New faces at the top
Also: UT-Tyler sends Campbell out with title; Lakers spotless
While one of the greatest draws of college baseball is the staying power of smattering of elite programs throughout the nation, that doesn’t mean it isn’t nice to see new faces at the top of the standings as we head into conference postseason play.
This year, two programs – Indiana and Kansas State – have accomplished incredible feats at their respective schools, both winning conference regular season titles for the first time in decades.
The Hoosiers claimed the outright Big Ten baseball title for the first time since 1932 with an 8-1 defeat at Ohio State on Saturday. It is the fifth time the Hoosiers have won the regular season league title, and only the first time since sharing it in 1949.
Indiana, which was ranked as high as No. 15 in the most recent polls, reached the 40-win mark for the first time since 1996 after taking two of three games from Ohio State during the weekend. The Buckeyes finished second in the league standings.
The Hoosiers will be the top-seeded team in the Big Ten championship for the first time since the tournament began in 1981. Indiana has won the league tournament twice in school history, most recently in 2009.
Kansas State also matched the school-record for victories as the Wildcats took two of three games from No. 20 Oklahoma during the weekend, including a walk-off 6-5 win against the Sooners on Friday that helped the Wildcats secure their first Big 12 championship in school history.
With a 5-2 win on Saturday against OU, No. 19 Kansas State tied the school record for regular season victories with 39. The Wildcats’ regular season conference title is the fourth in school history, but the first since 1933.
“It’s pretty amazing,” 10th-year head coach Brad Hill said. “These kids are phenomenal. All the credit goes to these kids, and the coaching staff did a tremendous job of preparing them and getting them ready to go. This is a great accomplishment for this program.”
Last year, the Wildcats were 27-31 overall and finished eighth in the conference. K-State was predicted to finish seventh in the Big 12 Preseason Coaches’ Poll – the biggest jump by a regular season championship squad since the poll began in 1999.
On the flip side, one of the nation’s most storied programs finished in last place in their league standings for the first time since 1956. Texas completed the year with a 7-17 mark in Big 12 action, and did not qualify for the conference tournament.
• The Florida State softball team secured the final spot in the NCAA super regionals next weekend with a come-from-behind 7-6 victory against No. 13 seed South Alabama on Sunday. The Seminoles were down 6-1 with two outs in the bottom of the seventh inning in the second regional championship game, and rallied to score five runs, capped off by a grand slam home run by junior Kelly Hensley that sent the game into extra innings. It was Hensley’s 13th home run of the season.
Then, in the top of the eighth inning, freshman Victoria East blasted the eventual game-winning solo home run as the Seminoles took a 7-6 lead. Senior pitcher Monica Perry secured the victory, tossing a scoreless inning and fanning the final USA batter. The Seminoles advance to their first NCAA super regional since 2006 with the victory.
This incredible game was just a microcosm of our season. We never give up and we have always fought to the end," head coach Lonni Alameda said. "I'm so proud of how we came back to win the elimination game. This is a great feat for our program and huge step in the right direction. The way Monica pitched and the huge hits by Victoria and Kelly capped one of the most thrilling games I've ever been involved in."
• In a clash of two perfect squads in the Division III Women’s Lacrosse Championship, it was a shame one had to lose. In the first meeting of unbeatens in the title game since 2004, No. 2 Salisbury topped No. 1 Trinity 12-5 as the Sea Gulls avenged their loss to the Bantams in the 2012 championship. It is the second NCAA title for the Salisbury women’s lacrosse program. Lauren Feusahrens tallied five goals in the contest for the Sea Gulls, while goalie Ashton Wheatley garnered Most Outstanding Player honors for contributing nine saves on the day.
• The No. 4-seeded Denver men’s lacrosse squad became the first team to win an NCAA Division I Men’s Lacrosse quarterfinal after trailing by five goals or more as the Pioneers rallied for a 12-11 victory against North Carolina on Sunday in Indianapolis. The Tar Heels jumped out to a 6-0 lead with 5:23 remaining in the first quarter, but the Pioneers steadily mounted a comeback as junior goalie Jamie Faus held UNC to just five goals in the final 50:23 of the contest. The Pioneers advanced to the NCAA semifinals for the second time in three years, and will face top-seeded Syracuse on Saturday.
• Top-seeded and unbeaten Mercyhurst remained perfect on Sunday as the Lakers survived a scare against No. 2 Limestone in the NCAA Division I Men’s Lacrosse semifinals. The Lakers trailed 17-15 with less than a minute remaining, but James Chayka netted the game-tying goal with 4.1 seconds on the clock, and Deven Alves scored the game-winner as Mercyhurst claimed an 18-17 victory and advanced to the NCAA championship for the second time in three years.
• The UT-Tyler men’s golf team claimed the program’s first national title as the Patriots shot a 1,167 to win the NCAA Division III Championship after scoring a total of 1,167 in the 72-hole event at The Raven Golf Club at Sandestin Golf and Beach Resort that concluded Friday. The Patriots won the tournament by seven strokes ahead of Transylvania, sending out their head coach King Campbell in grand fashion. Campbell, who led UT-Tyler to four NCAA tournaments as the program’s first full-time golf coach, will now retire from his coaching duties.
• The Louisiana softball team reeled off three consecutive shutouts in the Baton Rouge Regional, including back-to-back victories against No. 9-seeded LSU as the Ragin’ Cajuns advanced to the NCAA super regionals for the second consecutive season. Sophomore pitcher Jordan Wallace tossed three consecutive shutouts in the regional, striking out 25 batters and giving up just seven hits in 21 innings of work. Wallace worked her way out of a bases-loaded jam in the seventh inning in Sunday’s 1-0 defeat of LSU as the Cajuns advanced to play No. 8 Michigan in the NCAA super regional in Ann Arbor next week.
“What [Wallace] did [Sunday] was phenomenal," head coach Michael Lotief said. "She went through her share of struggles early in the season. The crowd was trying to intimidate her, the hitters made adjustments. As the game wore on, you could see she lost some velocity. I saw a lot of heart, will and fight. She is a warrior and a winner.”
|THE DIGIT||THE 4-1-1|
|5||The No. 1 Maryland women’s lacrosse team earned its fifth consecutive NCAA semifinal appearance as the Terrapins downed Duke 14-9 in quarterfinal action on Saturday. Senior Alex Aust tallied five goals and two assists as the Terps improved to 21-0 on the season.|
|12-0||Southern Maine junior left-hander Logan Carman pitched his second shutout in five days as he led the Huskies to a 9-0 win against Endicott on Sunday and an NCAA Division III New England Regional Tournament title. Carman set a new school record with his 12th victory of season, surpassing the previous mark of 11 set by Robert Aceto in 1991 – the year the Huskies won their first NCAA title. Southern Maine will compete in the NCAA championship for the seventh time since 1989, and first time since 1989.|
|16||The Louisville baseball team stretched the nation’s longest winning streak to 16 games with a 7-4 win against No. 16 Pittsburgh on Saturday as the Cardinals claimed sole possession of the Big East Conference regular season title – their fourth in the last five seasons. The Cardinals also matched the school regular season record for wins with 46. Louisville will be the No. 1 in the league tournament at Bright House Field in Clearwater, Fla., beginning Wednesday.|
|300||Armstrong Atlantic State softball coach Ted Evans picked up his 300th career victory as the Pirates defeated Anderson (S.C.) 7-2 on Saturday to win the NCAA Division II Southeast Region Championship and the program’s first berth in the national tournament. Evans has compiled a 300-165-1 record in nine seasons as the Pirates’ head coach.|
|830||The No. 18 University of North Florida men's golf team made program history Saturday claiming the team title at the NCAA Division I Tallahassee Regional held at Golden Eagle Country Club. UNF set a program record with a 54-hole score of 830 as the Ospreys became the first Atlantic Sun Conference team to win an NCAA men’s golf regional championship. The Ospreys advanced to the NCAA championship for the second consecutive year and third time in four seasons.|
|1997||For the first time since 1997, a team other than Methodist claimed the Division III Women’s Golf Championship as Mary Hardin-Baylor won the trophy with an eight-stroke victory ahead of Texas-Tyler and a four-day team score of 1,239. Methodist had won 15 consecutive national titles, but finished third at this year’s championship.|
• The fifth-seeded Ohio State men’s tennis team upended four-time defending NCAA champion USC 4-3 on Saturday as the Buckeyes advanced to the national team semifinals for the third time in program history. Junior Peter Kobelt fueled the upset with a pair of tiebreaker wins against USC’s Ray Sarmiento at No. 2 singles. The Buckeyes will now play No. 1 UCLA on Monday.
• In its first NCAA postseason appearance, the Coker College baseball team won the Division II Southeast Regional and advanced to the national championship tournament with a 7-2 victory against Georgia College on Sunday. Senior left-hander Dan Meyer pitched a complete-game victory, striking out six batters on only two days of rest. Meyer was named Most Outstanding Player of the regional.
• Texas Woman’s earned its first trip to the NCAA Division II Women’s Softball Championship as the Pioneers topped St. Edward’s 3-0 on Saturday to claim the South Central Super Regional title. It will be the school’s first NCAA championship appearance in any sport as the team advances to the national tournament in Salem, Va., beginning May 23.
• A two-out, RBI-single by freshman Isaac Glenn lifted Millsaps College to a walk-off 7-6 victory against Salisbury on Sunday, and a berth in the NCAA Division III Baseball Championship in Appleton, Wis., next weekend. It will be the first appearance in the national tournament for the Majors.
Follow Amy Farnum on Twitter: @NCAA_Amy