Rugby club to host first game since 2015

Photo courtesy of Jordin Hartwig

A member of the EC Rugby Club tackles an opponent during a game in the successful fall campaign. 

Cole Sheeks Sports Editor

On April 8 the EC rugby club will play their first home game in over two years when they take the field to face off against Augustana College at Behrens Park in Elmhurst. The game will mark the beginning of the Bluejays’ spring schedule, which follows a successful fall campaign.

Due to a combination of factors, the club has had trouble gaining traction when scheduling games and recruiting players in the past.

Unlike other EC sports teams, which are governed by the NCAA and compete within the CCIW, the EC rugby club is governed by USA Rugby and competes as part of the collegiate division of the Chicago Area Football Rugby Union, better known as CARFU. 

That distinction leads to confusion among students, who are often unfamiliar with the sport to begin with and can be unsure about the legitimacy of the team. Representatives from the club attend activity fairs hosted on campus in order to garner attention and attract new players (typically former athletes from other sports). However, securing a commitment from an appropriate amount of players has proven difficult.

That being said, the team has found new leadership this year as a pair of upperclassmen serve as the captains.

Nick Sorrentino is one of those captains. He plays fly-half and hooker for the Bluejays, leading the team on and off the field. Sorrentino is a senior at EC and his history with rugby allows him to control the action and the pace of play.

Fellow captain Scott Herzog plays the scrum-half. This position requires him to use his knowledge of the sport and play the role of distributor as he guides his team down the field.

“Scott is kind of like the point-guard or quarterback. [The scrum-half] runs the field and manages the game,” said Sorrentino. “They make the decision of where the ball is going, and what we are doing with it. Scott knows rugby really well.”

As their time at EC comes to a close, the pair of seniors are excited to play a game near campus.

In addition to the April 8 game at Behrens Park, the rugby club will also take to the turf on campus at Langhorst Field on April 22 against University of Chicago.

 

 

2017 Rugby Spring 

Schedule

April 8 vs Augustana 12:30 p.m.

April 15 at UIC 12:00 p.m.

April 22 vs University of Chicago 12:00 p.m.

April 28 at Lewis 1:00 p.m.

Standing up for Kaepernick

Cole Sheeks, Sports Editor

Cole Sheeks, Sports Editor

The Chicago Bears recently signed 27-year old Mike Glennon to a three-year, $45 million contract. Poised to be the team’s starting quarterback, Glennon started 18 games during his first two NFL seasons prior to losing his job and watching the past two seasons. He is now the face of an NFL franchise.

Meanwhile, Colin Kaepernick remains a free-agent. The 29-year old Kaepernick has started 64 games (including six playoff games), scored almost 100 touchdowns, and led a team to the Super Bowl.

Unfortunately, it appears that Kaepernick was not considered for the job in Chicago due to the so-called distractions he created when he refused to stand for the national anthem prior to games last fall with San Francisco. 

Whether or not you agree with Kaepernick politically, one thing has become crystal clear: NFL teams have been inconsistent with what they believe damages the brand of the league.

Michael Vick slaughtered animals while running a dogfighting ring. Upon his release from prison, he promptly returned to the league for seven seasons until he retired earlier this year.

Former Bear Brandon Marshall has been involved with numerous domestic violence incidents throughout his past. He recently signed a 2-year, $11 million contract with the New York Giants.

Meanwhile, big bad Colin Kaepernick is on the outside looking in because … well … he took a knee? Personally, I find that difficult to understand. 

Many NFL players supported Kaepernicks actions, which makes the lack of support he is currently receiving that much harder to believe.

With the wide variety of issues the NFL has faced over the years it seems bizarre that they suddenly draw the line of character concerns they can reason with at something as trival as standing for a song 

The 49er’s did not struggle because of any distractions that paranoid coaches imagined ,and if it were simply a matter of talent I would certainly understand. The NFL is a competitive business and teams typically do anything that they can do in order to succeed.

However, on the field, Kaepernick is clearly the most accomplished quarterback on the market this offseason and he has consistently outperformed his free-agent peers to this day.

While he is no longer the franchise player that San Francisco once thought he was, there is no reason for him to remain without a job.

The NFL needs to show consistencywith the way they handle player conduct issues.  Players like Vick and Marshall were given multiple opportunitiesafter they committed crimes. Kaepernick merely stood up for a cause he believes in. He does not deserve to be black-balled out of the league because of it.

EC Sports Roundup: Week of March 22 - 24, 2017

The EC Men’s tennis team lost both matches played during the spring break to Lawrence University and Luther College. File Photo

Men’s Tennis –    March 22, 2017

The EC men’s tennis team lost their matches to Lawrence University (8-1) and to Luther College (9-0) in Florida during spring break.   

The season now stands at 0-12 for the Bluejays. 

Lawrence 8, EC 1

Lawrence was able to capitalize for the win by taking all three double matches and five of the six single contests. 

At the No. 1 doubles position, junior Kyle Endicott and freshman Jackson Lindquist lost 8-3. At No. 2 doubles, freshman Brendan Fulmer and junior Kevin Osburn lost 8-5. Freshman Grant O’Connell and sophomore David Wilson lost 8-2 at the doubles No. 3 position.

Luther 7, EC 2  

Luther took all nine matches for the win.

At No. 1 position in doubles play, Endicott and Lindquist lost 8-6. At the No. 2 position, Fulmer and Osburn lost 8-2. At No. 3 doubles, O’Connell and Wilson lost 8-9.

In singles play, Endicott lost 6-2, 7-5 at the No. 1 position. At the No. 2 position, Fulmer lost 6-0, 6-1. At the No. 3 position, Lindquist lost 6-0, 6-4. At the No. 4 position, Osburn lost 6-2, 6-1. O’Connell lost 7-5, 6-1 at the No. 5 spot. At the No. 6 position, Wilson lost 6-3, 7-6.

Men’s Baseball – March 24, 2017

During their Florida road trip, EC was able to edge out Carlton College with a score of 5-4.

The Bluejays overall record stands at 6-7. 

After the Bluejays fell behind 3-0, a single by senior Brendan Kressner and a double by senior Ben Havel was followed by a two-run double by senior A. J. Compton to cut Carlton’s lead to one.

With two runs scored in the second, EC took the lead 4-3. On an error by Carlton, junior Christian Ott was able to score. An RBI single from Compton allowed Kressner to score.

In the sixth inning, Havel hit a solo home run and the Bluejays were able to maintain the score to earn the win.

With three hits, two runs and scoring on an RBI, Havel led the Bluejays. Sophomore Matt Wilson had three hits, while Compton had two hits and three RBIs.

Pitching six innings and allowing eight hits, junior Darryl Rivera earned the win for EC. Havel earned his first save for the season with a strikeout in the ninth inning.

On March 28, the Bluejays will host North Central University.

Women’s Softball – March 24, 2017

 After a spring break trip, the EC women’s softball team record now stands at 7-5 with duo wins over Colby College and Buffalo State.

EC 4, Colby 3

In eight innings, the Bluejays edged out Colby with a score of 4-3.

EC took an early 2-0 lead in the second inning. The Bluejays scored on a wild pitch and a second run on senior Lauren Rismondo’s RBI double. Colby took a one run lead in the second.

EC tied the game in the fourth inning with a squeeze by Rismondo to score freshman Emily Despain from third base. 

In the extra innings, tiebreaker rules were used to start a runner on second base. With a sacrifice bunt and a sacrifice fly by Despain, the Bluejays pulled in front and took the win.

Despain combined for seven of the team’s nine hits. Senior Bri Getzloff finished 4-for-4, while Despain added three hits and scored two runs.

Junior Stephanie Sturino worked four innings, allowed five hits, allowed three unearned runs and took a no-decision. Despain had her first collegiate victory in relief with four scoreless innings, did not allow a hit or a walk and fanned six.

EC 10, Buffalo 7 

 The Bluejays pulled out to an early 7-1 lead over Buffalo State before a late rally by Buffalo closed the gap, but the Bluejays were able to pull out a 10-7 win. 

 With nine batters at the plate, the Bluejays were able to score five runs. Senior Michaela Malone and sophomore Rebecca Ondracek had RBI singles, while Sturino blasted a three-run bases-clearing double.

After six innings, RBIs form Getzloff and Ondrazek pushed the lead to 10-5.

Freshman Bailee Krantz retired the last three batters to end the game. 

Ondracek finished 3-4 at the plate with a game high of four RBIs. 

Despain started and pitched for three innings. She allowed six hits and two earned runs, walking one and fanning two. Senior Stefanie Sanidas picked up the win and improved for 4-2 for the season. Krantz earned her first save of the season while retiring all three batters in the seventh inning.

Men’s lacrosse coach speechless as team blows lead, drops fourth straight

Sophomore Eric Langston and freshman Rami Ringling watch their teammates from the penalty box late in the fourth quarter at a game against Albion College on Saturday, March 18. Photo by Cole Sheeks

Cole Sheeks

Sports Editor

 

EC Men’s Lacrosse team could not close the deal in an 8-7 loss against Albion College during their March 18 game at Langhorst Field.

Despite an early score by the Britons, EC got off to a promising start. The Bluejays scored five straight goals during the second period, dominating possession and outshooting Albion 17 to 7 throughout the period. The home team entered the intermission with a 5-1 advantage.

Even though the Britons managed to secure a large majority of the face-offs, EC was able to the control the ball and build a lead as a result of consistent pressure on the defensive end. The Bluejays forced Albion into committing 12 first half turnovers and appeared to have the game in hand.

EC sophomore Mac Harden’s three goals led the way for the Bluejays. With 22 on the season, Harden leads his team in scoring and ranks third in the CCIW. As a freshman, Harden scored 34 goals and earned the conference’s Newcomer of the Year award.

Albion added a second goal just before the half, as well as a third midway through the third period. However, EC answered with two goals of their own, stretching their lead back out to four.

Whether Coach Morrell took his foot off the gas pedal or his team simply ran out of energy, the Bluejays collapsed throughout the final period as they allowed 13 shot attempts (27 combined in the second half), and only attempted two of their own. Albion won possession on all five fourth period face-offs and turned the tables on the Bluejays as they relentlessly fired shots on goal.

The Britons began to mount their comeback early on in the period, tallying two goals and keeping themselves within striking distance.

With 4:54 remaining in regulation, Albion junior Drew Harm tied the game with his team’s fourth consecutive unanswered goal. Just over a minute later, his freshman teammate Jacob Swift completed the comeback. His goal gave the Britons an 8-7 lead.

The Bluejays did not offer much of a rebuttal, as they failed to get a shot off in the closing minutes. Morrell was visibly upset with officials when EC sophomore Eric Langston was charged with a pushing penalty with just over a minute remaining in regulation, providing Albion with an extra-man advantage as time ran out.

When approached by The Leader following the game, Morrell was still frustrated with the loss and declined to comment regarding the performance of his team.

Men’s Lacrosse will return to Langhorst Field on April 1 for a 1 p.m. game against Adrian College.

Embrace the Adequate - Make baseball fun again

              Cole Sheeks, Sports Editor

              Cole Sheeks, Sports Editor

 

Since the beginning of March, several countries from all over the world have gotten together to participate in the World Baseball Classic. The combination of cultures has highlighted all of the very unique and exciting ways in which baseball is played and celebrated around the globe. 

Between the rambunctious Puerto Rican squad dyeing their hair and celebrating after every play, overwhelming crowds cheering for every move Team Japan makes and the undeniable passion exhibited by the Dominican Republic team, it seems as though every country enjoys the game with their own style and adds their own flair that makes them unique.

Individual players have also taken center stage and made international baseball fun. Watching the joy of young players like Javier Baez, Manny Machado and Carlos Martinez as they represent their countries and break the standard conventions of American style baseball has made for great entertainment and Major League Baseball should take notice.

MLB players have a long established history of inflicting punishment upon opposing players who celebrate too much. Stand and watch the home run you just hit just a little bit too long? A fastball is sure to find it’s way into your ribs the next time you come up to bat. 

These acts of vigilante justice being performed by Major League veterans are responsible for driving the youthful exuberance out of the sport in this country, and not only at the professional level.

Young children look up to professional athletes and rehearse every move their idols make. These kids take notice of all the exciting superstars showing massive personalities as they perform in the NFL and NBA. When there is a lack of personality in MLB, the children lose interest and the game as a whole suffers.

Since taking office, MLB commissioner Rob Manfred has been searching for a way to make the game of baseball more marketable to younger audiences. Recently, his focus has been placed on pace of play. 

Manfred has eliminated the intentional walk, ordered that pitch clocks are installed in every Minor League ballpark and suggested alterations to standard rules during extra inning play. All in the name of attracting a younger audience.

This is a clear case of MLB missing the real issues. Things like intentional walks are not driving kids away from baseball. 

A lack of excitement is. 

The culture of international baseball is a powerful force and it needs to be embraced by the most important individuals within the game.

Home runs are meant to be admired. Strikeouts are meant to be celebrated. Winning baseball should be a fun experience and youth baseball in America needs to be made aware of this.

It is about time for Major League Baseball to let its guard down and embrace the cultures found throughout the rest of the world.

The Leader picks: NCAA tourney champions

Listed below are the top overall seed in each region of the bracket, as well as a brief scouting report and a reason why The Leader staff believes they have the chance to win it all.

Villanova Wildcats - 31-3 - Big East - East Bracket

Scouting Report: Defending tournament champion, Villanova is led by 6’6” senior guard Josh Hart and sophomore guard Jalen Brunson. Hart leads the team with 18.9 points per game. The Wildcats also bring back senior forward Kris Jenkins, who made the famous game winning three pointer to win the championship last season.

Why Michelle Wrzensinski (copy editor) thinks they will win: They are the defending champions.

Kansas Jayhawks - 28-4 - Big 12 - Midwest Bracket

Scouting Report: 5’11” senior guard Frank Mason III leads the Jayhawks into the tournament averaging 20.8 points per game. Freshman guard Josh Jackson averages 16.4 points per game and hauls in 7.2 rebounds. The Jayhawks are three time NCAA Tournament champions, with their most recent title coming in 2008.

Why Victoria Martin (news editor) thinks they will win: They have the best uniform color of any number one seed.

North Carolina Tar Heels - 27-7 - ACC - South Bracket

Scouting Report: Entering the tournament fresh off of a loss to their rival Duke Blue Devils, North Carolina is led by junior forward Justin Jackson and junior guard Joel Berry II. Jackson paces the team in scoring with 18.1 points per game on the season, while Berry II is shooting 42 percent from three point range.

Why Kenneth Edison (managing editor) thinks they will win: Michael Jordan went to North Carolina.

Gonzaga Bulldogs - 32-1 - WCC - West Bracket

Scouting Report: 6’3” junior guard Nigel Williams-Goss leads the way for Gonzaga. Williams-Goss averages 16.9 points per game, 5.7 rebounds and 4.8 assists. Gonzaga is the only number one seed in this year’s tournament who has not won the NCAA Tournament in their history. The Bulldogs did manage to make their way into the Elite Eight back in 2015.

Why Cole Sheeks (sports editor) thinks they will win: They are the the number one seed with the most to prove.

EC Sports Roundup: Week of March 6th - 12th, 2017

Trace Nardi
Staff Writer

Women’s Lacrosse – March 11, 2017

The EC women’s lacrosse team suffered an 11-3 loss to Hanover College. Their record now stands at 0-2 for the season. Hanover scored nine straight goals to take the game. 

With 14:41 left in the opening half, sophomore Ellen Brown cut the lead in half. Back to back goals by freshman Megan Keener and Brown broke the streak for Hanover and pushed the final score to 11-3.

For the Bluejays, Brown led with two goals and 11 ground balls. Keener took the loss and surrendered six goals and made four saves.

Junior Grade Knoebel took over in the net for the second half and completed seven saves and allowed five goals.

The Bluejays were outshot by Hanover by 30-11 in the game and held a 37-23 edge in ground balls.

On March 15, EC will host Benedictine at 4 p.m. 

Men’s Wrestling– March 10, 2017

Three Bluejays closed out the 2016-2017 wrestling season by competing at the NCAA Division III Championships. 

Junior Jared Braun (133), junior Anthony Munoz (125) and sophomore Keone Derain (157) were two wins short of achieving All American Honors.  

Braun scored a takedown to take a first-round victory. With a 2-1 lead in the second period,  two more takedowns in the third lead to a 10-3 lead while the match ended in an 11-3 win.

In his second match, Braun was pinned at 2:51.

Munoz lost his first match in a 3-1 overtime loss. In the consolation round, Munoz suffered a 6-2 defeat.

In the opening round, Derain suffered a 5-4 loss. In the consolation round, Derain again fell in a 3-1 loss.

Men’s Baseball – March 6, 2017

The season now stands at 2-2 as the EC men’s baseball team dropped two games to University of Chicago and Loras College.

The Bluejays lost their opening game to University of Chicago with a score of 13-12. In the second game, EC lost 5-1 to Loras College to tie up the season.

Chicago 13, EC 12-

Junior Reagan McReynolds scored a three run homer and drove in a team high of seven runs in the game.

The Bluejays took the lead twice in the game, but Chicago came back to tie the game at 9-9. The Bluejays moved ahead with RBI’s from sophomore Jacob McMillan and McReynolds in the seventh and then senior Ben Havel doubled in McReynolds, but could not seal the win.

McReynolds led the way for EC with three hits, three runs scored and seven driven in. Havel added pair of doubles and a run driven in. Senior Evan Berliner added two hits, scored three runs and a home run. Sophomore Trey Compton scored three runs for the Bluejays.

Junior Kiko Mari took the loss in relief, allowed seven runs and five hits in 2.2 innings. Mari walked four and had one strike out.

Loras 5, EC 1-   

With four runs scored against them in the bottom of the eighth, the Bluejays lost their second game.

With a solo homerun in the first inning, Havel gave EC an early lead. Ultimately, it was the only run of the game for the Bluejays.

Loras tied the game in the bottom of the third and scored four runs in the bottom of the eighth.

The Bluejays neglected to take advantage of opportunities to score in the game by leaving runners in scoring positions several times.

Junior Daryl Rivera started for the Bluejays, pitched 7.1 innings and allowed only five hits and three runs before he took the loss in the game.

Bluejays’ baseball: 2017 season preview

Cole Sheeks
Sports Editor

Bluejay shortstop Brandon Kressner, a three-year starter who will be returning to play this season, swings for the fences at a game during the 2016 campaign. 

Coming off of a 2016 campaign that featured a 21-19 (9-12 CCIW) record and a sixth place finish in conference play, the EC Baseball team enters this spring with a veteran roster and high hopes. 

As manager Joel Southern heads into his 11th season leading the Bluejays, he will lean heavily upon a foundation of players that includes All-CCIW upperclassmen SP/1B Ben Havel,  3B Reagan McReynolds, C/SP Austin MacMillan and SS Brandon Kressner as well as 2nd year corner OF Matt Wilson.

In addition to the All-Conference returnees, the Bluejays boast a deep group that mixes youth and experience to provide upside as the team grinds through its conference schedule.

CATCHING

 

Behind the plate, Southern plans on using a trio of receivers. The manager says that he has a hard working group that is led by junior Austin MacMillan and also consists of junior James Wick and senior Travis Pickard, who caught Southern’s eye with his selective approach at the plate in the preseason.

MacMillan is a strong offensive backstop, evidenced by his team leading with a .496 On-Base Percentage. The junior will likely catch on the weekends, as he will toe the rubber as a starting pitcher during the week.

Assistant Coach Jonathan Porter has worked diligently with both Wick and Pickard in order to prepare them to step in and spell MacMillan when needed. Wick receives high praise for his defensive abilities, with Southern noting that he is the “best defensive catcher on the team”.

MIDDLE INFIELD

 

Up the middle the Bluejays turn to senior Brandon Kressner, a three-year starter at shortstop. Southern affectionately refers to the 5’8” Kressner as a “grinder” who knows how to play the position and has made himself into the best shortstop to come through the program in the time that Southern has been at the helm.

Kressner draws praise in the field; however, he also turns heads at the plate. Serving as the Bluejays primary number two hitter, the shortstop produced a .309/.404/.444 line in 2016, along with a team leading four home runs and a 25 to 10 walk to strikeout ratio.

The keystone will likely be manned by a combination of players throughout the season, and sophomore Trey Compton appears to have the inside edge to playing time to begin the year.

CORNER INFIELD

 

At the hot corner, the Bluejays will return to the 2016 first team All-CCIW selection, junior Reagan McReynolds. The athletic third baseman serves as the team’s leadoff hitter, setting the tone for the offense. McReynolds was on-base at a .430 clip a season ago, stealing 27 bases in 33 attempts.

Southern describes his leadoff man as a fearless base stealer, recalling a moment from the Augustana series last season in which McReynolds made his way to first base and then had his way with the opposition.

“Augustana threw over there three or four times in a row, almost picked him off, and may have picked him off once. He ran anyway, first pitch and beat it easily,” said Southern.

“We won that game 15 to 9. I think it really helped set the tone for that whole series,” added the Bluejays skipper.

On the other side of the diamond, the Bluejays plan to utilize the bat of senior Ben Havel at first base as often as they can afford to. The 6’7” Havel is a two-way player who is ranked by Baseball America as the number three Division III MLB draft prospect in the country as a pitcher.

While his future may be on the mound, Havel has plenty to offer at the plate in the near term. The right-handed hitter slashed .382/.425/.559 during his junior season and enters 2017 only 53 hits shy of the Bluejays all-time hit record.

Other contributors on the infield will include Austin MacMillan, Evan Berliner, Jacob McMillan and a number of potential freshman.

OUTFIELD

 

Looking towards the outfield, the Bluejays have a pair of starters in senior A.J. Compton and sophomore Matt Wilson. 

Compton is likely to man centerfield in his final year with the Bluejays. He brings a wide array of skills to the table as he is aggressive on the bases (15 stolen bases in 2016), defends well, maintains a high on-base percentage and leads the outfield with intensity.

Rightfielder Matt Wilson batted .320/.380/.385 with a pair of home runs and six stolen bases during his second team All-Conference campaign as a freshman.

Christian Ott and Compton figure to split time in left field throughout the season, along with a number of other players.

PITCHING

 

Ben Havel will serve as the staff ace for the Bluejays. Havel sits 87-92 with the fastball, brings a sharp curveball as his secondary pitch and also features a splitter as an off-speed offering. Havel struck out 51 batters in 61 innings pitched last season.

After Havel, the Bluejays will turn to MacMillan to provide stability and handle an increased workload as a pitcher. The right-hander worked 35.2 innings a year ago, striking out 33 and only walking eight.

Southern mentioned that MacMillan made great progress on the mound in 2016, culminating in a complete game shutout at Benedictine late in the season. 

Beyond the veteran duo at the front of the staff, the Bluejays will need to comb through the roster in order to find the right combination of pitchers that can make up the back end of the rotation.

Junior right-hander Kiko Mari has a live arm and started a conference game in 2016. However, he needs to consistently find the strike zone. Southern was pleased with the progress he made throughout the fall early on this spring, and Mari is as good a candidate as any to earn a role as a starter this spring.

Other candidates include: junior right-hander Daryl Rivera, junior right-hander Nick Drago, sophomore left-hander Christian Grabowski and freshman right-hander Jordan Scrimpsher.

FRESHMEN

 

Southern is excited about what he considers to be a talented freshman class. 

Jordan Scrimpsher has shown potential on the mound, as well as with the bat. Left-handed hitting Carson Thomas also features an exciting swing. Chad Tucker and Calvin Bjorgum could both see time at first base. Trevor Horvath is a middle infielder with a line drive swing who Southern believes could replace Kressner at shortstop in 2018 and Collin Winston is a promising left-handed hitting catcher.

OUTLOOK

 

Southern has set his team’s expectations high, for what he believes to be good reason.

“We beat everybody in the league last year at least once. We were 9-5 in games one and two of a series last year and we were 0-7 in game three. That’s not a knock on the guy who started game three because he had some good outings … the point is that we were very competitive,” said Southern.

The Bluejays will head to Auburndale, Florida during spring break as they compete in the Russmatt Tournament. They will then head to North Central to begin CCIW play on March 28.

The Bluejays home schedule begins on April 2 as North Park visits Butterfield Park for a 12 p.m. game.