Looking at the newest ballpark in the Valley

Horner Ballpark on the campus of Dallas Baptist was built just a year ago and is an awesome addition to the Missouri Valley Conference.  With your Aces here in Dallas for a crucial series, I wanted to give everyone a look at the facility.

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A very inviting entrance leads to the concourse.  The stadium seats 2,000 and was built by the same company that built the Texas Rangers ballpark and Cowboys Stadium.

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The view just past the entrance looking down on the field.

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Just down the first base line, we look up towards the seating and press box.

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Down in right field sits the scoreboard.

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If you tuned into the broadcast on 91.5 WUEV last night, we talked about the turf infield.  Just across from first base, it is a unique transition from turf to grass in the outfield.

Inside look at UE Golf with Dana Hayden: MVC Championship

The University of Evansville women’s golf team is making its final trip of the season to the Missouri Valley Conference Tournament in Springfield, Illinois on Saturday, April 18. After a strong showing at Indiana State’s Invitational last weekend, where we placed fourth against many of our MVC rivals and other teams, we are excited to compete and hope to achieve a positive result at the Conference. The tournament last weekend at the Country Club of Terre Haute proved to be great preparation for the tournament this weekend. We experienced beautiful beautiful weather the first day, but the second round on Monday consisted of a two-hour rain delay, followed by misting rain with temperatures dropping into the mid-40’s as the day progressed.

The Country Club of Terre Haute was in very nice shape considering the less-than-optimal weather Southern Indiana has experienced this spring, where we enjoyed the first green fairways of the spring tournament season. Playing closer to home is always enjoyable as travel is more accessible and reasonable for most of our families and friends to watch and support us.

After a practice round on Saturday, the MVC Tournament is a 54-hole event that begins Sunday and ends on Tuesday. The weather forecast looks promising for this weekend, with temperatures predicted to be in the 60’s and 70’s each day. This tournament will be very demanding of the Lady Aces, but the team will put forth maximum effort. Go Aces!

From Cape Cod to the Braun

It is officially “go” time for the Purple Aces baseball team. With ten Missouri Valley Conference schools in most sports, it Is a continuous grind from start to finish. Baseball is a bit of a different story as eight schools participate, giving you just seven conference series.

With those limited opportunities, it makes every conference series absolutely pivotal. Three weeks ago, Evansville welcomed Indiana State to Braun Stadium. The Sycamores came into that weekend sporting a 14-3 record, but the Aces took care of business, winning two out of three games. With that series win, the Aces are tied atop the MVC with Dallas Baptist in the loss column. The Patriots are 5-1 in their opening six games of league play.

Something that can prove to be advantageous for the Aces is the fact that they have been able to play more games prior to the grind of league play. With the winter in Evansville comprised of snow – and lots of it, the team did not get as much time playing outside as they would have liked. Being able to play a few more series allows everyone to get in that groove.

Since that series versus the Sycamores, the Aces have gone 6-3 and stand at 20-11 on the season. Included in that stretch was an impressive series at Charlotte that saw UE win three out of four games. Anytime you can take three out of four on the road, it is an impressive feat. While six straight weekend of league play is a pivotal stretch, the next two weekends will set the tone moving forward.

Wichita State comes to the Braun with an even 16-16 mark in head coach Todd Butler’s inaugural season. As of late, the squad has struggled, falling in its last six games with three of those losses coming at Indiana State last weekend. Talk about being on the road, the Shockers have done just that over the last ten days. This weekend marks the fifth road trip in that stretch. Road games at Kansas, Indiana State, Kansas State and Oral Roberts started that off before yesterday’s trip to Evansville. That is a total of over 2,740 miles!

As a baseball purist, I cannot wait for tonight’s matchup pitting two of the top collegiate prospects in the nation – Kyle Freeland and Casey Gillaspie. Both played in the Cape Cod League last summer and garnered Baseball America Preseason All-America honors following their performances. We all know about Freeland, but lets take a look at Gillaspie. The No. 2 hitter in the league has racked up a .393 batting average while belting an MVC-best 9 home runs. The first baseman has also done a great job of getting on base, ranking amongst the conference leaders at 49.7%. Throw in a .697 slugging mark and 25 walks and you have a true force at the plate.

The matchup tonight will be a thrilling one when Freeland and Gillaspie square off. Freeland has pitched his way to a 2.02 ERA in 49 innings of work. He has walked just four batters while striking out 60, that is an unbelievable 15/1 strikeout-to-walk ratio.

Weather predictions for the weekend look great! Come on out and support the squad as they embark on six weeks of league play. Next week, we will preview the trip to Dallas Baptist. The newcomers to the league have gotten off to a 5-1 start. We will set the stage for next week’s series in Texas.

Inside look at UE golf with Dana Hayden: Fourth Entry

The season is quickly coming to a close for the University of Evansville Men’s and Women’s golf teams.  With only one tournament left before the Missouri Valley Conference Tournament, the Aces are practicing intensely to make additional improvements with their swings.  This past weekend, both of the teams traveled to the Bradley Invitational in Peoria, Illinois to participate in their tournament.

On Thursday (April 3), we learned that Weaver Ridge Golf Club, the original tournament course, had sustained damage in the recent storms and was too flooded for play, so the tournament location was moved to a neutral site, nearby Pekin Country Club in Pekin, Illinois.  We began our travels on Friday morning.

Normally, we play a practice round the day before the tournament, but course conditions did not allow.  The weather was completely dreadful that day also, consisting of temperatures in the 40’s with at least 20 mile per hour wind gusts, but at least we were able to practice for a while at a driving range that evening after the weather settled.

Saturday proved to be a very full and eventful day, for we were allowed to walk the entire course and take notes on the holes in the morning before our 1:00 PM starting time. The day proved to be successful, and the men and women both made a strong showing, competing against many MVC rivals whom we will face at the conference tournament in only two weeks.  A dinner for tournament participants was held at the Pekin Country Club Saturday evening after round one.

Day two of the tournament (Sunday) came quickly, and the weather turned out to be beautiful.  Six of the men travelled to the event, while all seven of the women participated to gain as much experience as possible.  The men ended up winning their event, and five players impressively finished in the top 14 of the field.  The women’s team finished 7th in the event, and overall scores were very close with their competitors.  Freshman Kayla Katterhenry won the tournament individually for the second week in a row, and is just the second female in the program’s history to win more than one event.

 

We (the women’s team) are extremely excited to travel this weekend to Terre Haute Country Club to play in Indiana State’s invitational on Sunday-Monday, April 13-14, and are thrilled that many of our families and friends will be able to make the trek to Terre Haute to watch us play.  The men will be playing at Indiana University on Saturday and Sunday.  Go Aces!

Turning It Up

Your Purple Aces golfers have been racking up the hardware this spring.  Between the two squads, they have won two team championships, finished second in another while taking two individual wins.  The success that head coach Jim Hamilton has brought to the program have been immeasurable.  Both teams have come such a long way in a short time.  It is a pair of underclassmen that have spearheaded those efforts.  On the women’s side, freshman Kayla Katterhenry has won her last two outings.  For the men, it has been Alex Turner, who leads the way in stroke average for the season.

Turner finished the fall as the top rated golfer in the Missouri Valley Conference.  Lets not forget a pair of seniors who have also been doing an awesome job.  Quinn Vilneff, the defending MVC Elite 18 award winner, along with Parker Hensley have been on fire this spring.  Those performances by the full squad have resulted in team victories in the Don Benbow Intercollegiate in the spring opener along with the Bradley Invitational last weekend.

One special aspect of both the men and the women has been that local players have been playing such a large role.  That is something that has been a huge plus for Turner.

“I wanted to come to the University of Evansville all along,” Turner said.  “Coach Hamilton came to me and we struck up a great relationship.”

That relationship has seen Turner make his mark as one of the top golfers in the MVC since his arrival.  He credits Hamilton with showing him a new way of thinking when he is on the course.  Part of that thought process is learning shots that are easier to hit in certain situations.

While it has been a strong career so far, the success in the spring has created a lot of confidence not just with Turner, but also his teammates.

“We have some great talent this year, getting the first win was the hardest,” Turner commented.  “With that out of the way, I see nothing but good things going forward.”

After speaking with Turner last week, we found out that he was telling the truth.  The men went out that weekend and won at Bradley.  Another contributing factor to that success has been the addition of an indoor practice facility.  Turner commented on just how much of an impact it has had.  Anyone in the Evansville area knows just how brutal of a winter it was.  I could not picture going outside and swinging a club.  I am also thinking that with snow on the ground from about December 1 through March, it made that impossible.

The facility gave the student-athletes the opportunity to swing anytime.  Located at the Armory, it is just a short walk from anywhere on campus and is extremely convenient.

Turner began the spring with a third place at the Benbow tournament in Florida.  While he has been successful every time out, one event in particular meant a little more to Turner than his teammates.  In March, the Aces faced off against USI at Oak Meadow.  Being a local kid, Turner knows USI well.  In fact – three of his high school teammates were on the team.

“It was a fun experience being able to play them.  Knowing a bunch of those guys from high school added some extra incentive.”

With the way he has been performing at UE, Turner does not need any extra incentive or motivation.  His play speaks for itself.

Inside look at UE golf with Dana Hayden: Third Entry

The University of Evansville Women’s Golf Team is in full swing and is surprisingly already in midseason. After leaving for Carbondale, Illinois on March 29 and playing in the Saluki Invitational at Hickory Ridge Golf Course on March 30 and 31, we are continuing to improve and prepare ourselves for the MVC Tournament in two weeks.

The practice round consisted of playing in less-than-ideal conditions, for after heavy rains the day prior, the temperature was in the low 40’s with 20 mile per hour gusts during the entire day. The cloud cover would not leave, but we very much enjoyed the course and the challenges it had to offer. Weather conditions improved greatly on Sunday and Monday, with the sun shining and the temperature approaching the low 60’s. It is always nice to be able to wear shorts while playing golf in the Spring and to not be bundled up.

We were paired with the two other featured schools the first day, including host SIU Carbondale as well as Loyola, two MVC conference rivals. Freshman Kayla Katterhenry led our team and the entire tournament the first day, after carding a 3-under-par 69 – the second-lowest round in UE women’s golf history. She ended up as medalist for the tournament by one stroke, so we were all so excited for Kayla and her success! We ultimately placed fourth as a team, improving from seventh place on day one. We always strive for improvement the second day.

On Friday, April 4, we begin our journey to Peoria, Illinois to play in the Bradley Invitational at Pekin Country Club. Both the Women’s and Men’s UE Golf Teams are scheduled to play 18 holes on Saturday and 18 more on Sunday. Go Aces!

Starting on a strong note

The 2014 season has gotten off to a strong start for the Purple Aces baseball team.  With an earlier triumph over No. 6 Vanderbilt, the Aces turned their strong non-conference showing into a series victory in the opening weekend of Missouri Valley Conference play.  The Aces are tied atop the league standings at 2-1 and 13-8 overall.  Facing Indiana State last weekend, who entered play at 15-3, Evansville came out of the gates strong, taking two out of three to clinch the series.

Pacing the squad in Friday’s 5-2 victory was pitched Kyle Freeland, who improved to 3-1 on the season with the win.  Freeland went 8 innings along 2 runs on nine hits.  He also struck out six Sycamore batters.  Sam Johns sat ISU down in order in the ninth to earn his fifth save of the year.  Josh Jyawook and Boomer Synek paced the offense.  Jyawook went 3-5 on the day while Synek walked twice and score three times.

In Sunday’s rubber match, Cole Isom went five scoreless innings as the Aces clinched the series with another 5-2 win.  Synek was the star once again, going a perfect 4-4 as the Aces racked up 11 hits.

Let’s take a look at what Synek along with three other transfers have done for the Aces this season.  A transfer from Oakton CC, Synek has provided a boost to the lineup, especially over the last week of play.  Batting .243 overall, Synek has started 20 out of 21 games while ranking fourth on the team with 13 RBI.  Here is the kicker – he leads the team with 16 walks.  He has turned that patience at the plate into 11 runs scored.  Also posting a strong showing in the lineup has been Josh Jyawook, another transfer from Oakton.  Evansville’s leading hitter has batted .345 while starting all 21 games for the Aces.  He is second on the squad with six doubles and second with 17 RBI.

Joining Jyawook in the outfield has been Jarod Perry.  Perry came to UE from Kaskaskia CC and has started all but one game.  He has hit .262, but has been dependable on the basepaths.  He is tied for third on the team with 13 runs scored.  On the mound, Lincoln Trail CC product Matt Rodgers has pitched extremely well.  Through his first seven appearances (including three starts), Rodgers has posted a 3.86 ERA while striking out 23 in just 21 innings of work.  Batters are hitting just .250 off of the right-hander.

With eight teams in the MVC, teams have open weekends in the middle of league play.  For Evansville, they have the next two weekends of non-conference action coming up.  Beginning tomorrow, the Aces host Eastern Kentucky for a 3-game series before traveling to Charlotte next weekend.  In the middle of next week, UE faces SIU Edwardsville in a home-and-home series.  Next week, we will head to practice to catch up with the guys and get their pulse on what has been a great season!

Spring Break – Entry 2 of Dana Hayden’s Golf Blog

During the 2014 season, Aces junior Dana Hayden will provide readers insight into the day-to-day goings on of the golf squad.  Both teams are performing at an exceptional level in the spring, the men won the Don Benbow Invitational in Jacksonville, Fla. while the women took second at the Bobby Nichols Intercollegiate the next week.

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Both the Men’s and Women’s University of Evansville Golf Teams have returned from their recent adventures in Jacksonville, Florida and Sevierville, Tennessee. On Friday, March 7 (the final class day before spring break), the teams gathered mid-afternoon after everyone finished classes, and headed south. We completed half of our journey, travelling to just north of Atlanta, and drove the rest of the way to Jacksonville on Saturday.

Upon arrival, we drove straight to the golf course where the tournament was going to be held (Jacksonville Beach Golf Club) and practiced until dark. After the practice round on Sunday, we played in the tournament hosted by Butler on Monday and Tuesday in the cooler-than-expected weather (mid-60’s to low 70’s), featuring a sky that was clear and a beautiful shade of blue.

The men’s team ended up winning their tournament, and the women received a lot of valuable experience to help in the remainder of the season as we build toward the MVC tournament. Everyone had the day off on Wednesday, but the weather was so beautiful that most of us enjoyed playing a practice round at a nearby course, which was very nice but challenging. That afternoon, we had the privilege of visiting TPC Sawgrass, home of the both the PGA Tour and the famous Players Championship tournament. The golf club opened up its driving range and putting green for us to utilize, and we went on a tour of the grounds along with our friend who is a member there.

On Thursday, we played another practice round at Sawgrass Country Club, which is located right across the street from TPC Sawgrass. After the round, we had a relaxing afternoon on the beach, which was very much welcomed after our tournament and practices. On our last full day in Jacksonville, we played a final practice round at a beautiful course named Ponte Vedra Country Club. That Friday evening, the women’s team took pictures on the beach to help commemorate the fun week and gorgeous sunset. The Florida portion came to an end when we departed for Sieverville, Tennessee early Saturday morning, March 15.

We arrived at Sieverville (near Gatlinburg) at the foothills of the Smoky Mountains later that evening, and we noticed the drastic temperature change. Although the area had posted “dry alerts” with the danger of fire for the heavily wooded area the days before our arrival, it rained hard Sunday morning, but we were still able to squeeze in a practice round Sunday afternoon. It rained more Sunday night, and although the course drained pretty well, the result at tournament time was a soggy, wet golf course. Our beautiful Florida sunshine transformed into a cold, misty rain accompanied by a 39-degree temperature and wind for Monday’s first round. The mist stopped late Monday and the wind helped dry the course a bit for Tuesday’s final round. The women’s team ended up placing second in the event.

After the trek, we arrived back in Evansville that night after our long and eventful journey, most of which occurred over spring break, to continue catching up on coursework. The women’s team will travel to Carbondale to play in the Saluki Invitational this coming Sunday and Monday, March 30-31.

Friday #UEnglandTour14 Update

As the week is about to wrap up, we take a look at what your men’s soccer team has been up to today.

Aces Quick Hits – March 13

Spring sports are 100% underway as the golf teams made their way back onto the course this week in Jacksonville.  Four Evansville teams were in the state of Florida this week as the baseball team is in Winter Haven while the tennis squad completes its trip to Tampa and Fort Myers later today against James Madison.

- Let’s start with a big congratulations to the UE men’s golf team, who topped 12 other teams on their way to the team win at the Don Benbow Invitational on Tuesday.  Evansville led for the majority of the event, holding a 3-stroke lead after Monday’s round before holding on to top Florida Atlantic by that same deficit on Tuesday.  Props go out to Coach Jim Hamilton and his team for coming out of the gate strong.  With all of the winter weather the Evansville area has seen, the golf team has been limited to how much outside play it has had.  Last year, the team opened an indoor practice facility at the armory on campus and that has already paid dividends!

- While we are on the subject of the men, congrats go out to sophomore Alex Turner, who was named the MVC Men’s Golfer of the Week.  Turner finished in third place with a 143 on his way to his first MVC honor.  He finished the fall with the lowest average in the Valley and is poised to keep that rolling into the spring.

- The women also opened the season in Jacksonville as freshman Kayla Katterhenry led the team to a 9th place finish.  The Newburgh native finished in 23rd place with a 169.  Both teams are back in action next Monday and Tuesday in Sevierville, Tenn.

- Entering today’s Florida finale is the Aces tennis team.  The squad will play its third match in four days today, taking on James Madison in Tampa.  Head coach Nick Mueller has his team headed in the right directions, winning three of its last five following an 0-5 start to the spring.  The Dukes come into the match with a 5-3 mark after falling to No. 67 Old Dominion on Monday.

- Weather has not been a friend to the UE baseball team in 2014.  Over the last two weeks, Evansville has had four home contests canceled due to some nasty winter weather.  Here is to hoping that is not the case in Winter Haven this weekend as UE has three more games today through Saturday (Northwestern, North Dakota State and Maine).  The trip began with a 4-2 loss to Bowling Green on Wednesday, but it marked a tough situation for the Aces, who had not seen game action in 11 days.

Kyle Pollock has gotten off to a solid start for the Aces and is batting .341 through the first 11 games.  His 4-4 effort on the base paths has helped the Aces register steals in 20 of their 22 attempts, easily one of the top percentages in the country.  On the mound, Kyle Freeland has been great, sporting a 3.00 ERA in 18 innings of work.  His last action came two weeks ago as he pitched nine scoreless innings against Western Illinois.

- Softball is in the midst of a 13-game home streak.  Coach Redburn has his team sitting at 9-8 overall, following a valiant effort against No. 15 Missouri on Tuesday.  Despite a pair of losses to the Tigers, the team showed great fight.  Game one saw the Aces take a 3-1 lead into the sixth before Mizzou plated four runs en route to a 7-3 win.  In the second game of the doubleheader, the Tigers scored six runs in the fourth frame to grab a 6-2 victory.

Junior transfer Megan Gurski has come out strong for UE, belting four home runs and 15 RBI through 17 games.  She is hitting .424 while slugging .712.  She has also taken the mound to make seven starts and nine appearances, pitching her way to a 3.47 ERA and a 4-4 record.

On Saturday, the Aces open MVC play with three home games against Indiana State.