By MIKEY BARNES
Punxsutawney Phil saw his shadow, therefore forecasting six more weeks of winter. Though the legend continues with his ability to predict the seasons, it does no impact for collegiate spring sports to get underway. Basketball is winding down as the conference tournament is just a week away, with both teams fighting for NCAA tournament opportunities. The always-successful swim programs prepare for conferences as well, with hopes of sending a number of swimmers to nationals.
Spring sports means the weather is getting nicer and the Battlegrounds are not just a place with a nice brand new track, or somewhere for the rugby guys and girls to pitch the ball around. It becomes a place of excitement, noise and hopes for more Capital Athletic Conference titles.
This spring will feature a lot of new things for the Eagles that it has not in the past. The UMW track and field team will be hosting a meet for the first time in two years and for the first time on the new track. The team is currently on schedule to host two regular season meets as well as the CAC championship. The young and vibrant track and field team will be looking to prove themselves this spring season, with the conclusion of their indoor season coming on Saturday, Feb. 18.
The newest addition to the athletic department, the men’s golf team, will officially begin their spring season. This team consists of strictly freshman, led by captain Austin Matz and is coached by former head men’s basketball coach Rod Wood. This class of freshman was considered the number four recruiting class in the nation for this year. They will be hosting one match this spring at Augustine Golf Club in Stafford county.
The spring season also means the return of men’s and women’s lacrosse, baseball, softball and the tennis teams. The UMW baseball team finished last year with a record of 24-15, being ranked as high as No. 12 in the nation. Despite some key losses due to graduation, injuries or other various reasons, the Eagles have added some depth with the addition of a number of freshman and transfers and are looking for similar success to last season.
The UMW softball program is coming off a disappointing 13-30 season but are looking to bounce back. With the addition of a bunch of key freshman, head coach Dee Conway is looking for a better outcome here in her 13th season as the head of the program. The ladies have a planned spring break trip to Myrtle Beach, where they are looking to do a great deal of training.
The UMW men’s lacrosse team is coming off a rather disappointing season, finishing last year 7-10. The Eagles are a lot more experienced this season, with six seniors and 10 juniors leading the program. The men’s lacrosse program is also led by new head coach Drew Delaney, after 17 years of coaching by Kurt Glaser. Delaney is just the third coach in program history.
The third round of the NCAA Tournament is how far the UMW women’s lacrosse program made it last year, and are looking to repeat and improve this year. They finished the season ranked No. 12 in the nation. The Eagles have returned four of their top five scorers from this past season and are looking forward to what their eight new freshmen are capable of.
The always successful men and women’s tennis programs are looking to return to the NCAA tournament and continue their winning ways of the CAC tournaments. Junior Kait Brogan was the CAC Player of the Year last year and is looking forward to continue her individual winning ways as well, as she leads the program. Sophomore Matt Miles was CAC Rookie of the Year last year and is looking to do the same for the programs.
There will be no shortage of action at the Battlegrounds the rest of this semester with a strong slate of spring sports beginning their CAC and NCAA title hopes.