Softball Swinging for the Fences
The 2013 Cornerstone University softball team has high hopes for the upcoming season. Coming off a bit of a disappointing year in which they finished 16-30, the Golden Eagles are looking to rebound in a big way.
Having two star players returning to the field will definitely help the cause. Heidi Warmelink (junior from Wayland, Mich.) and Megan Oberst (sophomore from Tecumseh, Mich.) were both named to the 2012 First Team All Wolverine-Hoosier Athletic Conference (WHAC) Team. Warmelink is the Golden Eagles' top pitcher and hitter while Oberst is a force as a catcher and hitter.
Cornerstone also returns WHAC Honorable Mention All-Conference player Madison Bucilla (senior from Laguna Nigel, Calif.). Bucilla was also named to the 2012 WHAC All-Academic team.
Jim Farrell is in his 21st season with the program and 12th year as head coach of the Cornerstone University softball team. He hopes to add on to his three NAIA National Championship Tournament appearances this year.
Key newcomers this year include pitcher/outfielder Rachel Nelson (freshman from Grandville, Mich.) and corner infielder Rachel Bode (freshman from Manton, Mich.)
The softball team returned last week from a successful spring trip to Florida. The Golden Eagles played twelve games over the course of eight days and left with a 10-2 record.
Following the trip to Florida, the Cornerstone University softball team is in first place in the Wolverine-Hoosier Athletic Conference (WHAC) and is riding a five-game winning streak.
Four of the wins came in one run games and one of the two losses also came by one run. The Golden Eagles are off to a great start and have a lot of momentum heading into the rest of their schedule.
This year's trip is a far cry from last year. On the spring trip to Arizona last year, the Cornerstone University softball team went 2-12. Coach Jim Farrell has this year's squad clicking on all cylinders.
At this point in the season, the Golden Eagles have three players in the top 20 in the WHAC in batting average: Heidi Warmelink, Megan Oberst, and Haley Castillo. Warmelink also leads the WHAC in earned run average and Rachel Nelson is fifth.
Following her outstanding performance all week in Florida, Heidi Warmelink was named WHAC pitcher of the week. She went 6-1 with a save and a 0.72 earned run average in Florida.
Conference play will begin on April 3 in Adrian, Mich. against Sienna Heights.
Meet Heidi Warmelink, CU Softball Pitcher
The Golden Eagles' Heidi Warmelink is a competitor on the softball field.
The junior's competitive mentality is evident from the moment she steps onto the softball field. Whether walking to home plate and hitting a home run or stepping onto the pitching mound, Warmelink attacks the game with full force.
"I have always been a really competitive person so I am pretty easily motivated. I love to win and I love to compete but my main motivation is to bring glory to God through what I do on the field. My family and my fiancÚ are also great motivators for me. They come to every game and cheer me on even on my off days."
The right hander started playing tee ball when she was in first grade. This moved on to recreational softball in first grade until she started playing travel ball in fifth grade and has been playing ever since.
"I used to play a lot of sports but softball has always been one of my favorites. I was naturally good at it from a young age and that encouraged me to keep getting better. I played AAU basketball in elementary and middle school while playing high school basketball for two years. I also played volleyball in middle school but I wanted to focus on softball once I got to high school."
Warmelink started playing travel ball in fifth grade where they traveled all over the state while playing indoors in Indiana and Illinois against some of the top teams in the country. During high school ball, she played for the "Blaze". The team consisted of girls from all over the state where they traveled all over the country participating in tournaments and even nationals in Myrtle Beach, S.C., and Owensboro, Ky. Alongside the Blaze, Warmelink played at Wayland High. There she played on varsity all four years while serving as team captain for three. As a freshman, Heidi helped her team reach the state semi-finals.
The pitcher racked up several high school honors during her four years at Wayland Union High School. She was named to the All-Conference Team all four years, All-State Team for three years, and was nominated for Miss Softball her senior year. During her senior year, Warmelink had signed with the Cornerstone softball team so did not try out for any travel ball clubs. Instead, she was a substitute player for the Elite 18U team.
"I had a lot of fun getting to know some of the girls on the Elite team. I even get to play against some of them now in our conference."
The accomplished pitcher was first introduced to Cornerstone when she used to stay with her cousin in the dorm during middle school. When she got serious about looking into college, she knew she didn't want to attend a big Division 1 NCAA school.
"After playing at one of the top levels as a high schooler, I realized that life was about more than just softball. I wanted to grow in my faith as a Christian and surround myself with other believers that could become lifelong friends. I truly believe that this is where God has intended me to be at this stage of my life."
Cornerstone turned out to be a good pick for the right-handed pitcher. She has been named to the Wolverine-Hoosier Athletic Conference All-Conference Team for two years, and was named to the All-American HM Team her freshman year.
Besides playing softball, Warmelink loves to draw, pant, and take pictures. She also is an outdoors kind of girl when the weather is nice. In the summer, she enjoys going fishing with her dad or go tubing down the river at her grandparents' cabin.
After graduation next year, the accomplished pitcher is plans to get married to her fiancÚ and begin searching for a teaching, reading, and language arts position at the elementary level.
The 2013 CU softball season is underway and the Golden Eagles are off to one of their best starts since the 2006 season. The Golden Eagles participated at the NTC Spring Games during the Cornerstone spring break on March 2-9. The team left with a 10-2 record led by Warmelink's 6-1 record. The right handed pitcher was named WHAC Pitcher of the Week with a 0.72 ERA during the week while recording four complete games. She allowed just 20 hits and recorded one shutout game against Bellevue University. Warmelink held her opponents to a 0.146 BA while striking out 39 batters and walking only five.
Warmelink is excited about the potential the team could have this year in the conference and has set high goals for this year.
"I am looking forward to growing together as a team. After playing in Florida for 10 days, I am excited to begin conference play. My goal is to make it to nationals this year. CU softball has had a bad name for the last few years and I truly feel like this year is our chance to change that. We have a young team but we have lots of potential. I have no doubt in my mind that this team can put up a good fight in the conference this season."
T&F Performs Well at NAIA Indoor Nationals
Men's Recap--Seventeen Golden Eagles participated in the NAIA Men's Indoor T&F National Championships on Feb. 28-March 1 in Geneva, Ohio. Amongst the seventeen were Thomas Bambach, Zach Bourdon, Jared Courtright, Mike Darling, Louis Falland, Tyler Grey, Jared Holmberg, Bryant Langdon, Travis Mabe, Spencer Perry, Cody Risch, Derrek Schaaf, Eric Schroeder, Nate Vanderwall, Ryan Versen, Isaac Withrow, and Zach Yeo.
Cornerstone finished ninth out of 90 teams that competed. Their finish was their second best finish in program history behind the 2010 team's eighth place finish. The Golden Eagles finished with a team score of 26, putting them behind Aquinas who tallied 31 points to take the eighth place position. The 2013 NAIA Men's Indoor T&F National Champions were the Bison from Oklahoma Baptist.
Juniors Louis Falland and Ryan Versen led Cornerstone, picking up eight points each for second place finishes in the Mile and 400 Meter Dash, respectively. Falland ran a 4:12.18 and lost by over a second to Adam Godwin of Oklahoma Baptist. Versan ran a 47.99 in the 400 meter, falling just short of fellow WHAC competitor Doug Dawson from Siena Heights who crossed the line at 47.80 to win the event.
Coach Rod Wortley was pleased with what he saw, "Ryan Versen's six 400's in three days was one of the most amazing performances I've ever seen."
Sophomores Nathan Vanderwall and Isaac Withrow finished third (6 points) and eighth (1 point), respectively, in the men's 3000 meter race walk. Senior Cody Risch crossed the finish line first, but was later told he had received his third mark and was disqualified.
The 4 x 400 relay team consisting of Eric Schroeder, Spencer Perry, Zach Yeo, and Ryan Versen finished seventh with a time of 3:17.36 to pick up two points for the Golden Eagles.
The Distance Medley team of Zach Bourdon, Ryan Versen, Zach Yeo, and Louis Falland finished eighth and picked up another point for Cornerstone.
"We had some things go our way and some things that didn't, and we still came away with a top ten finish," noted Wortley.
Coach Wortley had nothing but good things to say about his seniors, "I am proud of the seniors this year. Zach Yeo got his first and second All-American plaques after some near misses over the years. Cody Risch demonstrated tremendous amounts of poise and class after being a national champion for five minutes then getting told he was disqualified. The officials got it right and he reacted in a way that honorably reflected God, Cornerstone and his family. I am proud of Jared Courtright's unselfishness, running the DMR semi-finals then accepting his role by stepping aside while Zach Bourdon and Zach Yeo ran the final. When we talk about servant leadership on this team, you can't do much more than pass up being an All-American for the good of the team."
Women's Recap--Sixteen Golden Eagles qualified for the NAIA Women's Indoor T&F National Championships on Feb. 28-March 1 in Geneva, Ohio. Amongst the sixteen were Liz Baller, Kaitlyn Bronkema, Kaylee Carew, Julia Contreras, Brittany Green, Brianna Griffiths, Larissa Hampton, Trinity Hulst, Monica Lawrence, Lindsay Lipa, Jill Louisignau, Julie Oosterhouse, Kayla Ovokaitys, Lyndee Sayers, Anita Souza, and Audrey Tremaine.
The Golden Eagles finished tied for 17th place with a team total 16 points, continuing a seven-year streak of top 25 finishes in the NAIA National Championships in either women's indoor or outdoor T&F. The Golden Eagles score put them tied with Morningside College (Iowa) and just behind Carroll Univeristy (Wis.), who notched 16.50 points. The 2013 NAIA Women's Indoor T&F National Championship belongs to Oklahoma Baptist University who grabbed 113 points.
Sophomore Brittany Green started off well, placing third (6 points) in the Pentathlon with a score of 3,415 points. Green ran a 9.29 60 Meter Hurdle to finish fifth in the first event. She then cleared 4'11.5" in the High Jump to finish tenth in the second event. During the third event, Green won the Shot Put with a mark of 40'7.75" which was over 5' longer than her nearest competitor in the event. Green finished fourth in the Long Jump with a mark of 17'3/4" and eighth in the 800 Meter Run with a time of 3:35.00. The sophomore finished behind Briana Vander Woude of Dordt (Iowa) and Jillian Ourade of Doane (Neb.).
Director of Women's Track and Field Rod Wortley was enthusiastic about Green's performance, "She did a great job of setting the tone for the meet by powering through the pentathlon on the opening day of the meet. That helped create an emotional foothold for the distance medley relay, who had to find a way to make the finals without Julie Oosterhouse, a seemingly impossible task."
The Distance Medley team of Jill Lousignau, Larissa Hampton, Audrey Tremaine, and Julia Contreras found a way to make the finals without Julie Oosterhouse. All-American Oosterhouse was unable to compete due to an unexpected death in the family. The team held off Oklahoma Baptist down the stretch to finish sixth and earn another three points for the team.
"Our captains, Jill Louisignau and Julia Contreras, were determined to honor Oosterhouse with their best efforts and that leadership helped carry freshman Audrey Tremaine, who had to fill in for Oosterhouse," praised Wortley. "Contreras put on a clinic in the DMR semi and finals on what senior experience, determination and strategy looks like. The situation didn't exactly give her confidence, but she showed that lack of confidence is no excuse. We train hard every day for national opportunities and you have to make the most of them," added Wortley.
Junior Monica Lawrence finished fourth in the 3000 Meter Race Walk with a time of 15:20.17, picking up five points for the Golden Eagles.
Anita Souza picked up two more points for Cornerstone finishing seventh in the 60 Meter Hurdles.
Baseball Returns from Spring Break in Fla.
The Cornerstone University baseball team recently went on a spring trip to Central Florida where they played ten games in eight days. After a lot of ups and downs, the Golden Eagles finished their road trip with a 3-7 record.
The first-year program had a lot of learning experiences throughout the trip, including the team's first win of the season and a 16-0 pounding from the No. 6 team in the country. Wins on the trip came over Evangel University, Clarke University, and Calumet College of St. Joseph.
Zach Bohl and Travis Gordon were two of the bright spots on offense. Both players made life on the mound for opposing pitchers very difficult. The two left-handed hitters consistently hit the ball hard all week long. Zach Harbison was the lone bright spot on defense. He started eight games behind the plate and did an excellent job handling a very young pitching staff.
In the win against Clarke, Ryan Harris and Brandon Willard combined to pitch a shutout. Luke Heller threw a complete game in a loss in which he gave up zero earned runs against Evangel. Also, Dan Marlow gave up only one earned run while going the distance in the win over Calumet.
Tennis Spring Break Recap
Men's Tennis--The Golden Eagles men's tennis team traveled to Florida for a week of matches. After the week, Cornerstone is now 2-5 overall during the spring season.
Cornerstone notched wins against Ursinus College and Warner University on Wednesday and Thursday. Highlighting the two matches, Austin Hunt, Christ Reed, and Andrew Son both picked up two wins during the singles competition while Alex Tarnow notched a single win against Warner University. During the double competitions, partners Elijah Yi and Austin Hunt took two wins while Chris Reed and John Andrew and Andrew Sonand Alex Tarnow defeated Ursinas College double partners.
Following the two wins, Cornerstone dropped a disappointing 1-7 loss to Webber International and finished their Florida competitions. On March 13, the Golden Eagles will head back to the court to face Calvin College at 5 p.m.
Women's Tennis--After dropping their first two matches of the spring season, the Golden Eagles women's tennis team traveled to Florida to participate in a handful of matches during spring break.
On Monday, the tennis team dropped both matches to Bethel University and the University of Saint Francis. Hannah Guest and Samantha Akert were the lone Golden Eagles who were able to notch wins against Bethel while in the doubles competition Guest and Akert notched a win for Cornerstone. During the second match of the day in Orlando, Fla., the Golden Eagles were swept by the University of St. Francis, 9-0.
Tuesday the Golden Eagles dropped an 8-1 loss to Ursinas College. The only win for Cornerstone came during the singles competition when Janie Silvers defeated Ursinas' Audrey Whitebloom.
Wednesday brought Cornerstone their first win of the spring when they defeated Warner University (5-4). After losing the first three singles competitions, Cornerstone's Ashley Green, Hannah Guest, and Samantha Akert notched wins. During the doubles competition, Allison Rusticus and Ashley Green and Hannah Guest and Samantha Akert helped CU grab the victory.
Before heading home to Michigan, Cornerstone faced Webber International for their final match in Florida. Webber came away with the 2-7 decision. The Golden Eagles' wins came from Samantha Akert defeteaing Aleena Jack (6-0, 6-0) while partners Guest and Akert notched the last win for Cornerstone.
After the week, the Golden Eagles went 1-4 and are now 1-6 overall. Coming up next Cornerstone will face Grand Rapids Community College at 10 a.m. on March 23.
Men's Basketball Revisited
On Wednesday, Feb. 27, the Cornerstone University men's basketball team awaited their fate as the 2013 NAIA Division II National Championship bracket was announced. After falling in a heart breaking double-overtime loss to Davenport University during the WHAC semifinal contest, the Golden Eagles could only hope for an at-large bid to the tournament. However, the Golden Eagles' 2012-13 campaign came to a close as the final tournament pairings left Cornerstone's name unread. Cornerstone concludes its season with a 21-11 record (14-8 WHAC).
During the 2012-13 season, the Golden Eagles were led by all-conference junior Wes Hudson's 571 points, carrying an average of 17.8 PPG. Hudson is also ranked No. 1 in Division II in Free Throw Pct (0.902) and No. 21 in Division II in Total Scoring. The guard tied his career-high 29 points twice this past season, first against Alma College and again in the WHAC Quarterfinal game against Indiana Tech.
Newcomer Shane Moreland contributed in the steal department with 68 total steals, placing him 18th in Division II in Total Steals and second overall in the Wolverine-Hoosier Athletic Conference. The guard recorded his career-high 19 points on Nov. 20, 2012, against conference rival Davenport University. The Grand Blanc native also recorded seven assists in three different games this past season.
Sophomore forward Justine Pepper averaged 22.4 minutes while playing in 31 games and starting 16. The Wayland native grabbed a team-high 164 total rebounds with an average of 5.3 per game. Alongside his rebounds, Pepper led the team with 38 blocks. The forward record his career-high 13 points against Madonna University on Dec. 8, 2012.
Jake Plite ended his season early on a disappointing ACL injury on Jan. 23 against conference opponent Siena Heights. Before his season-ending injury, Plite averaged 10.8 PPG and 6.6 RPG while starting 20 out of 21 games for the Golden Eagles.
In his final season as a Golden Eagle, co-captain Derek Kingshott averaged 10.6 PPG and 5.9 RPG while appearing in 26 games and starting 23 games for Cornerstone. The senior from Zeeland was sidelined for six games during the middle of the season due to a leg injury. During his four years at Cornerstone, Kingshott appeared in 125 games, scored 797 points, grabbed 520 career rebounds and shot a .573 career field goal percentage. Kingshott was a member of the 2011 National Championship Team, WHAC All-Academic Team all four years, NAIA Scholar-Athlete (2011-12, 2012-13), Capital One Academic All-American (2011-12), and WHAC All-Conference HM (2012-13).
Head coach Kim Elders had a few comments about this past season, saying, "This was a season of many ups and downs. We started out well and then really struggled during the month of January. Injuries were part of our season this year with Derek Kingshott and Jake Plite missing almost 20 games [between the two of them]. I am proud of our team for how we responded to these injuries, particularly late in the season when we won our last five games. We were very disappointed when we didn't receive an at-large bid to Branson."
After losing only Kingshott to graduation, the Golden Eagles hope to return the remainder of their squad next year, including four starters from this year's campaign. Coach Kim Elders will have a deep bench next season as nine players this year recorded double-figure scoring averages for minutes played.
Coach Elders has also signed four newcomers for next season, one of whom transferred to Cornerstone from Grand Valley State University at the end of 2012. Though ineligible this season, Ben Lanning, a 6' 8" forward, has been attending classes at Cornerstone this spring semester.
"We're excited as we return everyone but Derek Kingshott. We have a strong freshmen class coming in, plus we added a transfer from Grand Valley, Ben Lanning, who transferred in this spring," commented Coach Elders.
Women's Basketball Recap
The Cornerstone University women's basketball season came to a close after a tough loss to Madonna University in the Wolverine-Hoosier Athletic Conference tournament on Feb. 20. Head coach Katie Mattera ended her first season as head coach of the Golden Eagles with an overall record of 19-12 (13-9 WHAC).
The Golden Eagles attracted national attention as Cornerstone ended their season ranked No. 3 in NAIA Division II in Field Goal Pct Defense (0.333), No. 5 in NAIA Division II in Defensive Rebounds per Game (30.226) and No. 8 in NAIA Division II in Total Rebounds per Game (44.742).
Coach Mattera commented, "This past season was a transition year for me and my team. We had to get to know each other and learn how to work well with each other. We started to gel together and turned the corner mid-season, which was a big factor in us finishing well. There is a lot of improvement to be made but I feel confident that we can make the steps in order to be a better team next year."
During the 2012-13 campaign, Cornerstone was led by all-conference senior Robyn Veltkamp's 18.0 PPG, tallying 539 total points on the season. The captain dished out 90 assists and also grabbed 200 rebounds during the season. During her four years as a Golden Eagle, Veltkamp scored 1717 points, 525 assists and 556 rebounds while shooting 44.4% from the field. The native from Hudsonville notched her career-high 31 points this past season against Northwestern Ohio on Nov. 17, 2012. The senior finished her career ranked fourth on Cornerstone's all-time record books for number of points (1717) and secondfor number of assists (525) behind Cathi Velzen-Powell.
Seniors Kathy DeYoung and Kayleigh Hammond also made their presence known on the court for the Golden Eagles this past season. DeYoung (Martin, Mich.) notched her career-high 14 points against Lourdes University on Jan. 12. During the season, the guard tallied a total of 92 points and dished out 44 assists. As a Golden Eagle, DeYoung scored a career 245 points, tallied 105 assists, and grabbed 180 rebounds. Hammond (Zeeland, Mich.) averaged 19.6 minutes per game while grabbing 139 rebounds. Hammond averaged 6.1 PPG and 4.6 RPG during the past season. For her career, the forward notched 529 points, blocked 35 shots and grabbed 407 rebounds. Her career-high 14 points came her freshman year against Indiana Wesleyan. Her career-high 10 rebounds came her senior year against Purdue Calumet (Ind.) on Nov. 2, 2012.
Coach Mattera had nothing but good things to say about the seniors, "Our graduating class this year has taught the team what hard work and dedication mean to the basketball program. They set great examples for the rest of the team and have helped paved the road for the future."
After graduating only three seniors, Coach Mattera will have another young roster as she has signed five new players and returns 10 from this year's lineup. Coach Mattera will hopefully signing a couple more as the year moves along.
"When I was recruiting for the upcoming year, I was looking for players who could play great defense and still be an offensive threat who can work into our offensive system. The players that I have coming in are great athletes, great teammates, coachable and will add athletic depth to the team," stated an enthusiastic Mattera. "We are eager to get back training for next season."