News From Terre Haute, Indiana

April 3, 2011

COLLEGE REPORT: North grad’s college softball career off to strong start

Joey Bennett
Special to the Tribune-Star

TERRE HAUTE — The transition from high school softball to college softball has been a smooth one for Terre Haute North grad Bethany Sullivan.

After leading the Patriots to a state runnerup finish last June, Sullivan has taken her pitching talents to Indiana-Southeast in New Albany and has gotten off to a fast start — already earning Kentucky Indiana Athletic Conference “pitcher of the week” honors twice in her young career.

Sullivan pitched in three games during the week of March 14-20 for a total of thirteen innings. She ended the week with a 2.69 earned run average and picked up the win against Madonna University as IU Southeast won 2-1. She struck out seven batters and only allowed two base runners on walks.

During the week of March 7-13, Sullivan pitched in three games (14.3 innings) and ended the week with a 1.47 earned run average. Sullivan struck out seven and picked up the win in two of the three games with a no decision in the other.

On Friday night, Sullivan improved her season pitching record to 4-2 with an eight-strikeout no-hitter in a 23-0 win over Alice Loyd College.

Coach Todd Buckingham felt Sullivan would be a standout player for the Grenadiers before she ever took the field, and he has not been disappointed.

“Bethany’s best attributes as a pitcher are her mound presence and her control,” said Buckingham, whose team was 13-15 at the time. “She has the same demeanor whether she is up by 5 or down by 5.  It’s great to have someone that doesn’t get rattled.

“I am truly glad she decided to play here and I wish I had a whole team of players with her work ethic and attitude,” he added.

Sullivan has a 2.02 ERA in 39.2 innings of work, and has struck out 23 batters while walking only five.

She’s happy with the young season, but strives to continue to improve.

“Our season has been going pretty well,” she said. “Our team has good chemistry and we’ve been playing tougher teams to prepare us for conference games.

“I want to continue to become a better, more experienced player,” Sullivan added. “Our team goals are to win conference and to compete in nationals.”

North coach Jack Kirchner is not surprised by Sullivan’s early successes, and likes the fact that she succeeds on the mound without dazzling velocity.

“Bethany is a gamer, and she does not like to lose,” Kirchner said. “I knew that she would do well in college because she is a hard worker on the field and in the classroom. I think what helps her at this level and in high school is that she knows the game.

“She is a pitcher not a thrower,” Kirchner added. “Bethany knows how to read a hitter and what pitch can get her out.”

IU-Southeast is 16-16 after Friday’s doubleheader sweep, and coach Buckingham hopes to see Sullivan improve her performance at the plate (1-for-19 this year) in addition to honing her pitching skills.

“Bethany is an individual that truly leads by example,” he said. “She works harder than anyone else I have coached.

 “As her career progresses, I would want Bethany to continue to develop her offensive consistency,” Buckingham said, “and maybe to develop her riseball and changeup to be as consistent as her other pitches.”

Like all college athletes, Sullivan is finding the grind of travel and even more games per week to be one of the biggest adjustments.

“Time management is huge in college,” she said. “You’re expected to study more outside of class than the time you spend in class, so finding time to get that done with practice and games can be difficult.

“We get to go on longer road trips than we did in high school and get to see many different places,” she said. “One difference is the amount of traveling we do in college softball. Another difference is the intensity – practices are more intense at the college level to prepare us for the competition we face in games.”

Sullivan maintains good perspective, however, and offers advice to any future collegiate athlete.

“I think it’s important to always remember that you’re a student first, and if you don’t have good enough grades, you won’t get the opportunity to play softball,” she said.

Kirchner has another strong team this season at North, and hopes the players stepping up to leadership roles this season can be equally as effective.

“For us, she was a team leader who led by example,” he said.  “She is a very nice young lady who you would be proud to say she played for North High and I had the pleasure of coaching her. For the girls at North now as a role model Bethany would want them to be at the top of their game on the field and in the class room.

“Bethany is a real class act. “

Meggs top Huskie hitter — Terre Haute North grad Joe Meggs took a while to break into the University of Washington baseball lineup, having to sit out last year after transferring from Indiana State and missing the first eight games this season with a wrist injury suffered during practice.

Meggs finally made his UW debut on March 5 against Brigham Young, and hit the ground running. He has started all 13 games since that time for the 7-16 Huskies, and leads the team in hitting and on-base percentage and ranks second in slugging percentage.

Meggs was 1-for-2 on Friday night with two hit-by-pitches in a 2-1 loss to UCLA, the first of a three-game Pac-Ten series. He had a 10-game hitting streak at one point during March.

The starting left-fielder has made it easy for his father, UW Coach Lindsay Meggs, to write his name in the second spot of the batting order each day by having such success.

Meggs is hitting .395 (17-for-43) with one double, seven RBI and six runs scored. He has walked six times and struck out only four, and has handled 41 of 42 chances in the outfield for a .976 fielding percentage.

Meggs returned to Terre Haute last summer and joined the Rex franchise of the Prospect League in mid-season, providing a hard-nosed spark and nearly helping the team qualify for the playoffs.

Local fans will be thrilled to know he will be returning to play for the Rex this summer.

Schroer competes in nationals — Taylor senior Adam Schroer, a Clay City graduate, competed in the 2010 NAIA National Cross Country Championships in Vancouver, Wash., in November.

Running in wet and muddy conditions, Schroer finished 238th out of 326 runners in a time of 27:57 for a mile pace of 5:38.

Schroer earlier had placed fourth in the Mid-Central College Conference championships, highlighted by his fourth-place finish that qualified him for the NAIA National Championships in Portland, Oregon on Nov. 20.

Plowing through a snow-covered course in 35-degree temperatures at South Bend’s St. Patrick’s Park, Schroer moved past five competitors to post a 25:58 and earn all-MCC honors.

Taylor coach Ted Bowers was excited for Schroer’s accomplishment.

“Adam has endured so many injuries during his career here at TU that it is very satisfying to see him be able to finish in such fine fashion after literally wondering at times if he could continue running,” he said. “Competing at NAIA Nationals is a tremendous accomplishment for Adam.”

Schroer also competed at the 2010 NAIA Track and Field Championships in the marathon last May, and was one of four Taylor seniors honored as NAIA Scholar-Athletes for the 2010 season.

An exercise science major, Schroer was honored for the second straight year for having a grade point average of at least 3.5.

Tierney honored —  University of Saint Francis senior quarterback Shaine Tierney, a former Terre Haute resident, was named winner of the 2010 Silver Helmet Award at the team’s awards banquet in February.

The Silver Helmet Award is voted on by the USF coaching staff and the criteria are based on leadership, coachability and scholarship.

Stats wise, Shaine finished as the USF career passing percentage leader at .671, completed 478 of 712 passes with just 20 interceptions. His 5,708 yards passing rank No. 3 on the USF list and 16th on the Mid-States Football Association career list. His 34 career TD passes rank No. 4 on the USF list.

Tierney, who was 18-4 in 22 collegiate starts for USF, was named the NAIA National Offense Player of the Week for his play in the Cougars’ 33-21 win over Taylor University on Nov. 13.

Tierney threw a record-tying 91-yard touchdown pass to WR Jared Clodfelter to help 10th-ranked USF regain the lead in the fourth quarter. It was his second TD pass of the game and he also ran for TDs of 12 and 20 yards. He connected on 23-of-35 passes with two interceptions and a career-best 351 yards passing and 400 yards total offense.

Bob Ryan on Jake Odum — In case you didn’t read this last month during the NCAA tournament, legendary Boston Globe columnist Bob Ryan had some high praise for Indiana State’s freshman point guard in his column.

Ryan wrote:

“… my approach to the NCAA tournament is to seek a player I’d like to adopt. I found one in George Mason forward Luke Hancock. Friday night I found a player I didn’t want to adopt as much as I wanted to take home on a leash. That player was Indiana State guard Jake Odum. Listed at 6-4 and a generous 170, and complete with a flat top and an Abe Lincoln (i.e. no mustache) beard, it’s like he is on loan from the Amish All-Stars. He flits in and out of the lane, always on the alert for a cutter, and he snaps his passes off with great briskness. He chats up the refs, and he is just a trip. I’m sorry Indiana State is going home. I’d like to see him play again.”

Joey Bennett is a former Tribune-Star sports reporter and copy editor who now teaches at Northview High School in Brazil. He can be reached at tribstarcollege