In case you missed it: Spring break sports recap

and | Staff Reporters

Just because you were chilling on a beach in Aruba over spring break doesn’t mean Student Life Sports wasn’t keeping careful tabs on the Washington University athletic scene. Now that you’re back, we’ve assembled the highlights for your reading pleasure. With five individual national championships, one tournament run, a conference tournament and 23 individual games, there was a lot to sift through. Let’s begin.

Senior guard Katybeth Biewen moves past a UW-Whitewater defender during the Bears’ NCAA second round game on March 5. Over spring break, the women’s basketball team defeated Carnegie Mellon in the NCAA sectional semifinal, but fell to Thomas More in the sectional final 88-72.

Senior guard Katybeth Biewen moves past a UW-Whitewater defender during the Bears’ NCAA second round game on March 5. Over spring break, the women’s basketball team defeated Carnegie Mellon in the NCAA sectional semifinal, but fell to Thomas More in the sectional final 88-72.

Women’s basketball

For the women’s basketball team, the good news is that they won’t have to worry about Sydney Moss anymore. The game-breaking senior guard is just about to finish her last season at Thomas More College. The bad news is that the Bears now have another Saint to haunt their future playoff dreams.

The specter is a diminutive sophomore guard named Abby Owings who poured on 16 points in the fourth quarter to bury the Bears 88-72 in the sectional final of the NCAA tournament and end Wash. U.’s season on Saturday, March 12.

Then, Thomas More entered the weekend as the uncontested top team in the country heading into the sectional round, averaging a 40.6 point margin of victory and a spotless 29-0 record. Yet despite severe underdog status, the Bears trailed by just six at the start of the fourth quarter. With Moss in foul trouble and riding the bench, the Red and Green had their opening, or so they thought.

Owings hit four consecutive three-pointers in the opening four minutes of the fourth, ballooning the Saints’ lead to 14 points. Owings would finish with a game-high 26 points on 8-18 shooting, going 6-9 from beyond the arc. With two minutes left to play and Thomas More showing no give, Bears head coach Nancy Fahey pulled her starters. The Red and Green coasted to the 16-point loss.

Junior forward Lily Sarros and senior forward Amanda Martinez chipped in 12 points and seven rebounds apiece for the Bears. Freshman guard Rachael Sondag provided the biggest bright spot for the Bears, adding 23 points on 8-11 shooting, going7-9 from range. The performance shattered her previous career-high of 11 points in a game. Twenty of Sondag’s points came in the second and third quarter, helping to keep the Bears in striking distance up until the start of the fourth. From that point on, it was the Owings show.

Despite sitting out most of the fourth quarter, Moss still managed to score 23 points and grab 11 boards for the Saints. Still, this is a far cry from the 37 points and nine rebounds she put up a year ago, when Thomas More ended Wash. U.’s season in the sectional semifinal. If the Bears were hoping to get a reprieve from the Saints next year once Moss is graduated, Owings’ performance likely indicates otherwise.

To reach this year’s round of eight, the Bears first secured a 75-69 victory over conference opponent Carnegie Mellon University in the sectional semifinal a day earlier. While the Bears eventually secured the win in fairly undramatic fashion, the Red and Green trailed as late as the 36th minute against the No. 25 Tartans. With four minutes to play, a pair of layups by junior forward Jenn Dynis ignited a 15-8 run by the Bears that would give them the lead for good. Dynis would tally seven points and two steals in those final four minutes, finishing with 11 points overall.

Despite eight ties and 15 lead changes in the second half, the Bears trailed by as much as 11 towards the end of the first half, thanks in part to an anemic offensive performance from the Red and Green as they shot under 30 percent from the field in the opening 20 minutes, including a 2-11 performance from beyond the arc. In the second half, however, the offense switched gears and thrived on the inside. The Bears shot 20-30 from the field while only attempting three three-pointers in the final 20 minutes.

Junior guard Zoe Vernon led the Bears with 16 points on 6-10 shooting while senior guard Jordan Thompson also chipped in 12 points and six assists.

Swimming and diving

Senior Amanda Stadermann won the 200-yard butterfly to become the first female swimmer in school history to claim an individual national title, while senior Reed Dalton repeated as the 100-yard butterfly champion at the NCAA Division III Swimming & Diving Championships in Greensboro, N.C.

Although he didn’t win an event, junior Michael Lagieski also turned in an impressive performance for the Bears. He finished as the national runner-up in the 100-yard breaststroke, and he added a third-place finish in the 200-yard breaststroke.

Behind a combined nine All-America finishes, the women’s (seventh place) and men’s (eighth) swimming and diving teams notched top-10 finishes for the second consecutive season.

Track and field

The women’s and men’s track and field teams showcased their strengths with national titles in three events en route to third and ninth place finishes, respectively, at the NCAA Division III Indoor Track & Field Championships in Grinnell, Iowa. It was the first time in school history that both teams finished in the top 10 nationally at the indoor meet.

Junior Daisy Ogede won the 200-meter final with a time of 24.80, besting the runner-up by .19 seconds. Ogede also was a part of the victorious 1,600-meter relay team, teaming up with senior Emily Warner and juniors Rebecca Ridderhoff and Kelli Hancock to clock a winning time of 3:49.80.

For the men’s team, juniors Mike Sullivan and Deko Ricketts and seniors Alex Bastian and Josh Clark took home the distance medley relay title with a time of 10:00.25. For the first time in school history, both teams finished in the top 10.

Baseball

It was a week of peaks and valleys for the baseball team as they secured only their second ever outright University Athletic Association championship early in spring break before finishing their Florida road trip week with four losses against ranked opponents.

In the UAA championship tournament, the Bears delivered their most dramatic victory of the season with a 3-2 10-inning win over No. 3 Emory University on March 11. With the Bears trailing 2-1 heading into the bottom of the 10th and with a man on first, junior left fielder Christian Santos smacked a two-out 0-2 pitch over the left field wall for a walk-off home run. The bomb salvaged what would have been a disappointing loss after the Bears loaded the bases with no outs in the bottom of the ninth and failed to score. Senior Julian Clarke pitched 9.1 innings of two-run ball to keep the Red and Green in the game, while sophomore Alex Truss finished off the tenth to pick up the first win of his career.

The victory gave the Bears a one game lead over Case Western Reserve University in the conference standings and control over their own destiny heading into the final two games of the tournament. Both Case Western and Wash. U. would split the final two games, giving the Bears sole possession of the conference crown.

Santos finished the tournament with a .448 bating average and a tournament-best 10 runs scored. He also tied in home runs (2) and runs batted in (9). For his performance, Santos was awarded the tournament MVP.

Riding high out of conference play with a 12-4 overall record and a brand new No. 22 national ranking, the Bears headed into the toughest part of their season schedule: five games starting Tuesday, March 15 in Auberdale, Fla., including four against ranked teams.

Against No. 25 Rutgers University – Camden, the Bears committed 10 errors and surrendered 11 runs in the final three innings of the 13-3 Tuesday loss. Truss took the loss after surrendering two hits, one walk and five earned runs in a third of an inning. He relieved junior Brad Margolin, who pitched six innings of five-hit ball without surrendering a run.

In the morning game of a next-day doubleheader against Ramapo College, Clarke was tagged for 7 earned runs on 14 hits, both tying career-highs. Seven of those hits came in a six-run second inning for the Roadrunners as Ramapo earned an 8-5 win.

In the afternoon’s 9-4 loss to Ramapo, freshman Zack Kotin couldn’t make it out of the second inning, allowing six runs (four earned) on seven hits and two walks. Junior shortstop Austin Darmawan and senior center fielder Max Golembo collected two RBIs apiece.

The Bears earned their lone win of the week win a 19-9 against unranked Wheaton College (Mass.) the next day. The Red and Green matched their season high with 17 hits, while Darmawan finished 4-6, including receiving his first career home run, with 4 RBIs and 3 runs scored.

The final game was a 13-0 defeat at the hands of the Southern Maine University on Friday, March 18. Tasked against a team with a national fifth-best .395 team batting average (you read that correctly), junior Scott Nelson was shelled for seven earned runs on 10 hits in 3.1 innings.

After a promising start to the season, the Bears have dropped out of the national rankings and currently sit at 13-8 on the season. The good news for them is that they won’t have to face another team currently ranked for the rest of their regular season. Next up is a three-game home stand this weekend against Illinois Wesleyan University.

Softball

Unlike baseball, which exceeded expectations in the UAA championship only to stumble in the ensuing games, the softball team recovered from a disappointing performance in conference play to rattle off six straight victories and become the second team in Division III to tally 20 victories.

The then-No. 2 Bears finished 6-4 in the UAA tournament, four games behind Emory University, for the conference crown. Two of Wash. U.’s losses came against the Eagles, who have since catapulted to a 25-1 record and a No. 2 national ranking. The other two losses came against the University of Rochester, who went 2-8 in the conference tournament. This marked the first time in three years that the Bears walked away from UAA play without a share of the conference title. Part of that may have been due to senior Annie Pitkin looking a little more human on the mound. After not allowing a single earned run through her first five appearances of the season, Pitkin was tagged for 15 runs over 39.1 iinnings. She took the loss in both Emory games.

After a pair of 12-1 and 10-1 mercy victories against Becker College and Massachusetts College of Liberal Arts, respectively, the Bears returned home for the Mizuno Invitational. After securing a 8-3 win against Wartburg College and a pair of 9-1 and 11-0 mercy victories against Augustana College, Wash. U.’s spring break schedule climaxed with a 2-1 extra inning triumph over Wartburg on Sunday afternoon. Sophomore Maggie Clapp and Pitkin (in a relief role) combined to toss seven innings of scoreless ball until the Knights broke through on an error in the top of the eighth. Meanwhile, the Bears’ normally potent offense had been held uncharacteristically punchless through the same time frame.

In the bottom of the frame, junior left fielder Hannah Mehrle was placed on second to lead off the the bottom of the frame as per the international tiebreaker rule. Mehrle came around to score the tying run on an error off the bat of senior center fielder Janet Taylor, who also advanced to second on the errant throw. Brooke Hofer then drove a single up the middle to score Taylor for the walk-off victory.

Next up, the Bears will host No. 15 Illinois Wesleyan University for a Thursday doubleheader.

Women’s Golf

In the first tournament of the spring season, the No. 13 women’s golf team recorded a second-place finish at the University Athletic Association (UAA) Championships in Sorrenta, Fla. The Bears, who were the defending champions of the tournament, shot a 322 on the first day to establish a five-stroke lead. On the second day, however, the Red and Green stumbled and shot a 330. Meanwhile, No. 10 New York University turned a five-stroke deficit into a two-stroke victory after shooting a 323 to claim its first UAA title.

Individually, sophomore Erin Drolet came in second place with a score of 159 (77-82) while senior Connie Zhou tied for fifth after firing a score of 163 (83-80).

In the following weekend, the Bears garnered an eighth-place finish out of 23 teams, 10 of which were in the Golfstat top-25, at the three-day Jekyll Island Invitational in Georgia.

Women’s Tennis

A five-day road trip to California culminated in a 2-3 record against stiff competition for the No. 9 women’s tennis team. The Bears (6-5 record) started the trip well with a dominant 8-1 victory over No. 20 University of Redlands, but they lost handily to No. 1 Pomona-Pitzer Collegess, 8-1, and No. 17 Wesleyan University, 7-2, on the following days.

The Red and Green bounced back with a blowout 8-1 win over Kenyon College before falling to No. 8 Bowdoin College by an 8-1 score. The tough schedule for the Bears over the road trip was nothing new, as the team has faced 10 top-25 opponents this season.

Men’s Tennis

With just one match over spring break, the No. 12 men’s tennis team made sure it counted, routing No. 34 Depauw University, 7-2, in Belleville, Ill. The Bears (4-2 record) established a 2-1 lead after doubles play and then won five out of six singles matches, all in straight sets. Although the Bears had a more relaxing spring break than their female peers, the schedule picks up in April with nine matches against top-40 opponents.

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