Washington Capitals||73||34||31||8||76||32||233||227||17-14-5||17-17-3||4-4-2|
|11 Ottawa Senators||72||35||32||5||75||33||228||233||20-13-3||15-19-2||3-6-1|
|12 Buffalo Sabres||70||33||31||6||72||32||251||263||13-20-3||20-11-3||2-6-2|
|13 Detroit Red Wings||71||31||31||9||71||28||209||235||17-15-4||14-16-5||3-7-0|
|14 Philadelphia Flyers||71||27||32||12||66||25||192||236||15-16-5||12-16-7||4-4-2|
|15 Montreal Canadiens||72||28||38||6||62||24||203||268||15-17-3||13-21-3||2-6-2|
|16 Columbus Blue Jackets||70||22||41||7||51||21||189||273||13-20-2||9-21-5||3-6-1|
|1 Vegas Golden Knights||72||45||21||6||96||41||238||202||22-14-1||23-7-5||8-2-0|
|2 Dallas Stars||72||39||19||14||92||36||250||201||18-9-9||21-10-5||6-3-1|
|3 Los Angeles Kings||71||41||20||10||92||35||247||229||23-9-4||18-11-6||8-0-2|
|4 Minnesota Wild||72||41||22||9||91||34||216||197||22-11-3||19-11-6||6-1-3|
|5 Edmonton Oilers||72||41||23||8||90||41||283||242||20-12-5||21-11-3||8-2-0|
|6 Colorado Avalanche||70||41||23||6||88||36||233||196||19-12-5||22-11-1||7-2-1|
|7 Seattle Kraken||71||39||24||8||86||39||246||229||16-15-4||23-9-4||5-3-2|
|8 Winnipeg Jets||73||41||29||3||85||40||220||205||22-12-2||19-17-1||5-4-1|
|9 Nashville Predators||70||36||26||8||80||31||200||206||18-12-4||18-14-4||5-3-2|
|10 Calgary Flames||73||32||26||15||79||30||230||228||16-15-4||16-11-11||5-3-2|
|11 St. Louis Blues||71||32||33||6||70||29||224||258||15-16-5||17-17-1||5-4-1|
|12 Vancouver Canucks||71||32||34||5||69||27||243||264||17-18-1||15-16-4||8-2-0|
|13 Arizona Coyotes||72||27||33||12||66||24||203||250||20-11-3||7-22-9||6-1-3|
|14 Anaheim Ducks||72||23||39||10||56||20||186||291||12-20-3||11-19-7||3-5-2|
|15 Chicago Blackhawks||71||24||41||6||54||22||176||255||14-18-3||10-23-3||3-6-1|
|16 San Jose Sharks||72||19||38||15||53||18||206||281||6-20-10||13-18-5||1-6-3|
Eight teams in each conference qualify for the divisional playoff format. The top three teams from each division make up the first six spots. The two remaining teams with the highest points, regardless of division, qualify for the final two wild card spots.
X – Clinched Playoff Spot, Y – Clinched Division, Z – Clinched Conference
TODAY IN BASEBALL HISTORY
1933 Babe Ruth, who made $75,000 last season, takes a $23,000 pay cut, a decrease indicative of the depression era. The 38-year-old Yankee slugger remains productive, batting .301, hitting 34 home runs, and driving in 103 runs for the second-place club that finishes seven games behind the Senators.
1936 Paul Dean agrees to a $10,000 deal to pitch for the Cardinals after posting a 19-11 record in his sophomore year. After compiling 38 victories in his first two seasons, Dizzy’s 23-year-old right-handed brother will have his career shortened by arm troubles, retiring after a nine-year tenure in the major leagues with a 50-34 mark.
1946 In Birmingham, Alabama, police pull 27-year-old southpaw Edward Klep from the Cleveland Buckeyes lineup, a visiting Negro American League team. The authorities order the first white player in organized black baseball to change into his civilian clothes and sit in the “whites only” section of Rickwood Field away from his teammates.
1947 During a four-hour hearing with Commissioner Chandler at the Sarasota Terrace Hotel, Dodger manager Leo Durocher admits to playing occasional card games for money with Kirby Higbe. Before Opening Day, Chandler will suspend the Brooklyn skipper for the 1947 season for “association with known gamblers.”
1952 During spring training at St. Petersburg, Cardinals pitcher Bob Slaybaugh is hit in the face with a line drive during batting practice, resulting in the loss of his left eye. The 21-year-old southpaw will attempt a comeback in 1953 and 1954 before retiring from professional baseball.
1959 A photo of Pete Whisenant taken before an exhibition game played against the Dodgers in Havana, Cuba, shows the Reds outfielder toting a machine gun. The weapon shown in the posed picture belongs to a rebel from Fidel Castro’s revolutionary army.
1961 The NY State Senate approves $55 million in funding to build a new stadium in Flushing Meadows Park for the new National League’s expansion team. Until the Queens’ ballpark is completed, which will become known as Shea Stadium, the Mets will play in the Polo Grounds during the first two years of their existence.
1982 When Fernando Valenzuela ends his three-week holdout, the Dodgers automatically renew the southpaw’s contract for a reported $350,000. The National League Cy Young Award and Rookie of the Year Award recipient, after earning just $42,500 in his freshman season, still refuses to sign the deal that makes him the highest-paid second-year player in baseball history, having asked for a raise to $850,000.
1984 The Tigers trade utility player John Wockenfuss and outfielder Glenn Wilson to the Phillies for first baseman Dave Bergman and relief pitcher Willie Hernandez, who will win the American League’s MVP and Cy Young awards. The 29-year-old closer from Aguada (PR) posts a 9-3 record and a 1.92 ERA en route to saving 32 games in 33 opportunities for the World Champs.
2001 During an exhibition game against the Giants, Diamondback hurler Randy Johnson’s fastball hits and instantly kills a dove flying in front of home plate. The bird appears to explode as the National League Cy Young winner’s pitch sends it over catcher Rod Barajas’ head.
2006 At Mickey Mantle’s Manhattan restaurant, the U.S. Postal Service unveils the Baseball Sluggers postage stamps, to be issued before the game against the White Sox at Yankee Stadium on July 15. The four featured Hall of Famers all have roots in New York, with Mickey Mantle (Yankees), Mel Ott (Giants), and Roy Campanella (Dodgers) playing their entire careers in the Big Apple, and the fourth, Hank Greenberg, setting schoolboy records at James Monroe High School in the Bronx.
2008 The Twins agree to a new deal with their All-Star closer, signing Joe Nathan (1.88, 37 saves) to a $47 million, four-year contract, including a 2012 club option. The 33-year-old right-hander’s 160 saves over the past four seasons is tied with Mariano Rivera of the Yankees for most in the American League.
2008 On the South Lawn of the White House, the Washington Nationals Presidential character mascots take part in the traditional White House Easter Egg Roll. Thomas Jefferson, Teddy Roosevelt, Abraham Lincoln, and George Washington appeared very comfortable in their surroundings.
Bert Blyleven didn’t experience baseball until well into his childhood years. He quickly, however, made up for lost time.
Rik Aalbert Blyleven was born in Zeist, Holland, on April 6, 1951, and was raised in Southern California. He became interested in baseball when his father took him to see Sandy Koufax pitch for the Dodgers. Later, he was drafted by the Minnesota Twins in the third round of the 1969 amateur draft.
He became the youngest pitcher in the majors when he was called up to the Twins on June 2, 1970 after just 21 minor league starts. He gave up a home run to the first batter he faced, Lee Maye of the Senators, but got the win that day and nine more that season – and was eventually named AL Rookie Pitcher of the Year by the Sporting News.
By his first full season in 1971, Blyleven established himself as a top shelf starter – winning 16 games, striking out 224 batters and leading the league with 3.80 strikeout-to-walk ratio.
In 1973, Blyleven won 20 games and threw 325 innings. After five years with 200-plus innings pitched and 15-plus wins for the Twins, he was sent to the Texas Rangers in a deal that brought Minnesota four players and $250,000. In 1977, Blyleven led the AL with a 1,065 WHIP and threw a no-hitter in his last start of his first year against California on Sept. 22, 1977.
Often considered to have the toughest curveball of his time, Blyleven threw two different types, the “roundhouse” and the “overhand drop”. He gripped both like a fastball and used a balanced, full follow-through to get movement.
“It (his curveball) was nasty, I’ll tell you that,” said Hall of Famer Brooks Robinson. “Enough to make your knees buckle. Bert (Blyleven) was a terrific pitcher – a dominating pitcher.”
After the 1977 season, he was traded to the Pirates in a rare four-team trade. The Pirates won the World Series in 1979 and Blyleven went 1-0 with a 1.80 ERA in the Fall Classic after throwing a complete game in Game 3 of the NLCS.
He was traded to Cleveland after the 1980 season, and in 1982 was sidelined by an elbow injury and only started four games. But by 1984, Blyleven was back to full strength and posted a 19-7 mark with a 2.87 ERA, finishing third in the AL Cy Young Award voting.
In 1985, Blyleven went back to Minnesota in a mid-season deal, totaling 24 complete games in 37 starts for the Indians and Twins that year – including 11 in a row from June 6-July 24. The following year, he established a league record with eight seasons with 200-or-more strikeouts. In 1987, he led the Twins to the World Series with two ALCS wins and another in the World Series.
Traded to the Angels after the 1988 season, Blyleven went 17-5 with a 2.73 ERA in 1989 at age 38. He retired in 1992 after 22 seasons, finishing with with 3,701 strikeouts, 287 victories, 60 shutouts and 242 complete games.
Blyleven was elected to the Hall of Fame in 2011.
Wade Boggs was an artist whose medium was the National Pastime, whose tool of choice was a bat, and whose canvas was a ball field. His mother may have summed it up best when she said, “It seemed like he was born to hit just like some kids are born to play the piano.”
A 12-time All-Star third baseman, Boggs ended his 18-year (1982-99) major league career with 3,010 hits, a .328 batting average and a .415 on-base percentage. In his 2,432 career games, Boggs reached base safely in 85 percent of them.
Drafted by the Boston Red Sox in 1976, the left-handed-hitting Boggs soon was able to showcase the inside-out swing taught to him by his father.
“Everyone was looking for the perfect player, and he wasn’t a good runner, he didn’t have great hands, or an outstanding arm,” George Digby, the Red Sox scout that signed Boggs. “But I liked his bat. I scout bats. I never saw anyone yet that can steal first base.”
Ensconced as an everyday player by 1983, Boggs rewarded Boston’s faith in him by batting a league-leading .361.
“Can that guy hit ropes,?” said Detroit Tigers manager Sparky Anderson. “He’s one of the best-looking young hitters I’ve ever seen.”
Boggs continued to spray line drives to all fields throughout every American League park. In 1985, his .368 batting average, a career best and the highest mark by a Red Sox player since Ted Williams hit .388 in 1957, not only led the big leagues but his 240 hits were the most in baseball in 55 years.
After the 1985 season, Williams was quoted as saying: “Boggs is as smart a hitter as I’ve ever seen. The next five or six years will tell the tale, but if he keeps up like he’s going now, he stands to be one of the greatest hitters of all time.”
Boggs would remain with the Red Sox for 11 seasons (1982-92), winning five batting titles, finishing second once, and third twice.
Next for Boggs was a five-year stint with the New York Yankees, where he not only batted .313 during his stay in the Bronx but won Gold Glove Awards at third base in 1994 and ‘95, at 36 years of age becoming the oldest first-time winner among non-pitchers.
It was with the Tampa Bay Devil Rays, where he signed prior to the expansion franchise’s first season in 1998, that Boggs would not only play his final two seasons but also become the 23rd member of the 3,000th hit club.
He was elected to the Hall of Fame in 2005.
BASEBALL YEAR IN REVIEW
1921 AMERICAN LEAGUE
Off the field…
The first burial of an unidentified soldier who had been killed in France during WWI was held at the Tomb of the Unknown Soldier on November 11th. On Memorial Day, 1958, the bodies of two other unknown soldiers; one of whom had died in World War II, the other during the Korean War, were also buried in the tomb, which was later renamed the Tomb of the Unknowns.
The United States, Britain, Japan, France and Italy met for the Washington Naval Convention and agreed on a treaty limiting worldwide naval powers. The treaty called for a ratio of naval ships of five to five to three to 1.7 to 1.7. As a result, for every five large ships in the U.S. British fleets, Japan could have three, and France and Italy, 1.7. The United States also agreed to scuttle thirty of it’s own war ships as a result of the treaty.
In the American League…
The New York Yankees purchased a twenty-acre plot of land in the Bronx as the future site for Yankee Stadium.
During an August 19th doubleheader between the Detroit Tigers and Boston Red Sox, Ty Cobb became the youngest player (thirty-four) ever to reach three-thousand hits.
Jimmy Dykes handled an American League record seventeen chances at second base for the Philadelphia Athletics, as they took on the St. Louis Browns at Sportsman’s Park III on August 28th. Dykes averaged one-hundred twenty-five games in thirteen full seasons with the A’s, but only once played the same position all year — second base in 1921.
In the National League…
On July 8th, an order was issued that allowed fans to keep any balls hit into the stands at Pittsburgh’s Forbes Field. Up until that point, all foul and homerun balls were still considered property of the league and were expected to be returned.
The first radio broadcast of a major league game was heard on August 5th over the country’s first established radio station, KDKA in Pittsburgh. Harold Arlin, who also announced the first football game between Pittsburgh and West Virginia, called the 8-5 Philadelphia Phillies win over the hometown Pirates.
Around the League…
Judge Kenesaw Mountain Landis was officially named as baseball’s commissioner with a contract for seven years at $50,000 per year. Landis was a judge in an Illinois federal district court when he came to the attention of baseball’s establishment during the Federal League’s antitrust suit, which was heard in his court.
Major League umpires began the practice of rubbing dirt into the balls before each game, using special clay supplied by Philadelphia Athletics’ coach Lena Blackburne from his New Jersey farm.
On August 2nd, a Chicago jury rendered a “not guilty” verdict against the infamous “Black Sox” who had been accused of throwing the 1919 World Series in favor of the Cincinnati Reds. Ignoring the verdict, Judge Landis banned all eight defendants from major league baseball for life. “Regardless of the verdict of juries,” the commissioner said in a statement, “no player that throws a ball game, no player that entertains proposals or promises to throw a game, no player that sits in a conference with a bunch of crooked players and gamblers where the ways and means of throwing games are discussed, and does not promptly tell his club about it, will ever again play professional baseball.” To this day participants in the “Black Sox” conspiracy have been denied entry into the Baseball Hall of Fame.
LARRY ALLEN began his college football career at Butte Junior College in Oroville, Calif. before transferring to Sonoma State, a Division II school near San Francisco. He quickly developed a reputation as a dominant lineman and his stock rose among NFL scouts. The Dallas Cowboys used their second round pick, 46th player overall, in 1994 on Allen. He proved his worth by providing versatility for the Cowboys as he played every position on the offensive line but center during his 12 seasons in Dallas before playing two final years with the San Francisco 49ers (2006-07).
At 6’3”, 325 pounds, Allen possessed great athleticism to complement his size and incredible strength. He started 10 games in his rookie season and split time between guard and tackle. In his second season, he was placed in the right guard spot and helped pave the way for Emmitt Smith who set a Cowboys single-season record with 1,773 yards rushing as Dallas finished fifth in total offense. Allen’s contribution was recognized as he was named All-Pro for the first of seven consecutive seasons and named to the Pro Bowl for the first of 11 times in his career.
Allen continued to shift between guard and tackle and continued to earn All-Pro honors and Pro Bowl nods as a guard. He finished the 1997 campaign and played all of 1998 as the Cowboys left tackle. His job of protecting Hall of Fame quarterback Troy Aikman’s blindside earned Allen All-Pro recognition and a Pro Bowl nod as a tackle in ‘98.
Allen is among the rare group of players who have been named to multiple NFL All-Decade Teams (1990s and 2000s). A veteran of 203 career games, he played in two NFC championship games and was the starting right guard in the Cowboys 27-17 victory over the Pittsburgh Steelers in Super Bowl XXX.
He was named the NFL’s Offensive Lineman of the Year by the NFL Alumni in 1997 and by the NFL Players Association as the NFC Offensive Lineman of the Year in 1996 and 1997.
Portsmouth Spartans Sold to Detroit Syndicate
It tells of the March 24, 1934 when it was announced that a group led by George Richards, the owner of Detroit radio station WJR, bought the Spartans and moved them to Detroit for the 1934 season. Richards renamed the team the Lions, as a complement to the Detroit Tigers according to the SportsTeamHistory.com website.
March 24, 1973 – At an owners meeting San Francisco 49ers President Lou Spadia proposes that the NFL expand to 30 teams per the profootballhof.com site. This was just 4 years after the AFL and NFL merged and the total number of teams in the League was now 26 teams. Some of the franchises were afraid of expanding too fast and thinning out the talent bases thus making the NFL very vanilla. Others supported the increase to strike while the iron was hot. A compromise was reached and the League awarded franchises to both Tampa Bay and Seattle to take the total to 28. It was not until the early 1990’s when the National Football League added Jacksonville, Carolina and later Houston and Cleveland to the mix to round out at 32 teams.
March 24, 1988 – San Diego Chargers Quarterback Dan Fouts announced his retirement. The great passer spent his entire NFL career with the Chargers since the 1973 seasons when San Dego drafted him out of the Oregon Ducks program. The right hander finished his career with 43040 yards of passing offense and 254 touchdowns. Dan was twice selected as an All-Pro, was the 1982 offensive Player of the Year and played in 6 Pro Bowl games per the Pro Football Reference and the Pro Football Journal.
March 24, 1991 – The Barcelona Dragons beat New York Knights 19-7 in their 1st World League of American Football contest.
March 24, 2019 – New England Patriots tight end Rob Gronkowski announces retirement as 3-time Super Bowl winner. The elite Tight End boasted postseason records in 81 receptions, 1163 receiving yards and caught TDs at 12 per the Onthisday.com web page. Of course he added to these number when in 2020 he came out of retirement to join Tom Brady in Tampa Bay and go on to win yet another Super Bowl.
FOOTBALL HALL OF FAME BIRTHDAYS FOR MARCH 24
March 24, 1938 – The rangy two way star of the University of Utah, Larry Wilson credited his date of birth. More on this former Cardinal by clicking his name.
March 24, 1976 – New Orleans, Louisiana – The top tier quarterback of the Tennessee Volunteers program, Peyton Manning was born. Manning is Tennessee’s all-time leading passer, 1997 consensus First Team All-American, 1997 Heisman Trophy runner up as well as that he claimed the Maxwell Award, Davey O’Brien Award, Sullivan Award and Johnny Unitas Golden Arm Awards. Manning had 39 wins as a starter for the Vols, a Tennessee record of 11201 passing yards, 89 touchdown passes, along with 12 rushing scores. The National Football Foundation paid the ultimate respect to the talent of Peyton Manning in 2017 when they placed him into the College Football Hall of Fame. The Indianapolis Colts wasted no time in turning in their 1998 Draft card to select Peyton as the top pick. He played 18 seasons in the League between the Colts and the Denver Broncos and made it to 14 Pro Bowls. He played in a total of four Super Bowls winning two of them and threw for 71940 yards, which was a record when he faded off into the sunset. His 539 TD passes and becoming an All-Pro 7 different times are impressive legacies of the player. But one of his biggest accomplishments may have been being named as the NFL’s Player of the Year 5 times! Peyton Manning posed for his bronze bust for the Pro Football Hall of Fame in 2021.
NUMBERS IN SPORTS
33 – 14 – 87 – 27
March 24, 1979 – Earvin Magic Johnson puts up 29 points as part of a triple-double to help his school, the Michigan State Spartans capture victory 101-67 over Pennsylvania in a final four game of the NCAA Men’s Tournament. Though Magic wore Number 32 as a pro with the LA Lakers, the legend wore Number 33 for the Spartans in college.
March 24, 1988 – Dan Fouts, Number 14 announced his retirement from playing quarterback for the San Diego Chargers.
March 24, 2019 – All-pro Tight End Rob Gronkowski, Number 87 retired from playing football for the New England Patriots. We know returned to football the following season to join former QB Tom Brady in Tampa Bay where these duo helped bring a Lombardi to the Buccaneers franchise just like did back in New England.March 24, 2019 – The Los Angeles Angels signed 2-time American League Most Valuable Player Mike Trout, Number 27 to a North American Sports record whopping $426.5 million dollar contract.