Bring On The Spring
As great as the winter sports season is at Webster University, there is something refreshing and invigorating about the start of the spring sports season.
Maybe it’s because seven teams are in action during the spring, compared to just two — men’s and women’s basketball — during the winter. Perhaps it’s because the spring sports are so vastly different from each other, which makes it more fun (and difficult) for The Journal’s sports writers to cover.
But I think more than that, especially this year, it’s because that old cliché — hope springs eternal — is legitimately true. Webster’s 2012 spring sports teams are scary good. This season could potentially be the best three months in Webster athletics history. I’ve got a feeling the seven teams are going to come through in a big way.
Three of the spring teams — baseball, golf and women’s tennis — are heavy favorites to win St. Louis Intercollegiate Athletic Conference championships and advance to NCAA Division III tournaments.
Two of the teams — softball and men’s tennis — have great shots at making SLIAC title games. Whether these two squads can get over the hump will likely depend on if they can beat their rivals: Fontbonne University for softball and Westminster College for men’s tennis.
The final two teams — men’s and women’s track and field — aren’t quite ready to overtake Greenville College at the SLIAC Invitational. But both Webster squads have terrific individual athletes, such as javelin thrower Gretchen Rieger, who will push to qualify for nationals.
If there’s a program at Webster that has the ability to win a national championship within the next five years, it’s Bill Kurich’s baseball squad. Though several injuries to starting pitchers set the Gorloks back, underclassmen have already stepped up and the team is on a four-game winning streak.
Senior David Mueller is the team’s ace and looks like a man on a mission. Through two games and 14 innings, Mueller has 13 strikeouts and a 1.29 ERA. If the Gorloks are to get by Greenville, Fontbonne and Westminster College in the SLIAC tournament, Mueller will be the one who takes them there.
For the golf team, the SLIAC tournament is all but an afterthought. Webster won last year’s conference championship by 30 strokes. Right now, there simply isn’t a SLIAC team that can hang with the Gorloks. The team will be focusing on a better result at the NCAA championships.
Junior Kyler Scott is the Gorloks’ standout golfer. Close behind are freshmen Tanner Rabb and Matt Vanderbeek, and junior Steven Kinsman. All four players have the capability of being the team’s best player on any given day. Coach Andrew Belsky knows he has his best team in program history. It’s going to be fun seeing just how far these Gorloks can go.
As with the golf team, Michael Siener knows he has his best women’s tennis team ever. And not only are the Gorloks going to be great this year — they’re going to be phenomenal for the next several years.
The team has five outstanding freshmen. Freshman Marissa Lewis will be one of the Gorloks’ top players this season. Senior twins Paige and Allison Tungate, along with junior Lindsey Hays, are three of the best athletes at Webster. This team is in line to have a special season.
Now more than ever is a great time to get out to GCS Ballpark, Blackburn Park and the Webster Groves Tennis Center to watch these spring sports teams in action. If the Gorloks have as good of a year as I suspect, it’s going to be a season for the ages, one you won’t want to miss.