Gene's Blog: What do UST, Florida St. have in common?
May 18, 2011
Drew Cremisino (28) celebrates one of his 11 career home runs. (File photo)
It’s not easy to qualify a team for the NCAA playoffs. It’s even more difficult to have two teams do it in the same month, and repeat that several spring seasons in a row.
Consider that St. Thomas is one of just two NCAA institutions -– along with Division I Florida State -– to advance to the national playoffs in both softball and baseball in each of the last eight seasons.
(Technically, the Seminole baseball team still needs to secure a 2011 berth, but it’s ranked in the top-five in Division I and appears to be a lock.)
Tommie softball was denied an NCAA playoff berth back in 2003 despite a 32-6 record. That was a year when only three at-large bids were awarded, and that was the last time there were no MIAC playoffs to try to play your way in.
Coach John Tschida’s teams have qualified with an automatic berth in each of the eight seasons since. Last week UST finished second to Luther in the regional and posted the program’s eighth consecutive 40-win season.
In the process, Tommie softball improved its all-time NCAA playoff record to 52-35. That included NCAA championships in 2004 and 2005; an NCAA runner-up finish in 2006; and a fifth-place finish in 2002.
Since 1994, UST baseball has missed advancing to the NCAA playoffs just once (in 2003). The Tommies went into Wednesday’s first-round game at UW-Whitewater with a 51-32 all-time NCAA playoff record, including NCAA titles in 2001 and 2009 and national runner-up finishes in 1999 and 2000.
Former Tommie All-American pitcher Matt Schuld had back-to-back strong starts last week for the Fort Myers Miracle Class A team. Schuld allowed just one run in 11 innings and picked up victories over Jupiter on May 9 and Daytona last Saturday.
Schuld moved to 3-0 on the season and lowered his ERA to 4.22. In the Daytona win, he struck out nine, his professional high, over six innings. He now has 23 Ks and 10 walks in 33 innings.
Schuld might have extra incentive to stay in the starting rotation and out of the bullpen. The 2011 Miracle pitchers adopted an interesting penalty for giving up home runs. The last reliever in a game that serves up a homer must wear a Justin Bieber backpack to and from the field at each subsequent game until the next teammate gives up a homer. The backpack is filled with sunflower seeds, supplies, gum, candy and ibuprofen.
Teddy Archer’s contributions to the Tommie men’s basketball NCAA championship won’t be forgotten. A lock-down defender, Archer also used his athleticism and hustle to contribute on the full-court press, in rebounding, and in scoring, especially in his last two seasons as a starter.
While Archer never made All-MIAC, he twice was named to the conference’s five-player All Defensive team. He played in 122 career games, which ranks in the top three all-time in NCAA Division III basketball.
Archer had never competed in track and field in his life but came out for UST in April to experiment with the triple jump. In just his second meet, Archer leaped 46-0 3-4 in a May 7 competition get a qualifying mark for the conference meet.
Seven days later at the MIAC Championships in St. Peter, Archer took third in the triple jump in 45-7 1-4 to receive all-conference distinction. His best is just six inches away from making the St. Thomas all-time top-10 list, and only seven inches off the NCAA provisional qualifying leap.
PHOTO: Teddy Archer (Greg Smith photo)
Over the last four seasons, graduating senior distance runner Allie Metzler competed in 18 career races at MIAC Championship meets in track and field and cross country. She raced nearly 60 miles in those 12 competitions.
While she never won an individual gold, Metzler had several second-place runs and contributed nearly 75 points. That was pivotal in UST’s 8-for-8 run in MIAC indoor and outdoor track team titles in her era, and two conference CC championships.
In last weekend’s cold, rainy meet in St. Peter, she finished second in Friday’s 10,000 meters. She came back and battled for sixth place for three more important points on Saturday. UST topped Gustavus by a mere 11 points for the crown. In her four career MIAC cross country meets Metzler improved each fall from 30th to 16th to 10th to sixth.
The Cedar Rapids Kernals Midwest League baseball team recently sponsored a contest to name their new concession-stand item -– a two-pound pretzel. The made-to-order pretzel, delivered to your seat, is available plain (with your choice of three dipping sauces) or covered in cheese for $15 and chili-cheese for $20.
I’m waiting to hear if my nomination wins –- in the spirit of Homer Simpson, I say let’s call it “Doh!” or “Dough!”