RU Spring sports set to kick off next semester

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Brennen Woodruff
bwoodruff@radford.edu

Radford University has a very promising and interesting season to look forward to in all of its spring sports this year. RU Men’s and Women’s Tennis, Softball, and Baseball all look to build on strong seasons equivalent to last year, and are looking forward to the start of play next semester.
The RU Men’s Tennis team will be looking successful fall season. Sophomore Nick Sayer and junior Thomas Dehaen, who helped lead the Highs, dominated in UVA Fall Classic, where they took hold of the doubles competition and snagged the tournament’s doubles title.
The men’s team starts off the spring season on Jan. 6 in Orlando, Florida.  They will face the Universities of Indiana, Louisville, Alabama, and Central Florida.
In the preseason rankings, sophomore Stijn Meulemans was ranked 90th in the ITA Singles Rankings. Sayer was ranked 112th, but quickly showed he was deserving of a higher ranking when he upset the No. 9 player in the country, Jose Hernandez of UNC, back in September. Head Coach Mike Anderson returns for his 16th season at the helm of the program in search of the team’s fifth Big South Tournament championship in six years.
Women’s tennis is also ready for a solid performance in the upcoming season. Among the star players this year is newly signed freshman, Hannah Crawford.
Crawford ranked 15th in the UK U18 and is prepared for a great season. Over the fall season, the team had a dominant showing in the Liberty Fall Classic. Seniors Mia Drobnjak and Sara Tegner, along with Crawford each won their singles draws, while Crawford and fellow freshman Meg Napolitano won their “B” doubles section.
The tournament concluded with the Highs winning three singles titles and one doubles title. At the end of the weekend, the team finished 13-5 in singles matches and 7-2 in doubles matches.
The women’s season kicks off on Jan. 21 at East Tennessee State. The team’s first home game is an important conference matchup against Liberty on Feb. 29.
The RU Men’s Baseball team was very active over the offseason during the fall. In September, the squad had its annual Scout Day, in which the players show off their skills for the day.
RU Baseball is returning 26 players from last year’s team. The 2011 squad set a team school record with 31 wins. They are also welcoming 10 new recruits.
Seniors infielder Matt Mack outfielder Matt Hillsinger, and senior closer Abram Williams were all honored as All-Big South selections last year.
The RU Baseball season begins with a triple-header against Samford University starting on Feb. 17. The series will be played in Birmingham, Alabama.
The team’s home debut is on March 6, with a double header against La Salle University. The Highs will attempt to start their conference schedule with three consecutive home games against UNC Asheville.
RU Softball will look to rebound after a disappointing end to their 2011 season; the Highs were upset by Liberty University in the Big South Tournament championship game by a score of 3-1. Previously, the Highs had won back to back tournament championships in 2009 and 2010, mostly in part due to the strong leadership of Head Coach Mickey Dean, who has now led the Highlanders to three consecutive regular season titles.
The team lost a strong core of seniors last season, but a new class of seniors looks to step up to the plate in 2012. Senior outfielder Hannah Ojeda, senior designated player Meredith Moore, and twin sisters, senior infielders Nichole and Michelle Beall all look to keep the recent regular season and postseason magic going for RU Softball.
While all of these teams are different from each other, they all hope to have one thing in common in 2012: winning championships.