BY BILL ARSENAULT
The University of Virginia baseball team was ranked seventh in the nation last week but the Cavaliers figure to move up when the new rankings are posted this week after sweeping No. 5 Florida State in three games last weekend. And, a big gun with the team is sophomore Mike Papi.
Papi (Tunkhannock) is leading the team in hitting with a .376 average. He’s played in 34 games with 26 starts and has 35 hits in 93 at-bats with nine doubles, a triple, five home runs, 30 runs scored and 32 RBI. He serves as an outfielder and designated hitter and has made just one error in 39 chances when he’s out in the field.
“Mike’s got talent a lot like those guys that are playing every day,” coach Brian O’Connor said. “I’ve got to find a way to get him in there some more because I think he’s a very talented player that has waited for his opportunity and certainly has made the most of it.”
The Cavaliers are 35-6 overall and 16-5 in the Atlantic Coast Conference after the sweep of the Seminoles. Papi started all three games and had an RBI single and two runs scored in Sunday’s 5-2 victory.
“Mike has been swinging the bat as well as anybody on the team the last few weeks,” O’Connor said. “I think he showed what he’s made of and how he’s developed as a player.”
Papi played in 35 games and hit .283 as a freshman.
BOWMAN LEADS THE WAY – The Mary Washington women’s tennis team is shooting for its 10th straight Capital Athletic Conference Tournament title and senior Cassie Bowman (Crestwood) is one of the key performers for the 16-4 Eagles, who are ranked 27th in Division III.
Bowman takes a 9-6 record in singles and a 14-5 mark in doubles into the tourney semifinals against York today in Fredericksburg, VA. She’s been playing No. 1, 2 and 3 singles and No. 1, 2 and 3 doubles this season but figures to compete at No. 3 in both in the tournament.
“Through hard work and sacrifice, Cassie has developed into an exceptional collegiate player and a team leader,” coach Patrick Catullo said.
The Eagles are young and Bowman was the only senior honored at Senior Day last week.
“This team went through an important transformation during Cassie’s four years and she has been an integral part of that transformation,” Catullo said. “She is going to be missed and certainly made this a better program.”
ROGERS FINISHES 11TH – Washington senior Lauren Rogers finished 11th in all-around at last weekend’s NCAA Division I Gymnastics Championships in Los Angeles.
Rogers (Holy Redeemer and Northeast Gymnastics) totaled 39.125, the best score by a Washington gymnast since 1988. She was the only Huskie to earn an NCAA bid.
“It was a really great experience,” Roger said. “I’m glad that’s how I got to end my career. I had a mistake on beam but otherwise I was pretty solid so I’m happy. It’s surreal that it is over but I’m excited that I got to finish my senior year strong.”
Rogers finished 14th on vault (9.850) and16th on floor (9.850). She also posted a 9.800 on bars and a 9.625 on beam. She earned her berth in the nationals by finishing tied for second in the all-around at the Regionals in Norman, OK.
“Lauren handled herself with such class and poise,” coach Joanne Bowers said. “She did what she does best – she competed. We are all very proud of her.”
GRULA WRAPS IT UP – Senior Rachel Grula (Hazleton Area) helped the Kutztown women’s tennis team post a 10-8 record with a 6-0 mark in the PSAC this spring. The Golden Bears were beaten 5-0 by Indiana in the league semifinals but came back to defeat Millersville 5-3 in the consolation match.
Grula posted an 8-5 mark at No. 3 singles and an 8-9 record in No. 2 doubles.
“Rachel definitely saved her best tennis for her last year,” coach Suresh Ramamurthi said. “She made monumental improvements since joining us as a walk-on.”
The coach gave Grula a list of goals which the athlete took with a determined and positive attitude.
“Rachel worked extremely hard at improving her strength and conditioning,” Ramamurthi said. “Her understanding of the game, strategies and tactics gave her a great confidence in winning matches.”
Grula was also an outstanding team leader according to the coach.
“She was a great role model,” he said. “She has her own unique way of inspiring and motivating her peers. Even the men’s team took notice and felt her positive energy.”
SZPYNDA READY TO GO – Widener junior Erica Szpynda (Berwick) prepped for two big upcoming track meets by winning the shot put and finishing third in the discus at the Widener Invitational last weekend in Chester. Her winning shot effort (53-5 ½) was second best in Widener history and qualified her for the ECAC Championship (May 15-16 in Springfield, MA). She hit 123-9 ½ in the discus.
“Erica continues her strong year with some impressive performances,” coach Kevin Cunningham said. “Every single meet she continues to improve thanks to all the hard training she has been going through each week.”
Prior to the ECAC meet, Szpynda will compete in the Middle Atlantic Conference Championships May 2-4 in Annville.
“I have high expectations for Erica in the MAC and ECAC championships,” Cunningham said. “She enjoys the big stage and based on her early season performances, I know she is ready for the championship season. I feel confident that she will qualify for the nationals.”
The NCAA Division III Championship will be held May 23-25 in LaCrosse, WI.
TRIO HELPS DUKES – Three area athletes are members of the Duquesne women’s rowing team – junior Regina Dutz and freshman Megan Malone, both from Hazleton, and senior Mary Ketchner of Dallas.
Dutz competes with the second Varsity 8 boat. Ketchner is coxswain on the second Varsity 4 boat while Malone competes on the Novice 4 and 8 boats.
“All three have been instrumental in the progress of our team this year and our success,” women’s coach Jennifer Langzettel said.
Dutz is in her second season with the second Varsity 8 boat.
“Regina is a very strong rower who offers physical and mental strength to whatever boat she is in,” Langzettel said. “Her boat has shown a lot of progress this season.”
Ketchner’s boat is having a big year.
“We had a very big race in Indianapolis and Mary’s boat finished second behind Ohio State, which is ranked sixth in the nation,” Langzettel said.
Malone was a walk-on but worked hard to get on the Novice boat.
“She sits in bow seat and her boats continues to get stronger and faster,” Langzettel said. “Last weekend at the Knecht Cup she raced with both the Novice 8 and Novice 4 and the latter finished second in the petite final.”
The Dukes wrap up their season with the Atlantic-10 Championship Saturday, May 4 in Cherry Hill, N.J. and the Dad Vail Regatta May 10-11 in Philadelphia.