April 6th , 2005
|Volume 22, Issue 24|
By Jason Stuebe - Sports Editor
Prairie Stars softball has finally started to come around, especially on the defense, but it wasn't enough to eke out a win in either of the two games played in last Thursday's doubleheader against Missouri Baptist as the Stars dropped both games 0-1 and 3-5.
The losses dropped the Stars to 4-18 overall and 0-4 in the American Midwest Conference.
“Defensively we were good, but on the offensive side it's a matter of getting back to back hits and we didn't execute our situations,” said head coach Joe Fisher speaking about both games.
The Stars opened up game one with junior Liz Sunderland on the mound. Sunderland held her own through three innings and was working her fourth when a passed ball by catcher Sarah Boothman allowed MoBap's Jackie Evans to score from third.
The remainder of the game was a pitcher's duel.
After working through some rough spots in the first two innings against the Prairie Stars offense, MoBap's Megan Crow owned the mound for pretty much the rest of the game allowing only three hits in the final five innings and notching eight Ks.
“Pitching was pretty much the story of game one,” said Fisher. “What more can you say, they got eight strike outs and we did what we could with that.”
Game two began with a little more action as MoBap jumped out to a quick 3-0 lead in the bottom of the first playing as the home team after MoBap ran the table utilizing a Prairie Stars error and several well placed hits in the gap to bring home three runners.
The Stars, however, weren't letting them steal the show that easily as they quickly bounced back in the top of the second when Kayla Moss blasted a double shot to second clearing the bases of UIS seniors Laura Fager, Christie Wantland and Rebekah Bandy.
“Kayla had a good day today and really stepped up to fill her role as the leadoff hitter,” said Fisher.
“That has been the biggest struggle…to find who can fill each spot effectively and Kayla certainly did her job today.”
Moss went on to later make several great defensive nabs in centerfield.
That wasn't enough however as the Spartans went back on top in the third and padded their score in the sixth, essentially sealing the Stars' fate.
While the losses do indeed go onto the right hand column, a light could be found at the end of the tunnel.
“You know, through 14 innings of play, we only had three errors,” said Fisher, “things are slowly but surely starting to come together.”
The Stars will hope to continue putting things back together this Saturday as they face Quincy University at UIS Athletics West with the first pitch of that doubleheader scheduled for noon .
By Jason Stuebe - Sports Editor
In the drive to get back into the NAIA top-25, the UIS women's tennis squad went to Kansas City, Mo., last weekend for a dual meet against William Jewell, Benedictine and Baker and came back with an improved 5-3 record overall to build heading into the home stretch before the NAIA tournament.
The Stars opened up play against regional No. 1 William Jewell and upended the Cardinals in a 5-4 upset.
The Stars were led by senior Georgina Wulfers, who defeated principal rival Laura Currie in three sets. After a rocky 1-6 loss in the first set, Wulfers rebounded in a big way going 6-1 and 6-0 to close out the match. It was the first time Wulfers had came out on top against Currie after several previous matches.
Also leading the way for the Stars were Christine Tabayoyong, Erin Sibley and Jennifer Cloyd, who all won their singles matches and the tandem of Tabayoyong/Jennifer Poss who notched an 8-6 win in their doubles match to push the Stars over the top.
In day two of the tournament, UIS wound up routing Benedictine 9-0 as all six of the Stars' singles matches were decided in two sets with nobody from Benedictine winning over four games in a set while all three doubles matches were won by hefty margins.
Day three featured yet another rout, this time by a 7-2 margin against Baker University . The lopsided match was again led by Wulfers, who beat Baker's Marti eidson 6-2, 6-3. Other singles scores included Tabyoyong's 6-4, 6-1 win, Poss' win at 6-0, 6-3, Sibley's 6-2, 6-1 domination, Jenni Cloyd's 6-3, 6-2 victory and Jennifer Gebben's 6-2, 6-2 loss to Baker's Ashley Hutchison.
The Stars hope to continue to improve their season record at home this Friday, April 8, when they take on McKendree at the UIS courts. A cookout is scheduled to highlight the festivities at 11:00 a.m. Then on Saturday, April 9, the Stars host Evangel at the UIS courts as well.
By Mark Brockett - Sports Reporter
On Tuesday, the day after the heartbreaking loss suffered by the Illini in the NCAA National Championship game, there were few things to be happy about in the sports world for Illini fans. While some may see earning a spot in the title game itself was enough, the die-hard fans know differently. This was supposed to be our time. This was supposed to be the moment where we all rejoice in celebration of what has been one of all time greatest seasons in college basketball culminated with a championship to solidify a place among legends and lore. Oh, what might have been?
Instead, after witnessing North Carolina hang on and win the epic battle, I simply went outside and heard the breeze rather than the screams and jubilation that so many of us were dreaming about only one night before. I couldn't help feeling down after watching a team that I have followed my entire life almost close the deal and become simply the best with no arguments. Oh, what might have been?
There are questions now as to where our beloved Illini go from here. There has been talk of star point guard Deron Williams foregoing his senior season and jumping ship to the NBA. We do know that the collegiate careers of Luther Head, Jack Ingram, Nick Smith, and Roger Powell Jr. are over. Fans are left to wonder where this team will finish next season and what type of team will be out on the court. Is this rebuilding time or reloading for another championship run? What kind of coach is Bruce Weber when he has his first real test of making something of his own talent a respectable product on the court? This past season was one where the experience helped everything along for everyone involved leaving so many of us to wonder, what might have been.
As a fan of so many of our state sports teams, professional and collegiate, this loss is added to the many losses that I've seen that leave empty feelings in the pit of my stomach. I had few words for the many people on this campus that I saw afterwards and they followed suit. It left me to wonder when it will be our time to shine as loyal and devoted fans. I recall someone saying to me that we should just be happy that the Illini got to the championship game. I hated to break it to that person but just getting there isn't enough anymore. I sometimes think about the joys of seeing the Chicago Bulls win their six NBA championships. At the same time, I remember that it took the greatest basketball player of all time to accomplish such feats. On big Monday, the feelings of nervousness and excitation filled me from head to toe in preparation for the biggest game that I have witnessed in my life thus far. What might have been?
From here, I try to model Mark McGwire's sentiments about looking for positives instead of the negatives. One thing I have learned as a sports fan in this state is that there will be a tomorrow and I should accept that with open arms. Lately this is getting harder and harder to do. Fans of my ilk are tired of waiting for tomorrow to come when today is still there for the taking. Despite the loss, I couldn't be prouder of the Illini and everything that they accomplished this season as they exceeded the expectations of all the so-called experts who had a love affair with the east coast. Surprise, surprise.
But, once again, the legions of fans, including myself, are still waiting and still wondering when it will be our time. While there is always next year, we can't help but wonder what might have been.
By Jason Stuebe - Sports Editor
By the time you read this the madness will be over. The nets have been cut, the trophy already presented and the champagne popped and sprayed.
Deadlines prohibit me from being able to write anything timely about this year's Final Four and maybe that's the way it should be. I may be too emotional one way or another coming out of last Saturday's and Monday's games to write something that isn't overly gleeful in its worship of the Fighting Illini or overly pessimistic, bitter and disgruntled.
So what am I to do? By the time you all read this, you will have been up to your ears in Final Four coverage. Tired of listening about what team botched it and what team came to play. Well that is of course if the Illini lose, otherwise you will tape every episode of “Pardon the Interruption” and “Around the Horn” for the next week.
Regardless of the outcome, it certainly was quite the Final Four and quite the dance to get there. It goes without saying that this was far and away one of the most thrilling -- if not greatest -- tournaments as a whole that we have seen in quite some time.
But what strikes me the most was the solidarity of excitement that filtered through everyone. Every announcer, with the exception of the near lethargic Dick Enberg, and every fan was at one point or another jumping up and down for good or bad. To hell with our sacred brackets, we want that upset to happen!
And happen they did.
Sure, it might be easy to assume that UNC and Illinois would make it to the Final Four (though I would not consider either one's trip “easy”) but what about that Michigan State squad?
I don't know of anyone who logically could have placed them in the Final Four, especially when considering how underachieving they were throughout the regular season. But Tom Izzo's boys showed up when it counted and defeated not only a one and two seed in back-to-back games but a one and two seed that happened to be Duke and Kentucky .
I'm going to go ahead and say it: If during the regular season that Michigan State team was the State team that showed up to play in the tournament, Illinois might not have been the lone Big Ten champion.
Then there's the case for Louisville . A solid squad led by a coach seeking vindication for a short-lived and disastrous career in the NBA. Who would have known that this was the year Rick Pitino would make it back into the Final Four?
In the end, however, and I say this not knowing what the outcome of even Saturday's games were, Illinois was a team of destiny. Whether they lived up to it or not is another argument for another day.
Whether the Illini won or lost on Saturday or, Lord willing, Monday is negligible because what a helluva ride it has been all year long. Thanks for the Oskee Wow Wows Dee, Der-On, Luth, Auggie, Roger, Jack and Bruce. As always, go Stars!
UIS vs. William Woods ( Fulton , Mo. )
The Prairie Stars dropped two games to William Woods University last Friday 4-0, 10-2.
In game one, William Woods scored four runs on eight hits while UIS could only muster four. Seniors Kayla Moss, Katie McBride, Candace Welch and Rebekah Bandy all led the way with hits for the Stars but were unable to string them together to produce runs.
In the 10-2 loss in game two no stats were available by press time. But hey, at least we reported the score!
Avila University Tournament ( Blue Springs , Mo. )
UIS vs. St. Gregory
The Stars traveled directly from Fulton to Blue Springs , Mo. , for a weekend tournament that didn't start quite how the Stars wished. In game one on Saturday against St. Gregory's, the Stars were pummeled 22-3 in a St. G hit fest that saw 18 hits in only five innings against UIS' Katie Kuschell and Liz Sunderland.
The only two UIS runs were scored in the first when sophomore Megan Eddy fired off a single and scored in seniors Christie Wantland and Sarah Boothman. It was all down hill from there.
UIS vs. Avila ( Blue Springs , Mo. )
The Stars faced host team Avila in game two of the tournament, losing 4-1.
Freshman Allie Leight pitched the complete game for the Stars but gave up seven hits compared to the Stars' four.
The Stars only run came in the top of the seventh as they tried to put a rally after a Bandy triple and an Avila error allowed her to score as Wantland reached first but it was far too little too late.
UIS vs. Central Methodist ( Blue Springs , Mo. )
In the final game of a tripleheader on Saturday, the Stars dropped 6-3 to Central Methodist.
Each team had six hits apiece, but the Stars committed five errors which proved to be their undoing, especially when Central Methodist put back to back three run innings in the fourth and fifth after the Stars had maintained a one run lead through three.
UIS vs. Rockhurst University
UIS finally broke through with a win on the final day of their three-day road trip in an 11-9 grudge match against Rockhurst University .
The Stars were led by Kayla Moss, who nailed three of the Stars 15 hits, and Candice Welch, who garnered four ribbies en route to victory.
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