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Friday, June 1, 2007

Sam Houston State defeats Bobcats in SLC tournament final Scott Strickman The University Star The Bobcat baseball season came to a rollercoaster finish as the team rebounded from an opening-day loss to reach the Southland Conference tournament finals, eventually falling to Sam Houston State in the championship. “Our players played incredibly well,” said Ty Harrington, Bobcat baseball coach. “Sports works that way sometimes; no matter how much you prepare or how much talent you have. I’m very proud of our people.” For a team that defeated the likes of Rice, the No. 1-ranked team in the country at the time, and Oklahoma, the Bobcats seemed poised for a longer postseason run. However, it appeared it would end just as quickly after a tough opening night loss to SHSU, who went undefeated on their way to winning the tournament, going 4-0. However, the SLC tournament, held in Natchitoches, La. at Northwestern State’s BrownStroud Field, was of the double-elimination variety. The opening game against SHSU was pushed back two hours. It did not begin until nearly 9 p.m. due to heavy rains earlier in the day, delaying the entire docket of games. Once the game started, the Bobcats were unable to push across any runs against Bearkats front-line starter Jacob Howard (11-5) as they stumbled to a 2-0 defeat. Texas State (35-22) was not without its opportunities however, collecting hits in each of the first four innings, with runners reaching third base in the first and second. Harrington said he refused to blame the weather for the team’s offensive woes. “It had more to do with Howard,” he said. “He did well against us (at Texas State) earlier in the season. We just couldn’t make any adjustments.” Justin Fiske, senior starting pitcher, agreed. “Our intensity was high from the first pitch through the last game,” Fiske said. “(The rain) didn’t prove to be much of a problem. Howard shut us out in the regular season. I can’t blame my team; he had our number all season.” Fiske pitched a complete game, striking out eight, but took a loss to fall to 9-3 on the season. He gave up a two-run blast to Bobby Verbick, First Team AllSLC outfielder, his 13th homer of the season. The homer occurred in the top of the fifth inning, and accounted for all the runs scored on the night. The Bobcats did not want to allow Verbick to beat them, but Fiske said he grew increasingly frustrated as they pitched around him. “We didn’t want to let him be the

Cotton Miller/Star photo WHAT TO DO: Assistant Coach John Maley (21) talks with B.J. Boening (33), redshirt senior pitcher, and the rest of the Texas State infield about their strategy at the mound during the Bobcats’ March 20 game. The Sam Houston State Bearkats defeated the Bobcats 3-1 Saturday during the Southland Conference Championship Game.

one to hurt us,” Fiske said. “But from a competitive point of view, I don’t like pitching around people. I started throwing around him from the first inning. By the time he came up for his third at-bat, I was frustrated. It was a 3-0 count and I didn’t think he would swing. The pitch was supposed to be ball four.” Fiske, who threw 142 pitches on the night, said he was happy to save the bullpen, but wishes it had been a winning cause. “I’ve thrown a lot of pitches before,” Fiske said. “It didn’t bother me too much. Anytime you throw a complete game, you don’t want to lose.” Things did not get any easier for the Bobcats following Howard’s departure, as the nation’s top closer, senior Luke Prihoda, pitched the final 2.1 innings. Prihoda, the SLC Pitcher of the Year,

took sole possession of the national collegiate lead in saves, earning his 16th of the year. Howard left with a 2-0 lead after the Bobcats collected three singles to load the bases with one out in the seventh. Prihoda induced a ground ball double play from cleanup hitter David Wood, senior, to keep the Bobcats scoreless. SHSU moved to 3522 following the win. Harrington said the Bearkat pitching, which maintained a 2.00 ERA and allowed just eight runs during the tournament, came as no surprise to him. “We knew it was going to be a 2-1, or 3-2 game,” he said. “We just couldn’t get enough offense.” As a result of the team’s opening-day loss, they faced the number-one seeded University of Texas-San Antonio on Day 2 of the tournament in an elimination

game for the Bobcats. The two teams battled it out during the final series of the regular season in San Antonio, with the number-one seed in the SLC tournament on the line. UTSA took two of three games. The ’Cats prevailed 9-6 in 10 innings. Harrington said the tenth inning defined the team’s season. “I didn’t think a game could be any more intensified than the one at the their place (on May 18),” he said. “There was no better reflective moment on the season to describe the team as the 10th inning.” The May 18 game was won by UTSA 7-6 in 10 innings, giving them the topseed in the conference. Leadoff walks by Roadrunner Zach Calhoon (4-3) to the first two batters of the tenth brought junior catcher Gerry

Cervantez to the plate, who went 2-3 in the opening game of the tournament against SHSU. Cervantez was the only Bobcat with multiple hits. He laid down a sacrifice bunt to advance the runners to second and third with only one out. “(UTSA) shifted their coverage,” Harrington said. “They took the third-base side away, which is where you want to bunt it. Gerry recognized it early and took advantage. He did a tremendous job.” The Bobcats scored three runs in the inning to come away with a win in a more than three-hour game. Texas State (36-22) struggled to score, falling behind 1-0 early to the Roadrunners in the third inning. The ’Cats responded in the top of the fourth, snapping their scoreless streak of 12 innings See BASEBALL, page 8


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Friday, June 1, 2007

Campus Recreation Hours of Operation (June 5-August 30)

Learn the fundamentals of two-stepping, jitterbug and other basic dance steps. Dates: Sundays, June 10 – July 1 Time: 3 – 4 p.m. Location: Molly Smith Aerobics Studio Cost: $20 individual; $35 couple

6 a.m. – 8 p.m. 6 a.m. – 6 p.m. 12 – 5 p.m.

Outdoor Center Daily

Belly Dancing

12 – 6 p.m.

Learn the exotic movements various dance patterns that are sure to get those hips moving. Dates: Tuesdays, June 19 – July 17 (no class July 3) Time: 6 – 7 p.m. Location: Room 202 Cost: $15 per session

Texas State Golf Course Daily

7 a.m. – Dusk

Aqua Sports Center Monday – Thursday Friday

12 – 1 p.m. 5 – 7 p.m. 12 – 1 p.m.

First Aid and CPR Training are also available in Room 202 of the SRC.

Visit www.campusrecreation.txstate.edu for a full list of reduced hours during holidays. Informal recreation on campus offers facilities to students enrolled at Texas State during a semester at the Student Recreation Center and the Aqua Sports Center. Students must bring a valid Texas State ID for admission. Texas State students not enrolled in summer courses are required to purchase a membership to access the SRC and ASC. Membership rates are as follows:

Membership Non-enrolled Student Faculty/Staff/Alumni Dependent Guest

Summer Session (each) Full Summer $23.50 $23.50 $65.00 $3 per day

$47.00 $47.00 $130.00 N/A

Year N/A $135.00 N/A N/A

Recreation Activity Class and Group Exercise Classes are offered throughout the summer to students, faculty, and staff as a way to keep fit or just blow off some steam. Classes are held on the second floor of the SRC in the Molly Smith Aerobics Studio and Room 202.

Recreation Activity Classes Basic Ballroom Learn a variety of distinguished styles of dance including: Fox Trot, Waltz and Tango. Dates: Sundays, June 10 – July 1 Time: 2 – 3 p.m. Location: Molly Smith Aerobics Studio Cost: $20 individual; $35 couple

Salsa Dancing Learn to “Salsa” and experience a whole new culture. This class is taught from beginner to intermediate levels. Dates: Sundays, June 10 – July 1 Time: 4 – 5 p.m. Location: Molly Smith Aerobics Studio Cost: $20 individual; $35 couple

Activity Guide

Country Dancing

Student Recreation Center Monday – Thursday Friday Saturday & Sunday

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Group Exercise Classes registration can be done at the SRC. Payment must be made prior to the first class day. A variety of classes offered by the Student Recreation Center can be found online at www.campusrecreation.txstate.edu with a summer schedule complete with times and fees for each class. Passes can also be purchased for unlimited access throughout the summer or for individual sessions (Summer I or II). Free classes are offered June 4 and 5, July 9 and 10.

Texas State Golf Course The Texas State Golf Course is offers a nine-hole round of golf to the public. The Pro Shop can provide golfers with club and cart rentals. The course also has specials offered exclusively to the Bobcat community: 2-for-1 Wednesdays: Two students with Texas State IDs play for the price of one, only $3 each; Fabulous Friday: faculty and staff with a Texas State ID can golf for $6.

Weekday

Weekend Twilight 4 Month 6 Month 12

Month Student Faculty/Staff Community Senior (50+) Junior (17-)

$6.00 $8.00 $10.00 $9.00 $6.00

$9.00 $10.00 $12.00 $11.00 $6.00

$6.00 $8.00 $8.00 $7.00 $6.00

$75.00 $85.00 $105.00 N/A N/A

Contact Information Student Recreation Center (512) 245-2940 Outdoor Center (512) 245-2004 Texas State Golf Course (512) 245-7593 Aqua Sports Center (512) 245-3941 Campus Recreation Office (512) 245-2392 -Compiled with the aid of Campus Recreation Activity Guide Summer 2007

$115.00 $135.00 $155.00 N/A N/A

$215.00 $245.00 $300.00 N/A N/A


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Friday, June 1, 2007

Tactical changes come to forefront of Bobcat athletic fund-raising By Chris Boehm The University Star The athletic department adopted a new strategy for fund-raising, after announcing the creation of the Texas State Bobcat Club May 1. The fundraising organization arose out of the former Bobcat Athletic Foundation and will work to increase scholarship funds for the school’s athletes, regardless of sport. “We think that fund-raising for scholarships is an exciting change,” said Athletic Director Larry Teis in a press release. “We have taken a close look over the past six months at what we can do to make the Bobcat Club more effective. Many other universities have moved in this direction and are having excellent success.” Athletic administrators said the name change better reflects the mission of the group. “We looked at other schools across the country,” said Chris Park, develop-

“W

e’ve just set the bar very high, both in the Southland Conference and the area.”

—Chris Park athletics department development officer

ment officer for the athletics department. “The dominant name was ‘club.’ Ohio State has the Buckeye Club. TCU has the Frog Club. (The new name) has a simple message.” Park said he mulled over ways to enhance Texas State’s athletic funds since his arrival nine months ago, and helped devise the Bobcat Club after doing extensive research of various universities’ methods.

“I traveled to the University of Houston, TCU, Rice and James Madison among others,” Park said. “We’re always talking to one another. We really molded our plan after James Madison, Houston and TCU. Those were some of the schools we took a hard look at.” The new funding structure includes alterations that will grant benefits to donors of the athletic club. Donors can restrict their gifts to a specific sport, as in the past, but will find more benefits available to them when contributing to the general scholarship fund. Only unrestricted donations count towards a donor’s club benefit level, with rewards including game tickets, priority point seating, receptions and parking passes. Despite the differentiation, Park said he was not worried about losing donations. “We’re definitely not going to turn away donors who want to restrict their donations,” Park said. “But I’ve got to fund raise for all schools. This is the

best method.” The donations to enhance the general scholarship fund include fifthyear, medical hardship and summer school applicants, Teis said in the release. Currently, part of a Texas State students’ service fee goes toward the general scholarship fund, which Park said would continue during the Bobcat Club’s early stages. “Right now summer school is not in the budget,” Park said. “Summer school is actually a very important recruiting tool. Student athletes will take notice if one school offers it and the other doesn’t.” According to the release, Texas State enrolls more than 370 studentathletes, with scholarship totals costing more than $2.8 million a year. The Bobcat Athletic Foundation raised more than $500,000 during this fiscal year before the name change. Texas State athletics has had a busy

start in the summer, having announced a feasibility study regarding a potential move to the Football Championship Subdivision, the athletic foundation’s new direction and plans for the new scoreboard at Bobcat Stadium. A recent press release said the Texas State University System Board of Regents authorized the school to spend $1.5 million on new scoreboards for athletics. The football board is first up, expected to be finished in time for the Sept. 1 home opener against Cal Poly. “We’ve just set the bar very high, both in the Southland Conference and the area,” Park said. “When we’re doing something like (the scoreboard) it can only help my area and the Bobcat Club. Everyone’s very excited.” Brochures and membership applications are available online at the Texas State athletic Web site, www. txstatebobcats.cstv.com, and can be printed out and mailed. Membership renewals can be done over the telephone as well.

Duke lacrosse weathers storm, advances to NCAA championships By Lorenzo Pere McClatchy Newspapers BALTIMORE — Zack Greer allowed Cornell to savor its comeback for only 14 seconds. After his team blew a seven-goal lead, that’s how long it took for the Duke attackman to snare a risky pass from driving midfielder Peter Lamade, post up Big Red defenseman Danny Nathan, then spin and fire in the winning goal with three seconds left Saturday. The 12-11 victory put the Blue Devils into Monday’s championship game against Johns Hopkins, which defeated Delaware 8-3 earlier Saturday. The Blue Devils are right back where they stood two years ago, when they also faced the Blue Jays — and lost 9-8 — in the 2005 title game. So much has happened since that previous trip to the NCAA final, yet Greer and his teammates resisted attempts to place Saturday’s win within the context of any perceived quest or a heartwarming coda to the rape investigation that cost the program dearly. Eight games into last season, Duke canceled the remainder of the schedule in the midst of a rape investigation stemming from an exotic dancer’s accusations she was assaulted at a March 2006 team party. Three players were charged with rape, kidnapping and sexual offense, and Blue Devils coach Mike Pressler resigned. The rape charges were dropped in December, and the rest of the case was dismissed in April after an investigation by the state attorney general’s office determined the three players were innocent. But Saturday wasn’t about redemption, Greer said, or any type of symbolic statement. “You think about all the stuff we went through off the field, but had we not gone through that,

this would have been our goal on the field anyway,” said Greer, who scored a team-high four goals and recorded an assist. “You try not to think about all that other stuff out there on the field. We’re just out there playing.”

Saturday’s announced crowd of 52,004 set a new NCAA men’s lacrosse semifinal-day record, and the Devils already had motivation to spare after a 7-6 home loss March 20 to Cornell. Duke had little luck that day solving the Big Red’s All-

American goalie, Matt McMonagle, but scored eight consecutive goals Saturday to build a 10-3 lead with 3:46 left in the third quarter. The Big Red came into the game 15-0 and averaging an NCAA-best 14.2 goals a game, and its comeback was built on coach Jeff Tambroni’s decision to substitute liberally in the second half to keep his team fresh in the steamy heat. Attackman David Mitchell had four goals for Cornell, and he scored three of those goals as the Big Red rallied with an 8-1 run capped by Brian Clayton’s tying score with only 17 seconds left. Duke midfielder Ned Crotty said he and his teammates did not even get a moment to consider the pain of a full-blown collapse after Clayton’s score, because coach John Danowski pulled them together instantly on the sideline. “Coach turns around, looks at us and says, ‘Calm down. It’s only tied. We’ve been through a lot worse,’” said Crotty, who had two goals and an assist. Duke freshman midfielder Terrence Molinari won the ensuing face off and passed ahead to Lamade, setting up the lightning-quick score by Greer that left McMonagle and his Cornell teammates still stunned a half hour after the game. “It happened so quickly, I don’t know,” said McMonagle, describing Greer’s winning shot. “He put it by me.” The Blue Devils all but skipped back to their locker room, gliding on the adrenaline fumes Chuck Liddy/MCT from Greer’s shot. But he had no time for nostalgia, not even for a memorable play that unfolded TITLE BOUND: Duke lacrosse midfielder Matt Danowski congratulates attackman Zack Greer after a only minutes earlier. goal during their season opener in Durham, North Carolina. The team will play John Hopkins May 28 “We’ve got one left, fellas,” said Greer as he reminded his teammates. for the NCAA men’s title.


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The University Star - Page D5

Bobcat track and field coach named best in SLC Scott Strickman The University Star

The Bobcats scored 177.50 team points at the SLC Championships to thrash Track and field Coach Galisecond-place Sam Houston na Bukharina was named the State, which accumulated Southland Conference Coach 124 points. of the Year, her seventh such Bukharina holds high exaward during her five-year pectations off the field as tenure at Texas State. GALINA BUKHARINA well, according to Reuben OrThe honor, which is be- Track and field coach tiz, track and field assistant stowed twice a year to name coach. The women’s squad the indoor and outdoor season recipi- maintains one of the higher grade-point ents, came May 9, several days after averages in the Southland Conference. Bukharina led the Bobcats to the wom“She is very deserving of (the en’s outdoor track and field team title award),” Ortiz said. “If you look even in a dominating fashion. It was their deeper, I bet she would win it every second women’s outdoor title in the year because of her expectations in the last four years. classroom.” “I am very happy that it was the effort The women’s team broke the school of the whole team,” Bukharina said. record for highest GPA in a semester,

with a cumulative figure of 3.18. Bukharina and her staff strive to build students first and foremost, with able bodies being an added bonus, Ortiz said. “She tells the recruits that come here ‘The odds are you will not be a professional athlete,’” Ortiz said. “We try to develop athletes, but they are students first. The parents love to hear that.” Bukharina refuses to take all the credit for the team’s success both on and off the field. She is quick to praise Meghan Anderson, student development specialist and track and field academic adviser, for keeping the team on top of things in the classroom. “It’s not only that I am demanding,” Bukharina said. “Our academic adviser, she is unbelievable. Before that, it

was a lady who took care of all sports and it was really impossible for her to help me. But this lady, Meghan Anderson, is doing a great job and she is very active.” The future of the team is bright in its current hands, Bukharina said, not because of what she has done with the team, but what the entire coaching staff working as a cohesive unit has accomplished. “I have very enthusiastic coaches on my staff,” Bukharina said. “My coaches just tried to concentrate on quality workouts.” She was able to guide the team through adversity this season. The conference championships began earlier than usual, leading to a conflict with final exams, and the early stages of the

season were plagued with inclement weather. “(The coaching staff and I) planned very well,” Bukharina said. “The main point that was pretty hard for us was that this time we had (to deal with) finals (during the conference championships).” As a result, the coaches were forced to adjust their schedules to accommodate the athletes’ fine balance between their training and studies, a seemingly tireless chore the staff responded to with gritty determination. “We worked a lot with athletes individually,” Bukharina said. “We couldn’t have organized practice because of finals, but we worked from morning to night just coaching people at different times with a lot of individual approach to everybody.”

Hopeful Olympian, proven Bobcat track and field star Scott Strickman The University Star After finishing her undergraduate career at Texas A&M, Abby Ruston chose to continue her studies at Texas State as a graduate student. While many disagreed with her decision to become a Bobcat, Ruston remained confident in her selection. Now, after being named the Southland Conference’s Track and Field Outdoor Newcomer of the

Year, it appears her relocation has translated into success, a detail that does not go unnoticed by Ruston. “It’s very satisfying when people think you’re crazy and laugh at you (and you prove them wrong),” Ruston said. “It feels good to do what you know is right and have it pay off.” After her junior season at A&M, doubts began to creep into Ruston’s mind. She was unsure as to whether or not she could totally dedicate herself to the rigors of another season. As a result, she

decided to forgo her senior season of eligibility, handing back the final year of her scholarship in the process. “Everyone thought I was crazy at the time because I gave up my scholarship,” Ruston said. “I didn’t know if I wanted to throw again. I thought I would do it half-heartedly. I thought I lost the drive and passion for it. I didn’t think it was fair to the team or me.” Luckily for the Bobcats, Ruston had a change of heart upon reaching Texas State, and had an extra year of eligibility at her disposal. “As time went on, I missed it,” Ruston said. “I wanted to get back into it.” She was offered a scholarship by Coach Galina Bukharina, who says Ruston’s effect on the team goes beyond the playing field. “She immediately found a great chemistry with the team,” Bukharina said. “We think even if she was with us only one year, she helped us to be better. We are proud of all her achievements.” Ruston harbors no ill will toward her former school though, saying she is still an Aggie at heart. However, Texas State does appear to be growing on her, mentioning that she has been described most aptly as an “Aggie-Cat” of late, and that is just fine with her. “This is the best place I could possibly be this year,” Ruston said. According to Ruston, who won SLC outdoor titles in both, the women’s shot put and discus this year, in addition to winning the women’s SLC indoor shot put title, preparation has been the biggest key in propelling her to the success she has experienced this season. “Having a plan and working the plan (made the difference),” Ruston said. “Knowing exactly what I’m going to do and not getting distracted (helped).” None of her accolades came easy this season. Just as Ruston felt she was hitting her stride, a freak neck injury temporarily sidelined her and she spent an entire week of vital training time “doing nothing.” Just as she recovered from her neck injury, Ruston was derailed again. This time it was her

back; yet even more difficult to overcome was the mental anguish she encountered. “There were a couple of bumps along the road,” Ruston said. “A lot of (the pain) was mental, but I still believed in everything I’ve done and felt prepared.” Preparation led to her second Newcomer of the Year award of the track and field season, earning the honor during the indoor season. Ruston appreciated being acknowledged for all her accomplishments this year. “I’ve never gotten a conference award (before this season),” Ruston said. “It’s pretty cool and nice to be seen. It was hard work and a nice reward to the season.” Ruston still has a lot to look forward to in the future. She competed in two events, shot put, in which she is ranked third in her region, and the discus throw at the NCAA Outdoor Regional Championships May 25 and 26 in Des Moines, Iowa, at Drake University. She won the shot put, which means she will compete at the NCAA Outdoor Nationals, beginning Wednesday in Sacramento, California. Ruston smashed a school record with her final throw of 17.23 meters. The old record was hers as well, set at 16.96 meters. She plans to participate in the USA Outdoor Track and Field Championships, after which she will train and attempt to qualify for the 2008 U.S. Olympic Team. Bukharina believes Ruston has all the tools necessary to be one of the few that is talented enough to represent their country on the world’s largest stage, the Olympics. “She has all the capabilities,” Bukharina said. “She’s a hard worker, she’s quick, and she is very serious about it. I think that she has a bright future.” Ruston recommends a strong conviction in one’s own abilities for future Bobcats seeking to follow in her footsteps. “Never doubt yourself; always believe,” Ruston said. “If you really believe you can do it, then go for it, even if people think you’re crazy. That was me.”

TRACK AND FIELD NCAA MIDWEST REGIONAL CHAMPIONSHIPS Des Moines, Iowa Drake University May 25-26

Texas State Results Camilla Davis — Women’s Long Jump 19th place Valerie Hancock — Women’s High Jump 16th place

Jiovanna Martinez — Women’s Discus Throw 18th place Robert Melin — Men’s Discus Throw 5th place Abby Ruston — Women’s Discus Throw 24th place, Women’s Shot Put 1st place Gatis Spunde — Men’s 400-meter Hurdles 9th place

Katie Hanie — Women’s Discus Throw 25th place Monty Marion/Star photo BOBCAT NEWCOMER: Abby Ruston, graduate student, was named the Southland Conference’s Track and Field Newcomer of the Year, after coming to San Marcos from Texas A&M.

Erroll Harris — Men’s 400-meter Dash 21st place

— Results not available at time of release for Davis in the Women’s 100-meter dash


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UT standout to go No. 2 in NBA draft Illinois athletes under fire after legal troubles By Percy Allen The Seattle Times LAS VEGAS — The boy had a dream not unlike the dreams of many adolescents. Kevin Durant was 11, maybe 12 when he told his mother he wanted to be a basketball player. The brief conversation changed their lives. From that point, basketball became a way of life for them. Wanda Pratt, Durant’s mother, worked at a post office in Suitland, Md., but her real job was raising two boys and supporting a hoop dream that has led Durant to the doorstep of the NBA. The work ethic she taught him could drive him to the Sonics, who are likely to make him No. 2 pick in next month’s NBA draft. “I don’t know if she thought I was serious or not, but she said, ‘All right, if that’s what you want, then you’ve got to work hard and commit to it,” Durant said, stretching his spindly 6-foot-10 frame on the couch of his hotel room. “My mother taught me to always be strong and always work hard. She’s been working hard her whole life for me and my brother. I’m a lot like her in that I work hard for what I want. She taught me that.” Durant stuffs a duffel bag with clothes and prepares for a flight to Vancouver, B.C., where he’ll meet with executives from EA Sports. The Texas forward, who was the first freshman to be the consensus college player of the year, will appear on the cover of the “March Madness 2008” video game, and is spending two days in Canada while programmers recreate his game. During a six-hour layover in Las Vegas, Durant accepted an invitation to compete with the U.S. national basketball team and posed for photos with Ohio State’s Greg Oden, who accepted the invitation, and Team USA general manager Jerry Colangelo. After interviews with Las Vegas media and ESPN and a national teleconference, Durant had a few minutes to gather his belongings and unwind before meeting his father downstairs. Periodically, he stared out the window of the room on the 54th floor to admire a spectacular view of the Sierra Nevadas. Four months shy of his 19th birthday, Durant is still unaccustomed to such luxuries. He’d rather be in a gym somewhere working on his game. “I know that the hard work got me here,” Durant said. “And the day I stop working hard, this can all go away.” That’s his mother talking. Or maybe it’s Taras Brown, the man he calls his godfather and who’s credited with guiding the young boy with a basketball dream into becoming a likely top-two pick in the June 28 NBA draft. Durant isn’t sure anymore which voice he hears louder inside his head. His mother introduced him to Brown. Durant was 9, and Brown coached a local AAU team that practiced at the nearby Seat Pleasant Activity Center. After a year or two of one-on-one instruction, Brown determined the boy had real talent. Soon after, Durant had the life-changing conversation with his mother, and she refused to let him quit on his dream, even when Brown’s training reached what many might believe to be maniacal levels. “We spent long hours in the gym,” Durant said. “From 9 to 5, it was like a job to me. I was always in the gym. People would look at me crazy

because I spent so much time there. But that’s what it was about. I’m glad I did it. “I would do 100 laps. Crab walks. Duck walks. Run hills and everything. Anything he could think of, we did. It was brutal, but I fought through it every day. I never quit. I told myself to never be a quitter. That was my mentality.” Durant’s passion became an obsession. “If people knew what he did and what he’s done, it’s amazing,” said Wayne Pratt, Durant’s father. “You’re talking about going to school, coming back from school, getting your homework done, running maybe a mile from your grandmother’s house to the gym, working out at the gym and then calling your grandmother to bring your dinner to the gym. And that’s an 11- or 12-year-old kid. That’s dedication.” Durant lived like a basketball recluse, rarely playing video games or hanging out with friends. “Honestly, I don’t know how I did all of those things when I was younger,” he said. “I just wanted to be great.” Brown forbade Durant from playing pickup games or scrimmaging. He stressed conditioning and an array of shooting, dribbling, passing and defensive drills. Every day was boot camp. Brown taught Durant three basic moves — a pull-up jump shot, a two-dribble jumper and a baseline drive — that formed the foundation of Durant’s repertoire. He made the boy write basketball essays, diagram the mechanics to jump shots and told him to memorize a quote that has shaped his life: Hard work beats talent when talent fails to work hard. “I had to write until I remembered it,” Durant said. With the exception of his junior year of high school at Oak Hill Academy in Virginia, they met every day until Durant left for Texas. If not for the NBA’s one-year eligibility rule, Durant might have played his rookie year in Toronto last season. Instead, he led the Longhorns to a 25-10 record and played Big 12 opponents like PlayStation. The conference had never seen anyone like the versatile forward, who averaged 25.8 points, 11.1 rebounds while shooting 47.3 percent from the floor and 40.4 percent on three-pointers. He scored 30 or more in 11 games and surpassed the 20-point mark in 30 of his 35 games. “You kind of catch yourself in awe,” said Texas Tech assistant coach Pat Knight, son of head coach Bob Knight, whose team watched Durant drop 37 on them. “He’s going to be the closest thing from a talent standpoint to Michael Jordan. You don’t like to say those things about a kid because that puts a huge amount of pressure on them, but that’s how I feel.” Durant’s talents have led to a debate about who should be the No. 1 pick. Two sources within the Portland Trail Blazers’ organization said the team is strongly considering selecting Durant with the No. 1 pick in the draft next month, even though many analysts believe Oden should go first. If he slips past Portland, he’ll land in Seattle, which has the second pick. “I promise you this much: Whoever takes Kevin, they haven’t seen the best that he can do,” Wayne Pratt said. “You haven’t seen anything yet. He’s prepared almost his entire life for this and he’s only going to get better.”

Chris Lee/St. Louis Post-Dispatch JAIL TIME: Illinois guard Jamar Smith celebrates after driving and scoring against Austin Peay State November 13 in the first half at Assembly Hall in Champaign, Illinois. Smith began a 15-day jail sentence May 24th for an aggravated driving under the influence offense Feb. 12.

By Neil Milbert Chicago Tribune URBANA, Ill. — Illinois basketball player Jamar Smith began serving a 15-day jail sentence May 24 immediately after pleading guilty in Champaign County Circuit Court to aggravated driving under the influence. Under the plea agreement negotiated by Smith’s attorney, Mark Lipton, with Champaign County State’s Atty. Julie Rietz, charges of leaving the scene of an accident were dropped. Smith was driving a vehicle his grandparents owned when it skidded off a snow-slickened Champaign street Feb. 12 and struck a tree, seriously inuring his passenger and teammate, Brian Carlwell. Smith drove back to his apartment after the crash, leaving the unconscious Carlwell inside the severely damaged car. After a resident of the apartment complex called 911, Carlwell was taken to Carle Foundation Hospital, where he was treated for a severe concussion. Two hours later Smith went to the hospital where he was treated for a slight concussion and underwent a blood alcohol test. In addition to the jail sentence, Richard Klaus, Champaign County Circuit Court associate judge,

imposed these penalties and conditions: $850 in fines and $150 in court costs and crime lab fees; 100 hours of community service during the next 20 months; 20 months probation; random blood and urine tests; 75 hours of substance-abuse treatment; and attendance at a victim-impact panel. If Smith tests positive for alcohol or drugs during his probation period, he will be subject to further penalties. Because of the DUI arrest, Smith’s driver’s license has been revoked for at least 18 months. Smith’s grandfather, Leroy Smith, of Peoria, who accompanied him to court, declined to comment. Jamar Smith, who is to begin summer school June 11 at Illinois, issued the following statement through the university’s sports information office: “... I am deeply remorseful for everything that happened. I sincerely apologize for my actions, and for the negative light that I have brought to my family and friends, the university and the basketball program. ... I have thought long and hard about the poor choices I made that night. I can’t go back in time and make it go away, but I can do something about it from this point on. ... “

Coach Bruce Weber declined comment but issued a statement, saying, “We will need time to examine the facts and work with (athletic director) Ron Guenther and the university administration to bring closure to this situation.” Rietz said the sentence was fair and typical. “Certainly we took into account his age (19), prior history (only one minor traffic offense) and his rehabilitation potential, ” she said. “The jail sentence is a part of the message being sent.” An Aug. 20 Champaign County Court trial date was set for another Illinois athlete, Derrick McPhearson, a football wide receiver facing a felony residential burglary and theft charge after being arrested March 11. Champaign police arrested McPhearson, 20, of Hyattsville, Md., and fellow wide receiver Jody Ellis, 20, of Evanston, when stolen wallets, laptop computers and other electronic devices were found in Ellis’ car after it was involved in a traffic accident. Ellis agreed to a plea bargain when he appeared in court May 4. He is scheduled to return to court on June 11 and enter a guilty plea. Coach Ron Zook dropped both players from the team following their arrests and they aren’t expected to return to the university.


Page D8 - The University Star

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BASEBALL: Bobcats top

UTSA in tournament play

ton’s pitching,” Fiske said. Hart said SHSU ran a fast paced game. in the process to tie the game up “Sam Houston kept a good at 1-1. tempo,” Hart said. “They kept After the ’Cats scored three the game pace up and we couldn’t runs in the top of the eighth to settle in. Howard shut us out earclaim a 6-3 lead, they were just lier in the season. He keeps us six outs away from their first vicoff-balance. He obviously knows tory of the tournament. UTSA (35something about us.” 23) had other plans, flexing their Garza and freshman designated muscle in the bottom of the frame hitter Paul Goldschmidt hit conin response. Trent Lockwood led secutive doubles in the bottom of off the Roadrunner half of the inthe fourth as Texas State struck ning with a base hit, later scoring first to grab a 1-0 lead. The Bear—Ty Harrington on a Phillip Allen sac fly. They tied kats responded with two runs in Texas State baseball coach things up at 6-6 when freshman the top of the fifth off redshirt Ryan Rummel hit a two-run homer, senior B.J. Boening to take a onethe first of his career. run lead on an RBI groundout by Clint Mann and a Texas State freshman third baseman Clint Vest, run-scoring error by Guest. Jason Baca, Third team a late-game defensive replacement, turned a double All-SLC member and senior reliever, was called play, catching a line drive and firing to second to re- upon to replace Boening. He came in with the bastire Tim Palincsar in the bottom of the ninth, send- es loaded and two away in the fifth, facing All-SLC ing the game to extra innings. DH Karl Krailo. After running the count full at 3-2, “There’s no doubt the momentum changed,” Har- Krailo flied out to center on Baca’s sixth pitch of the rington said. “Our spirits were a little fragile and at-bat to end the attack. (Vest’s play) sparked us.” The ’Cats had Bearkat starter Timothy Gray (6-3) Texas State went on to play Stephen F. Austin on the ropes in the bottom half of the fifth but Wood in game 3 of the tournament. Junior Eric Weaver grounded into a questionable double-play with the tossed 2.1 innings in relief to earn the win and im- bases loaded to foil the rally. prove to 6-1 on the year. Howard, who started the first game against Texas Harrington said it was a hard-fought victory and State, relieved Gray, tossed 3.2 innings of scoreless eased any concerns had about the team’s resolve. relief and gave up just one hit. Prihoda pitched the “You worry as a coach how the team will react,” final out, getting pinch hitter Elliot Babcock to fly he said. “The team was great. I think they reacted out to center, recording his SLC-record 17th save of the way they were supposed to for a championship- the season. Prihoda was dubbed MVP of the tournacaliber team. They showed incredible courage.” ment, picking up a win and two saves while allowing Sophomore Mike Hart (8-5) tossed the second just two hits and striking out five over his six innings complete game of the tourney for the Bobcats en of work. route to a 7-0 win against SFA (31-28), eliminatEven if the season did not end the way the Bobing the Lumberjacks from contention. Once UTSA cats hoped, Harrington said he knew the team dropped a 5-4 contest to SHSU, the Bobcats were would be successful. in the finals. “I told them before the game that this team was Without Hart carrying the load, Harrington said destined for the championship game,” he said. “The he felt the team would have had no chance at win- reality of winning one is a difficult thing.” ning the title. Harrington said the team grew as a result of the “He was huge for us,” Harrington said. “For us to success they enjoyed this year. win the championship, Hart had to do that. We chal“It is important for us to have the opportunity to lenged him. Mike did his part.” play for a championship,” he said. Hart was just glad to contribute and keep the seaHart, Garza and sophomore infielder Thomas son alive. Field were named to the All-Southland Conference “It was important for the team because that way tournament team. everyone in the bullpen could get be at 100 perHart said he knows the experience was a valuable cent,” Hart said. one especially since the team left it all on the field. Wood, senior first baseman, gave the ’Cats a lead “It’s tough because I thought we had a real good they would never relinquish three batters in. He hit shot,” Hart said. “The experience of just being in a a two-run hit in the first inning, plating freshman playoff atmosphere and getting a feeling for it helps. outfielder Laurn Randell, off of losing pitcher Lance It was a good learning year for me.” Luetge (7-5). Luetge lasted only an inning and a Fiske, who completed his final year of NCAA elithird, giving up five runs while throwing 39 pitch- gibility, said the Bobcats will be an even stronger es. Hart threw 119 pitches, allowing three hits and team in the coming seasons. striking out nine. “We had a very good season,” he said. “We knew Wood placed himself in the record books with his we had a lot of talent but we also knew we had a lot home run. It was his 95th hit on the season, giving of young guys. The way we came together was great. him possession of the single-season school record I see good things in the future for them.” for hits. Jacob Spencer, who logged 94 hits during One oddity of the finals was Texas State needed the 2002 campaign, previously held the record. two victories to claim the conference title, but was “David Wood is very deserving (of the record),” still the home team in both games. The team with Harrington said. “I’m glad he will be engraved in the higher seed earns the right to bat last, as the Texas State history.” home team always does. Texas State was the third Wood tallied four RBIs on the day, going two-for- seed, while SHSU was seeded fourth. Seeding was five at the plate to give him 96 hits. Senior infielder determined by conference standings prior to the Casey Guest drove in two on the day, giving him SLC tournament, with six teams qualifying. four RBIs in the tournament, and senior outfielder Aaron Garza recorded an RBI single as Texas State improved to 37-22. The win pitted the Bobcats against SHSU for the Texas State wrapped up the season with a second time in four days to determine the South37-23 record, 20-10 in conference, and land champion. The Bearkats came into the matchreached their first SLC title game since up undefeated in the tournament. 2000, the last time they won the title. The The story of the tournament was the SHSU’s win marked the second conference title pitching. Texas State fell to the Bearkats 3-1. In 18 in school history for the Bearkats, the innings against SHSU during SLC tournament play, other coming in 1996, as they concluded Texas State was only able to put a lone run on the their regular season with a 38-20 mark. scoreboard. The ’Cats scored a total of 16 runs in their other two games. SHSU will advance to the NCAA regional “The only thing that held us back was Sam Houstournament, earning the SLC automatic bid. CONTINUED from page 2

“I

told them before the game that this team was destined for the championship game. The reality of winning one is a difficult thing.”

✯ FYI


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The University Star - Page D9

Popular UFC champion beaten by No. 1 contender, loses title By Carlos Arias The Orange County Register LAS VEGAS — The Ice Age is over. Get ready for a new era in the Ultimate Fighting Championship’s light-heavyweight division. The past few weeks have seen mixed martial arts explode on the national stage. Chuck “The Iceman” Liddell, the UFC lightheavyweight champion, was the face of mixed martial arts in North America with each devastating knockout. Liddell had one blemish on his record that was not avenged, and he hoped to erase the black mark with a victory over Quinton “Rampage” Jackson in the main

event of UFC 71 Saturday at the MGM Grand Garden. Jackson ruined Liddell’s plans and scored a devastating firstround knockout over the champion, stunning the sellout crowd, which was completely behind the UFC poster boy. Most fans probably had not seen many of Jackson’s fights that took place in Japan for PRIDE Fighting Championships. “It’s going to be like this for a long time,” said Jackson, an Irvine, Calif., resident who was born and raised in Memphis. “I got caught,” Liddell said. “What do you want me to say?” Prior to the championship bout, Liddell won seven consecutive fights, all by knockout or technical

Brutal behavior of football players connected to sport By Dan Le Batard McClatchy Newspapers MIAMI — Atlanta Falcons superstar Michael Vick is in trouble for allegedly being involved in a dog-fighting ring, which is cruel and awful but not unlike Vick’s own job. What is football if not dog fighting with more money and prettier cheerleaders? Bloody entertainment. So it makes sense football’s violence would spend too much time spilling out of the huddles and into headlines and handcuffs. The NFL has seen 283 players arrested or charged with crimes since 2000, according to the attorneys for suspended Tennessee cornerback Adam “Pac-Man” Jones. That doesn’t even count periphery ugliness like Vick’s most recent shame, but it is nonetheless an amazing number. If you arrested the entire 40-man Florida Marlins roster (starters, subs, minor-leaguers and guys on the disabled list) for each of the last seven years, you’d almost arrive at it. New NFL commissioner Roger Goodell is kicking in the saloon doors with tough-guy posturing by suspending Jones for a year, but he’s like a man with a single moist towelette busting in and proclaiming he’s going to clean up the entire slaughterhouse. America’s most popular game is a savage spectacle, and the same things that make players good at it (recklessness, violence, a disregard for consequences) are what often makes them bad elsewhere. Yes, you can find good guys in football. And you can find good girls in strip clubs. But the corrupted workplaces make it very hard. It takes a certain amount of crazy to make your living the way gladiators do. Miami Dolphin Jason Taylor becomes such a raging lunatic Sundays he has broken things in the locker room and thrown scalding coffee. Teammates stay away from him and have dubbed him Anger Man. And that’s before games. Taylor, one of the good guys, has the discipline to channel and manage that kind of aggression. But many of his peers don’t. Throw in the booze and drugs and pain-killers that football players use to self-medicate the daily wounds of the workplace — pain that makes them limp through retirement and, on average, die earlier than the rest of us — and you can already hear the police sirens in the distance. Bill Belichick and Bill Parcells rode that untamed beast, and all the rest of Lawrence Tay-

lor’s demons, to fame and riches while yammering about the need for character and discipline. Goodell has a public-relations problem, so the stance he is taking on Jones is easy, not tough. It makes him look good for trying, even if his suspension of Jones falls apart in federal court because he is trampling due process with punishments that haven’t been collectively bargained. No matter how unsympathetic a victim he is, Jones has a contract, unlike most of us who can be fired for embarrassing our companies. And, for all of his bad publicity, he has zero convictions. There isn’t anything in the contract that allows the commissioner to be bigger than America’s legal system. “But sometimes when you have a terrible situation on your hands, you have to declare martial law,” said NBA Commissioner David Stern. Asked if he would do what Goodell did to Jones, Stern said, “That’s a hard question because I’m not faced with a player with 10 arrests and a USA Today story showing all those mug shots. It is something we haven’t done for off-the-court behavior, but I would certainly reserve the right to do it.” Goodell, however, is delusional if he thinks he’s going to change the culture of this sport. You aren’t going to change adults who arrived atop of sports being rewarded handsomely for the way they already are. This is why Jones, implausibly, was in a strip club the night before meeting with Goodell, and got ticketed for speeding after midnight. All you can do, as the Miami Dolphins are doing, is pay some public relations lip service to character and make moves that give the illusion of change. The Dolphins have waived two alleged wife-beaters (Randy McMichael and Damion McIntosh) and problem children Marcus Vick and Manny Wright, although they probably wouldn’t have waived any of them if they thought they could, you know, help. So maybe you won’t notice, in this alleged housecleaning, the mercenary they gave the most free agent dollars was once shot in the buttocks and was late to his wedding while being arrested. He was kicked out before an NFL game for punching an opposing player in the face, and, as an added bonus, accidentally killed a neighbor’s miniature horse when his two killer dogs got loose. But, hey, at least Joey Porter’s very first act as a Dolphin wasn’t to get into a fistfight in a Las Vegas casino, right?

knockout, since suffering a second-round TKO loss to Jackson in the semifinals of PRIDE’s 2003 Middleweight Grand Prix. Liddell had an aura of invincibility during his string of victories, while Jackson had mixed results in recent years, including an uninspiring second-round TKO victory over Marvin Eastman in his Feb. 3 UFC debut. Jackson made his way to the octagon wearing the trademark junkyard chain around his neck, stopping to howl like a werewolf as he savored every moment on his approach. The crowd, firmly behind Liddell, booed Jackson when he finally stepped into the cage after the long entrance. Liddell made his way to the

octagon as if he were doubleparked and wanted to make this a quick night. The crowd let out a deafening roar when Liddell stepped in the cage. Neither fighter backed away from the stare down as referee “Big” John McCarthy gave the final instructions. Both fighters started off cautious, respecting each other’s power from the first encounter. Liddell pawed with his jab and moved away, looking for an opportunity to counter. Jackson was the aggressor, looking for opportunities to cut off the ring. The two combatants went through a feeling-out process for the first 90 seconds before

Liddell unloaded with a left hook. Jackson responded immediately with an overhand right that had Liddell backing up. Liddell continued to flick out jabs and move to keep his distance from Jackson, but it wasn’t long before Jackson found his opportunity. “The Iceman” started to throw a right hand when Jackson uncorked a right hook that nailed Liddell squarely on the chin. He hit the canvas in a heap and Jackson pounced on him. Jackson landed six consecutive punches and hammer fists. Liddell’s body went limp after the first three hits and McCarthy finally pulled Jackson off Liddell, ending the fight at 1:53 in the first round.

Jackson (27 wins — 6 losses) was guaranteed $225,000 and earned an extra $225,000 for getting the victory. Liddell (20 wins — 4 losses) was guaranteed $500,000 plus a percentage of the pay-per-view. Dan Henderson, who holds the PRIDE 205- and 185-pound titles, jumped in the octagon and issued a challenge to Jackson after the fight. The two are good friends. “Quinton’s my friend, Chuck’s my friend, we’re all friends,” Henderson said. “This is a sport and a business. I’d like to make some money with my friends.” Jackson accepted the challenge. “It’s about time we get some paper,” Jackson said.

Message not sent NCAA bans popular recruitment method

By Andrew Zuckerman The Diamondback COLLEGE PARK, Md. — “Inbox: No new messages.” For recruits, they can expect to see a lot more of that on their cell phones in a couple months. The NCAA ruled April to ban coaches from text messaging during the recruiting process, a decision that has spurred national debate. Some coaches have applauded the ban, but others have, well, laughed out loud at it. The NCAA’s ruling, which goes into effect in August, also bans coaches from video conferencing and posting messages on social networking websites, such as Facebook and MySpace. But the text message ban is the one that will have the biggest effect on the recruiting process. Text messaging has become a major part of this generation’s technology, but the NCAA’s board of directors voted 13-3 to do away with it from the coaching side. The reason: It was getting out of control, as recruits would get huge numbers of texts each day, running up bills and distracting them from schoolwork. Recruits, however, can still send texts to coaches. Gary Williams, Maryland men’s basketball coach, and Brenda Frese, Maryland women’s basketball coach, both agreed the ban was a good thing and a way to keep high school students less stressed in their final year before college. “This is just a way to hopefully help the recruiting process for the kids to have more time to enjoy their senior year,” Williams said. “They don’t have to be worried about whether they’ve answered some coach and a text message or whatever. I think the NCAA is trying to do the right thing in this situation.” Known for her prowess in attracting top high school players, Frese had no problem with the decision. In fact, she was recently on the other end and could tell what the high school athletes were dealing with. Looking to fill an important void in her coaching staff, Frese said she got text messages all the time from other coaches around the country hoping to impress her. “With the assistant position I had opened up (to replace) Jeff Walz, I could relate to it — the amount of coaches that were contacting me,” Frese said. “We had the No. 1 job opening in the country. You get a lot of overly aggressive coaches out there looking to make a name for themselves in coaching.” Maryland football Coach Ralph Friedgen said he uses texts often but has no problem changing his style. “I’ve done it quite a bit. I think it’s a way to communicate … I’m willing to adapt to whatever they feel is necessary to do,” Friedgen said. “I think text messaging is probably like a phone call. It probably should be considered as such, but I don’t know how you can monitor that, so I’m for whatever they want to do on it. I’ll just do what everybody else is going to do.” Maryland football Recruiting Coordinator Dave Sollazzo said he

liked text messaging and wished the NCAA would have come up with a way to moderate it instead of completely banning it. “They’re going from one extreme to another, from where we were allowed to text every single day, unlimited, to not at all,” Sollazzo said. “In my personal opinion, I think that’s a little bit extreme. I would like to see it cut back to once a week. Obviously it’s a good means of communication.” Still, Sollazzo acknowledged it had become a problem, admitting the entire process was out of control. “I was not one to abuse it, to be quite honest with you. I tried not to abuse it, but I really enjoyed texting,” he said. “I thought it was a great means of communication. You could be sitting somewhere in a dentist office or something like that and communicate with someone. It’s quick, easy and effective. I’m going to miss it. I really am. But I think it is definitely overdone, without a doubt.” High school students have become more comfortable with using their fingers to send messages rather than speaking during a phone conversation. Recruits have become used to writing “ttyl” instead of saying “goodbye.” But for every phone vibration indicating a text message, it meant money piling up on phone bills — sometimes, money parents didn’t always have. In discussing the ban, the NCAA pointed to a common anecdote in which a recruit would wake up in the morning with an overwhelming amount of texts. “If you take the top-100 (recruits) in the country, I guarantee you that happened to each one of them,” Williams said. “Guys are text messaging like, ‘John, good luck in school today. -Coach.’ Who cares, you know?” Williams said recruits were getting too caught up with how many text messages they were getting and keeping score with other recruits. It became a problem, Williams said, because head coaches aren’t always the ones doing the text messaging. Instead, head coaches would hand off the text messaging duties to assistants or even managers and let them handle it, which became misleading to recruits. “I think it’s a positive step in the right direction,” Frese said. “There’s so much volume and noise with the text messaging. Recruits get extended plans and pay a lot of money. We used to recruit with letter-writing, and I think that’s the way to be able to go back to in terms of the recruiting process.” Added Williams: “The way it used to be, you had a lot more personal contact with recruits. You could do a lot more in person with recruiting. Now you can’t. I think all coaches would like to get to know recruits better before they came to your school.” There is still a limit on how many phone calls a coach can make, meaning coaches will have to re-adjust back to the old-fashioned style of handwriting letters and sending e-mails. That is, until another technological advance comes around. For now, though, the coaches “g2g.”


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Friday, June 1, 2007

Softball pitcher takes top honors Bobcat women win another SLC championship Scott Strickman The University Star

Austin Byrd/Star file photo POWERFUL PITCHING: Ragan Blake, junior pitcher, delivers a fastball during the Bobcats’ March 21 game against Texas A&M. Blake led the Southland Conference this season with 10 shutouts and 213 strikeouts.

By Carl Harper The University Star The phrase “everything is bigger in Texas” seems to apply to junior pitcher Ragan Blake. A transfer student from Mississippi State, Blake improved her win record, strikeouts and ERA during her first season as a Bobcat. Blake rose to the occasion and helped the Bobcats to thirdplace in the Southland conference standings and runner-up in the conference tournament, after senior pitcher Sarah Lancour went down with a shoulder injury during a home game March 21. Blake led the SLC with 10 shutouts and 213 strikeouts in 226.2 innings during the regular season while posting a 1.61 ERA and a 23-13 record. In her first year as a Bobcat, she earned the SLC Pitcher of the Week award four times and was honored with SLC Newcomer and Pitcher of the Year just three days after the tournament. The SLC Pitcher of the Year award was the second consecutive honor and fourth overall for a Bobcat; Katie Ann Trahan claimed the award last season. Jessica Chase and Nicole Neuerburg won the award in 2001 and 2002, respectively. Blake became the second Bobcat to win SLC Newcomer of the Year, joining 2003 winner Ryan Stukel. “I didn’t think there was any doubt she was the best pitcher in the conference,” Coach Ricci Woodard said. “She did a great job and I’m glad she got rewarded for her hard work.” Blake went 3-2 during the tournament and struck out 29 batters in 32 innings. “Anytime you get 26 wins you’re doing great as a pitcher,”

Woodard said. “She does great in keeping us in ball games and did great in the tournament.” In addition to Blake’s honorable achievements, she became the only Bobcat this season to receive the All-SLC First-Team honors next to pitcher Rachel Ray of Southeastern Louisiana. “I don’t think much into (all of the honorable mentions),” Blake said. “I’m thankful for them but would never have been recognized without my team behind me.” News 8 Austin featured Blake in a segment April 16, naming the Missouri City, Texas native their Athlete of the Week. Prior to her news coverage, she threw two of her 10 shutouts during a weekend series against Stephen F. Austin in the midst of an eight consecutive start stretch. “This season I tried my hardest to forget about what was going on around me,” Blake said. “I just got focused when I was in the circle. I went out there and pitched my game and did what I love to do.” After spending two years in a Bulldog uniform at Mississippi State, Blake said she decided to return home to because she missed the atmosphere. She wants to finish her collegiate career pitching in her home state and has brought a durable arm to the mound for the Bobcats. “Anybody that comes in and fills the role that Ragan has filled is deserving of being recognized in the conference,” sophomore catcher Karen Taylor said. “I think she carried us through the tournament and did an outstanding job. It means a lot that she has that determination to pitch 32 innings in a weekend.”

Some of the Bobcats surprised even themselves after capturing the fourth Women’s Outdoor Track and Field team title in school history at the Southland Conference championships. “I was a little bit surprised,” said Abby Ruston, graduate thrower. “I was a little unfamiliar with (other Bobcat’s) performance (at the time).” The team as a whole took home nine conference titles overall, including eight individual championships as they competed on site May 4 to 6 at Stephen F. Austin in Nacogdoches. Among those individual champions was Ruston, who claimed firstplace in both the women’s shot put and discus throw. Ruston, who will compete at the NCAA outdoor regional championships May 25 and 26 in Des Moines, Iowa, won the shot put by over two meters even though she admits to not feeling her best. “I got sick that weekend and I thought ‘Why this weekend?’” Ruston said. “I was mentally out of it, to say the least.” Ruston, who is ranked in the top three in the Midwest region, expects her success to carry over to regionals, although she concedes it will not be easy. “I’m pretty confident, even if it’s a disastrous day in shot put,” Ruston said. “It’s going to be more pressure. All those hours of work (at practice) go into these throws.” Track and field Coach Galina Bukharina has been down this road before, previously leading the Bobcat women’s team to conference championships in 2003 and 2004. What surprised her about this particular group was the team effort they used to accomplish their goals. “We used to win conference (championships) with the women but it always was three or four really strong girls scoring,” Bukharina said. “This year it was completely different. The whole team competed very well. It was a great meet just because of the team effort.” A key to the women’s success was the dominance they exhibited in the women’s triple jump. Five of the nine qualifiers in the finals were from Texas State, with Bobcat junior Tamequa Poole capturing the conference title. In addition, her teammates finished second, third, fifth and eighth to round out the event. All five qualifiers from the Bobcats scored points in the event, combining for 29 of the women’s 177.50 overall team points. “(The triple jump) made our team very strong,” Bukharina said. That was not the only ingredient the Bobcats added to their recipe for success. The women claimed three of the top-six fastest times in the 400-meter hurdles and had three of the top-four finishers in the discus throw. “We really would not be very good if the rest of the team didn’t do well,” Bukharina said. The women’s pole vault event had three members of the team establish personal records Bukharina acknowledges she did not see coming. “Their (personal records prior to the meet) were lower than the open height in the pole vault,” Bukharina said. “They just came to compete and they set a new (personal record) and all of them scored.” The best part of reclaiming the

title of conference champions, Bukharina added, was to do it in such a convincing manner, especially after failing to do so at the SLC Indoor Championships. “I was just happy to look at (our girls’) faces,” Bukharina said. “At the beginning of the year when we lost to Sam Houston at indoors, nobody believed that we would be able to jump up in just three months and, really, be very unreachable.” Sam Houston State finished second-place overall with a total of 124 team points. Individual titles were also earned in other events by the women’s team, including 400-meter dash champion senior Liudmila Litvinova, who was nearly three seconds faster at 53.74 seconds than second-place finisher SHSU’s Desiree Taylor’s 56.28 seconds. The 800-meter run belonged to junior Katya Kostetskaya who set a Southland conference outdoor championship meet record at 2 minutes, 8.10 seconds, bettering the record of 2:09.49 she set just a day earlier in preliminaries. In the high jump, freshman Valerie Hancock cleared a height of 1.80 meters to take home gold in the event. Sophomore Robert Melin was the lone bright spot on the men’s side of the competition, winning the men’s conference title in the hammer throw and discus throw. “I expected to win,” Melin said. “I felt good all weekend and (throwing events) Coach Chris Adams put up a good training regimen for me.” Bukharina was simple with her assessment of Melin’s performance. “He did what he was supposed to do,” she said. “He is a leader of the team.” While Melin was pleased with the outcome of his performance, he seemed disappointed with the eighth-place overall finish by the men’s team. “This is a team competition,” Melin said. “If the team doesn’t do well, then it doesn’t matter if you do well yourself.” Texas-Arlington finished first in the men’s overall team competition with 128 points, while the Bobcat men finished with 60 points. Ruston and Melin will join fellow Bobcats, 13 in all, as they prepare to head to the Midwest Regional competition held at Drake University. “My first goal is to improve on what I’ve already done,” Ruston said. “If I do a couple of things right, I can be my very best.” Melin echoed those sentiments. “It will be fun,” he said. “I have to throw a (personal record) to qualify for Nationals. It’s the top athletes in our region; it will be good competition.” The women’s 4x400-meter relay team, which claimed a conference title, will not be competing at regionals because of recent injuries that have sprung up on top runners Litvinova and Kostetskaya. Bukharina could not hide that some of her enthusiasm had been quelled as a result of the misfortune. “I’m a little bit sad,” Bukharina said, “but to tell you the truth, we are not ready for regionals (in the 4x400m relay). You have to be realistic.” Yet, she still did feel a sense of joy for the nine athletes that will be in action. “But I am happy for the seniors and juniors who made it (to regionals),” Bukharina said. “It will be a great experience for them.”

Softball has near miss at SLC Championship By Carl Harper The University Star

The Texas State softball team came up one win short of the Southland Conference Tournament Championship for the second consecutive year. With Texas-Arlington knocking off the Bobcats last season 3-1 in the final game, Sam Houston State outlasted the Bobcats in a 1-0 shutout for the ring this season. Coach Ricci Woodard’s club began the three day journey with a 4-0 loss coming to IH-35 rival Texas-San Antonio. But the Bobcats didn’t lose sight of their goal and were able to string three wins together, reaching the championship game. The winning streak started with a 51 victory over UTA on day two of the tournament. The game was highlighted by a pair of Maverick fielding errors and a 2-RBI triple by sophomore shortstop Alex Newton. Sophomore catcher Karen Taylor and freshman first basemen Leah Boatright led off the second inning with a pair of singles, followed

his team has “T always been able to handle

pressure well and it was awesome to see the team come through and make it to the last game.”

—Ragan Blake junior pitcher

by Newton’s shot to the right-center gap. The Bobcats continued their winning ways with a 4-2 victory over Nicholls State, who swept the Bobcats in three games during the regular season. Boatright blasted a two-run homer to left field as part of a three-run third inning for the Bobcats. Sophomore outfielder Jetta Weinheimer led off the

second inning with her sixth dinger of the year prior to the Bobcats extending their lead an inning later. Boatright and Weinheimer each led the team this season with six home runs. SHSU had not lost a game yet in the bracket so the Bobcats were required to beat the Bearkats to force an elimination game. With their backs up against the wall, the Bobcats pounded out 12 hits and put eight runs up on the board as junior pitcher Ragan Blake held the Bearkats to a one-hit shutout, her fourth one-hitter of the season. “This team has always been able to handle pressure well and it was awesome to see the team come through and make it to the last game,” Blake said. “Coming off that 4-0 loss to UTSA, and then be able to pitch, hit and field well was an awesome feeling.” Texas State posted four runs in the first and four runs in the fourth inning en route to shutting out the Bearkats in a game that was run-ruled after only five innings. After freshman outfielder

Kristina Tello singled to center, Taylor launched a two-run homer to put the Bobcats up 2-0. Taylor went 5-for-11 with two RBIs during the tournament and scored once. “I felt good and I feel like I had a good tournament,” Taylor said. “I was seeing the ball well and seemed to be in the zone throughout each game.” Later in the inning, Weinheimer and Newton reached base with a single and an error, respectively, before sophomore third baseman Tamara Keller slapped a 2-RBI double down the left field line. The fourth frame featured RBI singles by Tello and Weinheimer and an RBI double by Newton. Blake pitched four innings and took her only relief of the tournament as freshman Elizabeth Dennis shut down SHSU in the fifth with three straight pop ups. The Bearkats then secured their title in the second game with a 1-0 shutout. The lone run came in the top of the second frame when Tanya Hooser plated pinch runner Tiffani Woodrum with an RBI single.

“Each team in the championship game just fought and fought and it was one of those feelings where you are on an adrenaline rush,” Taylor said. “But then it ended as a heart-breaker.” Blake pitched 32 innings, giving up eight runs on 23 hits with 29 strikeouts and 11 walks. The Bobcats finished up the season with an overall record of 32-26 and third place in conference with an 1812 record. They were runner-up in the tournament after posting a 3-2 record. “It was a good season and to see them go out and play like they did in the end, I was proud of them,” Woodard said. “When you put together three wins like that and then lose in the championship game, it hurts. I talked to some of the players a couple of days after the tournament and they were still hurting over it. But if it doesn’t hurt, then there is something wrong. I’ve got a lot of the same kids coming back next year so we will just look at taking another shot at the conference title then.”

06 01 2007 Section D  
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