The Softball team book ended the week and pushed their winning streak to 11 this week with wins over Florida Gulf Coast & Purdue Fort Wayne. They're doing it with pitching and from the batters box, which should come as a surprise to precisely zero of the people that have followed this them in any meaningful way over the last few years. They may stumble somewhere along the way, I'd almost guarantee it just because of the nature of the game, but from here til early May they won't lose too many games.
On the other diamond, the Baseball team had a mixed bag of results. Losses to begin the week were replaced with a pair of wins at Western Illinois, the second of which wrapped after seven innings because of the scoring rules.
In the days betweens, more history was made by NDSU competitors. The men's Basketball team got the second tournament victory in the D1 history. It was a hard fought win over North Carolina Central but the young men earned their chance to square off against the #1 overall seed. They came out ready to go against Duke but in the second half the difference in talent and loss of ability to hit from the outside sank their chances of doing more than covering the Vegas spread. Even with the final score, it was a game to remember and showed the potential for this group in 19/20 & beyond!
It wasn't just the Basketball team that was on the national stage this week either. Four of NDSU's Wrestlers took to the mat in Pittsburgh. The results were nothing to write home about but it was another opportunity for them to represent the university and community in front of fans of the sport.
Which leaves only the women's Golf team as they hit the links in Arizona. They combined for a three round low as a team, a new school record. The individual leader was Maddie Herzog who finished in fifth place for the invitational & third best in the school, a mere stroke or two behind Amy (Anderson) Olson's best outcomes. There's only one more meet between now and the Summit showdown but they may well be peaking at just the right time!
Football always wins and the Spring action is just around the corner but the Winter & Spring athletes are continuing to prove that they can accomplish many feats as well!
The Vikings waved their magic wand and somehow managed to find enough room under the cap to sign Guard Josh Kline. It came amidst more departures, Marcus Sherels joins Sota South while George Iloka will be in Dallas for training camp. That may have been enough for another "Free Agency Rewind" but I didn't feel like filibustering just to have a full post dedicated to something that fits in a paragraph. Sherels will be missed because of the intangibles that he brought to the team and will be tough to replace on special teams but not impossible. Iloka was a total non-factor all year. Kline is a bit of an unknown but with the moves previously made, fortifying the line was necessary!
Concordia started their week with a four spot of Softball games in West St. Paul. They edged Finlandia 2-1 in game three of the four but were outscored 18-5 in the other three, with all five of their runs coming in game four which included 12 runs against. The Baseball team picked up their ball in Illinois. The bat's came alive to the tune of a 9-7 win in game one but fell silent for the Cobbers in games two & three.
Concordia's week wrapped up with the Tennis teams taking to the court at Saint Mary's. The men eked out a 5-4, taking two of three doubles matches and splitting the singles. The women on the other hand, were dropped 9-0.
Welcome to the Baseball portion of this weeks roundup. I'm pessimistic about the Twins' chance's this year of being much more than a joke again but the days are running out until they take to the diamond again. With that in mind, the 25 man roster is starting to come into shape. Pitching will once again be a question for the team beyond Jose Berrios. It's sort of like the Twins are taking their cues about the team's hurlers from the Vikings approach to the offensive line. Or vice verse, either way, it's not good. Maybe the lineup will be able to put up 12 runs a game for all 162 but I'm not going to believe that in the slightest until they've done it for least 90 games. More likely is that the Twinks will be a 90+ loss team again. Maybe the fans will continue to voice their displeasure in the most meaningful way - by not showing up. The first 20 games of the season should be a large enough sample size to know what they will be this Summer. If they're less than .500 at that point, I'm going to start beating the drum for the lowest attendance in Target Field's history.
There are a few weeks before the boys of Summer tee it up but the Redhawks made news this week with the announcement of their new manager. I wondered if they would go after Chris Coste to be the third skipper in the organizations history but they opted to hire someone with prior coaching experiences at a similar level to the American Association. Jim Bennett has been well travelled but even after an extended hiatus from Baseball, he has managed to rise through the ranks of Australia Baseball and was recently named the pitching coach for their national team. It's not as though he's coming from a top end triple A or Major League organization but those are still some impressive credentials. It also shouldn't be overlooked that the timing of the change may have played a role in the type of replacement the the Redbirds were able to bring in for interviews & ultimately hire. If the team comes out sluggishly this year, the transition of power could be one reason for it. That's a hard unknown but is an angle to the story that may develop over the first few weeks of the season. For now, it was some mid March news from the Summer team.
Off their 2018 championship, the Force have played their way to a 30-21 record, good enough for fifth in the Western conference of the USHL and a dog fight for playoff positioning. They started this week with a pair of victories over Central Illinois but then got smashed by Sioux City today 5-2. Even with the loss, they may be able to over take Des Moines for fourth in the conference before the schedule runs it's course. Even if that happens, it seems pretty evident that last year's magic has worn off. The second season is still well within reach but they'll need to win their way into the playoffs and every game matters.