After winning three out of four games last week, the WIU Baseball Team (14-23, 10-8 Summit League), is tied for second place in the Summit League with North Dakota State. The Leathernecks smoked SIU-E 21-4 on Tuesday, then took two out of three games from Fort Wayne over the weekend.
I discussed the past week with WIU Head Baseball Coach Ryan Brownlee during our weekly conversation. We also looked ahead to the coming week, when Western travels to Illinois State Tuesday, before hosting Omaha for a weekend series. Listen to the conversation below.
0:00-2:20 The impressive hitting of late
2:20-6:20 Solid pitching enabling hitters to be looser at the plate
6:20-8:43 The performances of Drue Galassi (Collegiate Baseball National Co-Player of the Week) and Adam McGinnis last week
8:43-9:45 Steve McShane's importance as the lead off hitter
The Western Illinois Softball team (19-26, 10-5 Summit League), lost two of their three games against North Dakota State over the weekend in Macomb. WIU won the first game of the series 1-0, but fell 11-3 and 5-4 in the remaining two. Western holds onto a three game lead in the League over NDSU (7-5). Of course, the Bison have played three less games than the Leathernecks have.
Saturday (Game One) WIU 1 NDSU 0
Western came out victorious in a pitcher's duel Saturday morning. Sophomore ace Emily Ira took care of business in the pitcher's circle, only allowing one hit and three total baserunners in a seven inning shutout. Ira struck out 15 of the 24 batters she faced.
On the other end, NDSU's Jacquelyn Sertic was just about as effective, holding the Leathernecks to just two total hits. Western also only had three players reach base during this contest. The lone WIU run came in the sixth inning, when a Nina Maggio sacrifice fly brought home Rachel Beatty.
Ira improved to 10-11 on the season, compiling her third complete game shutout of the campaign. This performance helped her garner Summit League Pitcher of the Week honors.
Saturday Game Two: NDSU 11 WIU 3
Western junior pitcher Brooke Stulga got rocked early in this one. She lasted just 1.2 innings, giving up six runs in just 1.2 innings. Aside from a Beatty lead off homerun, the Leatherneck bats could not get going early in game two. The Bison scored all 11 runs in the first five innings. NDSU had 13 hits, including a third inning three-run shot that made the score 6-1.
Western managed to bring in two additional runs in the bottom of the fifth, making the score 11-3. That is how the game would end, setting up a rubber match on Sunday.
Sunday: NDSU 5 WIU 4 (8 innings)
Ira was back in the circle for Western in this one, going up against Sertic a second time. She wasn't as dominant, but held the Bison to four runs and nine hits in seven innings. Sertic also held the Leathernecks to four runs, doing so on four hits.
A Hailey Duwa two-run home run put WIU up 2-0 in the second inning. Kelsey Marlow hit a sacrifice fly in the third inning, making the score 3-0. The Bison responded with a run in each of the fourth and fifth innings. The bottom half of the frame brought in an unearned Leatherneck run on a throwing error. With the score at 4-2 heading into the bottom of the seventh, NDSU tied it up on a two-run single. WIU could not answer back in the bottom of the seventh, moving the game to extra innings.
In the top of the eighth, Payton Abbott came in to relieve Ira. The Bison got another RBI single off Abbott. The Leathernecks could not respond in the bottom half, despite getting two runners on base with only one out. Sertic struck out the final two batters, winning the game 5-4, along with picking up the weekend series.
The Western Illinois Baseball Team (14-23, 10-8 Summit League) defeated Fort Wayne Friday (7-4) and Sunday (15-5). Western was on the losing end Saturday (2-0).
The Leathernecks will finish the regular season with a 4-2 record against the Mastodons. The weekend success also moves WIU into a tie for second place in the Summit League standings with North Dakota State. Both teams are a full six games behind first place Oral Roberts.
The Leatherneck bats picked up right where they left off after demolishing SIU-E Tuesday afternoon. Western scored three runs in the top of the first inning on Friday, with Adam Mcginnis, Johnathan Fleek, and Deion Thompson each batting in a run. The second inning featured more of the same, with Drue Galassi getting an RBI single, followed by a two-run RBI single from McGinnis. That moved the score to 6-0. A three-run third inning by the Mastodons trimmed the deficit in half, but that’s as close as it got. WIU scored another run in the fifth on a wild pitch, while Fort Wayne brought in a run in the seventh inning. The Leathernecks won 7-4. 2
The main story for Western was the dominant pitching performance of Sophomore pitcher Ian Koch. He gave WIU eight strong innings of four-hit ball. Koch struck out five batters, while only walking two. He earned the win, moving to 4-2 on the season.
The Leathernecks suffered their sixth shutout of the season on Saturday. Western accrued seven hits on the afternoon, but left nine runners on base. Freshman Connor Rektorski gave the Leathernecks 5.1 innings out of the bullpen, relieving starter Preston Church in the third inning. Fort Wayne did its damage in the eighth inning, getting two RBI singles to take that 2-0 lead. The Leathernecks went down 1-2-3 in the top of the ninth, ending the game and setting up a Sunday rubber match.
Freshman pitcher Javin Drake took the ball for WIU on Sunday. He continued to pitch beyond his years early, keeping the Dons off the board during the first three innings. Western’s bats struck first in the top of the third, with a Galassi RBI double and a McGinnis RBI ground out giving the Leathernecks a 2-0 edge.
The game see-sawed in the fourth and fifth innings. A Steve McShane RBI single pushed the Leatherneck lead to 3-2. Fort Wayne responded with a two-run home run in the bottom of the fourth. Two more WIU runs came off the bat of a Deion Thompson RBI single, moving the score to 5-2. A three-run fifth inning dinger from Fort Wayne evened things up at five. Things quickly changed in the sixth inning though.
The sixth inning started off with a bang for WIU. Galssi continued his incredible week of hitting, crushing a two run home-run to make the score 7-5. An additional six runs came across the plate that inning, with Fleek, Thompson, Mitch Ellis, CJ Schaeffer, and McGinnis (2 RBI), all bringing home runs. Western then lead 13-5, and expanded that lead by three runs with Fleek and Thompson each accounting for another RBI single.
Sophomore Sam Cottingham-Beard shut the door for the Leathernecks, allowing only one hit while striking out three batters in three innings of work. The 15-5 Leatherneck win gave Western the weekend series and the season series against Fort Wayne.
The Western Illinois Fighting Leathernecks Football Teams wrapped up its 2017 Spring Football slate with the annual Bruce Craddock Memorial Spring Game. The culmination of weeks of night practices at Hanson Field ended with a scrimmage that pinned the offense against the defense. The defense, which sported its new 3-4 alignment, won the bout 41-29 over the offense in a running clock game that awarded points to each side based on various in-game achievements.
In addition to the game being played, Head Coach Charlie Fisher announced the captains for the 2017 season, as well as the most improved player awards. The offensive captains are junior quarterback Sean McGuire and senior center Jacob Judd. The defensive captains are senior linebacker and Macomb native Brett Taylor, along with junior linebacker Quentin Moon. As for the most improved players; running back Max Norris, offensive lineman Jordan Detweiler, and defensive linemen Kyle Williams and Grant Kasal took home those honors.
The night started with the program honoring its former players. The Leathernecks participated in a tradition that Fisher has established called "The Leatherneck Handshake." It features current WIU players and former Western players shaking hands at midfield prior to the game. This is done in a way that is reminiscent of how NHL teams end a playoff series.
The game featured two touchdowns. The first one came in the second quarter, when sophomore linebacker Zach Gilsan picked up an errant pitch and ran it back 60 yards for the score. Late in the first half, a pair of redshirt freshmen connected for an offensive touchdown. After completing a 57 yard pass to receiver Tre Cervantes, quarterback Connor Sampson found tight end Chris Age in the back of the end zone for a 13 yard TD.
The offense led 22-18 at halftime, but could not move the ball all that much in the second half. The defense was able to rush the passer well throughout the game, racking up six sacks. The secondary, which struggled mightily down the stretch for the Leathernecks in 2016, compiled seven pass break ups. The inability of the offense to punch the ball in resulted in three field goal tries, all of which Western could not convert on. The defense pulled away down the stretch, ultimately winning by that 12 point margain.
As Fisher noted throughout the night, the game took place 131 days away from the season opener at Tennessee Tech. That game is set for August 31.
- Mcguire finished the day 10-15 passing with 103 yards. He started the opening drive 5-5 for 69 yards.
- Sampson took a bulk of the snaps, going 16-24 for 221 yards and 1 TD
- Junior running back Steve McShane and junior defensive back Justin Fitzpatrick were not at the game. They play on the baseball team, and are in Fort Wayne for the team's series there this weekend.
- The battle for the starting kicker spot was wide open coming into spring ball, and still is after the game. Kickers Nathan Erickson, Sam Crosa, and Kyle Coale each went 0-1 on field goal attempts.
Macomb High Varsity Baseball (5-12) fell 9-8 to West Hancock on their home field. Lady Bomber Softball blanked the Titans 10-0, with junior Jordyn Hare pitching a shutout in a six inning game.
This game went back and forth early. West Hancock scored two runs in the first inning, while MHS answered back with two in the second. The Titans tacked on another run in the third inning, making the score 3-2. A four-run fourth inning, which featured RBIs from Brandon Bickers, Blake Kelly, and a two-run double off the bat of Korby Foxall, advanced the score to 6-3 in Macomb's favor.
The Titans stormed back in the top of the fifth, scoring three more runs to tie the game back up. A walk and a passed ball brought in two more Macomb runs in the bottom of the sixth, putting the Bombers up 8-6. In the top of the seventh, Macomb allowed a three run double, making the score 9-8. The Bombers had two runners on in the bottom of the last via walks, but neither could get across home plate.
Macomb is off until next week, as the team's scheduled game at Moline today was pushed back to May 12. They'll face Illini West at home on Tuesday.
MHS Softball was sharp on the road yesterday, as the 10-0 victory would indicate. Junior pitcher Jordyn Hare was superb, only allowing one hit in a complete game six-inning shutout. The Lady Bombers used some small ball to get on the scoreboard early, as a Courtney Thorman groundout brought in the game's initial run in the first inning. A three run third inning, featuring a Haley Coker RBI single and two runner scoring on a wild pitch, made the score 4-0 in Macomb's favor.
Hare had a perfect game going until the bottom of the fourth inning, when a Titans single ended that bid. This was the only blemish on the day for Hare, as she finished with four strikeouts and only tossed 64 pitches.
In the top of the fourth Macomb built its lead up to 7-0, scoring via an RBI single and two more runs coming across on wild pitches. The Bombers scored one more run in the fifth on a Maggie Swanson RBI triple, and brought in two more in the sixth. This made the score 10-0. The mercy rule was in effect at that point. With West Hancock failing to get a run in the bottom half of the inning, the game was called after six innings
The team is off until Tuesday, when Macomb hosts Illini West.
I had the chance to speak with former MLB player Rick Ankiel today, as he promotes his new book, The Phenomenon. The book is out now. It chronicle's Ankiel's career, his battle with an extreme anxiety condition known as "The Yips," and how he transitioned from a once can't miss prospect of a pitcher for the St. Louis Cardinals to an outfielder that carved out a nice career.
As a young pitcher, he made an immediate impact in the league. Ankiel finished second in the National League Rookie of the Year voting in 2000, as St. Louis advanced to the NLCS that year. Cardinals fans will remember his struggles in that postseason, as he seemingly lost his control as a pitcher out of the blue in the NLDS series vs Atlanta. In a Game One start he unraveled in the third inning, allowing four runs on two hits, four walks and throwing five wild pitches before being removed with two outs in that frame.
Ankiel never regained his form after that, mightily struggling yet again in the NLDS, as he was taken out of the game in the first inning of a Game Two start. He managed to throw just 20 pitches before that decision was made. He spent a great deal of time in the minor leagues in 2001, before facing elbow injuries that kept him out in 2002, and for most of 2003. In 2005, he announced he was switching positions to become an outfielder
Ankiel finally returned to the majors in 2007, making it back for the Cardinals as an outfielder. His career carried on until 2013, when he retired as a member of the Mets. He's the first player since Babe Ruth to win at least ten games as a pitcher and hit fifty home runs.
Listen below to my conversation with Ankiel, as we dive into the process of completing the book, his battles with anxiety, and his successful transition from a pitcher to a position player.
Western Illinois Baseball took care of business with ease against SUI-Edwardsville Tuesday afternoon, winning 21-4. The Leathernecks avenged a loss from two weeks earlier to the Cougars, where SIU-E won 9-3. The win brings Western's record to 12-22 on the season, and is its fifth in its last eight matchups.
Offensively, Western struck first, with one run in the first inning, followed by a six run second inning. The score was 7-1 at this point, with a three-run home run by senior catcher Adam McGinnis blowing the game wide open in WIU's favor. The teams exchanged runs in the third inning, and a solo shot from SIU-E in the top of the fourth moved the score to 8-3. That's when the Leathernecks put this one to bed.
The story of the day of course was sophomore outfielder Drue Galassi. He crushed two grand slams, with the first one coming as part of an eight-run fourth inning for the Leathernecks After his teammates had already brought in four runs in the frame, Galssi's blast made the score 16-3. With neither team scoring in the fifth, Western tacked on an additional five runs in the sixth, with Galassi yet again going yard with the bases jacked. He finished the day 5-5 with five runs, two home runs, and ten RBIs.
A seventh inning one-run long ball for the Cougars provided the final run of the long afternoon. The final score sat at 21-4.Sophomore lefty Pete Minella got the start for the Leathernecks, allowing one run on four hits in two innings of work. He picked up his first career victory.
WIU will travel to Fort Wayne this weekend, to play three games against the last place Mastadons.
The MHS Baseball team (5-11) was on the losing end of a walkoff for the second time in the last week. They lost to the West Hancock Titans 12-11 on the road in eight innings. The Lady Bomber Softball team continued its winning ways, defeating the Titans 11-7 in Macomb.
The Bombers got off to a very hot start in this one. A seven-run second inning put Macomb in the drivers seat. Small-ball was played early on, as only two of those runs came via an extra base hit. In the bottom half of the second, West Hancock did answer back with two runs. The game remained 7-2 until the bottom of the fourth inning, when five more Titans runs crossed the plate to even things up at seven runs apiece.
In the top of the fifth MHS retook the lead. Junior Alex Drannes hit a three-run home run to left field, making the score 10-7 Macomb. The Bombers tacked on an additional run in the top of the sixth, with West Hancock failing to score in either of those two innings. This left the score at 11-7, heading into the final inning of play.
A single and a walk issued by Macomb's Michael Watterstreet forced coach Brock Bainter to bring in Sophomore Ben Higgins. An ensuing walk loaded the bases with no outs. After recording one out, Higgins allowed a grand slam to even the score up at 11-11. Macomb worked out of the inning, sending the game to extra innings. West Hancock retired the side to start the eighth inning. The bottom half of the inning went rapidly, as on the very first pitch Titans slugger Kolton Johnson hit a walkoff homer.
Macomb Varsity is off today, and will have a rematch with West Hancock tomorrow afternoon at home.
Macomb and West Hancock went back and forth for the first three innings, with the Titans holding onto a 3-2 lead at that point. Lexy Leezer (2), Maggie Vallillo, Hailey Coker, and Courtney Thorman all batted in runs, making the score 7-3 Macomb. Three more Bomber runs came in during the fifth inning and one more was accounted for in the sixth, pushing the lead to 11-3. A four run seventh by West Hancock lessened the gap, but the final score went 11-7, with the Lady Bombers coming out on top for the second consecutive game.
MHS retakes the field today, meeting up with Unity at home.
MHS Baseball (5-10) took a 7-0 loss at United Township (East Moline) yesterday. Macomb Softball (9-8) topped Havana 7-1.
The Baseball team struggled early, allowing two runs in the first inning, and five in the second inning. Macomb commited three errors, resulting in three of the runs going unearned by pitcher Brendan Mueller. The Bombers notched five hits on the day, with Ben Higgins, Cale Reeves, Brandon Bickers, Drew Cody, and John Ogle all hitting singles.
Today the baseball team heads to West Hancock, while softball will host West Hancock.
WIU Head Baseball Coach Ryan Brownlee called in to discuss his team's past week. WIU went 2-2 during the past week, winning two out of three games vs South Dakota State over the weekend, while playing Iowa tough on the road last Tuesday.
Western defeated SDSU 7-2 Friday. They followed it up with a 8-4 win and 13-5 loss during a Saturday doubleheader. Against Iowa, WIU fell 4-1, but managed to get ten hits to Iowa's seven. Western Illinois sits at 11-22 on the season, with a 8-7 record in Summit League play.
Western hosts SIU-Edwardsville tomorrow afternoon, before heading to Fort Wayne for a weekend series. The Cougars of SUI-E beat WIU 9-3 two weeks ago in Edwardsville. Western is 2-1 on the year vs Fort Wayne, who carries a 1-14 Summit League record into the weekend.
For more on all of these games and how the Leathernecks are playing, listen to what Coach Brownlee had to say in our weekly conversation.
0:00-2:22 Intro and Aspects of Game WIU is Executing Well in
2:22-4:30 What Leathernecks are Doing Well at the Plate Lately
4:30-6:40 Preparing for Summit League Teams the Second Time Around
6:40-8:07 Recap of Iowa Game
8:07-9:18 Confidence Gained from That Game
9:18-10:25 Preview of SIU-E Game
10:25-12:19 Preview of Fort Wayne Series
12:19-13:28 How Late Season Schedule Lines Up
13:28-14:26 The Tough Aspects of Lengthy Road Trips and Outro
The Macomb High Baseball (4-8) and Softball (6-7) teams played Monmouth-Roseville yesterday. The baseball team took a 4-3 loss, while the softball squad pulled off a 12-8 victory.
Macomb took an early 2-0 lead in this game, as Korby Foxall and Blake Kelly each hit RBI singles in the top of the first inning. Kelly also hit a sacrifice fly in the top of the fifth, making the score 3-0 in favor of MHS. Brandon Bickers was strong on the hill for the Bombers, tossing 5.1 innings of one-run ball. He threw a total of 97 pitches, striking out ten batters and walking eight.
After Bickers walked in a batter in the bottom of the sixth inning, Michael Waterstreet got the Bombers out of a bases loaded jam unscathed. The Titans retired the side in the top of the seventh, giving Mon-Rose a last crack at a victory in a 3-1 ballgame.
An error, single, and a walk loaded the bases for the Titans with one out in the bottom of the seventh. Waterstreet then struck out a batter, but walked the ensuing opponent on five pitches. That made the score 3-2. With Macomb needing one more out to come away with the win, sophomore Ben Higgins came out of the bullpen. Monmouth's JC Sells lined a Higgins pitch to left field on a 2-2 count. Two runners scored, giving the Titans the 4-3 walkoff victory.
The WIU Track and Field Program has a big week ahead. The 28th Annual Lee Calhoun Memorial Invitational kicks off today at Hanson Field. It will run through Saturday. This is the only home event for the Leathernecks during the spring season.
Per WIU Athletic Communications, "The meet honors the legacy of former United States Olympian and Leatherneck track and field coach Lee Quency Calhoun. Lee Calhoun was known for being the first track and field athlete to win consecutive Olympic gold medals in the 110-meter high hurdles in the 1956 Melbourne Games and 1960 Games in Rome. Calhoun was a seven-time national champion and five-time world record holder in the indoor and outdoor NAAU, NAIA and NCAA Track and Field Championships. He won the NCAA meet with a record of 13.7 seconds and equaled world marks in 50, 60, and 70-yard high hurdle races. Calhoun was inducted into the inaugural class of the United States Track and Field Hall of Fame (1974), United States Olympic Hall of Fame (1991) and Western Illinois Athletic Hall of Fame (1990), posthumously."
The men's team currently has athletes with top ten rankings in the Summit League in eight different events, lead by sophomore Malachi Adams' first place ranking in the 100 Meters. The women's team has seven categories represented in the top ten standings, with five of those categories featuring multiple Leathernecks. Junior Jasmine Brown leads the way, currently holding onto first place in the triple-jump in the Summit League.
On Wednesday, April 19, the program will host the Ninth Annual Shaymus Relays.
As WIU Athletic Communications notes, "The Shaymus Relays were founded in the spring of 2009, as event to raise funds for Macomb local youth Shaymus Guinn. Shaymus was diagnosed with cancer and was fighting the disease while in elementary school until he lost his battle with cancer on Dec. 19, 2012."
This year, the Shaymus Relays will raise money for Reid Brewer, a six year old from Good Hope currently battling Neuroblastoma.
Brown, along with sophomore Khalyia Lawson, came in studio today to discuss both of these events. Here's what they had to say on K100.
The WIU Baseball (9-21) and Softball (16-23) teams took on Iowa and Missouri respectively on the road yesterday. While both teams played up to the competitive level of their power five conference counterparts, neither team could pull off a victory. Baseball lost 4-1 in Iowa City, while softball fell 10-2 and 6-5 in a doubleheader in Columbia.
In their loss, the Leatherneck baseball team managed to outhit the Hawkeyes. WIU compiled ten hits to Iowa's eight. Even so, Iowa managed to bring across three runs in the first four innings. Sophomore Jimmy Perkins was on the mound during that time, giving up three runs off five hits in four innings of work. In the fifth, Western scored its lone run off a Roman Visintine RBI single, bringing home Deion Thompson.
Another Hawkeye run came across in the bottom opf the sixth, and neither team could score after that. The Leatherneck bullpen only allowed two hits in five innings of use. Thompson also hit a triple in the game, finishing the day 3-3 from the plate. WIU comes back home for a weekend series with South Dakota State.
The softball team got roughed up 10-2 in the first game versus Missouri. Nine of those runs came across in the first three innings. Ace Emily Ira only lasted 3.1 innings for Western, giving up nine runs, with six of them being earned.
The second game was back and forth throughout. Western scored two runs in the first inning, and one in the second and fourth innings. Missouri seemed to have a response every inning, with the score sitting at 4-3 after four innings. A Mizzou baserunner stole home in the bottom of the fifth to tie the score up. WIU got ahead in the top of the seventh, with senior Holly Hoelting hitting a solo home run to move the score to 5-4. In the bottom of the last Missouri came away with the win though, as a one out, two-run single won it for the Tigers.
Western is home for the next two weekends, hosting IUPUI and North Dakota State in Summit League play.
On Tuesday, both Macomb High Baseball (4-7) and Softball (7-7) suffered losses at the hands of the Camp Point Central Panthers. Baseball lost 12-4, while softball was blanked 9-0.
The baseball team was down early, giving up four runs in the bottom of the first inning. A one run second inning followed for Macomb, but a two run output in the bottom half of the inning made it 6-1 Panthers. In the top half of the fifth Macomb made it 6-4 with a three-run inning, but four more runs in the fifth and two more in the sixth followed for Camp Point.
Brendan Mueller had the lone extra-base hit for Macomb, hitting a double. In all, MHS got ten hits, but camp Point had fifteen on their end. Mueller, along with Brandon Bickers and Ben Higgins, had multiple hits in the contest.
The softball team struggled in this one, only getting one hit the entire game. Camp Point got two runs across in the first inning, four in the third, two in the fourth, and one in the fifth.
Both teams play Monmouth-Roseville today. Baseball will do so on the road, with softball taking on the Titans at home.
WIU Baseball (9-20, 6-6 Summit League) Head Coach Ryan Brownlee discusses last week's four-game stretch, and looks ahead to this week's games. Last week the team went 2-2, with that timeframe including a series victory at Omaha.
Brownlee also previews tonight's game vs Iowa, as well as an upcoming home series with South Dakota State. He also looks at how the team has progressed as a whole, as Western currently sits just one game back of second place in the Summit League. Listen to the interview below.
0:00-5:18 Recap of Last Week
5:18-6:54 Altering Practice Schedule Moving Forward
6:54-10:09 Offensive Outburst vs. Omaha
10:09-12:03 Evaluating Performance of Pitching Staff
Today I spoke with WIU Head Baseball Coach Ryan Brownlee. We discussed this past weekend's series at Oral Roberts, looked back at the first month and a half of the season, discussed the progress of many of the team's young players, and previewed this week's games against SIU-Edwardsville and Omaha. Listen to our conversation below.
0:00-3:21 Intro and recap of Oral Roberts Series
3:21-4:10 Offensive output in Oral Roberts Series
5:35-8:25 How team has improved since beginning of season
8:25-10:03 Young players that have found expanded roles on team
10:03-11:28 What Freshman pitcher Javin Drake has done well
11:28-13:51 A look ahead at this week's SIU-E and Omaha games
13:51-16:08 Thoughts on last night’s Cubs-Cardinals game & MLB Opening Day
Western Illinois Baseball went 1-2 over the weekend at Oral Roberts. The Leathernecks record falls to 7-18 on the year and 4-5 in Summit League play.
Friday ORU 3 WIU 0
The opening game of the series was scoreless through the first four and a half innings. In the bottom of the fifth the Golden Eagles brought across their first run on an RBI single. ORU would knock in two more in the bottom of the sixth, scoring on a sacrifice fly and another RBI single. WIU had a runner on second base in the top of the ninth, but failed to bring him around. The team had a total of four hits on the afternoon, falling 3-0.
Saturday WIU 5 ORU 2
After only having four hits on Friday, Western responded nicely with an eleven hit output. This game also remained scoreless until the fifth, when the Leathernecks scored on an RBI double off the bat of Cord Church, bringing in Deion Thompson. The Golden Eagles answered back with a sacrifice fly in the bottom of the inning, making the score 1-1. Western scored two more runs in the top of the sixth. A Thompson RBI single and Mitch Ellis walk with the bases loaded gave Western a 3-1 advantage. ORU chipped into that defecit with an RBI single in the bottom half of the inning. The seventh inning is where the Leathernecks did the bulk of their damage, scoring two more runs.
An Adam McGinnis RBI single and a Thompson sacrifice fly made the score 5-2, and that score would not change. Preston Church went seven innings on the mound, allowing six hits and striking out five batters. Sam Cottingham-Beard and Nate Westfahl came out of the bullpen to combine for the final two innings of work, only allowing one hit. Church moved to 2-2 on the year with the win.
Sunday ORU 1 WIU 0 (10 innings)
The rubber match was a rainy one in Tulsa. With freshman pitcher Javin Drake on the mound, Western hung right with an Oral Roberts team that they have never beat in a road series in program history. Drake went eight innings, only allowing four hits and striking out four with no walks. WIU had seven hits in this game, but could not manufacture any runs. Finally in extra innings the lone run of the game came across the plate. With the bases loaded and Westfahl on the hill, ORU shortstop Dylan Snypes was hit by a pitch, bringing home the winning run.
The Leathernecks next game is tomorrow at SIU-Edwardsville. This begins a five game road swing for Western Illinois. WIU travels to Omaha this weekend for a series with the Mavericks, followed by a road game at Iowa next Tuesday.
The Western Illinois Softball Team won all three games at Omaha this weekend to move to 14-20 on the season and 5-1 in Summit League play. The Leathernecks have now won four straight games.
Saturday (Game 1) WIU 5 Omaha 3
Sophomore ace Emily Ira was electric again in this one, recording thirteen strikeouts in a complete game victory. WIU tacked on two runs through the first five innings. Omaha was able to get ahead in the bottom of the sixth though, connecting on a three-run blast to make the score 3-2. With Western down in the top of the seventh the Leatherneck bats came to life. With the bases loaded freshman Halle Hollatz hit a three-run single to put WIU ahead 5-3. Ira would take care of business in the bottom of the inning to give the Leathernecks the 5-3 victory in game one of three at Omaha. Ira's record moved to 6-10 on the year.
Saturday (Game 2) WIU 4 Omaha 1
Omaha struck first in the second game of Saturday's doubleheader. A first inning RBI single put the Mavericks up 1-0. The score remained as such until the fifth inning, when Hollatz hit another RBI base knock to tie things back up. The game remained tied through seven innings, resulting in extra innings. The Leathernecks continued their late game heorics, bringing across three runs in the top of the eighth. Kelsey Marlow, Holly Hoelting, and Brooke Stulga all contributed RBI singles to give Western a 4-1 lead. Stulga didn't allow a run in the bottom of the eighth, finishing off a complete game victory. She allowed one run on seven hits. Her record improved to 5-5 on the season.
Sunday WIU 5 Omaha 1
After a Saturday that featured only one extra-base hit for WIU, the big bats of the Leathernecks got going early. Sophomore Ally Compton hit a two-run blast to give Western an early 2-0 lead that it would not relinquish. Omaha knocked in a run in the fourth with an RBI double, but that was all the Mavs could muster off sophomore pitcher Payton Abbott. A Hollatz two-run single in the fifth made it 4-1 in favor of WIU, with a sixth inning error brining in another run. Abbott finished the game allowing only two hits with nine strikeouts. She improved to 3-5 as the Leathernecks completed the weekend sweep.
Western now sits in third place in the Summit League standings at 5-1. The Leathernecks come back to Macomb to play a series with Fort Wayne this weekend.
WIU Baseball moved to 6-16 on the season following a 12-1 victory over Robert Morris Tuesday afternoon. The Leathernecks were down 1-0 after the top of the first, but scored 12 unanswered runs en route to the victory.
Western scored in each of the first four innings, with senior infielder Chris Tschida clubbing a grand slam in the bottom of the fourth, making it 8-1 in favor of WIU. The homerun was Tschida's second one of the season, and his first career grand slam. Western tacked on 4 more runs in the bottom of the sixth, ultimately winning 12-1 after seven innings of play.
Sophomore Jimmy Perkins earned the victory, allowing one run on three hits in four innings of work. Perkins moves to 2-0 on the year. WIU had 12 hits, with four of them coming in the extra base variety. The team also stole 7 bases, while only getting thrown out once.
WIU had a home game vs Bradley rained out today. The team will look to reschedule it. They'll hit the road for a series against Oral Roberts Friday.
Macomb Baseball lost 5-4 to Monmouth-Roseville in a 9 inning game. The Bombers (2-5) got off to a hot start, taking a 3-0 lead into the third inning. MHS junior pitcher Brandon Bickers was superb for Macomb, throwing a no hitter while recording 9 strikeouts in four innings. However, he reached his 75 pitch limit at that time, forcing Bomber Head Coach Brock Bainter to turn to the bullpen.
From there the lead quickly went to the opposition, with the Titans holding a 4-3 lead after the sixth inning. The seventh inning prompted a game tying RBI single off the bat of Bickers, which scored Michael Waterstreet with the bases loaded. Macomb could not bring across anyone else though, resulting in extra innings.
Mon-Rose's Koby Killey hit the game winning single, bringing around Jordan Cheek in the top of the ninth. Macomb could not answer back, with the Bombers taking the loss. MHS had four baserunners thrown out at home plate in this contest, including two on the same play in the sixth.
Macomb had a road game vs Beardstown scheduled for today. That has been postponed. MHS is scheduled to play Mon-Rose again Thursday in Monmouth.
After being named as the new Macomb High School Head Football Coach, Tony Westen has hit the ground running. As Westen continues his current duties as an assistant coach on the MHS Baseball Team, he has looked ahead to planning for training camp, and ultimately putting together his Macomb Football program.
I got a chance to catch up with Coach Westen at MHS. We touched on a variety of subjects, including his coaching philosophies, his hometown roots, and his ideas for developing a culture around Macomb High Football that will lead to success on and off the field. Listen to our conversation below.
0:00-1:28 Reaction to Getting the Job
1:28-2:37 Kelly Sears' Advice Following the Hire
2:37-5:34 Westen's Roots in Macomb
5:34-7:45 Weston's Coaching Philosophy
7:45-9:55 How to Bring in and Promote Energy
9:55-11:55 Wanting Multi-Sport Athletes
11:55-14:13 Addressing Low Number of Players on West Central Illinois Football Teams
0:00-2:02 Conference Realignment
2:02-3:57 Adapting to Playing Bigger Schools
3:57-5:51 Plans for Training Camp
5:51-7:29 Developing the Macomb Football Program as a Whole
The Western Illinois Softball Team defeated South Dakota in two out of three games over the weekend. The wins move the Leathernecks to 11-20 on the season. Western snapped a six game losing skid in the process of this, while also starting off home and league play with a 2-1 record.
Saturday 3/25: WIU 9 SD 4
On a windy day in Macomb the Leathernecks were elevating the ball very nicely in the first game of a doubleheader. Western Illinois compiled six extra base hits in the game, including three home runs. The bats were connecting early, as WIU scored runs in each of the first three innings. A five-run seventh innings brought the Leatherneck lead to 7-0. Emily Ira hit a solo shot in the second inning, while Holly Hoelting and Taylor Messer crushed two and three run jacks in the third.
Ira, the ace of the WIU pitching staff, tossed four scoreless innings before allowing runs in the fifth and sixth innings. She moves to 5-10 on the season after the complete game.
Saturday 3/25: SD 15 WIU 5
The Coyote bats were lethal during the backend of the doubleheader. While Western managed to strike first, scoring four runs on three more homers in the bottom of the first inning, South Dakota controlled the remainder of the game. The Coyotes scored six runs in the top of the second inning to take a lead they would not come close to letting slip.
South Dakota had nearly double the amount of hits in this game, recording fifteen of them. Western had eight hits. The game was 10-4 after five innings, but a five run 7th inning for South Dakota particularly put the game out of reach for the Leathernecks.
Sunday 3/26: WIU 9 SD 8
The Leathernecks closed out the series by winning the rubber match. Western found itself behind early, with South Dakota up 6-0 after two innings. Western scored three runs in the 5th inning, but allowed another in each of the 6th and 7th innings. With the score 8-3 South Dakota heading into the bottom half of the final frame, Western managed to pull it together.
Despite the fact that WIU clubbed nine homers over the weekend, only one of those came in the final inning. A small-ball approach allowed the Leathernecks to slowly churn out some runs. Six singles a home run and a walk ultimately brought in the six runs needed to win in walk off fashion. Pinch hitter Sydney Hollings was the batter that hit the game winning single, knocking in shortstop Payton Abbott.
The Leathernecks play again Saturday (doubleheader) and Sunday, facing Omaha on the road in a Summit League matchup.
The WIU Baseball team moved to 5-16 after the weekend, following a 1-3 showing vs North Dakota State. The Leathernecks dropped the initial game Friday, bounced back with a victory Saturday, but could not secure the win in the rubber match Sunday.
Friday 3/24: NDSU 7 WIU 5
Western Illinois got off to a rocky start Friday, falling into an early 3-0 hole. The Leathernecks responded though. NDSU held a 4-2 lead after 7 innings, but Western tied the game up and took a 5-4 lead in the bottom of the 8th inning. Shortstop Deion Thompson tied the game up with a 2-run blast, his second homer of the afternoon. Steve McShane came up clutch with an ensuing pinch hit single to swing the game back in the Leathernecks' favor.
WIU could not close it out though. A walk and a double for the Bison put runners on second and third with no outs. A ground out to short tied the game at 5. Western recorded another out, but with two outs NDSU left fielder Logan Busch smacked a 2-run dinger to give North Dakota State a 7-5 lead. Western began the bottom of the 9th with a Conner Currier double, but could not muster up anything else, falling by a final score of 7-5.
Saturday 3/25: WIU 5 NDSU 1
The Leathernecks tacked an early run on, as outfielder Cord Church scored on a 1st inning balk. Western brought across 3 runs in the third inning, using a 2 run double from senior catcher Adam McGinnis and a sacrifice fly from Johnathan Fleek to make the score 4-0. A Fleek RBI single in the fifth made it 5-0.
Aside from allowing one solo home run for NDSU in the 8th, WIU senior pitcher Preston Church went unscathed in this one. The southpaw was stellar on the hill, holding the Bison to 2 hits in 8 innings of work, en route to the Western win.
Sunday 3/26: NDSU 1 WIU 0
The Sunday rubber match went right down to the wire between the Summit League foes. Coming off his first career win, freshman pitcher Javin Drake tossed 6 scoreless innings for WIU. He allowed 4 hits, 3 walks, and struck out 5 batters in that stretch.
Both teams had their chances throughout the game. Most notably, Western had runners on second and third in the bottom of the 7th following a Chris Tschida one-out double and a Conner Currier walk. The Leathernecks could not bring around either of those runners though, as a Mitch Ellis liner nearly cleared the second-baseman's glove.
Relief pitcher Nate Westfahl got out of a two out jam in the 7th, but ultimately gave up the game winning run in the 9th. This came on a one-out RBI single. The Leathernecks could not bring across anybody in the bottom of the last, losing the game 1-0.
This stretch marked games 5-7 of an 8 game homestand. That stretch concludes Wednesday, with Western Illinois hosting in-state foe Bradley.
After a rainout Thursday vs Quincy High, the MHS Softball Team pulled out a big win in their home opener Friday vs South Fulton Co-Op. The Bombers earned a 14-4 victory over the Rebels, moving to 2-4 on the young season. Macomb will face Jacksonville on the road this afternoon.
The 2-2 Macomb Bombers were scheduled to play in the Galesburg Early Tournament Friday and Saturday. The event was postponed due to rain. The Bombers next game is at home tomorrow vs Monmouth-Roseville.
A number of high school sporting events in the Macomb area have been postponed this afternoon due to rain. We'll keep updating the list as we get more information in. The following events have been canceled today.
Bushnell-West Prairie Baseball vs Monmouth-Roseville
On Wednesday the Western Illinois Baseball team notched a 9-0 win over St. Ambrose. The Leathernecks improved to 4-14 following the victory in game 4 of an 8 game home stand.
Western capitalized on small-ball tactics in this one. The team scored their 9 runs on 7 hits and 11 walks. Only one extra base hit was recorded by the Leathernecks, a double from outfielder Roman Visintine. Additionally, WIU displayed aggression on the base paths, stealing 4 bases. The team also took advantage of three errors committed on the St. Ambrose side.
Sophomore pitcher Jimmy Perkins was on the hill for the Leathernecks, allowing only 1 hit in 6 innings of work. This was Perkins’ first start of the year. Freshman Connor Rektorski earned his first career save, taking care of business in the final 3 innings for Western Illinois.
The Leathernecks open up a 3 game series with North Dakota State on Friday afternoon at Alfred Boyer Stadium.
Macomb Baseball (2-2)
Macomb High Baseball fell 14-3 to Alleman Catholic High on the road yesterday. The Bombers record drops to 2-2 on the year with the loss.
The Pioneers jumped out in front early an often, scoring 4 runs in the 1st inning. Macomb answered back with 1 run in the top of the 2nd, but in the bottom half of the frame Alleman brought 2 more runs across.
Macomb chipped into the deficit with a run in the top of the 3rd as well, but a 6 run inning for Alleman put the score out of reach at 12-2. After the top of the 5th with the score at 14-3, the IHSA’s mercy rule was enacted, given that the Pioneers led by over 10 runs after 5 innings.
The Bombers are up in Galesburg Friday and Saturday for the Galesburg Early Tournament.
Macomb Softball (1-4)
Macomb High Softball fell 10-0 to Alleman in 5 innings on the road Wednesday. The team’s record falls to 1-4 after the defeat.
The Pioneers knocked in 2 runs in the bottom of the 1st to take a 2-0 lead. The floodgates opened in the 2nd inning in this one, with the Bombers allowing 6 more Alleman runs to cross the plate. Macomb was down 9-0 heading into the bottom of the 5th, but gave up an RBI double to make the score 10-0, ending the game in mercy rule fashion.
The team holds its home opener today vs Quincy High, followed by another home contest tomorrow against South Fulton Co-Op.
Macomb High School has officially named Tony Westen as the new Head Football Coach. Westen, who has served as an assistant coach on Kelly Sears’ staff for several years, takes over following Sears’ resignation after a 21 year run at the helm of the Bombers program.
Westen has head coaching experience with the Macomb High Wrestling Team, as well as additional assistant coaching mileage with the Bombers Baseball Team. He works for the West Central Illinois Special Education Co-Op, meaning he will be on-site at MHS throughout the day as well.
At his opening press conference, Westen touched on energy being something he’ll expect his players to bring to the field on Friday nights.
"Energy, fun, we're going to do some things where we're flying around,” Westen said (via the McDonough Voice). "We're going to try to get the crowd to their feet, try to utilize the athleticism that is in our building.”
The new head coach will have the task of taking over a team that finished 2-7 last season, but will bring back many of its starters.
Leo Durocher is one of the more interesting characters in the complex history of the game of baseball. His MLB career as a player started in 1925, playing on the Babe Ruth and Lou Gehrig "Murderer's Row," Yankees, and extended all of the way to 1973, his last year as a manager for the Houston Astros.
In between, the 1994 Baseball Hall of Fame inductee found himself right in the middle of the rich history of the game. He was a key cog at shortstop for the St. Louis Cardinals "Gashouse Gang," team that won the World Series in 1934, the manager of the Brooklyn Dodgers when Jackie Robinson broke the color barrier, and the manager of the Cubs during the end of Ernie Banks' time in the majors, in addition to many other stops over the nearly half a century he was involved in the MLB.
Paul Dickson delved deep into the history of Durocher in his new book, Leo Durocher: Baseball’s Prodigal Son. The book is available in stores and online now. Below you can listen to my interview with Paul, as he dives into his process of writing the book, some of the more memorable anecdotes about Durocher, and specifically details about the hall of famer during his stops in St. Louis and Chicago.
The MHS Baseball (2-1) and Softball (1-3) teams came away with wins Monday afternoon. Baseball picked up a 6-5 victory in the home opener vs Havana. Softball notched its first win of the season, topping United High School 10-3 on the road.
Both teams will be up in the Quad Cities to face Alleman Wednesday afternoon. Bombers Baseball participates in the Galesburg Early Tournament on Friday and Saturday. MHS Softball plays its home opener against South Fulton on Friday, followed by a road contest at Washington on Saturday.
Western Illinois Baseball has started its home and Summit League schedules with a 2-1 record. The Leathernecks did so by taking down Fort Wayne in 2 out of 3 games over the weekend. The team's record now improves to 3-14 overall.
On Friday afternoon the Leathernecks took a 6-5 victory to start off the weekend. The game was tied at 3 through the top half of the 5th, but a 3 run 6th inning from Western propeled the home team to the win.
First it was Roman Visintine who batted in a run with an RBI single. Then Drue Galassi hit his team leading third home run, crushing a pitch over the right field fence for a 2-run shot and a 6-3 Leatherneck lead. Fort Wayne responded with a run in the 7th and 8th innings, but junior Sam Cottingham-Beard came on to notch a 1.1 inning save, striking out 3 batters in the process.
Saturday did not go Western's way, with the Mastadons winning 5-1. The game was tied heading into the 7th, but a 3-run 7th and 2-run 8th evened the series up. Only 3 of the Fort Wayne runs were earned, with WIU commiting 2 errors in the game.
For the Sunday rubber-match, the Leathernecks took care of business on their home field, winning 4-1. Western led 2-0 going into the 5th, but allowed a solo shot to Fort Wayne left fielder Jacob Dickson. That did not phase Western, as the team responded with a Visintine 2-run double in the bottom of that inning. Javin Drake pitched 7.1 innings of one-run ball and Nate Westfahl came in to close out the rest of the game.
The Leathernecks have a quick turnaround, with St. Ambrose coming to town for a game Wednesday afternoon. This will be the 4th game of a 8 game homestand for Western Illinois, which also includes a series with North Dakota State this weekend and a matchup with Bradley next Wednesday.
Western Illinois Softball went 0-4 during a weekend slate at Tennessee-Martin. These defeats bring Western's record down to 9-19 on the regular season.
Saturday morning WIU suffered a 6-0 loss to Samford. 5 of those 6 runs were given up in the final 2 innings. Western only recorded 2 hits in the contest.
Saturday afternoon the Leathernecks retook the field to face UT-Martin. That game went 4-1 in favor of the Skyhawks. The game was 2-0 heading into the 6th inning, where Western scored a run on a Kelsey Marlow RBI single. This was the lone Leatherneck hit of the game.
That was followed up by 2 runs going to the home team in the bottom of the inning. WIU could not respond in the 7th, losing that game.
On Sunday WIU returned to the field for two more games. The first was a 8-4 loss to Samford. The teams were tied up at 3 after the first 3 innings, but a 4 run Samford inning put the bulldogs on top for good. Another run in the 6th capped off the Samford scoring effort.
The final game of the day went 4-3 to UT-Martin. The Skyhawks needed extra innings to surpass the Leathernecks, with a throwing error ultimately brining around the game winning run in the bottom of the 8th.
Western is home for the first time on Saturday. The Leathernecks will play South Dakota in a three game series, which is kicked off by a Saturday doubleheader.
(Photo of sophomore Taylor Higginbotham via WIU Athletic Communications)
Despite leading early and hanging with a nationally ranked Florida State team on their home court, Western Illinois Women's Basketball lost 87-66 in the 1st round of the NCAA Tournament on Friday night.
The 14th seeded Leathernecks held a 19-12 lead after the 1st quarter of play, with sophomore Taylor Higginbotham scoring 12 of the teams first 14 points. Western got hot from beyond the arc early, stroking 7 three pointers in the first half. The 3rd seeded Seminoles went on a few runs in the second quarter, but WIU stuck with FSU, only trailing 36-34 at halftime.
The second half was a different story, as Florida State slowly but surely pulled away. Western could not contain Seminoles star player Shakayla Thomas, who finished the night with 23 points and 14 boards. The defecit was still manageable for Western Illinois after the third quarter, with Florida State up 67-56.
In the 4th quarter the Leathernecks ran out of gas. With Higginbotham on the bench after an inadvertant elbow from a FSU player required her to get stiches, the WIU offense could not get going in that final frame. The Seminoles quickly expanded their lead and walked away with a 21 point victory.
WIU finished this historic season with a 26-7 record, a program best. The team made the NCAA Tournament for the first time since 1995. This was the final game for seniors Mallory Boyle and Jasmine Patrick.
Taylor Higginbotham: 20 Points (8-16 FG) (3-5 3FG), 3 Rebounds
Morgan Blumer: 12 Points (4-10 FG) (3-6 3FG), 6 Rebounds
Western Illinois Women's Basketball plays its first round game of the NCAA Tournament tonight at Florida State. The Leathernecks (26-6) come into the game as a 14 seed, earning an automatic bid as the Summit League Champions. The Seminoles (25-7), a 3 seed, scooped up an at-large bid from the ACC.
The game will take place at the Donald L. Tucker Center in Tallahassee, FSU's home floor. The Seminoles are 13-3 at home this year, but come in losing 4 of their last 6 games. Western on the other hand, has won 11 straight games, including an overtime thriller over IUPUI 77-69 to capture the Summit League crown. The winner of tonight's game plays the winner of Missouri and South Florida on Monday in Tallahassee.
The game will be broadcast on ESPN2, with radio coverage on 102.7 FM. Tip-off is slated for 6:30 PM.
The Western Illinois Women's Basketball Team heads down to Tallahassee this morning with their NCAA Tournament First Round Game vs Florida State two days away.
The 26-6 Summit League Champions come in having won 11 straight games, most recently topping IUPUI 77-69 in overtime in that league championship game. Florida State, which is ranked 10th in the most recent AP Top 25 Poll and 13th in the USA Today Coaches Poll, bring in their 25-6 record this game. The Seminoles have struggled down the stretch though, losing 4 of their last 6 games, includng falling 58-56 to Miami in an ACC Quarterfinal game.
A 14 seed has never defeated a 3 seed in the women's tournament, going 0-88 since 1994 when the NCAA expanded the field to 64 teams. At a press conference at Western Hall yesterday, Leathernecks players and Head Coach JD Gravina stressed yesterday that the tall task of facing a tough power five conference team does not worry them. Listen below to what WIU Athletic Director Matt Tanney, Coach Gravina, senior Mallory Boyle, as well as juniors Morgan Blumer, Taylor Hanneman, and Emily Clemens had to say as the team heads down to the tournament.
The Macomb 7th grade volleyball team came out victorious last night vs Homer Glen, winning 25-16, 25-19 in the Class 4A State Title Game at Normal Kingsley Junior High. The Bombers win their first state title in program history, finishing the season with a 28-1 record.
In the first game of last night's title, Macomb trailed 9-6 early. From there the team got rolling, going on a 19-7 run to control the first game. From there the team took care of business in the second game, closing out their title run. Sydney Rhoads and Avery Rexroat led the Bombers in aces, with 7 apeice. Rhoads, along with Lauren McClure and Samantha Urch, all had 4 service points in the contest.
The road certainly was not easy for Macomb. The Bombers had to navigate past a one loss Rochester team in the first round of the state tournament, only to meet another one loss team in the semifinals in that of Edwardsville Lincoln. Macomb had to go to three games in the Rochester win, taking that one 25-22 23-25 25-20. The Lincoln game went 25-21 25-21 in Macomb's favor.
The Western Illinois Women’s basketball team has been given a 14 seed in the NCAA Tournament. The Summit League Champions will play 3rd seeded Florida State in Tallahassee on Friday. The winner of that game will play the victor of the game between 6th seeded Missouri and 11th seeded South Florida Sunday.
The game is scheduled for 6:30 PM Friday on ESPN2. We’ll have coverage Leatherneck Sports Network coverage on 102.7 FM beginning at 6:15 PM from the Donald L. Tucker Center.
FSU comes in ranked number 13 in the nation in the most recent USA Today Top 25 Coaches Poll. The Seminoles have a 25-6 record on the year, having lost 4 of their last 6 games, including a 56-54 result vs Miami in the ACC Tournament Quarterfinals.
The Leathernecks come in at 26-6. They earned the Summit League’s automatic bid, winning the Summit League Tournament in Sioux Falls by beating IUPUI 77-69 in overtime. WIU has won 11 consecutive games.
This is the first meeting between both of these teams in program history.
Western Illinois Softball picked up 3 wins in Memphis over the weekend, playing a variety of five different teams. With the results, Western improved to 9-13 on the season.
WIU started off the weekend with two games on Friday morning. A 3-1 win over Lipscomb and a 1-0 loss to Indiana both went to extra innings.
In the victory, sophomore Payton Abbott pitched all eight innings, striking out seven batters and giving up three walks. Nina Maggio knocked in the go-ahead run in the 8th with a RBI single. Teammate Hailey Duwa tacked on another RBI, singling to centerfield to make it 3-1. Abbott of course came back on the hill to close it out.
In the loss, Western had runner on third in the bottom of the 8th down 1-0. The Leathernecks were unable to bring around the tying run, dropping that game.
Western shutout Oakland University 2-0. A RBI triple from Kelsey Marlow in the 4th and a Holly Hoelting RBI double in the 6th gave the Leathernecks their scoring output in that one.
The story of that game was sophomore pitcher Emily Ira. She only gave up 1 hit in a full 7 innings of action, recording a program record 19 strikeouts in the process.
In the second Saturday game for Western Illinois, the Leathernecks took a 3-2 loss to Buffalo. The Bulls were ahead 3-0 heading into the 7th, but WIU scored two runs on a Duwa single up the middle with one out. The team had a runner on third with two outs, but could not bring her across, ultimately falling 3-2.
The final game of Western’s Memphis slate came Sunday against the Tigers of the University of Memphis. The Leathernecks won that one 4-2 in another 8 inning game. The Tigers tied the game up at two in the bottom of the 7th on a one run double.
In extras Western wasted no time to pull ahead, utilizing a Marlow RBI double and Hoelting RBI single to make it 4-2. Ira was on the hill again, and she closed it down for Western. Ira struck out 11 this time out, including 2 in the 8th.
The Leathernecks now head to Murray, Kentucky, where they’ll meet the Murray State Racers for a Wednesday doubleheader.
Western Illinois Baseball moves to 1-12 on the season after this weekend's three game set vs Dayton. During the front end of a doubleheader Sunday, Western defeated Dayton 7-5 in 10 innings. This marked the first win of the season for the Leathernecks, who have come close on a number of occasions in the early-going, but had yet to close one out until Sunday.
The Leathernecks were coming in off a tough 6-0 beating from the Flyers on Friday. In that one Dayton touched Western for 3 runs in the 1st and 3 more in the 7th.
On Sunday, Western was down 4-0 heading into the 6th inning, but a Roman Visintine 2-run double and a Johnathan Fleek 2-run single evened the score. The Leathernecks then found themselves down in the top of the 9th, but tied it up on a Conner Currier RBI double. Sam Cottingham-Beard, who struck out 7 and did not allow an earned run in 3.2 innings of work, struck out the side in the bottom of the 9th to send it to extra innings.
In the top of the 10th, Western finally got ahead. A Chris Tschida fielder's choice scored CJ Schaffer as the go-ahead run. Tchida then stole second, forcing an error by the Dayton catcher, scoring another Leatherneck run. Cottingham-Beard closed out the game, to earn the win.
The second game of the Sunday doubleheader went 4-1 to Dayton. A 3-run 4th inning gave the Flyers a cushion that they never let slip out of their grasp. The lone WIU run came when senior outfielder Cord Church drew a walk in the top of the 6th with the bases loaded.
Western has a quick turnaround, playing at Butler this afternoon. Following the Butler matchup, WIU heads back west to meet Robert Morris for a Wednesday affair. The Leathernecks follow that up with their innagural homestand of the season, playing three games against Summit League foe Fort Wayne in Macomb this coming weekend.
WIU Women’s Basketball’s Emily Clemens has earned the Summit League Athlete of the Month Award for the month of February. The junior point guard helped lead her team to a 7-0 record during that stretch, clinching the Summit League Regular Season Title on February 26 vs South Dakota.
For the month, Clemens averaged 20.7 points, 8.0 assists, 3.9 rebounds, 2.0 steals and a 3.7 assist/turnover ratio. She was named Summit League Player of the Week twice during that month. This is the first time Clemens has earned a Player of the Month award.
(Western receives its Summit League Championship Trophy. Photo by Dave Eggen/Inertia)
Western Illinois Women's Basketball continued their improbable late season run on Tuesday afternoon, defeating IUPUI 77-69 in overtime to win the Summit League Title and claim the league's automatic bid into the NCAA Tournament. This will be the team's first trip to the tournament since 1995.
The Leathernecks found themselves down three points with 2.2 seconds remaining, but junior guard Taylor Hanneman hit the game tying shot, nailing a long 3 at the buzzer to extend the game into overtime. Hanneman, who finished the game with 12 points in 15 minutes, had played sparingly up to that point, but had her number called when her team needed results the most.
"The fact that my teammates had enough confidence in me, the fact that me coaches had enough confidence in me, whenever I let it go I had confidence that it would go in," Hanneman said.
After that shot the Leathernecks closed things out handidly in overtime, outscoring the Jags 13-5 in those additional five minutes. Western opened up overtime on a 9-0 run and closed out the game to win the conference crown.
Junior point guard Emily Clemens led the Leathernecks yet again, scoring 20 points along with 9 assists and 5 steals, earning a well deserved tournament MVP distinction. With her 9 dimes, Clemens has set a new Summit League single season assists mark with 234, and has also moved to second place on the program's all-time assists list, passing Michelle Maher.
(Emily Clemens put up a 20 point, 9 assist, 5 steal statline Tuesday. Photo by Dave Eggen/Inertia)
Teammates Morgan Blumer (18 points), Taylor Higginbotham (15 points), and Hanneman all reached double figures as well. Blumer was also named to the All Tournament Team, along with Clemens. The team hung with IUPUI in large part due to its stingy defense, forcing a whopping 25 turnovers, while only giving the ball away 12 times themselves.
The game was back and forth throughout, with the pendulum swaying the Leathernecks way for a majority of the contest. There were 8 ties and 11 lead changes, but WIU maintained a lead in this one by nearly triple the amount of time as IUPUI. Even with that being the case, it was Western Illinois who found itself needing a miraculous play at the end to keep its title hopes alive.
"I can't imagine so much thinking you have something, losing it, then getting it back," said WIU Head Coach JD Gravina. "With the way this team has believed, especially during this 11 game winning streak, it almost had a little bit of a fate destiny type of feel."
Western was unable to close things out up 4 with 2:29 remaining. The team went 2-6 from the foul line during that stretch, something uncharacteristic of a team that strokes it at a 77% clip from the stripe. This is something that came into play yesterday against Omaha though, as the Mavs were in position to tie or take the lead down 2 on the final posession after WIU went 1-4 on free throws late.
A wild bank shot three pulled the Jags to within 1 at 61-60 with 11 seconds remaining. Clemens then was intentionally fouled, but could not cash in on either of her free throws. From there, Jags guard Holly Hoopingarner drew a foul, and with Western over the limit sank both freebies. This gave IUPUI a 62-61 lead with 4 seconds remaining, its first lead since the 9:14 mark of the third quarter.
Western failed to execute the ensuing inbounds play, with Higginbotham throwing the cross court lob right to Alex Brown, who connected on both of her foul shots. Gravina then used his final timeout to draw up the play for Hanneman, who just about everyone in the gym outside of that huddle would not have expected the ball to go to.
(Hanneman pulls up for the game-tying three pointer as time expired. Photo by Dave Eggen/Inertia)
"It would be easy to sulk and to be sad in that moment and kind of think the game's over, but that's the type of player she (Hanneman) is." Clemens said. "She's a gamer and I think that shows a lot of character in our team."
Gravina also noted his strategic reasoning for deciding to draw up the play for Hanneman on the final possession.
"She can get a good shot off," said Gravina. "If you noticed, it was a faily good play to get her some space, but she shot faked and I believe took a dribble, and then knocked down that shot. And I think she's faily unique in that she can shoot that shot off the dribble."
The Leathernecks now play the waiting game, with decision Monday ahead. Monday night will be when Western finds out who it will face in the opening round of the NCAA Tournament, and where they will be playing. As of Tuesday morning, ESPNW's Bracketology page had Western pegged as a 13 seed, set to play 4th seeded UCLA in Los Angeles.
Of course there are a ton of variables between now and then. Until that point, the team plans to enjoy this monumental victory, while also preparing to make a run in March Madness.
"We're not just there," Clemens said. "It doesn't matter who we get. We want to work hard, get in the gym, and start preparing for them."
(Gravina cuts down the net as the Leathernecks win the Summit League Finals)
WIU Postgame Pressconference
Gravina Opening Statement and Players Taylor Hanneman, Emily Clemens, and Morgan Blumer
(Photo of WIU's Michelle Farrow by Dave Eggen/Inertia)
The top seeded Western Illinois Women's Basketball team took down number five Omaha 84-82 Monday afternoon to advance to the Summit League Tournament Finals. Western moves on to its first Summit League Championship Game since 2006, and have the chance to win the league for the first time since 1995.
In the win, Leathernecks junior point guard Emily Clemens recorded a triple-double of 21 points, 11 rebounds, and 11 assists. This marks the first triple-double of Clemens' career, and the first for any Summit League player since 2015. Teammate Morgan Blumer dropped a team high 22 points (6-9 3FG), and hit a pair of late game 3's to give Western a four point lead with under two minutes to play.
Western came out hot, gaining a 7-0 lead in the opening two minutes. From there Omaha regrouped and neither team really gained momentum for the first quarter and change. Western led 28-27 with 7:11 left in the first half, but would not retake that lead until the aforementioned pair of Blumer late game treys.
From there Omaha closed the quarter on a 17-11 run to lead 47-39 at the half. The Mavericks read the Leathernecks matchup zone extremely well, working the ball down low to their scorers and hitting outside shots. Omaha shot 58% in the first half to Western's 35%. The three point discrepency went 50% for Omaha to 25% for WIU, which is unfamiliar territory for a Western Illinois team that is known to shoot teams out of the gym.
(WIU's Emily Clemens. Photo by Dave Eggen/Inertia)
Omaha's Mikaela Shaw scored 17 first half points and continuously found ways to knife through the Leatherneck zone. Head Coach JD Gravina mentioned postgame how the team tried mixing things up on Shaw by double teaming her at certain points, but nothing seemed to slow her down. Shaw finished the game with 29 points, tying an individual season high for her and setting a new mark for the most individual points for an opposing player versus Western this season. Fellow Mavericks big Michaela Dapprich was also impressive down low, dropping 24 points.
Early in the third quarter Omaha built its lead up to as much as nine. Despite continued shooting struggles Western traded blows after that, and ultimately climbed back into it to tie the score at 59. Shaw hit a three pointer with 6 seconds left in the quarter to give the lead back to Omaha.
A major reason for Western sticking around was it's 5'4 point guard. Clemens did what she's done all season long, find a way to impact games. She always seems to fill up the box score in such a deceptive way. She's pretty much a lock to finish somewhere in the high teens or low to mid twenties in scoring, regardless of how well she's shooting the ball. She took a clear grasp of the game in the third and into the fourth, shooting 4-9 from the field in the second half, in which she scored 12 of her 21.
In the fourth quarter WIU's potent shooting was on full display for the largely South Dakota State affiliated contingent on hand at the Denny Sanford PREMIER Center. Western shot 69% from the field in the fourth, including 6-9 on triples. Blumer hit those two late threes, but Michelle Farrow also hit some timely shots, nailing two three's with under five minutes to play. Omaha still kept pace though, with the game coming down to the final possession.
WIU's Taylor Higginbotham missed a pair of free throws, putting the ball in the hands of the Mavericks with the score 84-82 Western. The Leathernecks got the stop playing sufficating defense on Shaw, forcing the ball into the hands of guard Amber Vidal, who had only taken one shot that game. She got flusterd and ultimately the Mavs did not get a clean look up, with WIU surviving the near 1-5 upset.
Western moves on to play IUPUI tomorrow at 1 PM in the Summit League Championship Game. Western Illinois is 0-2 vs the Jaguars this season. The IUPUI 76-72 victory at Western Hall on 1/25 was the last time the Leathernecks have lost a game, going 10-0 since then.
Leathernecks Head Coach JD Gravina and players Emily Clemens and Morgan Blumer:
Omaha Head Coach Brittany Lange and players Mikaela Shaw and Michaela Dappich
(Photo of WIU's Garret Covington by Dick Carlson/Inertia)
Despite an impressive effort in the Summit League Tournament Quarterfinals, the 8th seeded Western Illinois Men's Basketball Team fell 78-69 in overtime to South Dakota. Western was down as much as 9 in the second half, but scratched and clawed their way back, forcing overtime at 68 all. In the extra five minutes the Leathernecks went ice cold from the field, shooting 0-9 en route to the season ending loss.
Western Illinois came into this game losing four straight contests to close the regular season, but all of those losses were close. Two of their last three games heading into tonight went to overtime, including a double-overtime contest at North Dakota State two weeks ago. However, the trend ultimately continued of the Leathernecks sticking with a talented opponent, but ultimately coming up on the short end of the stick.
The first half was deceptive. When watching the game it was one that looked like South Dakota had clear control. The Coyotes didn't shoot well by any stretch, but seemed to have an easier time getting clean looks at the hoop than Western did. Even so, the defecit never hit double digits, and the teams went into halftime tied at 37 following a CJ Duff buzzer-beater three.
Much of the same transpired early in the second. Western remained close but South Dakota seemed to have a response for every Leatherneck answer. Midway into the second half though, that changed.
First there was the 7-0 WIU run that trimmed a nine point defecit to two at 54-52. Then Western closed within one at 61-60 with 5:45 remaining. It no longer felt like a game that was in the grasp of the one seed. It was anybody's ballgame.
WIU managed to take a 65-63 lead on a Brandon Gilbeck dunk with 3:18 remaining. Both teams went cold for a couple of minutes following that, but USD managed to take the lead with 32 seconds remaining on a Matt Mooney step back trey.
(Photo of WIU sophomore forward Brandon Gilbeck by Dick Carlson/Inertia)
Western of course responded. With 12 seconds left on the clock, Duff splashed home another big outside shot, canning a three from the left wing to knot it up at 68. The Leathernecks got the ensuing stop and nearly had the halfcourt prayer of junior guard Dalan Ancrum answered. The ball did not fall in though and it went to overtime, where the wheels fell off.
(Photo of South Dakota bench celebration by Dick Carlson/Inertia)
Senior Garret Covington finished his storybook career at Western Illinois with 25 points and 6 assists. Fellow senior Mike Miklusak struggled offensively (3-15 FG), but managed to cap off his career with a 10 point 10 rebound effort. Duff compiled 12 points, and sophomore forward Jalen Morgan played an efficient 15 minutes off the bench, finishing with 8 points on 4-5 shooting.
While it certainly doesn't make any of the players or coaches feel better, it truly was a captivating environment. With a large contingent of South Dakota fans on hand, there was that tough road environment that Western was prepared for. On the other hand, there were many South Dakota State fans in attendance as well, with the Jacks faithful vying for a purple and gold upset over the one seed.
Western Illinois finishes the season at 8-20, ending the year losing their final five games.
WIU Head Coach Billy Wright Postgame:
South Dakota Head Coach Craig Smith and Players Matt Mooney and Tyler Flack:
(WIU point guard Emily Clemens. Photo courtesy of David Eggen, Dakota Press)
Western opened up day one of the 2017 Summit League Basketball Tournament in style, smoking Denver 82-39. The win moves WIU to 24-6 on the season, breaking the program's all-time single season wins mark. The Leathernecks now advance to the Semifinals, where they'll play either South Dakota or Omaha on Monday.
WIU led the entire game, despite missing their first five shots of the game. After Western scored its first points of the game on a Mallory Boyle layup, the team went on a 10-0 run, and wound up leading 19-2 after the first quarter of play. The team didn't allow a single field goal in that first quarter.
The Leathernecks built their lead up to 22 points early in the second quarter, but an 11-0 run for the Pioneers trimmed that figure to 11. WIU Head Coach JD Gravina called a timeout and from there the game was all Western.
Junior point guard and Summit League Player of the Year, Emily Clemens, finished the game with 17 points, 9 assists, and 4 steals. A total of five Leathernecks reached double figures, with Clemens, Morgan Blumer (15 points), Taylor Hanneman (11 Points), Olivia Braun (10 points, 10 rebounds), and Mallory Boyle (10 points) hitting that mark.
(WIU's Olivia Braun spots up from behind the arc. Photo courtesy of David Eggen, Dakota Press)
The game really was won on the defensive end. The Leatherneck's matchup zone caused all sorts of trouble for the Pioneers. Western swiped 15 steals, forced 23 turnovers, and held Denver to 25 percent shooting on the game, including 22 percent from downtown. 39 points is the lowest amount that Western has yielded to a Division 1 opponent all season. The only team at any level to score less against WIU this year is Division 3 foe Monmouth College, with 29 in the season opener.
With the amount of time WIU had to prepare for this game and it being the third time that these teams have met this season, Western knew Denver's offense so well that at time's it looked like the team knew exactly what the Pioneers were running and when they were going to do it.
The 43 point win is the largest margin of victory in a Summit League Tournament Women's Basketball game since 1993. Western faces the winner of South Dakota and Omaha Monday at Noon in Sioux Falls. Those two teams face off Sunday at noon.
(WIU's Morgan Blumer sizing up her defender. Photo courtesy of David Eggen, Dakota Press)
WIU Postgame Press Conference (Head Coach JD Gravina & Players Emily Clemens & Morgan Blumer):
To preview this weekend's tournament, I spoke with WIU Women's Basketball broadcaster Danny Frey, and Men's Basketball broadcaster Scott Kornberg. Here's what they had to say as the teams get ready for Saturday's games. The Women's team plays Denver at noon, and the Men's team faces South Dakota at 6.
Garret Covington has been named to the Summit League's All Second Team. The 6'5 Senior guard finished second in the league in scoring this year with 19.7 points per game. He also led the team in assists with 3.1 per game, and finished third on the Leathernecks in rebounding with 3.6 per game.
Western (8-19) (5-11 Summit League), comes into Saturday's Summit League Tournament as the 8 seed. They'll meet top seeded South Dakota Saturday at 6. Coverage can be heard on 102.7 FM.
The WIU Women's Basketball Team (23-6) (13-3 Summit League) cleaned up with the Summit League awards. Western had players capture a Player of the Year award, Newcomer of the Year award, two first-team players, one second-team player, and two all-newcomer team players. Head Coach JD Gravina also took home Coach of the Year honors.
Player of the Year: Emily Clemens (19.2 PPG, 7.1 APG, 3.9 RPG, 2.5 SPG)
-The junior point guard was also named an All Summit League First Team selection
-Clemens becomes the 5th player in Western history to earn the award, joining Oberon Pitterson (1994-95), Tiffany Cornelius (2003-04), Zane Teilane (2004-05, 2005-06) and Ashley Luke (2014-15).
-Her points per game, assists per game, steals per game, minutes per game (37), assist/turnover ratio (2.5) and free throw percentage (87.9%) marks all led the Summit League
-She was named Summit League Player of the Week 5 times during the year (Nov. 21, Nov. 28, Dec. 12, Feb. 6 and Feb. 27)
Coach of the Year: JD Gravina
-Western has tied a program record with 23 wins this year (this can be surpassed in postseason play) with the '05-06 team.
-WIU led the Summit League in points (80.4), rebounds (38.3), assists (18.1), steals (11.4), blocks (4.7) and fewest turnovers (13.0) per game.
Newcomer/Transfer of the Year: Morgan Blumer (16.8 PPG, 6.3 RPG)
-The junior forward was also named to Summit League All Newcomer Team
-Her scoring average was the 2nd best on the team and 3rd best in the Summit League
-She set a new program record for three-pointers made in a season with 75
-Played her first year for Western as a transfer from Florida Gulf Coast
All-Second Team Player: Taylor Higginbotham (14.6 PPG, 5.5 RPG, 2.9 APG, 2.0 SPG)
-The Sophomore was 8th in the Summit League in points and 3rd in steals per game
-Higginbotham earned Summit League Player of the Week January 9
All Newcomer Team Player: Olivia Braun (8.1 PPG, 4.9 RPG, 2.3 APG, 2.9 BPG)
Macomb's late season winning streak came to an end last night in the 3A Regional Semifinals at Peoria High School. MHS lost the game 73-39 to Normal University High, ending the Bombers season. Macomb had won 6 straight and 8 of their last 9 coming into the contest, including a 46-45 Regional Quarterfinal victory over Galesburg Monday night.
Playing their 3rd game in 6 days and without having a real opportunity to scout U-High, Macomb fell handidly against the long and athletic Pioneers squad. MHS took a 3-0 lead to start the game on a Carter Fayhee contested three-pointer, but did not hold the lead again after that. The score was 33-19 at halftime, but in the 3rd quarter Macomb got blown out of the water, en route to the 34 point defeat.
The Bombers finish the year with a 13-15 record. Macomb returns a majority of its core group, including 4 of its 5 starters as well as numerous contributors off the bench. Sophomore point guard Ben Higgins led Macomb in scoring in this game, accounting for 11 points. Senior Quintin Adler was second on the team in this one, finishing with 8 points in his final game in a Bombers uniform.
The WIU Women's Basketball team heads into the Summit League Tournament as the 1 seed and the outright Regular Season Champions. JD Gravina's squad finished the season at 23-6 and 13-3 in Summit League play. They'll match up with 8th seeded Denver Saturday at Noon for their first round matchup.
The team held Media Day yesterday at Western Hall as they get ready to travel to Sioux Falls. Coach Gravina and players Emily Clemens, Taylor Higginbotham, and Morgan Blumer discussed sat down with the local media to discuss a number of storylines heading into tournament play.
The Macomb Boys Basketball team pulled out a 46-45 win over Galesburg Monday night in the 3A Regional Quarterfinals at Peoria High School. The Bombers were down by as much as 6 points in the 4th quarter, but closed the game on a 9-2 run to get the win and advance to a Regional Semifinal Game. The win sets up a meeting with Normal University High Wednesday at 7 PM back in Peoria.
Junior forward Carter Fayhee scored the go-ahead bucket for MHS with 6.8 seconds left after a putback layup on his own miss. The Bombers then got the neccessary stop to hold on and move on. Fayhee finished the game with 17 points. Teammate Kavon Johnson made a major impact off the bench, dropping 12 points (all in the second half) in the victory.
Listen below to the radio broadcast of the final 3 minutes of play:
Macomb utilized a 3-2 zone for a majority of the game, something that the team does not typically do. The zone counteracted the athletic advantage that Galesburg held over Macomb, and forced the Silver Streak to become a jump shooting team. The Bombers only allowed 13 first half points, including a mere 2 in the second quarter.
Jeremy Anderson Postgame Interview:
Macomb has hit it's stride late in the season, winning 8 of its last 9 games, and 6 straight. Wednesday's foe will certainly put that streak to the test, as Normal U High is the 3 seed in the regional. The Pioneers finished 3rd in a very tough Corn Belt Conference. They're 15-11 on the year and 7-4 in conference play.
I spoke with WIU Head Men's Basketball Coach Billy Wright following the end of the team's regular season slate. Western fell 92-81 to South Dakota Thursday night, then took a 96-92 overtime loss at the hands of Fort Wayne Saturday night. Prior to the Fort Wayne game, seniors Garret Covington, Mike Miklusak, and Jabari Sandifer were honored as part of Senior Night.
The Leathernecks finished the regular season with an 8-19 record overall and 5-11 in Summit League play. Western heads to Sioux Falls, South Dakota later this week to take part in the Summit League Basketball Championships.
The 8th seeded Leathernecks will match up with top seeded South Dakota Saturday at 6 PM. Should Western win that game, they'll move on to play the winner of South Dakota State and Denver. That game will take place Monday at 6 PM.
Listen below to my conversation with Coach Wright as he and the team get ready for Sioux Falls.
In front of a packed house at Western Hall, WIU Women's Basketball notched a 81-75 win over South Dakota Saturday afternoon. The win gave Western, who had already clinched a share of the league title, the outright Summit League crown.
WIU was down by as much as ten early in the 1st quarter, but closed the gap in the 2nd. The score was tied 40-40 at halftime. Western gained control in the 3rd quarter, leading 59-52 at the end of the 3rd. The Leathernecks went up by as much as 12 in the 4th, ultimately wrapping things up with the final 6 point margain of victory.
Taylor Higginbotham led all scorers with 25 points. Emily Clemens scored 24 (16-16 FT) and dished out 10 assists.
Western finishes the regular season 23-6 (13-3 Summit), having won 8 consecutive games to close the season out. They'll be the number one seed at the Summit League Tournament in Sioux Falls, SD next weekend. They'll face 8th seeded Denver Saturday at Noon.
Players Emily Clemens, Taylor Higginbotham, and Michelle Farrow postgame:
(Photo of WIU's Mike Miklusak Courtesy of WIU Athletic Communications)
Western Illinois Men's Basketball lost 92-81 at home to South Dakota Thursday Night. Leathernecks drop to 8-18 on the year and 5-10 in Summit League play.
Western was only down three at halftime and hung around for a good portion of the second half. The free throw disparity hurt WIU, with South Dakota getting to the line 34 times to western's 19. The Coyotes also won the battle on the board, outrebounding the Leathernecks 42-33.
Senior Mike Miklusak led Western with 24 points and 13 rebounds. Fellow classmate Garret Covington also produced with 21 points and 7 assists. Sophomore center Brandon Gilbeck scored 15 points and pulled down 6 boards.
Western will wrap up regular season play Saturday night at 7 vs Fort Wayne. You can catch that game on 102.7 FM.
The 4th seeded Bushnell-Prairie City Spartans took down 11th seeded Peoria Christian 53-36 in the 1A Regional Semifinals at Quest Charter Academy in Peoria last night. The Spartans were led by Junior center Jason Housenga's 17 points, with Devin Yocum (14 points) and Draven Martin (10 Points) also reaching double figures.
This moves Bushnell-PC to tonight's 1A Regional Finals game against top seeded Peoria Quest. That will be played tonight back in Peoria. Coverage begins at 6:45 on 104.7 FM.
(Photo of WIU's Emily Clemens Courtesy of WIU Athletic Communications)
The Western Illinois Women's Basketball team took down Fort Wayne 77-51 at Western Hall last night. With the win the 22-6 (12-3 Summit League) Leathernecks have clinched at least a share of the league's regular season title. This was also the 12th regular season home victory, which ties program marks set in 2002-03 and 2004-05.
The Leathernecks led in this one for all but 1:39 of gametime. That being said, the 5-23 Mastadons hung around until the 4th quarter, with the game remaining in single digits until that point. A 24-6 advantage in the 4th quarter for Western cemented this one, with the stingy WIU defense limiting Fort Wayne to 37.9% from the field and a putrid 13.3% from three point range.
Emily Clemens made another strong claim for Summit League Player of the Year honors, dropping 25 points and dishing out 12 assists in this one. Morgan Blumer also put together a strong performance with 18 points (3-4 3FG) and 7 rebounds. Olivia Braun finished with 12 points, 8 rebounds, and 7 blocks.
At 12-3 in the Summit League, Western sits one game in front of South Dakota, IUPUI, and South Dakota State. With the Leathernecks playing the Coyotes of South Dakota at Western Hall Saturday afternoon, sole possession of the top spot in the league will be on the line. IUPUI and South Dakota State still have to play the teams with the worst and second to worst records in the Summit League respectively, so a 4-team tie could be in place should Western not get the win Saturday.
Tip off from Western Hall is set for 4:30 Saturday, with a pregame ceremony honoring seniors Mallory Boyle and Jasmine Patrick taking place prior. Coverage begins at 4:15 on 104.1 FM and the Leatherneck Sports Network.
Bushnell-Prairie City Boys Basketball advanced to the 1A Regional Semifinals last night after taking down Princeville 48-28. The game was played at Peoria Quest Charter Academy. The Spartans are the 4 seed in this regional bracket, and took care of business against the 12th seeded Princes.
Bushnell's next opponent is 11th seeded Peoria Christian, who upset number 6 Hartsburg 48-47 last night. This game will be played back at Quest Thursday night. Tip-off is set for 7 PM. Coverage will begin on 104.7 FM at 6:45. Streaming is also available online here at macombnewsnow.com.
I spoke with WIU Head Men's Basketball Coach Billy Wright following the team's losses to Denver (78-72) and North Dakota State (100-91 2OT). Western fell to the Pioneers of Denver at home Tuesday night, then traveled to Fargo to face the top team in the Summit League Saturday.
After the weekend Western sits at 5-9 in the Summit League (8-17 overall), good for the final playoff spot in the league with 2 games to go. WIU holds a 1.5 game lead over 9th place Oral Roberts, who is on the outside looking in.
This week the Leathernecks will wrap up the regular season with two home games. They'll face South Dakota Thursday night then finish with Fort Wayne Saturday.
The WIU Leathernecks Women's Basketball Team took down South Dakota State 83-77 last night to move to 11-3 in the Summit League, good for 1st place in the league. Western snapped a 19 game losing streak to SDSU, dating back to 2008. With two regular season games remaining, the 21-6 Leathernecks are in position to clinch at least a share of the league title with a win Wednesday at home vs Fort Wayne.
In this game WIU was up by as much as 12 in the first quarter, and down by as much as 10 in the third quarter. Junior point guard Emily Clemens led the way with 20 points (10-10 FT) and 6 assists. She sunk 4 crucial free throws in the final 30 seconds that gave Western a 5 point lead. In the win Clemens also pushed her career scoring mark over 1,000 points, making her the 16th Leatherneck to do so.
Teammates Morgan Blumer (18 Points 5 Rebounds) and Olivia Braun (17 Points 6 Rebounds 3 Blocks) also played a major role in the Western victory. The final attendance number was 1,303, well over the average of 678. Clemens, Blumer and Braun spoke postgame, as did Head Coach JD Gravina.
Player Postgame Presser (Clemens, Blumer, Braun in order)
I spoke with WIU Head Men's Basketball Coach Billy Wright to discuss last week's 63-60 win over Oral Roberts. We also looked ahead to Tuesday's meeting with Denver, Saturday's road game at 1st place North Dakota State. Coach Wright also gives an update on injured point guard Delo Bruster and keys in on how his team's defensive execution has improved in recent weeks.
Western Illinois Football released its 2017 regular season schedule this afternoon. The team will play four of their eleven regular season games in Macomb at Hanson Field. Three of the eight road games will be nonconference games, with the Missouri Valley Football Conference slate being split four home games and four road contests.
The season will kickoff Thursday, August 31 at Tennessee Tech. The Leathernecks also play nonconference foes Northern Arizona (9/9) and Costal Carolina (9/23) away from their home confines. The Costal game was originally scheduled to be played in Macomb. but the location was changed after the Chanticleers made the jump to the FBS level.
The home opener for Western is September 30, versus South Dakota. The other home games for WIU are October 14 against Missouri State, October 28 vs. South Dakota State, and November 18 opposing Southern Illinois. These are all Missouri Valley Football Conference matchups.
The conference road games will be October 7 at Northern Iowa, October 21 at North Dakota State, November 4 at Illinois State, and November 11 at Indiana State.
The Leathernecks attempt to build off of last year's 6-5 regular season mark. The full schedule is listed below.
The 3A Regional Girls Basketball Brackets have been released. The Macomb Bombers find themselves as the 10 seed in the Limestone sectional, facing the 5th seeded Limestone Rockets Monday (2/13) at 7:30 PM.
That game will be played at Peoria High School. Coverage can be found on K100, with pregame coverage opening up at apporximately 7:15. The winner of this contest will match up with 4th seeded Peoria High on Wednesday, 2/15 at 7:00 back at Peoria High. Macomb and Limestone played on 1/16, with the Rockets taking down the Bombers 51-31 at the Washington Street Gym.
Here is my weekly conversation with WIU Head Men's Basketball Coach Billy Wright. Western currently sits at 7-15 and 4-7 in Summit League play following losses last week to South Dakota State (98-65) and Omaha (79-67). They hold the 8th seed in the League, one game in front of Oral Roberts for the final Summit League Basketball Championships position.
Western heads to Oral Roberts this week for a Wednesday Night game in Tulsa. WIU returns home following that and will retake the floor at Western Hall Tuesday vs Denver.
Coach Wright and I broke down last week's losses and looked ahead to this week with five games left for Western on the regular season schedule.
I recently spoke with former professional football player Rod Smart. A veteran of numerous professional leagues, Smart rose to fame during the XFL's one year of play. He also managed to carve out a five year NFL career with the Philadelphia Eagles and Carolina Panthers, the later of which he made a Super Bowl with.
Smart donned the words, "He Hate Me," on the back of his Las Vegas Outlaws XFL jersey, which quickly made him a household name. Smart discusses the new ESPN 30 for 30 film "This Was the XFL," how he ended up in the XFL, and the trancendence of his nickname and XFL fame.
19 of the 24 players are high school signees, with the remaining 5 coming in as transfer students. 4 of those 5 are already on campus, having enrolled at Western in January.
Offensive line accounted for 5 of the 24 signees, followed by 3 at defensive back, defensive tackle, and wide receiver. Western has 2 players represented at each defensive line, quarter back running back, and tight end. On special teams the Leathernecks added 1 kicker and 1 long snapper.
In terms of a state-by-state breakdown of high school additions, Illinois expectedly brought in the most players with 5. After that came Indiana with 3 players. Florida, Georgia, Missouri, Minnesota, and Tennessee produced 2 players each. Iowa also was represented, with one signee.
With the 5 transfers, 2 came from Ohio University, with Bowling Green, Liberty, and Syracuse being the previous schools represented by the remaining 3.
Western Illinois Head Football Coach Charlie Fisher held a press conference at the conclusion of signing day. That can be heard below, broken up into segments.
Fisher opening statement:
On the size of the class:
On the regions Western focused on:
On having a full year to recruit unlike his first year in Macomb:
On high school teammates J'Len Smith and Shabar Wilson both signing with WIU:
On added o-line depth:
On Syracuse transfer Trey Dunkleberger:
On 6'6 250 tight end Nathan Karsjens:
On Galesburg HS commit Matt Ricketts, who has family ties to Western:
On his philosophy with recruiting high school qbs:
My weekly conversation with WIU Head Men's Basketball Coach Billy Wright. We discussed last week's 62-55 loss at South Dakota (1/25) and the 78-69 home win over IUPUI (1/28). Western is now 4-5 in Summit League play, tied for 5th in the League with Omaha.
Listen to my conversation with Coach Wright below, as we discuss the games and look ahead to this week's games against South Dakota State (2/1) and Omaha (2/4).
Here is my weekly conversation with WIU Head Men's Basketball Coach Billy Wright. We discuss Saturday's 89-57 home loss to North Dakota State, a case of what seems to be food poisoning that plagued the team last week and the health status of point guard Delo Bruster.
We also look ahead to this Wednesday's game at South Dakota and Saturday's home rematch with IUPUI. Listen to the interview below.