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UWF baseball’s winning streak is challenged through 11 innings

Baseball

Teammates high-five Robert Lopez and Nic Strasser as they head back to the dugout.
Photo by Grier Wellborn.

By Grier Wellborn

Sports Editor

The University of West Florida baseball team’s longest winning streak since 2014 was challenged by the University of Montevallo Falcons in a mid-week series.

After dominating Montevallo 7-2 in the first of the non-conference two-game series on Tuesday night, the University of West Florida baseball team prepared to face them again on Wednesday afternoon.

In Tuesday night’s game, the Falcons took a quick 2-0 lead, and it was not until the bottom of the third that the Argos were able rally with three runs. It was a lead that would extend through the rest of the game.

The Argo win extended UWF baseball’s winning streak to six games, and the team looked for a seventh consecutive win on Wednesday.

Freshman Troy Brown made his fourth career start as the first pitcher on the mound for the Argos on Wednesday’s match at Jim Spooner Field.

Junior outfielder Jean Figueroa would be the first to score for the Argos in the bottom of the ninth after a hit from senior catcher Ben Emery sent Figueroa home.

Figueroa was named the Gulf South Conference player of the week after his outstanding performance over the last weekend. Figueroa batted .538 and also posted three home runs and a multi-home run game on Saturday.

“It was a great opportunity for me,” Figueroa said regarding his Player of the Week award. “We had a great week and weekend, and we’re going to have to keep working to keep having success in play on the field.”

The second inning ended with loaded bases and sent into the third with a 1-0 lead for UWF.

Leading off for the Argos, senior third baseman Jimmy Redovian was first to bat and first to score in the fourth after a hit from Figueroa scored Redovian before Figueroa was tagged out on first.

It wasn’t until the fifth inning that the Falcons broke their scoreless streak and put a run on the board.

Freshman pitcher Garrett Peek took over for Brown on the mound in the top of the sixth but was replaced by senior Jarrod Petree for the remainder of the inning. With Petree on the hill the Falcons would sit at one earned run until the ninth inning.

The Argos scored for a third time in the game when a low hit into left field by Figueroa resulted in a run by Redovian (his second). The inning would end with two Argos left on base.

Senior left-handed pitcher Sean Kennedy replaced Petree in the eighth inning. Kennedy was replaced my junior Steve McClellan in the ninth and final inning.

Just as it looked like the Argos would take another sweep the series, the Falcons scored twice in the top of the ninth, tying the game 3-3. The game headed into a 10th inning with McClellan back on the mound.

Montevallo took its first lead of the game in the top of the ninth when senior Chase Bryant took it home for the Falcons, advancing to 4-3. Freshman pitcher Cole Crowder took over the mound in the 11th.

The Argos began the bottom of the 11th hoping to break their run-less streak. With the bases loaded and Redovian up to bat, the Falcons’ pitch hits Redovian, scoring freshman shortstop Robert Lopez.

“I was glad that I got to wear that pitch and get the tying run in,” Redovian said. “That was a tough pitcher. He was throwing hard but I just wanted to do anything I could to get the run in.”

A grounder by senior catcher Kyle Hamner and an error by Montevallo allowed sophomore second baseman Nic Strasser to score from second base, resulting in a walk-off win for the Argos. The 5-4 win for the Argos extended the winning streak to seven consecutive games.

“The crazy thing about baseball is that you can never let up,” Redovian said. “You have to keep the foot on the throat because that’s a good team over there and they did a good job fighting back in the ninth.”

UWF baseball looked to extend the streak even further when they took on Union University on Saturday and Sunday.

On Saturday, the Argos beat the Bulldogs in both games 8-4 and 17-4, respectively. The Argos continued their streak on Sunday with a 7-2 victory over the Bulldogs to sweep the three game series.

UWF is now 24-11 (16-5 GSC) on the season. The Argos will return to The Spoon on next weekend, April 9 and 10, to take on The University of West Alabama.

For the complete baseball schedule visit goargos.com

UWF baseball defeats Spring Hill with walk off in the 10th

By Grier Wellborn
Sports Editor

The Argonaut baseball team congratulates Brandon Tyler after his walk-off single breaks a time game against Spring Hill College.
Photo by Grier Wellborn.

The University of West Florida baseball team took on the Spring Hill College Badgers Wednesday night for the second time this season.

The Argos and the Badgers last met on Feb. 24 when the Argos walked away with a 3-2 win. UWF’s long history with the Badgers is one of success. With three wins of the past four matchups and an overall record 45 wins and 14 losses against Spring Hill, things looked promising for the Argos.

Freshman pitcher and Gulf Breeze native Gray Dorsey made his first collegiate start on Wednesday night when he took the hill first for the Argos. Dorsey made his collegiate debut last Wednesday against Stillman College.

“I was a little nervous at first,” Dorsey said. “But after the first inning, I settled down a little bit and knew I had a good defense behind me.”

The bottom of the first inning was filled with excitement for the Argos. First up for UWF was sophomore second baseman Nic Strasser, who hit a double. Next, senior shortstop Alex Greene took first base. A hit by Justin Ambrosino far to left field would send Strasser past home plate with Greene on third and eventually home. After Greene’s run, Ambrosino scored next for the final run of the inning. With the bases loaded, a UWF strikeout sent the game into the second inning.

The Badgers would remain scoreless in the second while the Argos would put two more points on the board with runs by Strasser and Greene. The Argos would enter the third inning with a score of 5-0.

Neither team scored in the next three innings with freshman pitcher Cole Crowder, replacing Dorsey on the mound in the top of the fourth.

Spring Hill overcame its scoreless start by putting one point on the board in the top of the fifth.

The third freshman pitcher of the day, Garrett Peek, a Gulf Breeze native, made his second collegiate debut when he replaced Crowder in the seventh. A few errors by the Argo basemen in the seventh would lead to another run by the Badgers. With only one hit in the bottom of the seventh, the Argos extended the scoreless inning streak to five.

Junior lefty pitcher Sean Kennedy posted up on the hill in the top of the eighth for the Argos. Kennedy struck out the first three batters. The Argos’ dry spell was extended to six innings by the end of the eighth. The Argos lead 5-2 heading into the ninth.

Junior Steve McClellan replaced Kennedy in the ninth to close the game at The Spoon. The Badger offense was on fire in the ninth, by completing three runs.

What seemed like a promising lead for the Argos heading into the ninth turned into a tie game leading into the bottom.

Unfortunately, the Argo offense could not turn up the heat in the ninth, and the seventh consecutive scoreless inning would extend the game into a 10th inning.

The Argos put in the big guns when Kyle Hamner took bat for UWF. Hamner has not struck out in his last 59 at bats, making him the toughest player in NCAA Division I, DII and DIII to strike out.

A low hit into left field from Hamner and the Argos would take both first and second base. Next at bat was senior Brandon Tyler with a walk-off single, sending junior outfielder Ladeavon Matthews home, thus winning the game for the Argos 6-5.

“We came out with a 5-0 lead and we all thought we had it in the bag,” Tyler said. “All of a sudden they crept back up in that last inning, and it felt good to finish it off in the 10th.”

While the offense came out hot in the first and second innings, the seven-inning dry spell made an seemingly easy win lead to a 10th inning.

“We just got a little complacent after the second inning, “ Strasser said. “They have a good team with good arms, but we had some good guys come off the bench in big situations to get the job done.”

The UWF baseball team played No. 9 Alabama Huntsville this weekend where the Argos split a double header on Saturday, losing the first game 4-2, and winning the second, 4-3. In the third game on Sunday, the Argos defeated UAH 13-6.

The Argos will return to Jim Spooner Field on at 6 p.m. March 15 and 3 p.m. March 16 to face Embry Riddle University.

For a complete schedule, visit goargos.com

UWF spring athletics, a look ahead

Jason Dustin

Sports Editor

Spring 2016 will mark the University of West Florida’s last semester without football.

However, the Argonauts will boast a lineup of teams that features a three-time NCAA Division II national champion men’s tennis team, two-time national champion men’s golf team and one-time national championship baseball team.

An overview of this spring’s Argonaut athletic schedule.

Baseball

2016 is UWF Head Coach Mike Jeffcoat’s 11th season. During his tenure, the Argonauts have won the national title and compiled a .652 winning percentage.

Jeffcoat is hoping his team can snap a two-year NCAA Division II tournament drought, which has come following a four consecutive appearances (2010-2013).

Last year UWF finished 30-18 overall, and fourth in the Gulf South Conference with a 21-11 record, according to UWF Athletic Communications. This year’s schedule is 50 games in total, with the Jim Spooner Field home-opener scheduled for Tuesday, Feb. 9 at 5 p.m., when they will meet the University of Mobile.

Returning from last year’s squad is the entire infield, as well as the team’s top-performing pitcher, according the UWF Athletic Communications.

Jeffcoat’s lineup will feature five of the last year’s top seven batters, including versatile sophomore Nick Kerkmann, of Oviedo, Florida, who led UWF with a .338 average last year.

Pensacola’s Brandon Nagem returns for his final season. The Pine Forest High School product’s 2.00 ERA ranked third in the GSC in 2015.

The Argos home schedule is highlighted by a three-game series against defending national champion the University of Tampa, on Feb. 12-14.

Men’s Golf

The men’s golf team closed out the fall portion of their 2015-2016 ranked first in the nation.

The Argos’ schedule resumes on Feb. 8, when they travel to Lakeland, Florida to take part in the Matlock Collegiate Classic, which is hosted by Florida Southern College.

The team’s lone home course appearance will be when UWF hosts the three-day Argonaut Invitational, beginning Monday, April 4. It will take place at the Tiger Point Golf Club, in Gulf Breeze. The tournament will take place assuming Head Coach Steve Fell’s team maintains something close to their current form, they will open GSC tournament play on Monday, April 19 in Muscle Shoals, Alabama.

The NCAA Division II National Championships will be in Denver, hosted by Metro State University, and begin on Monday, May 16 for all who qualify. Fell led the Argos to the national title during the 2007-08 season.

Women’s golf

The women’s golf team resumes play on Sunday, Feb. 7, at the World Golf Invitational in St.Augustine, Florida.

The first opportunity for UWF fans to watch the team will be at the Argonaut Invitational on Monday, April 4, which will take place at the Stonebrook Golf Club, in Pace.

The GSC tournament begins on Monday, May 2, in Muscle Shoals, Alabama. UWF will host the NCAA Division II Super Regionals in 2016. The three-day event, which will be in Pace, begins on Sunday, May 1.

The national tournament, for those who qualify, begins on May 19, in Aurora, Colorado.

Softball

Last year’s team finished with an overall record of 19-30.

The 2016 edition’s offense looks to be fueled by two sophomores. Meghan Toney’s .320 batting average was third best on last year’s team, when she was a freshman. The sophomore from Huntsville, Alabama will team with Pensacola native, and fellow sophomore Kaylen Rowell. Rowell led the Lady Argos with five homeruns in 2015, and was second with 25 RBI.

Becca Taylor, the team’s best-performing pitcher of 2015 returns. The Panama City product, now a junior, finished last year a record of 11-8 and a 2.62 ERA.

UWF Women’s Basketball clinches first conference victory

Kenny Detwyler

Contributing Writer

The University of West Florida women’s basketball team defeated the University of North Alabama 70-57 on Saturday afternoon in a Gulf South Conference match-up.

The victory marked the Lady Argos’ first win in the GSC. “We’ve been waiting on this one to come. We hope we can add many more this season,” said Head Coach Stephanie Lawrence Yelton. The victory improved the team’s record to 3-3 overall and 1-1 in the GSC.

“It feels great, we’ve worked really hard,” junior Katie Bobos said. “After losing to UAH, we feel so much better. We played as a team today. We had a lot of energy exchanges, like touching each other and clapping. That’s what we strive for.”

Bobos, along with players Toni Brewer and Courtney Meyer led the Argos’ scoring drive. Bobos led with 20 points on the board. Meyer followed with 16 points, and Brewer put up 15 points.

Meyers also managed to tie a UWF record for blocks in a single game, with nine total. The record was set back in 2005.

As a team, the Lady Argos managed to lead each quarter, and held a strong lead for most of the game. Their strong defense and incredible teamwork attributed to this hard-fought victory.

“I thought we came out with tremendous effort in the first half, and that’s something we hadn’t done in a few games,” Yelton said. “We’re doing some great things, but we’re not doing them every possession.”

The Lady Argos will be on the road for their next two games.  They will meet Lee University on Dec. 12, and Shorter University on Dec. 14.

“It’s early in the season, and we still have a lot of learning and growing to do,” Yelton said. “I’m hoping we’ll get even better as the season progresses.”

For detailed game statistics and a complete team schedule, visit GoArgos.com.

UWF athletics weekly roundup

cross country

UWF’s Tim Wenger (right) leads the charge in a recent race. The junior from Inverness, Florida has qualified for the NCAA Division II national championship. It is the first time an Argonaut runner has qualified for the race since 2006.
Photo courtesy of UWF Athletic Communications.

Jason Dustin

Sports Editor

The University of West Florida women’s volleyball team wrapped up the regular season in convincingly, the men’s cross country team took a step forward, and women’s soccer clamped down in the NCAA Division II South Region tournament.

Men’s basketball

Four points were the difference between the UWF men’s basketball team opening the season with two wins versus two losses.

The Argonauts lost on Friday to Benedict College, 72-69, as part of a conference challenge tournament involving the Gulf South Conference and the Southern Intercollegiate Athletic Conference, which was hosted by Valdosta State University. Junior guard Mario Stramaglia led the Argos with 23 points. The Birmingham, Alabama, native was 4-for-5 in three-point attempts.

The Argos almost recorded their first win of the season on Saturday, on the road against Fort Valley State University.  The 82-81 overtime loss was highlighted by a monster game from UWF’s Austin Somerfield. The junior forward from Greenville, Michigan, led the team with 35 points and 18 rebounds, while logging 45 minutes.

The men’s next game, and home-opener, is 7:30 p.m. Nov. 23 against Spring Hill College at the UWF Field House.

Women’s basketball

The women’s team opened the season 0-2, as well. The Lady Argos traveled to host University of Tampa to participate in the season-opening Spartan Challenge Tournament where they lost 77-52 and 72-65 to the No. 20 UT and Rollins College, respectively.

Belle Bistrow posted UWF’s single-game high for the tournament. The freshman guard from Jacksonville scored 15 points in the loss to RC.

The Lady Argos’ next game is away against Spring Hill College on Nov. 24. UWF’s 2015 Field House debut will be at noon on Nov. 28 when they meet Young Harris College.

Men’s cross country

UWF junior runner Tim Wenger has qualified for the NCAA Division II Men’s Cross Country Championships, according to a UWF Athletic Communications press release.

By virtue of Wenger’s fifth-place finish at the South Regional Championships, he became the first Argo to qualify for the national race since 2006, according to UWF Athletic Communications.

Women’s soccer

Daryl Bell scored the lone goal of UWF’s first-round 1-0 victory at the NCAA Division II South Regional tournament, which was hosted by Barry University, in Miami. The goal was all the Lady Argos defense needed as it held Nova Southeastern University to one second-half shot on goal, and only six for the game.

UWF’s Alissa Festagallo, a junior from Fort Pierce, assisted Bell.

UWF meets host BU on Sunday for the region’s championship. If victorious, it will advance to the NCAA Division II Super Regional Tournament, which will be hosted by the highest-seeded participant.

For more UWF athletics information visit goargos.com.