Thursday, May 26, 2016
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Jim Ecker, President & Editor

Kirkwood Community College - Cedar Rapids, Iowa

KCC golfers 4th at national tourney

PLYMOUTH, Ind. - Charlie Hartwig fired a 1-under-par 71 Tuesday to help the Kirkwood Eagles claim fourth place after the first round of the NJCAA Division II national tournament at the Swan Lake Resort in Plymouth, Ind.

The 72-hole tournament runs through Friday.

The South Mountain Cougars and Tyler Apaches are tied for first place in the 20-team field at 5-under 283 after 18 holes. Mississippi Gulf Coast is third at 291 with Kirkwood fourth at 295, 12 shots behind the leaders.

Marco Maldonado of Tyler tore up the 6,876-yard course Tuesday with an 8-under 64. Connor Klein of South Mountain shot a 4-under 68. Hartwig is tied for seventh at 71.

Carson Whittington shot an even-par 72 for Kirkwood. Eddie Doyle shot 75, Louis Flynn 77 and Jordan Even 79.


Pint finalist for JUCO golf award

NORMAN, Okla. – NJCAA Division II finalists for the Dave Williams National Coach of the Year Award presented by Golf Pride Grips have been announced by the GCAA. The Williams Award honors the national coach of the year in NJCAA Division II men’s golf.

The five finalists are Ronnie Key of Meridian, Kirkwood’s Darin Pint, Tommy Snell of Mississippi Gulf Coast, Tyler’s Sandy Terry and South Mountain’s Andy Walker. If a team wins the NJCAA championship and its coach was not previously named a finalist for the Dave Williams Award, that coach will be added for coach of the year consideration.

Kirkwood claimed six team events in 2015-16. Pint’s squad was also runner-up three times. Kirkwood placed in the top three in all 13 tournaments and is playing in the national tournament this week.

Last Updated on Tuesday, 24 May 2016 11:06

Muhl signs 11 freshmen for Kirkwood hoops

Introductions could be in order when the Kirkwood women's basketball team assembles for practice this fall.

Coach Kim Muhl has signed 11 freshmen and hopes to add a pair of college transfers to the mix as well, giving the Eagles as many as 13 new players on the roster for the 2016-17 campaign.

Only two players - Deleyah Harris and Rylee Voss - plan to return from this year's club as sophomores, giving Muhl a big rebuilding job as he enters his 28th year at Kirkwood.

Junior college coaches have to rebuild their teams every year, since nobody can play for more than two seasons at this level, and Muhl sounds unperturbed by the challenge.

"I think it's the nature of the beast at this level," he said. "The freshmen come in a little bit hungrier. Some figure it out, some don't. It's OK."

Kirkwood had six freshmen on the team this past season, but Amber Lemons, Mesha Wheatly, Ariana Dampier and Dominique Jennings will not be returning from a club that finished 27-6. That leaves Harris, a starting guard, and Voss, a reserve center, as the only two returnees.

Six of the 11 new freshmen are from Iowa, including local products Olivia Usher from Cedar Rapids Prairie and Candace Wilson from Cedar Valley Christian. The other in-state recruits are Awal Ajak of Des Moines East, Ashley Hedges of Burlington Notre Dame, Nyachristmas Puok of Des Moines East and Olivia Schmidt of North Scott.

"I like them," said Muhl. "They're athletic and they're Iowa kids that we could get to like us."

Usher, who is 5-foot-9, averaged 13.6 points, 4.2 rebounds, 2.9 assists and 1.7 steals for the Prairie Hawks, who finished 11-12.

"She's intelligent and she knows the game," said Muhl. "And she's a strong kid."

Wilson, who is 5-foot-5, averaged 19.2 points, 7.4 rebounds, 3.3 steals and 3.2 assists in her only season at Cedar Valley Christian, which finished with a 10-11 record.

"She's kind of under the radar," said Muhl. "She had big numbers all year. She can pass the ball. And she can hit 3's. She's got some skills."

Ajak and Puok, a pair of 6-footers, helped Des Moines East finish 13-9 last season. Ajak averaged 11.4 points and 5.1 rebounds, while Puok contributed 5.7 points and 4.5 rebounds.

"Awal has a big-time upside," Muhl remarked. "She could be pretty special."

Schmidt, who is 5-foot-8, averaged 12.0 points and 3.0 rebounds at North Scott, helping the Lancers finish 18-5. Hedges, also 5-foot-8, averaged 8.4 points and 5.2 rebounds at Burlington Notre Dame, which finished 24-2.

Muhl also has signed Kelsey Achenbach of Prairie du Chien, Wis., Megan Axcell of Knoxville, Ill., TiRayah Cotton of Omaha, Niaja Taylor from Rockford, Ill., and Tayana Wilson from County Club Hills, Ill.

"We've got a good group," said Muhl.

There is not great size in the new group, but Muhl likes their athletic ability and long arms. He plans to use more full-court pressure next season to raise the tempo even higher.

"This group is going to be interesting," he said. "It's very competitive right now. All of these kids are pretty darn athletic. And long.

"We guard pretty good, but we're going to guard better with length."

Five of the sophomores on this year's team will continue their basketball careers at four-year schools. Cyerra Hutchins and Addie Oberman are headed to Loras College, Casey Miles has signed with Upper Iowa, A.J. Downs is headed to Indiana Tech and All-American Madison Wood has signed with Eastern Kentucky.

Caitlin Sudduth also wants to play at a four-year school, but had not made a decision as of Wednesday.






Kirkwood softball places 5th at nationals

CLINTON, Miss. - The Kirkwood Eagles lost both of their games at the NJCAA D2 national softball tournament Friday and tied for fifth place.

Kirkwood lost to Jones County, 7-6, in the winner's bracket semifinals, then lost to Phoenix, 5-2, in a loser's bracket game and was eliminated from the tournament.

The Eagles finished the season with a 58-6 record.

Kirkwood, which was seeded No. 2 in the tournament, went 2-2 in the tournament in Mississippi. Jones County, which is seeded No. 3, advanced to the winner's bracket finals against LSU Eunice. Phoenix, which is seeded No. 1, stayed alive in the loser's bracket.

Kirkwood trailed Jones County, 7-2, heading into the bottom of the seventh inning in the winner's bracket semifinals. The Eagles loaded the bases and pulled within 7-3 on a sacrifice fly by Taylor Nearad. Lexi Ferrari struck out, but Maddie Hansen belted a three-run homer to pull the Eagles within 7-6 with two outs.

Last Updated on Friday, 20 May 2016 18:40



Kinnaird shines as Eagles blank Highland

CLINTON, Miss. - Freshman Lexi Kinnaird spun a seven-hit shutout Thursday as the Kirkwood Eagles blanked Highland, 6-0, in the second round of the NJCAA D2 national softball tournament at Traceway Park.

Kirkwood (58-4) will face Jones County (47-6) in the winner's bracket semifinals Friday at noon. Kirkwood is the No. 2 seed in the 16-team tournament and Jones County, from Mississippi, is the No. 3 seed.

Kinnaird (25-2) struck out four batters and walked two in the seven-inning ballgame. The Eagles broke a scoreless tie with three runs in the third inning for a 3-0 lead. They made it 4-0 in the fourth and tacked on two insurance runs in the top of the seventh.

Morgan Frost went 3-for-4 for Kirkwood with two doubles and two RBIs. Lexi Ferrari was 3-for-3 with a double and two runs. Peyton Mercer went 2-for-4 with three RBIs.

Gabi Carter collected a double, two walks and two runs for the Eagles. Maddie Hansen contributed an RBI. Taylor Nearad went 1-for-4 with a run.



Nearad stars as Kirkwood wins tourney opener

CLINTON, Miss. - Taylor Nearad made a big first impression at the NJCAA Division II national softball tournament Wednesday.

Nearad went 4-for-4 with two doubles, two home runs and five RBIs as the Kirkwood Eagles trimmed Illinois Valley, 8-7, in the opening round of the
tournament in Clinton, Miss.

Nearad, a freshman from Solon, also made two outstanding catches in center field, gunned down a runner at third base and had a stolen base.

"She was great," said Kirkwood Coach Joe Yegge. "Her second home run went about 270-275 feet. It was a monster home run."

Nearad's two homers gave her 29 for the season, snapping the school record of 28. She is hitting .622 with 126 RBIs as she bids for the NJCAA
Division II Triple Crown.

Kirkwood had to scramble to defeat Illinois Valley, despite Nearad's heroics. The Eagles are seeded No. 2 in the 16-team tournament and
Illinois Valley is seeded No. 15, but the game was tied 7-7 heading into the bottom of the seventh inning before the Eagles pulled it out.



KCC softball seeded No. 2 for nationals

CLINTON, Miss. - The Kirkwood Eagles have drawn the No. 2 seed for the NJCAA Division II national softball tournament that will be played in Mississippi this week.

Kirkwood (56-4) will face No. 15 seed Illinois Valley (26-11) in the opening round of the 16-team tournament on Wednesday at 3:30 p.m. (Central time). The tournament will continue on Thursday, Friday and Saturday.

Phoenix College (53-6) drew the No. 1 seed.


No. 1 Phoenix (53-6) vs No. 16 Potomac State (32-7)
No. 8 Illinois Central (28-14) vs No. 9 Labette (26-23)
No. 5 DMACC (50-6) vs No. 12 Florence Darlington (30-10)
No. 13 Mott (43-6) vs No. 4 LSU Eunice (53-7)
No. 3 Jones County (45-6) vs No. 14 Heartland (36-20)
No. 6 Kankakee (49-8) vs No. 11 Mercyhurst North East (36-16)
No. 7 Highland (42-10) vs No. 10 Lansing (39-17)
No. 15 Illinois Valley (26-11) vs No. 2 Kirkwood (56-4)


No. 18 Eagles ousted at regional baseball

WATERLOO - The 18th-ranked Kirkwood Eagles ended a disappointing trip to the NJCAA Division II regional baseball tournament Saturday with an 8-4 loss to DMACC in a loser's bracket game at Riverfront Stadium.

Kirkwood, the No. 3 seed, finished with a 1-2 record in the tournament.

The Eagles lost 7 of their final 11 games this year and finished the season with a 35-20 record.

The DMACC Bears (29-24) grabbed a 7-0 lead in the top of the second inning Saturday and Kirkwood never recovered. The Eagles scored three runs in the bottom of the second to pull within 7-3, but could not get any closer.

Kirkwood committed four errors in the ballgame, leading to seven unearned runs.

Jack Fitzgerald and Luke Hassman had two hits for Kirkwood. Matt Paciello drove in three runs.

Southeastern and NIACC will meet in the winner's bracket Sunday at 11 a.m. in Waterloo. The double-elimination tournament is scheduled to end Monday.


Eagles stay alive at regional tourney

WATERLOO - Ethan Howard pitched a strong game Friday night to help Kirkwood stay alive in the NJCAA regional baseball tournament.

Howard tossed a complete game and allowed only five hits as the 18th-ranked Eagles topped Southwestern, 7-1, in a loser's bracket game at the regional tournament at Riverfront Stadium in Waterloo.

Kirkwood (35-19) is scheduled to face DMACC or Southeastern in an elimination game Saturday at 4 p.m.

Kirkwood was scheduled to face Southwestern at 1 p.m. Friday, but the game was delayed until 7:30 p.m. due to rain. The tournament is two games behind schedule and will resume Saturday at 10 a.m.

Brandon Brittain went 3-for-4 and drove in two runs for the Eagles. Jack Fitzgerald was 2-for-3. Bryce Grimm, Matt Paciello and Colin Kreiter collected RBIs for Kirkwood.

Howard (7-3) threw 108 pitchers in the nine-inning game. He allowed one earned run with five strikeouts and one walk.

Kirkwood was upset by Ellsworth, 3-1, in the opening round on Thursday.


Kirkwood baseball stunned in regional

WATERLOO - The 18th-ranked Kirkwood baseball team was stunned by Ellsworth, 3-1, in the opening round of the NJCAA Division II regional tournament at Riverfront Stadium in Waterloo Thursday.

The Eagles (34-19) fell into the consolation bracket of the double-elimination tournament and are scheduled to play again Friday at 1 p.m. against NIACC or Southwestern.

Kirkwood swept a four-game series from Ellsworth on March 25-26 in Cedar Rapids and Ellsworth entered the regional tournament with a lowly 12-44 record.

Nick Drahozal (4-5) pitched a strong game for the Eagles on Thursday, but he was nicked for three unearned runs in the fourth inning and that was the difference in the game. Drahozal pitched all nine innings, allowing only three hits with seven strikeouts and one walk.

Dustin Amos, who began the day with a 2-5 record and 6.94 ERA, handcuffed Kirkwood on Thursday. He pitched a complete game and surrendered only four hits.

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