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Miami sweeps Ohio, splits with Akron

Alyssa Zediker, For The Miami Student

The Miami University softball team swept Ohio University (OU) in its doubleheader and finished the weekend by splitting a two-game series with the University of Akron, coming back from an 8-1 loss to take the victory 7-6 the following day. The RedHawks improved their conference record to 9-3 and 15-23 overall.

"I had a lot of adrenaline since it was my first time playing OU, the emotions were high, but we had our mind set on one game at a time," Freshman pitcher Jenna Modic said.

The 'Hawks took the win in the first game against Ohio 1-0 when Modic had her first career shutout and then followed that victory with an 11-5 win with the help of a three run homer from Modic.

"For us to have swept OU, that's huge," Head Coach Clarisa Crowell said. "They are a great team and they are a great hitting team. But Jenna just had a great weekend; she came up big pitching in the circle and offensively."

Modic said she felt well prepared for the game as the upperclassman had warned her about the aggressiveness and the loudness the rivalry brings to the stadium, and after sweeping Ohio said she felt good going into the Akron games.

The RedHawks couldn't recover from a grand slam by senior first baseman and pitcher Alissa Birkhimer to give her team a 6-1 lead.

"We always play 110 percent even if one inning doesn't go our way or we have a bad game," Modic said. "We just try our best to flip the switch and to comeback and pick up the energy and one another up."

The team's mentality going in to the second game in the series was to forget about the previous loss and remain focused and determined that this next game was going to be its victory. Crowell said she felt the RedHawks were having an off day and they were not playing Miami softball in the first game.

"They don't let outcome dictate their attitude and we called ourselves the comeback kids, and we don't let outcome determine how we play," Crowell said.

The following day the RedHawks were able to take a late lead thanks to three seventh inning runs. The two teams were tied at four entering the seventh inning. They needed all three runs to hold on to the 7-6 victory as Akron scored two runs in the bottom of the seventh.

"We had a double play to end the game and it could have very easily gone Akron's way, but fortunately it went ours," Crowell said.

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The RedHawks will now face Northern Kentucky University (NKU) in a home and home series. NKU is currently 4-14 in conference play and 10-30 overall.

"It's always good coming off of a win just because you can keep that rolling, and keep the momentum going," Modic said.

We all have our problems, in sports and in life.

For some, it could be as important as not getting into graduate school this year. Maybe you tore your ACL and are undergoing season-ending surgery. It could just be something as small as scuffing your new Sperrys Uptown last night. Regardless of what is going wrong in your life right now, I want you to do something for me - take a deep breath and smile.

Wondering why I'm asking you to do this? Just bear with me for a minute or two.

Sports have the power to bring out the best in all of us - emotions are brought to the forefront as we pour our heart and soul into a game we love. Athletic competition has the ability to help us in a number of ways: it improves our self-worth, enhances our self-image and provides us with hours of fun, whether we are viewing or playing. For those few hours, everything else in the world doesn't matter. You're in the zone. You're doing something you truly enjoy. But perhaps the greatest thing about sports is that it doesn't matter who you are or what your situation is, there's a venue for you to achieve your goals, however big or small.

One out of every 88 children in the U.S. will be born with an autism spectrum disorder (ASD), and for most of those kids, that perfect venue is much harder to come by. Though sports have that incredible capability to unite us, they can also divide us in an equal measure. From a young age, athletic ability defines how we view ourselves and others, and for many with an ASD, the intertwining of the athletic and social fabric of our lives often leaves a void that few of us truly understand.

I'm bringing this up because I was reading some literature last week on the upcoming Ohio Special Olympics, which will be held June 28 to 30 at The Ohio State University. We are occasionally made aware of inspirational stories from the autism community, and 90 percent of them are made possible through sports. Organizations such as Autism Speaks and the Special Olympics provide those venues I previously mentioned. In Ohio alone, there are approximately 200 local member organizations and over 24,000 athletes involved with the Special Olympics, and countless volunteers from all walks of life who help make the dreams of impaired athletes a reality.

On a wider scale, over four million athletes are involved with the Special Olympics in 170 countries. That's a massive number of people, but what's more impressive - and immeasurable - is the boost in self-esteem these athletes and their families gain through this organization.

The mission of the Special Olympics is "to provide year-round sports training and competition opportunities for children and adults with intellectual disabilities. Special Olympics contributes to the physical, social, and psychological development of the athletes. Through successful experiences in sports, they gain confidence and build a positive self-image which carries over into the classroom, home, job and community."

By fostering these positive attributes in friendly and meaningful competition, events such as the 2013 Ohio Games have and will continue to shift the focus from disability to ability, and help those affected with autism like my brother, Kurt, to share in the satisfaction of succeeding in sports. I maintain that of the countless sports organizations the world over, none are more important or essential to its members than the Special Olympics.

As for me, I will never cease to feel that rush of excitement and pure joy that I experience every time I step into a hockey rink or onto the lacrosse field, and I hope you know and embrace that feeling as well. Whether it's at the intramural, club, o r varsity level, play like it's the last time you'll ever step foot on the court, the ice or the field. If you've got time or are looking for a way to give back and share with an amazing community of people, volunteer at a local Special Olympics event. But the easiest way you can make a difference right this moment is by loving the sports you play, appreciating the chances that you've been given to play them and respecting and supporting those who are courageous enough to try to do the same as you in the face of such adversity.

It's hard not to smile to yourself when you realize just how great the world of sports can be.

By Justin Maskulinski Staff Writer

The Miami University women's track and field team was in action Friday and Saturday as some athletes were competing in Athens, Ohio and others were in Knoxville, Tenn.

The athletes in Athens were competing in the All-Ohio Championships and despite the limited number of athletes the RedHawks sent, they were able to finish seventh in the 13-team pack.

Leading the way for the 'Hawks on the first day of the All-Ohio Championships was junior Tori Paterra, who broke her own school record in the javelin throw, as she threw 50.51 meters and finished first.

Also performing well in Athens was junior Erica Howes, who won the 3000 meter steeplechase with a time of 10:40.85.

The 'Hawks also sent athletes to Knoxville to compete in the Sea Ray Relays at the University of Tennessee.

"[The Sea Ray Relays] was probably the best meet outside of a conference meet I have seen since I have been at Miami," Assistant Coach Brian Etelman said.

Redshirt senior Diona Graves broke two school records at the Sea Ray Relays. She broke her own 100 meter record of 11.68 seconds, which she had posted twice, with a time of 11.62 and finished second.

"[The 100 meter] was a good time, I was hoping to do better but I'll take what I can get," Graves said.

Graves also took down the Miami 200 meter record, posting a time of 24.03 and finished fourth in the preliminary race. The previous 200 meter record, set in 1986, was held by Becca Williams.

"I thought that the record had been set in the 90s, I really wanted to break that record," Graves said. "Training has been tough at times but it is worth it in the end."

The RedHawks 4x400 relay team of senior Katie Scannell, freshman Kala Allen, Graves and sophomore Charlotte Myers also broke a school record with a time of 3:39.82.

Redshirt senior Layne Baggett tied the school record for 100 meter hurdles, recording a time of 13.31 seconds.

"She was only one hundredth of a second from the record," Etelman said. "That's a great time and [the Sea Ray Relays] have confirmed what we already knew about the talent of these girls."

The men's track and field team also travelled to Knoxville and competed in the Sea Ray Relays and Head Coach Warren Mandrell was satisfied with the performance.

"A lot of good things happened, much more good than bad," Mandrell said. "It was a very, very good and competitive meet."

Freshman high jumper Peter Stefanski suffered his first outdoor collegiate defeat but Mandrell said he is not worried.

"[Stefanski] was in a foul mood, but the high jump is difficult because you jump until you fail a height, you never win," Mandrell said. "[Stefanski] was a great performer, his jump of six feet, ten inches should qualify him for nationals."

The field events saw numerous personal records for the 'Hawks. Stefanski's 2.10 meter jump was a personal best. Sophomore Tyler Yee threw a personal best 61.76 meters in the javelin as he finished third. Junior Rob Stein took fifth place in the discus invitational with a personal best 50.94 meter throw.

"Yee had a personal best and he is recovering from Tommy John surgery," Mandrell said.

Both Miami teams saw numerous records fall this weekend, both personal and school. The RedHawks will look to continue this success as they strive toward a Mid-American Conference Championship.

By Jordan Rinard Staff Writer

After starting Mid-American Conference (MAC) play with a loss, the Miami University women's tennis team has won six straight matches, including this weekend's 5-2 and 4-3 decisions over Western Michigan University and Bowling Green State University, respectively.

The wins clinched a share of the regular season MAC crown for the fifth consecutive season and the No. 1 seed along with a bye in the MAC Tournament. The RedHawks (10-12, 6-1 MAC) would clinch the title outright with a win in the last match of the regular season Saturday against Northern Illinois University.

"We pulled out a tough win [on Saturday]," junior Christiana Raymond said. "We had a great weekend and fought hard for every match. We are definitely excited about the wins and plan on bringing the same intensity for next week's match against NIU."

In doubles action Friday, Western Michigan (11-12, 4-3 MAC) would take the first match as sophomore Caroline Aleck and junior Kathleen Hawkins defeated sophomore Christine Guerrazzi and freshman Ana Rajkovic 8-1. However, Miami would take the doubles point for the fourth time in its last five matches as Raymond and Ramona Costea and the team of junior Nimisha Mohan and sophomore Alix Thurman got 8-4 and 8-6 wins over senior Jill Pastunink and freshman Kelsey King along with the duo of junior Nini Sujashvili and senior Maggie Remynse, respectively.

The RedHawks carried their momentum into singles play by taking the next three points to take the match. Thurman downed Remynse 6-1, 6-4, while Raymond pushed her winning streak in singles to six matches with a 6-2, 6-0 win over Pastunink and Rajkovic won her third singles match in a row by triumphing over Aleck 6-4, 6-0. The Broncos would respond with Hawkins getting a 7-5, 6-0 win over Guerrazzi. Mohan earned the final point of the match for the Red and White in a 6-4, 7-5 decision against Sujashvili and Costea had her six match winning streak in singles snapped with a 7-5, 6-4 loss to King.

In doubles play against Bowling Green (15-4, 4-3 MAC), the RedHawks would fall in the first match as Raymond and Costea dropped an 8-4 decision to seniors Mary Hill and Jade Johnson, but the team of Mohan and Thurman would take the next match 8-6 against seniors Katie Grubb and Maddy Eccleston to push their doubles winning streak to six matches. BGSU took the doubles point with juniors Nikki Chiricosta and Emily Reuland getting the 9-8 (4) win over Guerrazzi and Rajkovic.

Miami drew even in singles play as Rajkovic won her fourth consecutive match in singles, downing Grubb 6-1, 6-1 to even the match at 1-1. The Falcons answered back with a 6-3, 6-1 win by Hill over Costea. However, Raymond defeated Eccleston 6-0, 6-4 to extend her winning streak to seven matches and put the score at 2-2. The two teams continued to trade points as Brozovich earned a 7-6 (5), 6-4 victory over Guerrazzi and Thurman downed Chiricosta 7-5, 4-6, 6-3. Mohan would clinch the match and the regular season MAC title as she triumphed over Reuland 4-6, 7-6(5), 6-2 for her third straight singles win.

"I was very proud of how we competed this weekend," Head Coach Anca Dumitrescu said. "We had to dig very deep against a very tough Bowling Green and we came through under pressure. We need to take this confidence as we head to NIU next weekend. We will enjoy this victory but come Monday we need focus again on our preparation and our game plans."

Raymond also elaborated on the match.

"I am so proud of all my teammates, especially Alix and Nim for making comebacks in each of their matches," she said. "We lost the doubles point today so we knew we had to rebound and win at least four singles. We made a commitment to be on the court for as long as it would take to win the match and we were successful because we fought for each other."

The RedHawks will wrap up regular season play 2 p.m. Saturday, when they hit the road again to face N orthern Illinois.

By Joe Gieringer Senior Staff Writer

For the second time this year, the Miami University baseball team suffered a three-game sweep, though it was the first by a Mid-American Conference (MAC) foe. Kent State University was the culprit this weekend, as three victories catapulted the Golden Flashes to first place in the MAC, while Miami dropped to third in the Eastern Division and currently sports a six-game losing streak.

The RedHawks (14-18, 7-5 MAC) opened the weekend with a strong performance on the mound from senior right-hander Brooks Fiala, who held Kent to just six hits and one walk through seven innings. But after loading the bases in the eighth, the Miami bullpen was called upon and juniors Seth Varner and Charles Zubrod finished the contest after Fiala allowed two earned runs. That was all the Golden Flashes needed, as they won 2-1.

The RedHawks failed to muster much offense in the next two games, garnering just two hits Saturday and eight Sunday. Kent State's junior ace Ryan Skulina was as good as advertised in the Saturday affair, pitching nearly eight innings without surrendering a hit. Miami fell 9-0, and was routed again Sunday 13-2, committing four errors in the process.

"We've got to be a better baseball team," Head Coach Dan Simonds said. "All of us - coaches, players, everything - we have to respond better. Any time you compound mistakes against a good team, they're going to take advantage of it."

In this current six-game slump, the RedHawks have allowed nine or more runs in four of the games. Pitching has not been consistent and the Miami batters have been noticeably absent, putting up only 11 runs over the past five games. Although it is not a position the 'Hawks would like to be in, it's one Simonds said he is confident his team can learn from.

"The first thing is getting our heads right," Simonds said. "There are some things we need to address. It goes a lot to our team concept; it goes a lot to handling adversity and being accountable. We've got to perform on offense at a higher level ... we've got to be making more plays in the field ... and we need more guys to step up and pitch the way they can."

One of the bright spots on the weekend for Miami was the play of senior first baseman Kevin Bower, who went 4-for-11 with a one RBI. Although Bower said he feels okay and acknowledges he's "seeing the ball better," his attention is with his team and their upcoming matchups.

"It was a tough weekend," Bower said. "I really don't think there's much to say about it. We just need to regroup, refocus and start playing some better baseball."

Miami will look to swing back to its winning ways 3 p.m. Tuesday, in Richmond, and 6 p.m. Wednesday, at home.