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September 16, 2020 | |Post a Comment

first_imgLooking to avoid the weekend sweep on Senior Day after a pair of Saturday losses, the Wisconsin softball team dropped its Sunday afternoon game against Nebraska, falling 9-0 in mercy-rule fashion at the Goodman Diamond.Game 3With a sellout crowd of 1,612 and concession lines stretching beyond 50 feet, Nebraska (29-19, 15-5 Big Ten) swiftly showed they are an NCAA bubble-team with something to prove.Taylor-Paige Stewart took the mound for the Badgers in an attempt to rebound from her Saturday outing, one that saw Nebraska score nine times on five earned in just three innings of work. The Huskers instead picked up right where they left off, putting four runs on the board before Wisconsin (19-28, 3-14 Big Ten) could even pick up its bats.After allowing an RBI single to infielder Alicia Armstrong, cleanup hitter Steph Pasquale broke the game open with a three-run bomb over the right field fence to make it 4-0. Wisconsin prevented any further damage in the opening frame, but failed to respond with any runs in the bottom of the first. With Kelsey Jenkins on third and just one out, a grounder to second by Chloe Miller sent Jenkins home, but she was thrown out on a snap throw to keep Wisconsin off the board.After both teams exchanged empty frames in the second inning, the Huskers got back to business offensively in the top of the third. After a single from Dawna Tyson to load the bases up with one out, pitcher Kaylan Jablonski helped her own cause with a two-RBI single that extended the Nebraska lead to six. With two runners still in scoring position and just one out, Kylee Muir was able to send the ball deep enough into the outfield to drive in the inning’s final run on a sacrifice fly.Wisconsin’s last legitimate scoring opportunity of the afternoon came in the bottom of the third inning, after a Kelsey Jenkins walked and Miller got hit by a pitch to put runners on first and second with two outs. Ashley Van Zeeland stepped up to the plate trying to put the first runs on the board for the Badgers, but a diving catch in foul territory by Nebraska’s Kiki Stokes ended the inning in an abrupt and highlight-worthy fashion.With Jablonski leading the charge for the Huskers, it was an afternoon dominated by Nebraska’s formidable offensive lineup and defensive prowess. While disappointed with the outcome, Wisconsin head Coach Yvette Healy believed it was more about Nebraska’s capabilities and sense of urgency as an NCAA tournament bubble team.“Top to bottom they’re stacked. They are an impressive program. I wouldn’t say it was us playing down as much as them playing up,” Healy said. “Our team is doing the most with their talent right now. So we’ve got the effort and the heart, I just think we were overmatched.”With two outs and the bases loaded for the Huskers in the top of the fifth, Armstrong drove in another run on an RBI grounder to left field to make the lead 9-0. Pasquale nearly found the gap in shallow left field to drive in her fourth run of the game, but Wisconsin’s Katie Christner ran it down with an impressive basket catch to retire the side.Entering the bottom of the frame, the Badgers needed to score at least two runs to avoid the eight-run mercy rule after five innings and keep the game going. Jablonski continued to show no mercy, however, mowing through Wisconsin to solidify the victory, the series sweep and the two-hit shutout performance.Wisconsin center fielder Maria Van Abel credited the Huskers’ pitching performances, especially from Jablonski, to the struggles the Badgers had offensively throughout the weekend.“She really worked her lanes, and she was really effective with her screwball to lefties. She mixed some curveballs, which kept us a little off balanced,” Van Abel said. “Nebraska is a really good team, and they’re facing great competition this year, so you can expect to see a good outing from their pitchers and they did a great job. Hats off to them.”Game 1The series opener, postponed after rain cancellation Friday, showcased an offensive clinic by the Huskers, bringing home nine runs in the first three innings against Stewart. Both teams displayed shoddy defense, as Wisconsin committed two errors and Nebraska had three of its own. Van Abel and Miller each had two hits for Wisconsin, but the Badgers’ lineup was no match for Nebraska, which had RBI’s from nine different players, including four from MJ Knighten in the 13-5 victory.Game 2A pitchers duel between Wisconsin’s Mariah Watts and Nebraska’s Jablonski showcased a low-scoring affair in the cold, windy weather with very little separating the two teams. A two-RBI single from Wisconsin’s Marissa Mersch in the bottom of the third marked the first runs of the game, but Nebraska slowly chipped away at the lead with one run each in the top of the fourth and fifth innings. Nebraska took their first lead of the game on a fielder’s choice to second base, which conceded the runner on third as Jablonski scored. With two more opportunities to get the equalizer, the Badgers came close in the sixth, but stranded Mersch on third. A one-two-three inning in the bottom of the seventh secured the 3-2 victory for the Huskers.The Badgers, now losers of five straight games, will take on Minnesota (41-8, 15-3 Big Ten) in a doubleheader this upcoming Wednesday at the Goodman Diamond.last_img read more

August 12, 2020 | |Post a Comment

first_imgby Michael MarotINDIANAPOLIS (AP)—NCAA President Mark Emmert expects athletes at historically Black colleges and universities to make the grade—and he’s willing to help after seeing the results of the latest Academic Progress Rates. The NCAA banned Jackson State and Southern of the Southwestern Athletic Conference from postseason play in football next season and did the same thing for Southern and Grambling in men’s basketball, citing poor classroom performance by all three schools and a host of others in the SWAC and Mid-Eastern Athletic conferences.The SWAC does not get an automatic bid to the NCAA’s FCS playoffs, but its own conference title game could be affected.The NCAA released the penalties May 24. Southern became the first school to be banned from the postseason in two sports in the same year—football and men’s basketball—because of academic performance.“You’re right that there are a number of historically Black colleges and universities that have been penalized, especially through the postseason ban,” Emmert said. “We are concerned about that, have met with those institutions to help them develop ways for improvement and to help provide resources to help them be successful.”The impact of the penalties could swing the balance of power in the SWAC and MEAC, both comprised of HBCUs, and both of which get automatic bids to the NCAA basketball tourneys, too.The numbers are striking: The NCAA evaluated more than 340 schools for the APR report but only 24 of them—about 7 percent of the total—are considered historically Black colleges or universities.Yet of the 58 harshest penalties handed out this year, fully half went to teams in these two conferences.SWAC Commissioner Duer Sharp told NCAA.org that turnover in school staff—including school presidents—has hurt academic performance of athletes.Whatever the explanation, the SWAC must now decide whether to let Jackson State and Southern play in its football championship should they advance, and whether to allow Southern and Grambling to compete in the men’s basketball tournament. If either were to win the championship, the league could lose its automatic bid to the NCAA tournament.“We don’t have a firm timeline,” Assistant Commissioner for Communications Tom Galbraith said. “Our conference meetings aren’t until the first week of June, and I wouldn’t expect anything finalized before that time.”Southern University released a statement from the office of Chancellor Kofi Lomotey saying that the latest APR report “sends a clear message that we must and will improve; and the process has already begun.”The statement said that Southern officials have spent several months meeting with NCAA representatives, educators and others to work on strategies to “quickly address and correct some behaviors that have landed Southern University in this unenviable position.”The plan includes a system to track athletes’ classroom performance and a greater emphasis on academic counseling.The 10-member SWAC has a long and storied football tradition thanks in large part to three powerhouse programs—Grambling, Jackson State and Southern.Coach Eddie Robinson spent 56 seasons as Grambling’s coach and sent a long list of players to the NFL. The most notable may have been quarterback Doug Williams, the former Super Bowl who is coaching his alma mater for the second time.Jackson State, in Mississippi, produced one of the NFL’s greatest players, running back Walter Payton, along with Hall of Famers Jackie Slater and Lem Barney. And Southern’s alums include another NFL Hall of Famer, Mel Blount, as well as Philadelphia Eagles record-setting receiver Harold Carmichael and Arizona Cardinals defensive back Aeneas Williams.But it’s not just the bans that could hurt the competition in either league.Texas Southern, which played for last year’s SWAC football title, must give up nearly 15 football scholarships, while Jackson State lost half a dozen. Both of those schools will have their practice time reduced, too.The 13-member MEAC, is taking a similar hit, minus the bans.Delaware State is losing nine football scholarships, North Carolina A&T is losing three and both schools must contend with new practice limitations, too.The punishments could be just as debilitating—or more—in basketball.Coppin State will lose four scholarships, while Norfolk State is losing two. Those two schools, along with Morgan State, also face practice reductions.Also, Mississippi Valley State and Southern will each lose two scholarships in basketball. Grambling will have one scholarship taken away.In all, five schools in each league face penalties.Norfolk State Athletics Director Marty L. Miller said the Spartans’ APR performance was hurt by the loss of three players to transfers or other reasons.“We made every effort to assist them to remain in school, but could not resolve the reasons for their departure,” Miller said. “We will continue to address the transfer issue in order to eliminate the penalty status for the next reporting period.”What can be done?Walter Harrison, president at the University of Hartford, said the NCAA’s committee on academic performance is debating whether the supplementary support fund, which provides $1 million in grants to low-resource schools, is working the way it should or whether the NCAA can do more.To Emmert, though, the bottom line is simple. Every school can improve in the classroom.“You worry about the impact it (penalties) can have on any of those conferences, but the important thing is to promote the success of our student-athletes and that’s our desire to promote academic success,” he said. “It is also the case that we do need to be cognizant of the missions of HBCUs, which isn’t the same as all of our institutions. It’s asking them to complete their missions.”(AP Sports Writers David Brandt in Mississippi and Brett Martel in Louisiana also contributed to this report.) ON THE HOT SEAT—Southern University head coach Lyvonia “Stump” Mitchell yells to one of his players in the second half of the Bayou Classic NCAA college football game against Grambling State in New Orleans Nov. 27. Southern became the first school to get a postseason ban in two programs—men’s basketball and football—because of academics, the NCAA announced May 24. (AP Photo/Patrick Semansky, File) last_img read more