OWU softball team hopes to repeat success this season

The OWU women’s softball team will be heading into their season hoping they can match the success of last year.
Last season, the Bishops finished with a 23-14 record overall and a conference record of 11-3. The Bishops tied for second place in the North Coast Athletic Conference with Hiram.

Senior Abby Walsh bats against Kenyon College during the softball team’s regular season last spring. The Bishops’ first game is on March 12.

Ohio Wesleyan University will once again play under the leadership of head coach Cassie Cunningham. This will be her sixth season as head softball coach at OWU. Last season Cunningham was named NCAC Coach of the Year by her colleagues, the second time she has received that honor.
There will be twelve players returning to the squad from last year and there are six freshmen that will be joining the team this season.
Senior Abby Walsh said that the closeness of the team will help them to perform well as a whole.
“In term(s) of this coming season, I think we are in a better position than we’ve ever been in,” Walsh said. “Looking at our team you would not be able to tell the difference between the under and upper classmen, which is rare on a lot of teams. It’s this cohesiveness that allows us to communicate so well and be successful in games.”
The team has been described by their classmates as being one of the closest teams on campus because they are always seen together outside of practice and competition.
“I think it’s exciting that other people describe us as being one of the closest teams on campus, because I think many of us actually feel that way,” Walsh said.
“Coming into this program we have all been a part of countless other softball teams, but we continually say that the closeness felt on this team is unlike that of any other team we’ve been on. I think that’s a huge testament to the all the hard work we put into supporting ourselves on and off the field, which puts us in an excellent position to be successful.”
The Bishops will open their non-conference season with their annual trip to Florida. OWU will play ten games against teams from around the country.
The Bishops are hoping to match last year’s success (they were 9-1).
“We are all looking forward to Florida,” Walsh said. “The best part, in my opinion, is just the fact that we get to spend a whole week with each other playing a game we love. It’s exciting to just be able to totally commit yourself to something without having to worry about everything else that is going on.”

Baseballers train hard to increase win record

With the first pitch of the Battling Bishop’s 2012 baseball season just two weeks away, the team has been training tirelessly in the off season to have a successful showing.
Last season the Battling Bishops went 25-16, a winning record that Head Coach Tyler Mott hopes to increase this year.
“We will be just as good, if not better, than we were last season,” Mott said. “We are returning seven or eight everyday starters who are working hard to make sure this team succeeds to their fullest potential. We also have a lot of depth with our pitchers.”
Sophomore Sean Vollenweider said the team is bringing a lot of experience into the 2012 season.
“We are taking a step up from last year,” Vollenweider said. “We lost a few key players but we are returning the entire infield so we have a lot of experience which is key.”
Mott said the baseball team has implemented different off season training strategies that are a positive addition to the program.
“We’ve included workouts in the pool on Sunday, free swims to take advantage of the beautiful Meek Aquatics Center,” Mott said. “We have also increased the intensity of strength work outs. Overall the changes are definitely positive.”
Junior Brandon Sega said the off season has been very productive so far. The pitchers have been practicing pitch accuracy rather than velocity. The batters have also been getting a lot more swings in during practice to correct errors, Sega said.
Vollenweider said the off season practices are more intense and up-beat than they were last season. This gives the Battling Bishops a greater advantage going into the start of the season, Vollenweider said.
“We are mixing very well as a team, so it should be an exciting season this year,” Vollenweider said.
Mott said there are several freshmen who will contribute to the team’s success. However, he said he would like to see a little more consistency out of them.
Vollenweider said he is pleased with the freshmen’s performance so far.
“They all have great potential and quite a few should be able to contribute right off the bat,” Vollenweider said.
Mott said he would ultimately like to see the team get better every day. Team expectations are high and they would like to win the NCAC championship, Mott said.
The Bishop’s first game is on Saturday, Feb. 25.

Cheer squad graduates strong leaders

Senior leadership is an important asset for any sports team. For the cheer leading squad, the seniors act as leaders and role models for younger squad members.
Whether rain or shine, home or away, veterans or rookies, the cheerleaders are the biggest fans of the Ohio Wesleyan football and men’s and women’s basketball teams. They shout, toss, tumble, jump, and chant to lead the Battling Bishops to victory. Even when the Bishops are not fortunate enough to win, the cheerleaders are just as supportive in the next game.

Seniors Coley Kaeser, Yvonne Hendricks and Alex McCarty leave big shoes to fill.
At the end of the 2012 school year, the cheer leading squad will graduate three seniors. Because the squad does not have team captains, much of the leadership stems from the seniors and upper classmen.
This will leave several opportunities for younger and new squad members to step up as leaders.
The three seniors said they each benefited by being a part of the OWU cheer team. Team unity is the central glue that holds this squad together like many other varsity and club sports teams.
The three seniors, Alex McCarty, Coley Kaeser, and Yvonne Hendricks shared their own experiences and are deserving of recognition. According to sophomore teammate Frida Hess, the seniors are the main motivators of the squad and act as the liaisons between the coaches and the rest of the squad.
“The role of the seniors is mainly one of leadership,” Hess said.
McCarty brought many years of experience to the squad all the way from San Diego, Calif. She cheered all four years in high school, in addition to cheering for four years at OWU.
When not on the sideline of a Battling Bishop game, she works as a tour guide and is a member of Kappa Alpha Theta.
McCarty said the team is one big family. “We would always get together after cheer practice and really bonded as a team”(sic).
Kaeser came to OWU with no cheer leading experience. Instead, she played softball and field hockey in high school in Weston, Conn. Kaeser said she decided freshman year to give cheering a try and ended up joining the squad that year.
She enjoyed the family atmosphere of the team and built friendships and trusts that run deep, she said. “The stunting part of cheer leading can be very dangerous,” Kaeser said. “You have to be able to trust your team mate that she will not drop you.”
Hendricks cheered in middle school for two years in Hartford, Conn. and has been cheering for OWU since her freshman year.
She said that because she has no family in Ohio the cheer squad acted as a family away from home for her. Hendricks is also in Terpsicorps, Orchesis and Delta Gamma.
Like Kaeser, Hendricks stressed the importance of team trust.
“I am a back spot and we are essentially responsible for the safety of those that we toss into the air,” she said.
Currently, the cheer squad is a club sport. McCarty said that they hope to be able to attend competitions in the future, but were unable to this year because of budget and time conflicts.

OWU track members named Athlete of the Week for great performances

Every week, the OWU sports homepage shines the spotlight on athletes dedicated to their sports as “Athletes of the Week.” Last week, the featured spot on the page could not fit all the honored players. Each athlete is chosen by the North Coast Athletic Conference. This week, four OWU track and field athletes were honored.
Currently, the athletes of the week include senior Jon Rux, who was named Men’s Field Event Performer of the Week, and junior Hannah Benzing, who was named Women’s Field Event Performer of the Week by the NCAC.
Rux, who won first place in weight throw and shot put at the NCAC Quad at Wooster, said he attributes his success to being agile for his size, having excellent technique, and supportive coaches. He said Kris Boey, the men’s and women’s track and field head coach, showed him that throwing is not the individual sport it appears to be.
Boey said performing well has a domino effect; other team members will be inspired by one’s performance and do well.
Benzing, who won the weight throw and came in third at the NCAC Quad on Saturday, said she started her track career with middle school long jump but “realized she was not going to go anywhere good” and switched concentrations.
Benzing said she has a different mentality than most of her teammates because of her natural ambitions.
“I don’t know; I just want it,” she said. “I think it’s a confidence thing.”
She said she was inspired by two seniors who pushed themselves.
“I don’t think I would have been as dedicated to the program,” Benzing said. “I could (have) foul(ed) out.”
Junior Ethan Freet was the athlete of the week for the week of Jan. 23; he was named Men’s Sprinter/Hurdler of the Week by the NCAC.
Freet, a two-time all-American NCAC winner, said track is a hard sport.
“The better you do, the worse you feel,” he said. “I have been really, really, lucky I have had great inspirations both on and off the track. My high school coaches made sure we made good decisions … Boey will put you in a position to be successful; you just have to be willing to put in the work.”
Boey said Freet is one of the easiest people to coach.
“He is extremely low maintenance, easy going,” Boey said. “… There are no challenges with him … He makes my job easy. I think you can say that about most of our athletes, but he’s a special one.”
Other track and field athletes of the week include junior Silas Jolliff, who was named Men’s Sprinter/Hurdler of the Week and freshman Katie Reid, who was named Women’s Distance Runner of the Week by the NCAC.
Boey said the athletes of the week share some common characteristics.
“They want to be great, are talented, work hard (and) are in the weight room.”
Boey said he also attributes some of the teams’ success to self-sacrificing coaches who work at night, drive far distances for practice and don’t work just to fatten their resumes.
Boey said there will always be athletes who are talented and do not work hard. He said he would not nominate those athletes for Athlete of the Week.
“In the end, they will be outperformed,” he said. “It never fails. I would rather have someone with moderate talent and a great attitude and work ethic than someone who doesn’t work hard. The password in our field is not talent but commitment and hard work.”
Boey said the players are extraordinarily talented, and that he just recruits them.
“I can’t want it more than they want it,” he said.
This Friday the men’s and women’s track and field team are competing in the OWU open at Gordon Field House, and this Saturday they will compete in the All-Ohio Division III Championship in Westerville, Oh.
Check www.battlingbishops.com for details.

Men’s and women’s lacrosse prepare for season

Men’s Lacrosse
Coach Michael Plantholt is going into his second year as coach with OWU men’s lacrosse. He will try to continue the success the team had last season.
Last year, the Bishops went 10-4 overall and won a share of the North Coast Athletic Conference (NCAC) championship.

Sophomore Spencer Schnell takes a shot during a shooting drill at practice on Friday at Selby Field.

The team also made it to the NCAA playoffs last season. Plantholt said the team lost in the first round of the NCAA playoffs by one goal, which was scored with one minute to go in the game.
While the team graduated some key players, including starting defenseman Jack Hall, All American Tony D’Abarno and All Conference players Shaun Crow and Scott Chester, Plantholt said there are some key returners to the team.
All Conference players Colin Short, Drew Scharf, Pat Bassett and Steve Ford and Rookie of the year Spencer Schnell are all returning.
“We are doing a 180 from last year when it comes to age,” sophomore midfielder Spencer Schnell said. “Last year we had a veteran defense that had been playing together for a while, and the offense was mostly guys in starting spots for the first time. This year, we are lucky to have almost our entire offense back with a year of playing together under our belts. On defense, we are pretty young, but the freshmen have really stepped up and are looking really comfortable in their roles.”
“Any time you have that many freshmen competing for time, it’s exciting because they’re just starting to understand what it takes to be great at our level,” Plantholt said.
According to Schnell, the team is playing this season with the motto of unselfishness. He said the mentality will be that every goal will be a team goal.
“We have all the talent we could ask for, so right now we are looking to put our talents together to work as a team,” Schnell said.
Plantholt said that in a week and a half of practice, they look like a team with incredible potential. Schnell said the team is looking forward to scrimmages.
“The coaching staff has done a really good job of keeping us competitive during practice which keeps everyone working hard,” Schnell said.
Plantholt said the team’s goal is always to win the championship, but they do need to do the little things right.
“Fundamentals, effort, and attitude will go a long way in determining our success this year,” Plantholt said.
Schnell said the team matches up well with the teams in the conference.
He said they have a “sour taste” in their mouths about Denison since they knocked the Bishops out of the tournament, and they had to share the NCAC title with them and Wittenberg last year.
“We are definitely looking for a little redemption [to] regain sole ownership of the conference title,” Schnell said.
The first game for the men’s lacrosse team will be at 12 p.m. on Feb. 25 at home against Concordia.

Women’s Lacrosse
The OWU women’s lacrosse team will be heading into their season with a new coach and new approach to the game.
After serving as the assistant coach last season, Coach Margaret Grossman will be taking over as head coach. Junior Meredith Wholley, a midfielder, said the team dynamic has been positive to a new coach and the team has responded well to her.
“The good part about being an assistant is you get to know the players in a different way than if you were the head coach,” Grossman said. “So I think already knowing the girls will help with the transition.”
Last season, the Bishops went 3-12 overall and 1-5 in conference games.
Grossman said the team did not lack the skill or want last season, it was that confidence, determination, and enthusiasm was lacking.
“I am working with them to not only improve their skill and fitness, but to show them the enjoyable side to lacrosse again,” Grossman said.
Grossman said the team graduated two seniors last year, but the team is returning six upperclassmen.
She said they also have a great group of sophomores and a strong freshmen class who will immediately impact the them.
“Like last year, we do have fewer upperclassmen and more freshmen and sophomores,” Wholley said. “However, I think this will only help the team in the future and even this year because they have talent, they work hard, and they are willing to learn.”
Grossman said she thinks they will improve because the whole team is willing to work to their limits.
Wholley said they had been practicing for 2 weeks and doing much more conditioning.
“I think the conference is competitive and any team can come out on top,” Grossman said.
“From what I have seen, I do not know why the team on top couldn’t be us,” Grossman said. “It will come down to determination and focus every time we take the field, but we will be able to better compete this year and I think the team is looking forward to it, I know I am,” she said.
Wholley said, “We are just focusing on improving and working hard to prepare for a great season.”
Grossman said the team has good competition lined up for the season.
The first game for the women’s lacrosse team will be at 3 p.m. on Feb. 25 at home against Thiel.

Swimmers place fourth and fifth at invitational

The Bishops ended their regular season with the OWU invitational on Jan. 21.

Freshman Matthew Mahoney swimming freestyle at the OWU Invitational. He had the highest score for OWU men and won the 100 breaststroke and took 3rd place in the 200 breast stroke and 4th place in the 100 freestyle.

The women finished fourth out of five and the men finished second out of five.
While the teams did not win the meet, they were pleased with their overall performance.
“The season has been great. I am very happy with my performance and the performance of the teams this season,” said sophomore Katie Helfrich.
“The invitational was a blast and I always enjoy seeing others do well. My favorite thing to do is cheer on my teammates,” she said.
Helfrich posted the team’s best women’s individual finish, with a second place time in the 100 breaststroke and an added sixth-place finish in the 200 breaststroke.
Freshman Matthew Mahoney had the highest score for OWU men and won the 100 breaststroke in 1:00.38, placed third in the 200 breaststroke and fourth in the 100 freestyle to help the Bishops advance in the invitational.
“I have been very pleased with how my technique and endurance have developed over the course of this season under the instruction and help of my two coaches, Richard Hawes and Mike Kroll,” Mahoney said.
“Without their help and critiques of my strokes and technique it would have been extremely difficult to be where I am now with my times and ability,” Mahoney said.
“I can also confidently say that without the help of my fellow teammates who have pushed me in every practice, I would not have been able to swim the great times I achieved at the invitational.”
Some of the other standouts for the Bishops were sophomore Jennifer Erichsen who finished third in the 1000 freestyle, sophomore Melissa Ward who was third in the 100 butterfly and senior Morgan Canup who placed third in the 1-meter diving.
For the men, the 800 freestyle relay team of Mahoney, sophomore Taylor Smith, freshman Marcus Ramirez and sophomore Sean Anthony helped the team finish second.
Hawes was pleased with the performance of the team at the invitational, especially due to the tremendous amount of effort required of the swimmers.
“Swimming is a sport where the season is more or less practice for the conference championships,” said Hawes.
“Our last regular season competition in combination with the meet the night before, University of Findlay and the OWU Invite, was a test to see how (the team) swim(s) tired.  This part of the season is very difficult as it is the peak in terms of workload,” he said.
The swimmers are now preparing for the North Coast Athletic Conference meet where they will face some of their toughest competition.
“I am looking to swim the best I can and leave everything in the pool,” Mahoney said.
“I feel that I owe it to the seniors who have provided great leadership and advice over this season to do the very best I can,” he said.
The NCAC tournament swim meet will take place Feb. 15-18 in Canton.

Men’s basketball loses to Wooster, defeats Wabash

The Ohio Wesleyan men’s basketball team defeated Wabash on Wednesday night after a 3-pointer made by freshman guard Nick Felhaber in the final minute of the game.

Felhaber said the play was run to get senior guard Tim Brady the ball.

He said Brady had two Wabash players guarding him before junior guard

Andy Winters could get Brady the ball.

Senior Tim Brady drives the ball in the final minutes of the game. Brady was able to draw fouls throughout the game, making 11 of his 31 points from the free-throw line.

When Felhaber got the ball, he said he thought to himself, “Just let it fly, and don’t hesitate.”
Coach Mike Dewitt said he thought Wint

ers played well under pressure.
“Andy did a great job finding Nick when Tim wasn’t open,” Dewitt said. “Nick is a deadly 3-point shooter.”
The play came after a Wabash turnover with 23.3 second left in the game.
The Bishops started the first half quickly and had an 11 point lead through the first 10 minutes of the game.
However, Wabash went on a scoring run to bring the game back within 2 points near the end of the first half.
Winters drove to the basket and scored with just second on the clock to send the Bishops into halftime with a 32-28 lead.
Winters had 11 assists in the game.
DeWitt said he was disappointed the Bishops were not ahead by more at halftime, and they left a lot of opportunities to be ahead by more.

“Coach brought up how well we played defense for the first half of the first half and said we need to play like that for the second half if we are going to win this game,” Brady said.
“During the game, I just made sure to concentrate on what was happening in the game right now and not worry about if we win or lose, just play every play the best that I can.”
Wabash stayed in the game the whole night, not letting the Bishops get far ahead in the second half.
Brady started the second half with 7 straight points and led the Bishops in scoring with 31 points in the game.
Junior forward Marshall Morris made some significant shots in the second half, including a 3-point shot with just over 3 minutes to go to put the
Bishops up 59-55. Morris scored a total of 20 points in the game.
This win followed a loss to Wooster over the weekend by 4 points. Brady led the team in scoring with 22 points.
“We kept our confidence. We know how good we are and can be,” Brady said.
DeWitt said the experience of the close loss to Wooster made the team better prepared for the Wabash game.
“We made some mistakes late in the Wooster game and we learned from those mistake

s, which helped us win against Wabash,” Brady said.
The North Coast Athletic Conference (NCAC) now has a two-way tie for second place between Ohio Wesleyan and Wooster, with Wittenberg in the lead. Ohio Wesleyan and Wooster are both 7-3, and Wittenberg is 9-1 in conference play.
“In the NCAC this year, it’s going to come down to the last games to decide who ends up w

here in the conference rankings,” Brady said.

Ohio Wesleyan’s overall record stands at 15-4 with upcoming games at Wittenberg and at Oberlin on Wednesday and Saturday.
The Bishops play their next home game on February 8 at 8 p.m. against Wooster.

Lady Bishops lose to DePauw, remain optimist

The lady Bishops lost their basketball game 74-37, to sixth ranked DePauw on Saturday. OWU turned over the ball 24 times to the DePauw Tigers, losing 26 points.
Stacey Reed, the women’s basketball coach said she thought that DePauw jammed the Bishops into the perimeter during the first half.
At the end of the first period DePauw led the bishops 39-10.
“In the second half we only lost by (around) 10 points,” Reed said.
Freshman Laniece McRae said winning the mental game was the hardest part for her, which is probably why the Bishops did not do as well in the second period.
“I was scared to mess up,” she said.
She said the Bishops did better in the second half because they simply had nothing to lose.
Reed said she attributes the loss to the youngness of OWU’s players, DePauw exploiting OWU weaknesses, and the game going to her team’s head because of DePauw’s winning reputation.
Reed said the Bishops are continually improving.
The ladies scored 11 bench points out of 37 total Bishop points.
This was DePauw’s 16th straight win out of 17 games and OWU’s 12th loss out of 19 games.
Woman’s and men’s basketball is playing the Oberlin Yeomen, on Feb. 4 at 3 p.m. and 7 p.m., respectively.