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Sports Friday, April 4, 2014

Page 3

CU basketball players named All-Americans By Justin Geerts

Staff Writer

GRAND RAPIDS – The title of All-American is the highest individual honor a player can receive in college athletics, and Cornerstone University basketball teams have three. Seniors Wes Hudson and Katelyn Cousins were named NAIA Division II first and second team All-Americans respectively, while sophomore Jill Hendrickson was selected as an honorable mention All-American. “It’s huge for our program,” women’s head coach Katie Mattera said. “It shows that we are competitive in the [WolverineHoosier Athletic Conference] and that we have great athletes. There are many people that don’t think that good Christian girls or universities can compete athletically. Having All-Americans proves that we can love the Lord and compete to glorify Him in everything we do.” Despite the prestige that comes with the award, Cousins was notified in quite a surprising way. “I only found out about being All-American through twitter and a Facebook post,” she said. “No one contacted me directly, so it really was a shock!” The honor topped off a suc-

cessful season for Cousins, one that did necessarily appear like it would go in that direction. Before the season, she was told that her minutes would be cut and her starting spot was in the air—that same starting spot that she had held from the time she arrived on campus. “Basically, that motivated me to prove everyone wrong and give all I had this season and just prove it by example,” Cousins said. “All my life I was told I wasn’t good enough, and even up until the beginning of this season I was told that, and like always I used that motivation to push me to succeed this season with the help of God’s will and glory, and of course the help of my teammates.” “Being named an All-American is honestly one of the most humbling and exciting things … I have been doubted my entire life and this just shows and proves that with hard work, dedication, and a lot of motivation anyone can accomplish anything.” Hard work was also a key to Hendrickson raising her level of play to an All-American level. After suffering a critical injury her first year at CU, Hendrickson was forced to redshirt. Even last year the effects of the injury had not fully left and she was still forced to make adjustments. This past summer Hendrick-

son dedicated herself to improving her skills as well as getting stronger. “Over this past summer, I had worked harder than I had ever worked before with the desire to have a better year than last year,” she said. “All throughout the summer Coach and I worked on my game, trying to improve every aspect of it. During conditioning, preseason and everyday in practice this year my teammates pushed me to do better, to work harder, and they gave me the inspiration I needed. I have a wonderful support from my family, never missing a game, no matter how far away it is. And of course, without God nothing would be possible, for He has blessed with my the opportunity to play so all the glory and honor goes to Him.” Following the conclusion of his senior season, Hudson is now able to count first team AllAmerican among the numerous accolades he compiled over his four-year career at CU. “It feels good to get the recognition,” Hudson said, “because when I came in as a freshman and saw the All-American board on the wall that was something that I told myself I wanted to be a part of before my career ended here. So to finally achieve that goal feels great.”

Peter Brown/The Herald

Basketball: Cornerstone University basketball’s Katelyn Cousins, Wes Hudson, and Jill Hendrickson received All-American awards in recognition for the 2013-2014 season. Despite his success, Hudson quickly defers to those around him when doling out credit for his award. “I cannot take all the credit because without my teammates and coaches pushing me everyday to get better, I wouldn’t be where I am today,” he said. “Also I want to give a lot of credit to

my family and my girlfriend for being behind with everything and always supporting me. My dad also has been a big part to my success as well because he has pushed me my whole life and I thank him for that.” Hudson will leave CU as the 5th leading scorer in Golden Eagle history with 2,036 points.

“It makes me proud have one of our players be recognized with this tremendous honor,” head coach Kim Elders said. “I’m so happy for Wes because no one deserves this honor more than he does. It makes me even more proud that he is so humble about it and credits his teammates for his success.”

Baseball team shows improvement in its second official season By Reagan Hoezee

Staff Writer

GRAND RAPIDS – The Cornerstone University baseball team has seen much improvement since starting the program last year. The team, which finished 16-26 last season, has much more experience this year as they went from 19 freshmen to 5. They are currently 13-10. The team has also improved its team defense, quickness and hitting, head coach David Mitroff said, and has one of the best outfields in the WHAC. “We have a lineup that’s much more balanced and has the ability to create a lot of havoc with other teams’ defenses,” Mitroff said. This season, the team received a few important players as signees or transfers. Their pitching is also much stronger than last year, sophomore Zach Bohl said. Junior Jon Knapp also emphasized the importance of pitching. “We are a better team this year in multiple areas of our game such as pitching, fielding, and hitting. Our pitching staff this year is very deep with great arms,” he said.

Peter Brown/The Herald

BASEBALL: (Left) Cornerstone University covers first base as Davenport Unversity’s EJ Grochowalski is thrown out during the game on Wednesday, March 26. (Right) Cornerstone University’s Sonny Mastromatteo fields the ball during the game against Davenport University on Wednesday, March 26. The team played a ten-game schedule over spring break in Lakeland, Fla., which included nationally ranked NAIA and NCAA division II teams. The team broke even, winning 5 of the 10 games, including wins over Point Park University, ranked 19 in the NAIA, and NCAA Division II Ashland University. The spring break trip, which came right after the team’s first four games at Victory Univer-

sity in Memphis, Tenn. boosted CU’s confidence going into the season, Bohl said. “We showed ourselves we're a lot better team than last year,” he said. “It also exploited a few of our weaknesses, but it's good for them to flair up early in the year. That way, we can improve them for conference play and beyond.” The team proved it doesn’t need warm weather to win, as

they swept Indiana Wesleyan University in a two-game series— its first home games of the season. Just because the Golden Eagles have transitioned well to the colder climate does mean they are worry-free. The weather prevents them from working on some of the drills that keep their skills sharp, and even caused sophomore Geren Albury to injure his hamstring. “To say it’s a challenge would

Baseball and the Olympic games Sochi 2014 is firmly in the rearview mirror and the sports world is turning its attention to the XXXI Olympic Summer Games in Rio de Janeiro, Brazil in 2016. In regard to the games of the summer variety, it’s time to bring the issue of baseball’s inclusion back to the forefront. After becoming an official Olympic sport in 1992, baseball was played at the games every four years until 2008, when South Korea claimed the final gold medal. It was in 2005 that an IOC vote eliminated baseball and softball starting at the 2012 summer games. This decision makes little sense, especially when looking at the widespread popularity of the sport. Though still trying to get a foothold in Europe, “America’s pastime” is the sport of choice in many Latin American and Asian countries in addition to its popularity in Canada. The sport has also begun to gain momentum in countries that are not traditionally baseball countries. “I've noticed with the couple trips I've been with the team that there is passion for the sport even in a country like France where baseball is not well known,” Marc-Andre Habeck, member of

JUSTIN GEERTS

Student Columnist justin.geerts@cornerstone.edu France’s Sr. National Team, told me in an interview. “The French federation of baseball is doing a lot to grow the sport with a limited budget. They got Eric Gagne [former MLB award winner] to be their manager.” Even without new baseball powers emerging, the sport is much more competitive than some other sports at the Olympics. Women’s hockey, soccer and basketball and men’s basketball are dominated by a select few countries and are in no danger of elimination. Other issues raised by the head of the IOC, Jacques Roggue, were the prevalence of performance enhancing drugs and the absence of the world’s best players. These are both issues

that can be resolved. While it will never disappear entirely, Major League Baseball has done an admirable job cracking down on illegal substances in recent years and has what is widely considered the most extensive drug testing in professional sports. Performance enhancing drugs are hardly more of an issue in baseball now than they are in other Olympic sports—especially track and field and cycling where it seems a record or medal is stripped after every event. Concerning the lack of highend talent participating in the games, Cornerstone University sophomore baseball player Brandon Willard believes he has the solution. “I would give the MLB another all-star break for the Olympics and allow the MLB’s top stars to play in the Olympic Games so it is the world’s best competing in the games,” he said. Building off this, the MLB should follow the lead of the NHL and just have a break midseason for the Olympics. There have already been calls to shorten the baseball season and an extended break where the all-star game is usually played would help make this a reality. The biggest pushback from

owners would likely be the risk of injuries. While valid, there would be less risk than already present in allowing players to participate in the World Baseball Classic every four years. The WBC is played in March before spring training is complete. The timing of this event is much more concerning because players’ bodies are not used to playing full speed so early in the year. If owners are willing to allow their players to play in this event, however reluctantly, it should be much easier to convince them to approve a more conveniently timed international competition. People watch sports during the Olympics that they would never dream of watching any other time. This will bring more attention to a game that is already seeing a rise in popularity worldwide. “Playing in the Olympics is the greatest achievement for an athlete so it would mean a lot to have baseball back in the Olympics,” Habeck said. There are very few opportunities for baseball players to represent their country, especially after they graduate from the junior ranks, and bringing baseball back to the Olympics would do just that.

be an understatement,” head coach David Mitroff said. “We try to be careful for players’ safety, but we have so few days where we can get outside and practice because of the weather.” Junior Sonny Mastromatteo described the players’ mindset going into colder games. “All we can do is dress appropriately and give one hundred percent and play to the glory of God. At the end of the day

it does not matter what happens, as long as you give it everything you have,” he said. There are three or four tough teams in the WHAC, Mitroff said, but Davenport University has been receiving the most national recognition. CU defeated Davenport 3-2 in a nine-inning game on March 26, which lost to Point Park University and Embry-Riddle University—both nationally ranked teams that CU defeated during spring break. Mitroff attributes the team’s success to the players’ dedication. “We have a group full of guys that are really passionate about excellence and want to be better,” he said. The team’s progress is also due to the fact that the players are united by a common goal. They are all motivated to be successful, which has created strong team unity. They refuse to take shortcuts and are starting to see their hard work pay off, Mitroff said. This hard work will continue to benefit them throughout the season, especially the post-season, Mitroff said. “I believe that we’re going to see a winning record in the conference this year, and I think we’re going to be in the tournament.”

sports calendar Friday, April 4 Men’s golf at Spring Arbor Invitational Men’s indoor track & field at Spartan Invitational Women’s indoor track & field at Spartan Invitational Men’s outdoor track & field at Spartan Invitational Women’s outdoor track & field at Spartan Invitational Baseball doubleheader at Concordia University, 2 p.m. Softball doubleheader at Concordia University, 3:30 p.m. Saturday, April 5 Women’s tennis at Indiana Institute of Technology Men’s tennis at Indiana Institute of Technology, 1 p.m. Men’s golf at Spring Arbor Invitational Men’s indoor track & field at Spartan Invitational Women’s indoor track & field at Spartan Invitational Men’s outdoor track & field at Spartan Invitational Women’s outdoor track & field at Spartan Invitational Baseball doubleheader at Concordia University, 1 p.m. Softball doubleheader vs. Madonna University, 1 p.m. Tuesday, April 8 Men’s golf at Furniture City Classic, hosted by Calvin College Softball doubleheader vs. Concordia University, 3:30 p.m. Men’s tennis at Davenport University, 4 p.m. Women’s tennis at Davenport University, 4 p.m. Baseball vs. Calvin College, 6 p.m. Junior varsity baseball vs. Davenport University, 7 p.m. Wednesday, April 9 Baseball doubleheader at Aquinas College, 2 p.m. Women’s tennis at Aquinas College, 3 p.m. Friday, April 11 Softball doubleheader at Aquinas College, 3:30 p.m. See more Cornerstone University athletic events at CUGoldenEagles.com.


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