Wednesday, June 29, 2016

Where Are They Now: Courtney Dunker

Who is she? Courtney Dunker, a former slugger and utility player for the Northern Iowa Panthers.

What is she known for? Dunker holds a top-five spot in four different offensive categories in the UNI record books and finished her career ranked second all-time for home runs. She helped lead the program to their second-ever Missouri Valley conference regular-season championship.

Here's something interesting... Dunker’s uncle Jim Kwasny coached college baseball at New Mexico State for twenty-seven years and held the school’s wins record until 2010.

Quotable quote: “Practice every day like it’s your last and play every game like it’s your last… take advantage and enjoy every moment, good or bad!!”

What's she up to now? After two seasons as the graduate assistant coach at Winona State, Courtney is now the assistant coach at Keiser University, an NAIA school in Palm Beach, Florida.

Keep up: You can find Courtney on Twitter @BA_DUNK_11

Tuesday, June 28, 2016

South Dakota Hires Robert Wagner as Head Coach

South Dakota has filled their coaching vacancy with the hiring of former Arizona State interim head coach Robert Wagner.

Wagner most recently served as ASU's co-interim head coach last season, helping lead the Sun Devils to a 30-25 record, including a 6-17 mark in conference play.

Prior to being named to that position, Wagner was Craig Nicholson's top assistant in Tempe for one season and spent six seasons under Clint Myers' leadership from 2006-2011.

Wagner's resume includes stints as an assistant coach at Washington; Utah; Central Arizona College; and Odessa College and Scottsdale Community College, his only head coaching experience prior to ASU.

The Sun Devils qualified for the NCAA tournament in 2016 under Wagner's leadership as an at-large selection, making it to the regional final before being dispatched by the Tigers of LSU for the second season in a row.

Wagner takes over a South Dakota program that went 15-38 in 2016, their first losing season since 2012. He takes over for Amy Klyse, who resigned in May after a decade as head coach.

Monday, June 27, 2016

Former Hofstra Star Makes MiLB History as Umpire

A former Hofstra softball star and Division I umpire made history Friday when she was part of the umpiring crew for the GCL Blue Jays vs. GCL Tigers.

With the first pitch of the ballgame, Jen Pawol (prononunced POWELL) became only the seventh female to serve as an umpire in Minor League Baseball, the first since 2007, and the first in the Gulf Coast League since 1978.
Jen Pawol
Photograph via Minor League Baseball

Pawol was three times an all-conference selection for Hofstra from 1996-1998 and ended her career with a .332 batting average. She continues to hold top-ten rankings in multiple statistical categories in the Pride record books.

The Gulf Coast League is based solely in Florida and is the "Rookie League" stop on the minor-league ladder, the lowest and often-first step in a player's pro career. The GCL season stretches from mid-June to late August and feature seventeen clubs, all named after their Major League parent franchises.

Belmont, Head Coach Chris Kuhlmeyer Part Ways

Belmont head softball coach Chris Kuhlmeyer has stepped down from his post, Justin's World of Softball has confirmed.

Kuhlmeyer spent seven seasons as Bruins head coach, amassing a 96-253 record. His squad's nineteen wins in 2016 were the program's most since 1999 and the second-most in program history.

Kuhlmeyer's resume is an impressive one, with coaching stops at Wichita State; Samford; Baylor; and LSU in his history prior to Belmont. The Bruins job was his first as a head coach.

The Bruins swept five season series' in 2016, including against the defending Ohio Valley champions Tennessee Tech.

Saturday, June 25, 2016

Baylee Corbello Transfers to McNeese State

For the second consecutive season, the LSU Tigers have lost a pitcher off their top-rated staff following the season's end. Would-be senior hurler Baylee Corbello has announced that she will transfer to McNeese State to finish her career.

Corbello, a 2014 all-region selection and former SEC all-freshman team member, saw her workload diminished over the past two seasons as the Tigers' pitching depth grew.

In her freshman season of 2014, Corbello threw nearly 200 innings, amassing a 3.16 ERA with 188 strikeouts and opponents hit just .214 against her. Her workload fell to just over sixty-five frames of work in 2015 with the arrivals of Carley Hoover and Allie Walljasper to Baton Rouge, though she still dominated opposing hitters with a 2.36 ERA, an opponent's batting average of .184, and seventy-one strikeouts.

Despite pitching predominantly in early-season matchups and spot situations, Corbello contributed to a pitching staff that boasted of a 1.89 ERA in '16 and reached the World Series semifinals in back-to-back campaigns.

Corbello will join a pitching staff that lost it's top two arms to graduation; graduated seniors Jamie Allred and Emily Vincent threw more than three hundred of the squad's 386 innings of work this season, both strongly contributing to the team's cumulative ERA of 2.09.

The Cowgirls will be under James Landreneau's first season as head coach in 2017, following a 2016 season when they posted a 43-14 overall mark with a 23-4 record in conference play, earning the conference tournament championship and an automatic berth into the Baton Rouge regional of the NCAA tournament.

Friday, June 24, 2016

Brittany Finney Transfers to Ole Miss

Mike Smith's Ole Miss Rebels have capitalized off an impressive 2016 campaign and earned a great start to the 2017 season with the addition of former Oklahoma pitcher Brittany Finney.

Finney, who played her freshman season for the Sooners and was part of the championship-winning squad, will be eligible to play immediately for the Rebels and will have three seasons of eligibility remaining.

Though seldom-used in her team's march to the national title, Finney assembled a 1.12 ERA in just under nineteen innings of work. As a high school senior, she was named the 2015 Gatorade Player of the Year for the state of Kansas.

Finney joins a pitching staff under the guidance of former all-American Taryne Mowatt, one that put together a cumulative 3.26 ERA in 2016. Replacing graduated ace Madi Osias will be part of Finney's assignment next season, as she'll join, among others, junior Elisha Jahnke, who assembled a 4.10 ERA in one hundred eleven innings a season ago.

The Rebels finished 2016 with a 41-22 record, making it to the NCAA tournament for the first time in program history.

Three Softballers Earn ESPY Nominations

The nominees for the 2016 ESPYs have been announced and the sport of softball is represented by a trio of nominations.

Michigan great and current USSSA Pride infielder Sierra Romero is nominated for Best Female College Athlete after a season when she was named National Player of the Year, the Big Ten's Player of the Year, and a first-team all-American. Romero hit .451 in 2016, never missing one of her team's games. She added nineteen home runs, leaving her in sole possession of 8th place on the Division 1 all-time list.

The sport's other two nominations both came in the bracketed Best Play category.

Army's Kasey McCravey's now-famous leap straight up over the catcher to avoid a tag and score the run on a play that looked like it had her dead-to-rights earned the #12 seed among the sixteen plays nominated in the category. In the first round, McCravey is up against the Golden State Warriors' Steph Curry and a 38-foot game-winning jump shot.

Auburn's Tiffany Howard and her home-run-saving and game-saving catch in the Women's College World Series championship series earned the #7 seed and is matched up with the Toronto Blue Jays' Josh Donaldson's diving catch into the stands to preserve a no-hitter.

The seedings are an interesting bunch, as the first career home run by 285-pound New York Mets pitcher and cult hero Bartolo Colon is the #11-ranked play in the bracket.

Voting for all three ladies can be done by clicking here for the Best Play voting; click "Best Female College Athlete" at the bottom of the page to vote for Romero in her category.