College Sports

Softball team excited about upcoming tourney

Softball coach Mark Cooke is hoping this weekend's Winthrop/adidas Invitational runs a little smoother than this past weekend's Buzz Classic in Marietta, Ga., that was called off due to inclement weather.

"We had rain, snow and a tornado warning in the two days we were there," Cooke said. "We can't control Mother Nature."

The weather outlook this week calls for a chance of light rain on Friday and possibly early Saturday, but Cooke said he's confident the tournament will be played.

"A little bit of rain won't hurt," the veteran Eagles coach said. "It's when you have those all-day, all-night soaking rains like they had this past weekend that make it impossible to play.

"We were disappointed because we were looking forward to defending our championship."

The Lady Eagles won the 2007 Buzz Classic with wins over San Jose State, Middle Tennessee State, Purdue, Wright State, Wisconsin and Radford.

This weekend's pool play tournament, which starts with three games at 11 a.m. on Friday, has a very solid field, according to Cooke.

"We don't have any top 25s like we've played at other tournaments this year," Cooke said. "All the teams in our tournament have played the big-name teams and you need to do that to prepare for your conference.

"This week the competition levels out and everybody gets to see where they are."

Winthrop will be playing in Pool A, along with Fairfield, N.C. A&T, Ohio, Albany and UNC-Wilmington. Ohio was the only team to beat Winthrop in pool play last year.

Pool B includes Memphis, Vermont, Furman, Charlotte, Gardner-Webb and Providence.

Each team will play two games each on Friday and Saturday. The two with the best records after pool play will compete for the gold championship at 1 p.m. on Sunday. There will also be other championships -- silver, bronze and maroon -- on the line Sunday.

Big South Conference member Radford defeated Albany last year for the gold title.

Winthrop, which plays a doubleheader against Vermont at 2 p.m. today, was 5-1 last year and was the silver champion.

• BIG WIN: The men's soccer team posted a 1-0 spring game win over Clemson over the weekend. Rising senior Daniel Revivo scored the only goal of the match from 30 yards out.

"It was a tough game," coach Rich Posipanko said. "Both teams went at it hard. Our defense was outstanding."

Posipanko had high praise for defenders Otto Lowey, Henry Kalungi and goalkeeper Patrick Mitrovich.

Winthrop will be back at home on Thursday, hosting Pass Four FC, an under-20 international team from England. The match begins at 4 p.m.

On March 29, Winthrop will host the second Manchester Cup at Manchester Meadows. Other teams in the field include College of Charleston, Furman, Clemson, Kentucky, Old Dominion, UNC Greensboro, UNC-Wilmington and South Carolina. The Charlotte Eagles, a professional club, will also compete and there will be a pair of high school matches involving Northwestern, Fort Mill, Dorman and Spartanburg.

• A LITTLE R&R: John Gilkerson got a few days off this week from preparing for the upcoming Major League Soccer season and the two-time All-Big South first-team defender did what he loves most. Gilkerson, who was taken in the third round of the MLS supplemental draft, worked out with the Eagles.

"He had some business he had to take care of and he looked into some classes to make sure he can finish his degree," Posipanko said. "He's trying to work it where he can do that with online classes."

Gilkerson, who just returned from Austria, said he's hoping to sign a contract in the near future. If not, he could end up playing for the Richmond Kickers of the United Soccer League.

• STAYING CLOSE TO HOME: There was a rare sighting at the Winthrop Golf Course two days ago.

Following a disappointing showing at the at the USA Lady Jaguar Invitational, women's coach Jodi Wendt had several members of her team gather at the first hole to work on their games.

"I wanted to use that teaching device and it's easier to bring it out here than taking it to Waterford, Tega Cay or Rock Hill where we usually practice," Wendt said, pointing to the large circular device that helps players with their swing plane from takeaway to follow-through. "Ideally, you work on the device, then immediately hit some balls.

"This was something I felt we needed to do, considering how we played."

The Lady Eagles shot a 36-hole total of 644 (324-320) to finish 15th out of the 18 teams and well behind champion East Tennessee State, which fired a 600 and finished 17 shots ahead of second-place Southern Miss.

"We didn't play well at all," Wendt said. "The weather was bad, but we should have played a lot better than we did. Hopefully, they're saving their best scores for the Shamrock and the conference."

Freshman Allison Itria, who tied for 33rd with a 15-over par 159 (78-81), turned in the best score for the Lady Eagles. Fort Mill's Sara Hester shot161 (81-80) for a tie for 41st place.

Senior Jutta Degerman and sophomore Rachel Smith tied for 47th at 162 (81-81). Sophomore Erin Sweeney rounded out the Lady Eagles' scoring with a 171 (86-85), which tied her for 86th.

Winthrop returns to action on March 21-23, when the Lady Eagles play host to The Shamrock at Tega Cay Golf Course.

"We're all looking forward to that," Wendt said. "The people there are so great to all the teams."

• HONORED: Winthrop's Mallory Hogan was named Big South Conference softball Player of the Week while teammate Megan Evans was tabbed Pitcher of the Week.

Hogan, a junior first baseman, recorded five RBIs and batted .429 in Winthrop's two-game sweep of Charlotte last week.

Evans tossed eight innings with nine strikeouts to go 1-0 last week. In Game 1, she pitched six shutout innings with seven strikeouts and one hit. In Game 2, Evans entered the game with the bases loaded and no outs and recorded two strikeouts to get out of the inning with no runs.

• Tickets -- $5 adults, $3 students for tournament pass. Free for senior citizens and children under 12