Spring Sports Roar into 2012 Campaign

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Author: Sam Van Buren & Jacob Surpin

Baseball

    

    The men’s baseball team started the 2012 season with big wins for new head coach Luke Wetmore, routing La Sierra 13-2 in the first game of the double header followed by a 17-0 shutout. Wetmore became the head coach this year after former Coach Hawkins took an assistant job at UCSB. After last year’s 13-26 record, the team is looking to finish with a winning record and is also hoping to move up SCIAC standings. Wetmore has turned to his experienced players to add consistency to a team that was plagued by injury and lacked offense. This off-season, the team worked extensively on hitting, hoping that an offensive boost will give them an edge on its opponents.

Wetmore is pleased with the team’s start, while also looking forward to a tough season of league play. “I think it will be a great season,” Wetmore said.  “It has already started well, and if we play even half as well through the remainder of the schedule we will be in good shape.”

 

Softball

 

Last season, the women’s softball team set an Occidental record 18 wins, a feat that had not been accomplished since the program started in 1986. This season, the women are hoping to set even more records. Returning a roster consisting of mostly sophomores and juniors, head coach Jodie Cox believes that any team in the league is beatable for the Tigers. “We’ve got more experience, and we know what it feels like to win,” Cox said. The team starts their season on Feb. 9 against George Fox.   

 

Track and Field

 

After a long off-season, track and field returns to practice eager to improve upon their finishes from last year. Head coach for both the men and women’s teams Rob Bartlett is focused on getting his team, full of fresh faces, to DIII Nationals. Dave Foley (senior) believes that the younger members of his team will contribute points come SCIACs. “I think our team is very deep, and we have some good freshman that will be able to score some points,” Foley said. The teams open their season at the Pomona-Pitzer All-Comers track meet on Feb. 18.

   

Men’s Tennis

 

Head coach Brian Newhall returns to the tennis team after not coaching the sport for 14 seasons. The team is ready to compete in the SCIAC, which is the most competitive Division III conference in the nation. To start the season, they face Brandeis University, who is ranked No. 24 in the nation. Though Newhall believes the team is facing an extremely challenging schedule, filled with several nationally ranked teams, he believes the team could achieve a national ranking through playing very experienced teams. He plans on putting the program on the move by beating the big competitors and putting a new face on Occidental tennis.

 

Women’s Tennis

 

    The women’s tennis team will begin the 2012 season with competitive matches against two nationally ranked teams, No. 26 Vassar College and No. 30 Brandeis University. Head coach Jeffrey Normile also returns to Occidental after not coaching the women’s team since 1999. Similarly to the men’s team, the Tigers will face more nationally ranked teams in a rigorous SCIAC league that boasts No. 7 Claremont-Mudd-Scripps, No. 9 Pomona-Pitzer and No. 28 Redlands. The women’s team also hopes to move up the national rankings by beating some of its toughest opponents.

 

Women’s Water Polo

 

Occidental’s women’s water polo has its sights set on a title this season. After coasting to a 9-0 record in SCIAC during the 2011 regular season (19-10 overall), the Tigers were sent home by the underdog Redlands team in the final of the conference tournament. The teams were named co-conference champions based on their overall season points, but the Tigers had to observe the NCAA National Championships from afar as Redlands advanced.

This year the Tigers want to leave no doubt and earn a spot at the 2012 NCAA championships. They return four All-SCIAC players in Corinne Casey (senior), Tessa Bailey-Findley (senior), Rachel Adeleye (junior) and Nanea Fujiyama (junior), with the latter two also earning All-American selections.  Casey, the co-captain, believes that the returning All-SCIAC players and the underclassman form an impenetrable bond.

“Every girl has a unique skill and quality that they bring to the team.  We are an odd and quirky group that have different talents that together form a dynamic team,” she said. “Our team philosophy is ‘work hard, play hard,’ and that is what we hope to do with this 2012 season.”

The Tigers look to build on their number three preseason national ranking and start their 2012 campaign off strong against Azusa Pacific University and Cal-State San Bernardino on Feb. 11 at home.

Golf

 

The men’s and women’s golf teams are looking forward to hosting the SCIAC championships near the end of April.

The men finished fifth and the women seventh in completing the fall portion of their season at the CMS Co-Ed Invitational, and both look to build on that momentum going into the spring season.

Experience is a major advantage for the men’s team, which looks to be starting four seniors in their five athlete lineup. “Our team has a lot of experience this year. Even though we have had a lot of talent in past years, in general we have under-performed. With the team we have this year we should be very good if we can all get on the same page. I fully expect
our team to compete for the SCIAC title this year,” senior Jamey Stambler said.

 

Men’s Lacrosse

 

After competing in the Las Vegas Lacrosse Showcase last semester, men’s lacrosse kicked off the spring season at home with an 11-10 win against Pepperdine on Jan. 28.

           “Everyone on this team has faith in taking the league championship,” Wes Goodman-Levy (senior) said. “This year our emphasis is the team.”

 

Rugby

 

Both the men’s and women’s rugby teams have high hopes this season. The men (the Blackshirts) are hungry for a title after losing in the national championship game last year and are confident in their ability to return to the championship in 2012.

They welcome new coach Dallen Stanford this season in a position alongside returning coach Patrick Guthrie. “Last year we relied a lot on scrappy intensity, but I think that we are developing into a more tactically savvy team this season which I think is due to the coaching staff and our experience from last year’s championship run,” senior Joel Haas said. “This team has only one goal for this year: bring a national championship trophy back to Oxy.”

Despite losing much of the depth they had last season, Haas remains confident in the bench. “Guys like Aaron Kiesler, Desmond Jetton and Max Horten make us starters better by constantly pushing for playing time,” he said.

He points out the uncertainty involved in such a physical game. “I have little doubt that when healthy we can beat any team. That’s the crux of it though; it is hard to keep everybody healthy in such a physical game, and we don’t have nearly as much depth as we have had in previous years.”

The team travels to Las Vegas to play UNLV on Feb. 18 and then to California Lutheran the following week. “We’ve been building for these games the last several months. I don’t think we will disappoint,” Haas said.

          

Ultimate Frisbee

 

The men’s and women’s Ultimate Frisbee teams have started preparing for spring tournaments in hopes of earning bids to the national championships in May.

The women (Women’s Air Corp) have their first tournament the weekend of February 4.

The men (Detox) finished 14 at Division III Nationals last year and are hungry to improve on that finish in 2012. They return several key players, including Freshman of the Year nominee Andrew Featherston and co-captains Zackary Bruno and Noah Donnell-Kilmer.

“We’re looking to make a splash in So Cal and at Nationals in Wisconsin,” Donnell-Kilmer said.

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