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Tuesday Talk: Deja Vu all over again with weather woes

Tuesday Talk: Deja Vu all over again with weather woes

Maybe we recall how mild it has been during many recent winters.

Maybe it was finally getting a taste of good weather on our spring break.

Whatever the case, we were reminded the hard way this week that spring outdoor conditions in Minnesota are usually all over the spectrum. Rain, cold, wind and even snow are part of the landscape almost every spring, sometimes well into May.

This week's cold and snow wave is causing headaches statewide for college teams in baseball, softball, tennis, golf and track and field. High temperatures are running 15-20 degrees below normal.

Advance forecasts predict that milder air with highs in the low 50-degree range will arrive for the weekend of April 12-15. But until then, the postponements are piling up.

We've been here before. An especially bad spring for prolonged poor weather came back in 2013:

  • Tommie Baseball went 18 days without playing during April, and just seven of the first 30 MIAC doubleheaders were played in the first half of the month.
  • Several MIAC doubleheaders were moved to the opponents' diamonds due to better field conditions.
  • The conference altered its playoff formats for both diamond sports since a few teams couldn't get all of their MIAC shedule played. The four-team, double-elimination baseball format was changed to a six-team, single-elimination tournament. In softball, every team was invited to a pool-play format to participate in the MIAC playoffs.
  • Softball used some indoors domes to ease the problem. But three MIAC softball teams still had nine conference doubleheaders to play on April 17 of that spring.

Softball faces the biggest time crunch. The conference playoffs are slated to start four weeks from Friday. That could leave as few as 25 days to get 11 doubleheaders played for each MIAC team.

Tommie Baseball has seven non-conference games to play over the next 33 days, and some of those could be in jeopardy if the weather woes continue this month.

One strange result of the poor weather: next Sunday night, three UST teams will be competing indoors for tennis (Lakeville) and softball (Dundas). You could probably count on one hand the number of Sunday night sports events that Tommie teams have competed in over the years.

 

Women's Stat of the Week

Softball pitchers sophomore Hayley Dunning and senior Sammy Hogan combined to throw a five-inning no-hitter last week in Florida against Mount Mary in an 8-0 victory. Dunning started and struck out six with one walk. Hogan retired all five batters she faced, two by strikeout.

 

Men's Stat of the Week

Over his last seven starts dating back to the 2017 season, Tommie senior pitcher Drew Molin is 4-0 with an 0.82 ERA and 47 strikeouts and six walks in 43.2 innings.

 

Milestone Talk
 
Softball's John Tschida -- the winningest coach in NCAA softball history -- won his 900th career game last week in Florida. In Tschida's 24-year coaching career at St. Mary's and St. Thomas, he has led Cardinal and Tommies teams to three NCAA championships. He will head into the MIAC season with a 902-172 coaching record. That includes a 694-128 record (.844) in 18 seasons with the Tommies. Tschida is just the third active NCAA Division III coach to surpass 900 victories, joining 34-year Central (Iowa) coach George Wares and 31-year Alma (Mich.) coach Denny Griffin.

  

Streak Talk
 
St. Thomas Women's Tennis remains unbeaten against Division III competition. Coach Terry Peck's women have won 18 consecutive matches at the University of Minnesota Baseline courts, too.
 
St. Thomas Softball junior Jenna Beeso had hit safely in 15 consecutive games.
 
Tommie Softball has won six in row.
 
 
Poll Talk
 
Eleven Tommie teams are currently nationally ranked or finished their fall/winter season nationally ranked:
  • Women's Basketball (7th/7th, tied for ninth place in nation)
  • Football (4th/4th, tied for fifth place in nation);
  • Men's Soccer (6th, tied for fifth place in nation);
  • Men's Golf (4th/1st);
  • Softball (14th);
  • Women's Hockey (10th/10th);
  • Women's Swim-Dive (18th, placed 27th in nation);
  • Men's Swim-Dive (17th, placed 39th in nation);
  • Volleyball (25th, tied for 33rd place in nation);
  • Women's Golf (26th GolfStat);
  • Women's Cross Country (30th, placed 22nd in nation);
  • Women's Indoor Track and Field (placed 32nd in nation)
  • Men's Outdoor Track and Field (41st computer ranking)
  • Women's Outdoor Track and Field (61st computer ranking)

 

Track and Field

Most Tommie athletes have been off competition at least a month since the indoor season ended. Weather permitting, the Tommie men and women will compete at the Hamline Invite Saturday in St. Paul.

Senior All-America Connor O'Neill (pole vault, hurdles) will use his final season of eligibility over the next eight weeks.

 

Softball

Hayley Dunning is making an early bid to be called the most improved softball pitcher in the conference.

After pitching just 10.1 varsity innings last spring as a freshman, the Littleton, Colo., native has won her last seven starts this season for the Tommies. Dunning went 6-0 with a 2.10 ERA with 27 strikeouts and 10 walks in 21 innings last week in Florida, and beat two nationally ranked teams.

The Tommies (10-4) have won nine of their last 10 games and moved up six spot to No. 14 in this week's NFCA Division III poll. They have moved Wednesday's MIAC home games aganst Bethel to an 8 p.m. indoor DH in Plymouth at Providence Academy. They are scheduled to play at St. Ben's in doubleheader on Saturday, and have moved Sunday's away games at St. Olaf into the Dundas Dome for a Sunday night 7:30 p.m. start.

 

Baseball

Tommie Baseball won four of its last five games last week and brings a 5-7 record into April.

Pitching has been strong for the Toms against a tough early schedule. UST leads the nation in strikeout-to-walk ratio (after finishing third last season), at 4.71 Ks per walk. Their pitchers have chalked up 113 strikeouts in 97 innings. Tommie starters have recorded a 2.07 earned-run average thus far. All-Region returners Ryan Zimmerman, Henry DeCaster and Drew Molin have a combined 1.99 ERA and 60 Ks in 50 innings.

 

Men's Tennis

The poor weather forecast has forced Tommie Men's Tennis to move two outdoor matches next weekend to indoor courts at the Lakeville Lifetime Fitness Center. St. Thomas will face St. John's Saturday at 2 p.m., and plays Hamline Sunday at 7:30 p.m.

The Toms are scheduled to close the regular season with four April conference matches.

 

Women's Tennis

Freshman Catherine Lindsay went unbeaten in five spring-break matches and improved her season dual-meet record to a combined 25-0 in singles and doubles for the 12-1 Tommies. Lindsay has not lost a set thus far.

The Toms will play Sunday night indoors against Hamline at the Lakeville Lifetime Fitness Center courts.

 

Golf

St. Thomas men's and women's golf teams opened their 2018 portion of the seasons last week with victories during spring break.

Led by Pete Sienko's 70, the UST men scored a 6-3 match-play victory over the College of the Desert in Palm Springs. Led by Emily Thul's round of 72, the Tommie women topped Luther by six shots and beat St. Catherine by seven in a meet in Phoenix.

Weather permitting, both UST teams will compete again the weekend of April 14-15.