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Archive for the ‘Wolves in college’ Category

   Coupeville grad Ben Etzell (sportin’ the goatee) tossed three no-hit innings Saturday to nab his 10th win as a college pitcher. (Libby Auger photo)

Double digits, baby.

Coupeville grad Ben Etzell tossed three innings of scoreless, no-hit relief Saturday, picking up his 10th win as a college pitcher.

With the former Wolf keeping his squad afloat in a scoreless game, Saint John’s University rallied to win its 13th straight baseball game, knocking off St. Olaf 3-0 on a walk-off home run from center-fielder Max Jackson.

And while the Johnnies had their streak snapped in the nightcap to a doubleheader (they fell 10-3), SJU sits at 29-6 heading into the final day of the regular season.

Saint John’s, which is 14-4 in the Minnesota Intercollegiate Athletic Conference, plays another doubleheader Sunday, this one against St. Thomas.

Win one of the two games and the Johnnies clinch a share of their first regular-season title since 1998 and earn a bye in next week’s league tourney.

Etzell, who will be honored during Senior Day Sunday, came on in relief of starter Joey Stock with the game scoreless after six.

He whiffed a pair of batters while refusing to give up a hit, and the win evened his season mark at 2-2, while dropping his ERA to a sizzlin’ 1.88.

For his career, Etzell, who began college as a starter before morphing into a relief ace, is 10-4 with eight saves in 49 games.

During his time in Coupeville, he was a three-sport star, going to state as a tennis player and being named the 1A/2A Cascade Conference MVP in baseball after his senior campaign.

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   Coupeville grad Ben Etzell brings the heat on the college diamond. (Libby Auger photo)

Big Ben, little pic. (Photo property of Saint John’s University baseball)

Ben Etzell is warming up, in more ways than one.

The former Coupeville High School baseball star is kicking off his senior season at Saint John’s University with extended spring training in Fort Myers, Florida, as opposed to being on campus in Minnesota.

On Tuesday, that meant playing in a balmy 76 degrees as opposed to trying to warm up his fastball in a frigid 29 degrees.

With his arm limbered up, Etzell made his season debut, tossing two perfect innings and nabbing the win in relief as the Johnnies slipped past Alvernia University in a 2-1 thriller.

The victory came in the first of two games Saint John’s played Tuesday.

A 13-1 win over the University of Pittsburgh-Bradford in the nightcap improved SJU to a pristine 4-0 on the young season.

The Johnnies have outscored their foes 53-4.

Etzell and Co. play doubleheaders Wednesday and Thursday, then cap their Florida adventure with a single game Friday before getting on a plane and gettin’ the heck out of town.

After an eight-day break, the Johnnies travel to Arizona, where they’ll play seven games in four days.

Saint John’s doesn’t set foot on a Minnesota diamond until Mar. 31, then plays the final 23 games of its 39-game regular-season schedule inside its home state.

Tuesday, the Johnnies dueled down to the wire with Alvernia, with the two teams trading solo home runs over the first seven innings.

With the game knotted at 1-1, Etzell, who was a First-Team All-Conference pick as a relief pitcher a season ago, took the mound in the eighth and promptly set the opposing batters down one-two-three.

Sparked by their ace, the Johnnies rallied for a run in the top of the ninth, with Max Jackson ripping an RBI single to plate what turned out to be the winning run.

Etzell finished off his perfect season debut with another one-two-three inning in the ninth, finishing with two strikeouts while facing the minimum six batters.

With the win, he improved to 9-2 as a college hurler.

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   Makana Stone capped her sophomore season at Whitman Friday, tossing in six points and grabbing seven rebounds in a playoff loss. (Photo by JohnsPhotos.net)

The dream died at the free throw line.

East Texas Baptist University scored the game’s final seven points on charity shots Friday, turning a one-point deficit into a 65-59 win over Whitman College.

The loss, coming in a first round game at the NCAA D-III women’s national championship tourney in Richardson, Texas, ended the season for the Blues and their stellar sophomore, Makana Stone.

The Coupeville grad went for six points, seven boards and two assists, including a gorgeous pass to set up Emily Rommel for a key bucket in the final two minutes.

Snagging a pass deep in the paint, Stone shoveled the ball under the defense to her senior running mate, who knocked down a bank shot to knot the game at 58-58.

When senior Casey Poe drained a free throw at the 1:22 mark, Whitman took its final lead, but couldn’t hold on.

Unable to net a field goal in the final minute and 45 seconds, and unable to score at all after Poe’s free throw, the Blues had to foul, and East Texas made them pay.

Erin Meeks, who entered the night shooting an ice-cold 44% from the free throw line, netted four straight in the final minute, giving her a season-best 7-8 performance at the stripe.

Add two freebies each for Madison McCoy and Kim Childress, and the Tigers (23-6) advanced to play in the regional final Saturday night.

Whitman, which made a run to the Elite Eight last season, closed at 22-5.

After ripping off 21 straight wins at one point this season, the Blues struggled down the stretch, losing four of their final five games.

Poe, the Northwest Conference player of the year, had a very off night Friday, with her only point being her late-game free throw.

She averaged 17 a night during the season.

Making up for things a bit was sophomore Mady Burdett, who knocked down four balls from behind the three-point arc in the first quarter alone.

She finished with eight treys, helping Whitman hold a 9-0 advantage in that shooting category, and scored a college career-high 24 points.

While the Blues were hot from the outside, East Texas went inside time and again, and ended with a staggering advantage at the free throw line.

The Tigers netted 23-26 at the stripe, while Whitman was 6-10.

The game was a prime slice of March Madness, as the teams exchanged leads for much of the night.

Up 19-17 after one quarter (Stone fed Maegan Martin for the three-points-the-hard-way play which gave Whitman the lead), the Blues stretched it to 33-27 at halftime.

East Texas, with the support of the local crowd, surged 19-13 in the third quarter to knot the game at 46-46 headed into the final quarter.

Twice the Tigers started to threaten to pull away and twice Burdett dropped treys to get Whitman back in things, before she and her teammates went cold at the end.

The game closed a very strong season for Coupeville’s finest, as Stone finished with 332 points, 194 rebounds, 52 assists, five blocks and 18 steals.

She shot a very-strong 51.2% from the floor (140-273) and 76.5% from the line (52-68).

A First-Team All-Conference pick this year, she was Whitman’s #1 rebounder and #2 scorer.

Whitman, which loses captains Poe, Rommel and Sierra McGarity to graduation, has gone 48-10 during Stone’s first two seasons.

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   Makana Stone (center) and Whitman College open the NCAA D-III national women’s basketball championships Friday in Texas. (Photo by JohnsPhotos.net)

They’re leaving Walla Walla on a jet plane.

The Whitman College women’s basketball team, and standout sophomore Makana Stone, owner of a Coupeville High School diploma, are Texas-bound.

The Blues (22-4) open the NCAA D-III women’s national championships Friday in Richardson, Texas against East Texas Baptist University (22-6).

Win its first-round tussle and Whitman plays Saturday against the winner of the University of Texas-Dallas (23-4), which is the regional host, and Trinity (TX) University (23-3).

After winning the Northwest Conference postseason tourney and claiming an automatic bid last year, the Blues were on pins and needles this time around, but got in thanks to an at-large bid.

Whitman’s main rival this season, George Fox (24-3), also made the 64-team field.

With both the Northwest Conference regular season and postseason titles in hand, the Bruins head to Waverly, Iowa to face Saint Benedict (22-4).

Whitman, which went to the Elite 8 during Stone’s freshman season, matches up well with its first-round foe.

East Texas Baptist finished third in the American Southwest Conference, then won three straight games to claim the league’s postseason title.

The Tigers average 68.1 points a game and give up 59, while Whitman has a 75.5-59.5 advantage.

While the Blues have three players who average double figures, in senior Casey Poe (17.0), Stone (12.5) and senior Emily Rommel (10.4), East Texas Baptist has just one — Kim Childress (14.2).

She’s a 5-foot-10 sophomore from Colorado.

Whitman and ETB have one foe in common this season, Whitworth.

The Tigers fell 72-66 in a non-league match-up with the Pirates, while the Blues drilled Whitworth 101-68 and 83-49 in their Northwest Conference tilts.

Whitman is 48-9 over Stone’s two seasons, and the former Wolf, who was a First-Team All-League player this year, leads the team in rebounding.

On the season, she has 326 points, 187 rebounds, 50 assists, five blocks and 18 steals.

Stone is shooting 52% from the floor (138-264) and 77% at the free-throw line (50-65).

To see the NCAA tourney bracket, pop over to:

https://www.ncaa.com/interactive-bracket/basketball-women/d3

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   Makana Stone went for nine points and 10 rebounds Thursday, but Whitman fell in a playoff game. (Photo by JohnsPhotos.net)

Agony.

It’s what the Whitman College women’s basketball squad endured for much of Thursday, and what the Blues now face as they wait for a probable call from the NCAA.

Despite rallying in the final two minutes of its Northwest Conference Tournament semifinal game to finally take the lead, Whitman could only watch in horror as visiting Willamette responded by tossing in a game-winning three-ball in the final seconds.

The 55-52 loss, the third defeat in four games for the once high-flying Blues, drops them to 22-4.

Long gone is its 21-game win streak, and now Whitman has to wait until Monday to find out if it lands an at-large berth in the NCAA D-III women’s national tourney.

The Blues, who made it to the Elite Eight last season, are a strong contender, but would have preferred getting an automatic bid by winning the league’s postseason title.

Instead, that golden ticket awaits either Willamette (17-9) or George Fox (23-3), who play Saturday in the title game.

Thursday’s loss, the second straight to the Bearcats, was similar to the Blues defeat at the hands of Willamette six days ago.

In short, ice-cold shooting killed Whitman.

The Blues opened 7-30 from the floor in the first half, fell behind by 10 points, and never really heated up.

In the end, Whitman finished 21-63 from the floor, including just 2-11 from behind the three-point arc.

Willamette was 8-16 on three-balls, the difference in a game which came down to the final seconds.

Trailing for much of the game, Whitman stormed back, seemingly pulling a victory from the jaws of defeat.

Down 50-44 with 1:53 to play, the Blues used aggressive defense, then turned Willamette’s turnovers into an 8-0 run in the matter of just 37 seconds.

The Bearcats didn’t blink, however, holding Whitman scoreless over the final 76 seconds.

A Drew Farmer jumper — her only points of the night — tied the game at 52, before Ashley Evans buried the game-deciding three-ball with 20 ticks on the clock.

Whitman couldn’t get the equalizer, then committed a violation while trying to in-bound the ball for a final shot with 2.8 seconds to play.

The loss obscured another solid performance for Coupeville grad Makana Stone, who went for nine points, 10 rebounds and two assists.

Casey Poe paced the Blues with 16, while Taylor Chambers added 15. Willamette was led by Kylie Towry, who knocked down a game-high 21.

For the season, Stone, a sophomore, has 326 points, 187 rebounds, 50 assists, five blocks and 18 steals.

She’s shooting 52% from the floor (138-264) and 77% from the free-throw line (50-65).

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