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The Echo
Taylor University, Upland, IN
Thursday, May 30, 2024
The Echo
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Spring sports recap

Multiple TU teams head to NAIA Nationals

No. 17 Baseball (41-14, 30–6)

The No. 17 Taylor Trojans will be competing in the 2024 NAIA Baseball National Championship Opening Round against No. 23 MidAmerica Nazarene, after defeating Saint Francis (37-17, 24-12) 7-4 in the Crossroads League Tournament Championship. The Upland Bracket of the opening round is set to be played on Winterholter Field from May 13-16. 

The Crossroads League Tournament Title is the sixth title the team has claimed under head coach Kyle Gould, earning him the CL Coach of the Year for the seventh time in his career. 

Junior third baseman Mason David claimed the CL Player of the Year and teammate sophomore Gabel Pentecost earned the CL Pitcher of the Year. 

The championship game remained scoreless until the fourth inning where Saint Francis gained the lead 3-0. Pentecost, the right-handed pitcher, only allowed one earned run with eight out of 12 outs earned through strikeouts. 

The Trojans put their mark on the scoreboard when junior Luke Picchiotti hit a solo homer to right field. Sophomore Brennan Frickel and Picchiotti brought in two runs on balls to shorten the gap for Taylor 4-3.

With the bases loaded, David hit a sacrifice fly followed by singles by sophomores Sam Gladd and Brayden Manning, putting the Trojans in the lead 6-4. In the bottom of the eighth Taylor loaded the bases again and gave themselves a larger lead 7-4 after Gladd was hit by a pitch. 

Junior pitcher Conner Miller gained his second save of the season and the Trojans piled on the mound to celebrate. 

(View Dalton Jones’ article for more on baseball)

Softball (28-27, 17-19):

Taylor ended their season on Thursday, May 2 against Spring Arbor, where they fell 3-1 in the Crossroads League Tournament. 

The Trojans had five players selected for All-Crossroads League honors; senior Aleyah Rastetter, junior Mackenzie Noah, and sophomores Kaylee Larkin, Livie Lehmann and Madisyn Standridge, 

Larkin and Lehmann earned First-Team All-Crossroads League selections. Rastetter and Standridge were honored as Second-Team All-Crossroads League and Noah earned an Honorable Mention All-Crossroads League. 

Larkin set a single-season record in slugging percentage (.821) and also led the team in hits (66), home runs (14), RBIs (41), walks (29), batting average (.437) and on-base percentage (.527). Her home run record marks the second-best in a single season in the program’s history. She ranked seventh in the NAIA for home runs and 11th for extra-base hits (30) and total bases (124, also second-best in program history for a single season). 

Lehmann finished seventh in the NAIA in doubles (21), just short of the single-season record she set last year, and tied Larkin in extra-base hits (30). 

Rastetter ended her career by claiming a program history record with 80 career walks. The Second-Team All-CL honor is the third of her career. Standridge sits in second for stolen bases (26) in a single season for program history. Noah holds records in program history in wins (34), games started (70), complete games (37), shutouts (6), and innings pitched (407.1). 

(View Caleb Joshua Heffron’s story for more on softball)

Men’s Track and Field:

The men’s track and field team finished fifth at the Crossroads League Championships hosted by Indiana Wesleyan with 66 points. 

The team had one individual NAIA A standard which was earned by senior Nate Conkel in the 800 meters, placing fourth with a time of 1:51.83. Conkel combined with seniors Nathan Brainer and Ben Eiffert and sophomore Joel Mumaw in the 4x800-meter relay earlier in the meet to earn TU its second NAIA A standard with a time of 7:34:40. 

The seven-and-a-half-minute finish is the third fastest time in the NAIA. 

Two NAIA B standards were earned by junior Braden Bixler and sophomore Jared Stayte. Bixler posted a personal best time of 54.09 in the 400-meter hurdles, placing third. Stayte took home seventh in the 3,000-meter steeplechase with a time of 9:28.13. 

Senior Jake Thompson and sophomore Josh Forbes were the team’s standout field competitors. Thompson finished in third in the high and long jump, clearing 2.02 meters and landing at 6.84 meters. 

Freshman Nathan Burns finished top three in the 5,000 meters with a time of 14:51:89. 

In total, there were eight men’s runners who ended with All-Crossroads League honors. 

The Trojans’ next action will be at the Last Chance Invite at the University of Saint Francis in Joliet, Illinois on May 10 and 11. 

No. 22 Women’s Track and Field:

The Trojans ended in fourth place with 125.5 points at the Crossroads League Championships. 

On the first day of the championships, the Trojans took home two first-place finishes. 

Sophomore Kiana Siefert claimed the title in the long jump with a NAIA B standard qualifying distance of 5.75 meters. Senior Mollie Gamble finished first in the 10,000-meters marking a time of 37:53:89. Gamble has been a standout athlete for the Trojans this year, claiming multiple program records during the indoor track season. 

Sophomore Noel VanderWall, junior Abby Mays and seniors Emily Johnson and Olivia Jeanette combined in the 4x800-meter relay for a time of 9:06.58, finishing third with NAIA A standard. 

On the final day of the competition, Siefert was named the Women’s Most Valuable Athlete for Field Events and Female Athlete of the Meet. Individually she scored 36 of Taylor’s 125.5 points. 

On top of her first-place finish in the long jump, she claimed first in the triple jump and third in 100-meter hurdles, with a distance of 11.25 meters and a time of 14.57. 

Siefert also collected a second-place finish in the 4x100-meter relay with teammates sophomore D’Arjha Davis and freshman Nicole Domene and Jessie Beaumont for a time of 48.18. 

The Trojans look to compete at the NAIA Championships on May 22 at Indiana Wesleyan University. 

(View Elise Hoylman’s story for more on women’s track and field)

RV Men’s Golf:

The men’s golf team finished in second place with a final score of 3-under par, ending behind Marian, who finished 36-under par, at the Crossroads League Championships. The team earned their second-straight team score under par.

In the first round of the tournament, the Trojans posted a score of 294, followed by a season-best 283. In the final round, the team shot a four-under score of 284. 

Senior Austin Davis shot 72 in the final round, finishing five-under and putting him in fourth place. In the first round, he shot 66 for the Trojans’ lowest score of the season. This earned him Crossroads League All-Tournament honors.

A career-best score of 66 placed sophomore Will Schuitema in seventh place on the individual leaderboard. freshman Tanner Conklin and sophomore Kyle Kasitz ended in 12th and 14th, shooting two-over and four-over, respectively. 

The Trojans now wait until Friday, May 10 to see if they have earned an invitation, either as a team or as individuals, to compete at the NAIA National Championships in Dalton, Georgia. 

No. 19 Women’s Golf:

Finishing third in the Crossroads League Championships, the No. 19 TU women’s golf team will be heading to the NAIA Nationals in Silvis, Illinois on May 14-17. 

This will be the team’s sixth consecutive appearance at nationals. In the past six years, the team has finished in the top 20 every season. 

On the opening day of the championships, TU posted team scores of 315 and 313. In the final round, the team combined for 306.

Sophomores Shayne Lim and Margarita Garrido have led the Trojans to their scoring average of 314.6 with individual averages of 75.9 and 78.7, respectively. Lim has also been honored as the Crossroads League’s Women’s Golfer of the Week and finished in first place four times this season. 

Lim ended the championship in fourth place with a score of 227 overall. Garrido ended in a tie for seventh posting a score of 232 overall. Junior Ellie Beavins and senior Elizabeth Kemper ended in 11th and 19th. 

TU’s best round came Tuesday from junior Ellie Karst, posting 74. 

The team’s Nationals play will begin at TPC Deere Run on May 14, where they are scheduled to tee off at 2:40 p.m. (ET).

Men’s Lacrosse (5-10, 2-6): 

Taylor men’s lacrosse has just six years on its history books, five under head coach Chad Newhard, but their growth and strong dynamic are evident each season. This year the team had 11 freshmen and will be saying goodbye to 10 seniors.

Senior Aidan Craig broke the Wolverine-Hoosier Athletic Conference (WHAC) record for the most assists in a single season (71) during the Trojan’s final game (24-11) against No. 6 Concordia. He also holds the league record for most assists in a career (191) and a single game (14). 

These standout stats named Craig the WHAC Conference Offensive Player of the Year and a First-Team All-WHAC selection. 

Seniors Jake Weikel and Caleb Williams, juniors Casey Bane, Reid Gerig and Trace Muylle, and sophomore Will Vanderkodde earned All-WHAC Academic Team. 

The Champions of Character Team award is given to one student-athlete from each institution who represents the NAIA’s five core character values: respect, integrity, responsibility, sportsmanship and servant leadership. 

This year, senior Carter Prieditis was selected as the Champions of Character recipient for Taylor. He ended his career with 30 assists, 93 points, and 123 shots on goal.