As the spring sports season is just about to get into full swing, let’s take a look at the outlook for the various Crimson Hawks teams.
IUP golf is in a great spot heading into the spring season after a successful fall slate which saw it win three events along with the PSAC Championship.
“Our expectations for the spring season are very high,” head coach Dan Braun said.
Freshman Shaun Fedor (marketing) is coming off of an individual conference championship in his first half-year as a collegiate golfer. Jeremy Eckenrode (senior, finance) will still serve as the elder statesman for the Crimson Hawks and finished just behind Fedor in fourth at the fall conference championships. Jack Buccigross (sophomore, marketing) and Richie Kline (freshman, academic affairs) are also coming into the spring hot after top-10 finishes.
Despite the Hawks’ success in the fall, the spring season will still be a challenge.
“We are entered in many events with very strong fields,” Braun said, “and realize that we may not be able to judge our success by wins alone.”
The spring season begins March 13 in Jackson Springs, N.C., and the goal for IUP is to earn a berth at the NCAA Championships in May, according to Braun.
“With a focus on sharpening the process we strive to perfect,” Braun said, “I believe we will achieve our goal.”
After a 10–7 season in 2019 which included a postseason berth, IUP lacrosse is looking to take the next step to contending for a championship in 2020. The biggest difference between the teams will be the loss of Ally Burrows, one of the best players in program history, to graduation.
“Coming off of last season we have a lot of returners and freshman who are ready to make an impact in their first collegiate season,” head coach Brenna Gallagher said.
“We are looking to senior Shannon Hartigan (pre-vet), who was second in points in the 2019 season to lead our attack,” Gallagher said.
Hartigan’s 59 points and 60 shots on goal are tops among returners in 2020.
“In the midfield, our junior captain Kayte Zeiler (kinesiology) is tough, skilled and strong on both ends of the field,” Gallagher said.
Zeiler started all 17 games in 2019, scoring 37 points.
The Hawks are also looking solid defensively, with three starters returning defensively and two goalies with experience set to play a role as well.
“We plan on using our players to their biggest strengths this season and feel as if we have options depending on the game plan,” Gallagher said.
IUP’s season begins Feb. 22 at Shippensburg, with the home opener coming a week later against Millersville.
Resilience is the name of the game for this year’s IUP softball team, according to head coach Shawna Bellaud. Following a 15–27–1 season in 2019, the Hawks will field one of their youngest teams in recent memory. Eight freshmen will be part of the team this year, compared to just one senior, Kaitlyn Beers (criminology). Beers was tied for the team lead in home runs (four) last season and was in the top-three in RBIs, hits and slugging percentage. Brooklyn Kotula (junior, accounting) also returns after earning a 3.21 ERA, eight complete games and a trio of shutouts pitching in 2019.
“We have been able to overcome adversity early on and look to enter a successful and maturing season,” Bellaud said.
The Crimson Hawks begin play with four games in Glenville, W.V. on Feb. 29 and March 1.
TRACK & FIELD:
Technically, the track and field season is already ongoing, as multiple indoor meets have already taken place. Head coach Joey Zins provided us with some analysis and expectation about the state of the team thus far.
“We are in the middle of our indoor season, so our focus is mostly on that right now. We do try to structure things so that our team is at its best outdoors while still being as competitive as possible indoors. We’ll have a better idea of what reasonable goals are for both the women’s and men’s outdoor season once the indoor season is complete.
“We do have several of the top track athletes in the conference in Nikeela Austin (senior, psychology), Andre Carr (sophomore, exercise science), and Christian Jones (senior, hospitality management), all of whom have hit national times/marks so far during indoors.
“Our other top returning scorer from conference on the women’s side, Jess Jones (senior, applied mathematics), is redshirting both the indoor and outdoor seasons. Both of our teams are on the small side this year, so we are going to need contributions from as many of our student-athletes as possible.
“We have a very young team, so how well the teams perform will largely come down to how quickly some of our freshmen can adjust to competing at the college level. Another major factor in our team’s performance will be health. We are dealing with several injuries right now that is hampering our progress so far this indoor season. We hope to start getting some of those individuals back soon and that could have a profound impact on [the rest of] our season.”