Van Sickler

Shenandoah climbed to the No. 1 spot in the latest NCBWA/ Top 25 this week on the merits of an 18-0 record, following the Hornets’ fourth consecutive sweep of a USA South Conference foe last weekend. It is the first time an SU team has ever been ranked No. 1 in the nation.

"It is outstanding for our guys to be recognized for the success that we have had this season, but now the challenge is to continue to go out and play good baseball," head coach Kevin Anderson said.

The Hornets have been ranked in the Top 25 every week since breaking into the poll at No. 24 during the fourth week of the 2009 season. Shenandoah, the two-time defending NCAA South Region champions, have finished in the Top 10 in each of the last two seasons.

The team is hitting .376 on the season, which would be a school record by 11 percentage points. Four starters are hitting above .400 for the year, led by senior All-America Greg Van Sickler’s .463 batting average. Van Sickler, already the school’s all-time leader in doubles and triples, needs just three RBI and 19 hits to become the program’s career leader in those categories. As a pitcher, Van Sickler is SU’s all-time wins leader with 27, and boasts a 6-0 record and 1.35 ERA in six starts this season. The Hornets’ 18-game winning streak is the longest in school history.

"Our guys are doing a great job on and off the field and we are very proud of them as a coaching staff,” Anderson said.

Shenandoah is not the only USA South program having success this season. Christopher Newport University (25-1) is No. 5 in the latest poll, and has won 24 straight games entering the week. The two squads, both 8-0 in league play, will clash in two weeks in a two-game series on April 2-3.

Need to Know
• Binghamton freshman pitcher Jed Lemen was recognized for his heroics off the field in an article in the Rochester Democrat and Chronicle on Tuesday. On March 6, Lemen and his brother Billy helped rescue a 20-year-old woman from drowning following a car accident by a creek. The Lemen brothers were able to keep the woman safe until the local fire department arrived to the scene. Read the whole story here.

• In just his second career start, Stony Brook freshman Frankie Vanderka tossed the first no-hitter in school history, leading the Seawolves to a 14-1 win against NJIT on March 18. The right-hander from Levittown, N.Y., fanned 13 batters and walked just two batters in the nine-inning contest, and was named Collegiate Baseball National Player of the Week for his performance. He struck out the final batter of the game against NJIT to earn the no-no. Vanderka is 2-0 with a 0.52 ERA, and has helped propel Stony Brook (10-5) to its best 15-game start since 2000.

• Illinois Wesleyan head coach Dennis Martel collected his 600th career victory as the Titans defeated Milwaukee School of Engineering 11-4 on March 19. Martel, who was named the American Baseball Coaches Association/Diamond Sports Division III National Coach of the Year as his team claimed the NCAA Division III title, is in his 24th season as the Titans’ head coach.

• Division II No. 1 Emporia State dropped its first game of the season, falling to Southwestern Oklahoma State 18-9 on March 22. The Hornets were undefeated in their first 15 games. After starting the season 1-4, SWOSU has posted a 19-3 record in its last 22 games.

Quick Hits
• Temple extended its winning streak to 10 games -- the program’s longest since 1985 – with a 6-5 defeat of Monmouth on March 22 with the help of a walk-off single by junior Cameron Green. Junior Steve Nikorak, the reigning Atlantic 10 Player of the Week, went 4-for-5 with three RBI and a pair of doubles, stretching his hitting streak to 11 games. Last week, Nikorak batted .625 with nine runs scored in four contests. The Owls will open A-10 play at Xavier on March 25.

• Another Philadelphia team – La Salle– ran its winning streak to a program-best eight games with a 4-0 win against Villanova on Tuesday. It was La Salle’s first win against the Wildcats since 2007.

• Indianapolis starter Cory Rupert picked up Great Lakes Valley Conference Pitcher of the Week after tossing a complete-game shutout against Maryville in the Greyhounds’ league opener on March 19. Rupert allowed just three hits, and just one runner advanced to second base in the game. He improved to 3-0 with a league-leading .119 opponent batting average. Rupert also boasts the second-best ERA in the GLVC at 1.74. The Greyhounds vaults 11 spots to No. 19 in the latest Collegiate Baseball Division II Poll after starting the season with an 11-1 mark.

• Marietta junior shortstop Tim Saunders garnered Ohio Athletic Conference Hitter of the Week honors after batting .455 with three runs scored and six RBI at the Southeast Ohio Invitational last weekend. Saunders helped the Etta Express stretch their winning streak to eight games, as they climbed four spots to No. 4 in the latest NCBWA/ Division III Top 25.

• North Park junior pitcher Steve Kuligowski fanned a career-high 17 batters in a complete-game victory against St. Lawrence on March 19 to wrap up the squad’s spring break trip to Fort Myers, Fla. Earlier in the week, Kuligowski struck out nine batters in an 8-4 win over Bethel. He was named College Conference of Illinois and Wisconsin Pitcher of the Week for his performances.