Blazer Beat: Just Needed Some Fresh Air

By Nathan Tucker

nrtucker@lc.edu

It’s not been the easiest return to action for any Trailblazer team, but at this time of year, hope springs eternal. This spring brings new teams, new sports, and more chances for Trailblazer wins, which have been unfortunately scarce inside the confines of the famous George C. Terry Riverbend Arena.

The Riverbend Arena has been a busy place, but sadly not a victorious home for the Trailblazers since the resumption of play at the start of February. As of this St. Patrick’s Day writing, only one Trailblazer victory has taken place under the Riverbend Arena roof, the women’s basketball team’s 65-61 victory over Spoon River.

The men’s basketball team has spent the past few weeks on the road, and unfortunately, other gyms aren’t any more forgiving. Now at 0-12, only five games remain in this shortened basketball season for Doug Stotler and Kavon Lacey’s men, and they’ll just want to put together some strong showings down the stretch to end the season on a high note. 

The team can hang their hat on a valiant performance against the #4 in NJCAA Division I basketball John A. Logan this past weekend. The Trailblazers led at half, but John A. Logan’s skill showed in the second half, and a short bench for L&C meant their best performers were quite exhausted down the stretch.

One can think in hypotheticals, or “what ifs”, when it comes to this Lewis & Clark team. What if more freshmen from last year’s team stuck with the program, what if L&C had the athleticism that last year’s team had, but hypotheticals don’t win ball games, as any coach will tell you.

This already tough season on the court has been made even tougher by COVID, as one could expect. Last month the men’s basketball team missed action while quarantining, and the women’s team experienced a similar layoff last week, with an unnamed player experiencing symptoms, but ultimately testing negative.

The symptoms prompted the L&C women’s hoops team into quarantine, and cancelled their March 7 contest against Parkland. Thankfully, with the negative test, the team was able to quickly resume team activities and has played two games since, both losses on the road, to Lincoln Land and Lake Land.

In one of their two home games this month, the Trailblazer women fell in a defensive battle, 60-49, a game they were clawing and fighting in the whole way. 

Struggle has been the name of the game this season with L&C’s women sitting at 1-11, and on a four game losing skid. Coach Jaron Young will lean on his experienced star shooter Mary Penland-Holmes to pile on the points and carry the Trailblazers to a win or two down the stretch.

Last on our indoor sports docket, the volleyball Trailblazers have also echoed the struggles of their Riverbend Arena roommates playing basketball, and have yet to find the win column yet this year. 

Sorry if it sounds like I’m beating a dead horse here, but the goal for the remainder of the season is just to put together some solid showings and leave the shortened season with your head held high.

With two games left, both at home, the volleyball Trailblazers will want to send off their sophomores on a high note. Skylar Kuntzman, the vocal leader and libero for this Trailblazer volleyball team, as well as Abbi Davis, Alexis Liles, and Tiana Wiseman are the sophomores playing their last few games in the Trailblazer white and blue. 

Okay, it’s not all doom and gloom, and what better place to find optimism than a sunny Godfrey Ball Park, where the baseball Trailblazers have found not one, not two, but three whole wins in the past few weeks! 

As this school’s embedded sports reporter who had seen exactly one victory across three teams before the baseball season started, seeing our Trailblazers notch a few wins has been uplifting, a much needed change of atmosphere, and is, to put it plainly here, better material to write about. 

The first win of the season came on Saturday, March 6, in rather spectacular fashion. Down 2-0 to the Kirkwood Eagles with two innings left in game one of a doubleheader, the Trailblazers rallied with two runs in the sixth, and set the scene for a dramatic seventh inning.

With two runners on, L&C’s hottest hitter early in the season, Blake Burris, stepped to the plate with the chance to win the game. He connected with a fastball and launched a 3-run walk-off homer to give the Trailblazers their first victory, and was mobbed at home plate for his trouble. 

The Trailblazers secured another win over Kirkwood in the second game of that doubleheader, a less dramatic 7-1, and scored a third win of the season in St. Charles, over Lindenwood University’s JV squad. The baseball Trailblazers currently sit at 3-5.

Unfortunately the fresh air hasn’t bred success on the softball diamond, and Rhonda Hampton’s team is another looking for their first win, following the Trailblazer trend thus far. I hate that it has become a trend, as stated, I’d rather write about wins than losses, but the positives for the softball Trailblazers are abound. 

The offense has looked dangerous, and despite not finding a win, the Trailblazers have proven they can score runs, and just need to pull the whole game together to get the long-sought victory. Just a quarter way through the softball season, the 0-8 Trailblazers have plenty of time to make some noise this season.

For more information and schedules for all L&C sports, visit LC.edu/Athletics

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