March 5, 2009

By Amy Farnum Novin

TOP SPOT: Angelo State vaulted up the NFCA Division II Top 25 to the No. 1 spot for the first time in school history after beginning the season with a 21-2 record for its second-best start in school history.

The Rambelles boast a power-producing lineup that has belted 37 home runs in 23 games, including 11 by freshman Sandy James.  James, a first baseman from Kilgore, Texas, posted a .643 batting average with three homers, eight RBI and seven runs scored last week to earn Lone Star Conference South Hitter of the Week honors.  She also notched her first career victory in the circle as the Rambelles cruised past Texas-Permian Basin, 12-1, on Feb. 27.

ASU is one of four teams from the LSC to appear in the poll. Southeastern Oklahoma is ranked No. 4, Abilene Christian is No. 18 and Texas A&M-Kingsville sits at No. 24.  Angelo State opens LSC South Division action at Tarleton State on March 6.

CIRCLE TIME: Wingate University’s Allison Smith’s outstanding pitching to begin the season has been rewarded as the Bulldogs ascended to the No. 19 spot in the latest national poll and the sophomore earned South Atlantic Conference Pitcher of the Week honors.

Smith struck out 25 batters in two complete game victories while recording a 1.00 ERA and giving up just 10 hits in 14 innings pitched.  The native of Daleville, Va., then followed it up with four strikeouts in a complete-game 4-3 win over Armstrong Atlantic State on March 4 to improve her record to 8-1.  Smith boasts a 0.89 ERA with 61 strikeouts in 55 innings pitched.

The Bulldogs will now enjoy the weekend off and return to the field on March 10 in a doubleheader at Augusta State.
STREAK SNAPPED:  Grand Canyon University became the first Pacific West Conference team to upend Hawaii Pacific on its home field in two years as the Antelopes won the second game of the doubleheader against the defending league champions on March 3.
The Antelopes have put together a 20-7 record, and at one point strung together 10 straight victories, to earn a place in the NFCA Division Top 25 poll at No. 21 for the first time in school history.

SHE’S A SAINT: North Georgia sophomore pitcher Sarah Phillips picked up both victories in a doubleheader sweep of Tusculum last week as she tossed 9.0 innings of scoreless ball to improve to 6-1 on the year.

The right-hander from Powell, Ohio, began the twin-bill with a complete game three-hit 2-0 shutout with 10 strikeouts, and then finished up the second contest to collect the win as the Saints came from behind for a 7-6 victory.  Phillips, who was named Peach Belt Conference Pitcher of the Week for her performance, lowered her earned run average to 1.83 after the week.

The No. 9 Saints will host Catawba and Barry in the 2009 Captain D’s Classic on March 6-7 at the brand new Haines & Carolyn Hill Stadium. North Georgia will play each team twice as the inaugural games will be played at the new facility.

NOTABLE:  Dixie State received its first-ever national ranking at No. 13 after compiling a 19-1 mark to start the season.  The Red Storms have won 11 straight games and are batting .376 with 21 home runs … No. 8 Ferris State, the highest-ranked Division II to have yet to play a game, will finally open the 2009 season with 14 games in seven days at the Florida Rebel Spring Tournament beginning March 7.  The Bulldogs were originally scheduled to start the year at the Kentucky Wesleyan Challenge on Feb. 28, but the tournament was cancelled due to snow and rain.