Tuesday, April 13, 2010
J. Andrew Lockwood
Senior Editor / Columnist
There were certainly more winners and losers from the Donovan McNabb trade than the two NFL parties involved in the deal, the Philadelphia Eagles and the Washington Redskins. In fact, a few players’ careers are at stake as well in a debacle that affects the entire league. How you ask? Take a moment to consider the two teams in the trade. Both are NFC East rivals. The Eagles made the playoffs at 11-5 while the Redskins tanked at 4-12.
By trading their veteran quarterback, the face of their franchise for the past decade, to the lowly Redskins, the Eagles organization now places their trust in the young arm of Kevin Kolb, a second year player from Houston that has two career starts under his belt. If you reason that the Eagles also have Michael Vick, I wouldn’t consider him to be more of a factor in the Philadelphia offense than he was a year ago. His legs are aging and the Eagles aren’t a team built around the ‘Wildcat’ offense.
Therefore, with an unproven quarterback, I see the Eagles hovering around .500 next year (8-8 anybody?) while the Redskins might see a margin increase in wins to inch near the .500 mark. That means that Dallas Cowboys and New York Giants have a huge opportunity to capitalize on the now offensively weakened Eagles while still beating the tar out of the Redskins. After all, Washington may have McNabb, but without a half-decent offensive line don’t expect miracles.
This trade also benefits other teams in the NFC such as the Falcons, Panthers, and 49ers. All three organizations narrowly missed the playoffs in the 2009 season and with a potential wild card spot opening up via the Eagles, expect one of these three teams to be playing come next January.
Of course with any competition, there are also losers. Oakland, Arizona, and Minnesota, all clubs that needed a quarterback like McNabb, couldn’t pull off the deal. The Raiders needed him the most, and in fact, the Eagles would probably have traded McNabb to Al Davis’s team had it not been for the fact that no one wants to land in Oakland these days. The last 5 years, the franchise has won 20 games, an average of 4 per season. McNabb is getting old and a stipulation of the trade must have been that he be traded to a half-way decent team with a reasonable chance of reaching the playoffs in the next two to three years.
Kevin Kolb now gets his shot, just as Eagles third-string QB A.J. Feely got his five years ago. Redskin’s owner Dan Synder and new Washington head coach Mike Shanahan can rest easy with a franchise quarterback to replace the inconsistent Jason Campbell. Michael Vick could even benefit from this situation if Kolb doesn’t work out or gets injured. The possibilities are endless.
It’s somewhat sad that the two trading parties, the Redskins and Eagles actually seemed to lose from this deal while other NFL teams benefitted. The Eagles did so in a continued purge of their salary structure, but nonetheless one that will weaken the Philadelphia franchise for years to come. The Redskins gain a great player on the roster, but the trade won’t mean anything unless the ‘Skins can put quality players around McNabb.
That’s the high-stakes world of the NFL, winners and losers at every turn. And when the trades involve big-time players, they come with big-time implications.
J. Andrew Lockwood
Senior Editor / Columnist
As Mike Raynor’s team dives head-first into the Atlantic Sun Conference slate of regular season games, pitching should be considered a constant. That’s what happens when you have Jenni Holtz and Kari Chambers on your staff. As for the offense, question marks will undoubtedly hang over their batting helmets until they can consistently score runs. After catching fire in mid-March, the Bears have had their ups and downs in April, splitting doubleheaders with Samford, Georgia Southern, Lipscomb and Belmont will dropping two games to in-state rival Kennesaw State.
Mercer 5 – Samford 0
The scoreboard remained quiet for six innings until a five-run seventh inning catapulted the Bears to a victory in the first game of the series. Jenni Holtz fanned 11 batters and their a complete game shutout to earn another victory for Mercer. The late-game heroics started when pinch-hitter Allison Jones hit a single in the middle gap to score shortstop Sara Stukes from second for the first run of the game. Afterwards, a fielder’s choice from Amanda Santa Maria would plate Lilli Luke while Kristin Marko would tally two RBIs on another single to right field. The scoring ended after Emi Sherrill tagged another hit to right field to score Santa Maria and Marko.
Samford 1 – Mercer 0
After the strong offensive display in the seventh inning, the Bears couldn’t generate any offense to support the superb pitching efforts of junior Kari Chambers. Allowing two hits and striking out seven, Chambers was replaced with reliever Natalie Jones in the seventh who ended up surrendering the game-winning bunt from Samford batter Amanda Jordan.
Kennesaw State 4 – Mercer 3
Mercer came oh-so-close to beating the Owls before a walk-off homerun by Klair Wells sealed the game. Pitching well into the ninth inning, Jenni Holtz once again seemed to hold the opposing batters at bay despite surrendering three runs throughout the course of the game. Sara Stukes walloped her 5th homerun of the season in the top of the second, but Mercer would account for only two hits on the afternoon to fall to the Owls.
Kennesaw State 9 – Mercer 5
In a wild second game of the doubleheader, Mercer’s pitching staff would give up a grand total of four hits to KSU’s lineup while mustering eight of their own, yet still lost 9-5. Giving up two home runs and a 3 run sixth inning silenced the Bears comeback efforts as they dropped the series to the Owls to return back to the .500 mark.
“The offense showed up [in game two] and the defense fell apart,” commented Raynor after the game on MercerBears.com. “We just need to put all the pieces together and we will be alright.”
Georgia Southern 1 – Mercer 0
Striking out 14 batters is a dominate performance, especially considering that most softball contests only last seven innings. Jenni Holtz did just that during the first game of the non-conference doubleheader with SoCon foe Georgia Southern making the trip up I-16 to take on the Bears at Sikes Field.
GSU’s leadoff hitter Nina Iduate broke-up Holtz’s shutout-effort in the fifth inning with a double to left-center field to score Kayle Brooks for the go-ahead run. Mercer rallied in the bottom of the seventh, but an infield hit from Stacey Condra turned into the double-play that the Eagles needed to seal the win.
Mercer 1 – Georgia Southern 0
Another defensive effort from both teams almost forced the second game of the double-header into extra innings. GSU starter Megan Smith battled Mercer’s Kari Chambers each inning from the circle until Smith gave up a walk-off home run to Stephaine Canara in the bottom of the seventh inning for a Mercer victory.
“It was a great way to end the day and we certainly need that,” Raynor commented afterwards. “It was better than a couple of singles and a bunt or something like that. We needed something to pump us up like that.”
Lipscomb 2 – Mercer 1
Facing arguably the best team in the A-Sun in Lipscomb, Friday afternoon’s pitching matchup of Holtz vs. Whitney Kiihnl was one of the most anticipated this season. Kiihnl eventually secured the win for her team, but in a weird twist of fate it was Holtz’s game to shine. Striking out eleven batters in seven innings, Holtz inched closer to the 723 strikeout mark set by Katie Rosentreter for the most strikeouts in Mercer softball history.
With a large crowd on hand for Alumni Weekend, Holly Oglesbee’s leadoff homerun in the first inning brought about a good start for the Bears. Unfortunately, Lipscomb’s Kellie Sirus would hit her own two-run homer in the top of the seventh to give Lipscomb their 32nd win of the 2010 season.
Mercer 3 – Lipscomb 1
The nightcap of the doubleheader started off in bad fashion for Kari Chambers as she walked Kellie Sirus, who would eventually score courtesy of a Christen Campbell single. Surprisingly though, the Mercer offense pulled through producing runs via small ball. Emi Sherrill and Jenny Goodman would record RBIs as they executed a fielder’s choice and bunt respectively.
“Hopefully this can be the spark we were looking for,” added Raynor. “I think we are beginning to believe in each other and we needed a win like this to get over the top.”
Mercer 10 – Belmont 0
Eleven hits in five innings did the job for the Bears in Saturday afternoon’s first game, giving Jenni Holtz plenty of support in a shellacking of the Belmont Bruins. Kristin Marko, Sarah Santana, and Stacey Condra each had multiple hits along the way to quickly put away the A-Sun foes from Nashville. The offense highlight of the game was a two-run shot in the fourth inning from Sarah Santana (2-for-3) for her fourth home-run of the year.
Belmont 1 – Mercer 0
Relieving for Kari Chambers in the second game, Jenni Holtz struck out eight batters to finally surpass the all-time strikeout mark near the end of the game in a historic feat at Sikes Field. Offensive woes plagued the Bears again as they accounted for only five hits and their lone run in the first inning. The loss set Mercer back to the .500 mark and dropped the Bears to 3-5 in A-Sun play.
J. Andrew Lockwood
Senior Editor / Columnist
After two days of placing in the middle of the field, the Mercer women’s golf team settled in 8th after the third and final round of the MSU Ocala Spring Invitational. In the team’s final tune-up before the Atlantic Sun Championship Tournament, the Mercer women showed signs of improvement from recent tournaments with two consecutive days of shooting 311 as a team.
Daytona State College (+22) would wind up beating the field with a scorching 288 as a team during the final round, closely followed by Stetson (+29), Florida Southern (+48) and Morehead State (+60). Mercer would finish behind St. Leo (+80) with a cumulative score of +88.
Individually, freshman Kaitlin Marrin (76-74-79) notched the Bears best finish in 12th place at +13 through the three rounds. Marrin’s second round 74 was the lowest round for anyone on the team during the weekend and certainly a testament to the tenacity that she has exhibited on the golf course during her first-year campaign as a Bear.
Senior Monica Kelsey (+18) finished close behind in 22nd after recording three rounds in the 70s as well (79-77-78). Kimberly Graff (+26) put two promising rounds of golf together during the first half of the weekend, shooting a 79 and 76 during the first two rounds before an eventual 37th place finish while teammates Alicia Poole (+39) and Kayli Wicker (+40) rounded out the field.
With the final regular season tournament complete for Gary Guyer’s squad, the Belle Bears head to New Smyrna Beach, Florida to play in the season-ending Atlantic Sun Championship Tournament. Held at the Venetian Bay Golf Club, the tournament will mark the last campaign for senior Monica Kelsey (a Florida native) as well as the team for the 2010 spring season.
Thursday, April 1, 2010
Senior Reporter / Columnist
The Mercer men’s golf team’s exploits at the Linger Longer Invitational ended in disarray due to a scorecard error in the aftermath of the first round.
Freshman Matt Kocolowski mistakenly signed for a false score on the 17th hole and the Bears were disqualified from competing in the final two rounds of play as a team. They were, however, allowed to continue to take part as individuals.
Fellow freshman William Meason lead the Orange and Black in fifth place overall after 36 holes thanks to a second day 71.
Meason, Kocolowski and senior Matt Tribby all recorded two-over 74’s in the final round of the event held at Reynolds Landing in Greensboro, Ga.
Dropping a few places from his previous day’s finish, Meason tied for 13th place with Georgia Tech’s Chesson Hadley while Tribby placed 19th in the 93-golfer field.
The Bear’s scoring was rounded out by senior Matt Smith and freshman Thomas Holmes. Smith notched a 76 in the final round while Holmes concluded with a 78.
Despite the unfortunate circumstances of the disqualification, Mercer was one of seven teams at the event to post multiple sub-300 rounds – an impressive feat on what was a tricky course.
As a team, the Bears posted a cumulative score of 298 on the final day. College powerhouse Oklahoma State clinched the title, posting a three-day total of 865. Southern rivals Alabama finished just off the pace in second with an 867 while Texas A&M took third with a team total of 874.
Mercer head coach Andrew Tredway remained philosophical after the tournament. “I'm excited about how the team played amidst a hard situation,” he said. “We put together two of the better rounds of the season and it couldn't have come at a better time.”
Tredway was also impressed by Meason’s contribution: “William played absolutely phenomenal this week. He should be really proud of the way he played and he has really turned himself into a good player.”
The Bears are now entering the final section of their season with only one regular season event remaining before the Atlantic Sun Conference Championships begin in April. They will return to action on April 3rd at the Irish Creek Intercollegiate in Charlotte, NC.
Senior Reporter / Columnist
Having spent Spring Break resting and recuperating, the Mercer Cycling team sped back into action with an impressive showing at the Georgia Tech Intercollegiate.
Racing in the rural suburb of Newnan, Ga., a total of seven riders competed for the Bears in the team trial, individual time trial and road race portions of the event.
Saturday’s early morning session saw Mercer’s team time trial entry of Evan Ayoub, Jason Glow, Kevin Roberts and Andrew Lockwood take first place in the ‘C’ category with a time of 28:16 around the 11 mile course. The team hit top speeds of 39mph on the downhill section before strongly climbing the middle section of the course to finish just over three minutes ahead of North Georgia.
In the individual time trial, the Orange and Black’s Gabe Denes finished in 7th with a time of 32:19 while freshman Alex Lockwood placed 9th with a 34:46 mark.
The afternoon road race shifted to a nearby 8 mile course on which the ‘C’ race consisted of four laps. As a climber-friendly course, Mercer’s riders worked near the leaders for most of the race in the most epic event of the weekend. Gaining more than 2,100 feet of elevation over the course of the race, the peloton of 32 riders was split into a much smaller group of 12 by the end of the race with Andrew Lockwood and Kevin Roberts working with several teams near the front.
Robert’s attack at the base of a steep ladder climb halfway through the race helped set him up for a last minute sprint to the line at the top of a hill to finish 6th. Lockwood then came in just 5 seconds behind the sprint group after suffering from cramps for the last half-mile to register a top-10 finish in 9th. Evan Ayoub would follow up the peloton in 15th, crossing the line in fine style.
“I saw there was a steep climb coming into the race when we drove the course and I wanted to use that climb to my advantage. Out of the two courses, I loved the Saturday course the most because of the uphill finish,” commented Roberts after the weekend of racing.
Sunday’s race proved even more exciting as well as almost the entire peloton finished at the same time. Attacks from College of Charleston, Clemson and Georgia Southern throughout the 33 mile race were unsustainable, setting up the group for a wild finish at the end. Georgia Southern’s Matt Gentry blazed into the lead coming into the final turn. But despite crossing the line first, Gentry was later disqualified for crossing the yellow line on a hill during the final sprint.