Thursday, April 22, 1999

Build It, and They Will Come

The best-kept secret in Hokie athletics?  It's not Mike Gentry anymore.  Try the softball team, instead.

Channel 10 ran a feature Wednesday night about the red-hot women's softball team, which, after sweeping a double-header from UNC-Greensboro on Wednesday, has now won 18 games in a row.  Eighteen.   The last time a Tech sports team won 18 games in a row, it was ... well, okay, it was only a couple of months ago, when the women's basketball team did it, but still, that's remarkable.  Tech has now won 27 of their last 28 games, and even Bonnie Henrickson's basketball team can't boast that feat.

The Hokies do it behind two freshmen pitchers - freshmen - named Clarisa Crowell and Ashlee Dobbe.  The opener against UNC-G was thrown by Crowell, who won it 1-0 with her second straight no-hitter and third of the season.   Crowell won the nightcap 3-0, and she has a no-hitter to her credit, as well.

The Hokies' overall record is now a sterling 44-12 on the season, with Crowell and Dobbe turning in 20-6 and 24-6 records so far this season.

Yep, you read that right.  Every single one of the Hokies' games has been pitched - and won or lost - by Crowell and Dobbe.  Interesting stuff.  Makes you wonder why those wimps in the majors take off 4 or 5 games between starts.  Just kidding, baseball fans, but it is news to me that a softball pitcher can make that many starts.  And we're not talking slow-pitch folks.  These women whip it.

I'm sitting here asking myself, "44-12?  Where did that come from?"  The only answer can be that the Hokies built a new half-million dollar softball field, and boom, the players are now arriving to play on that field.  Build it and they will come.  See how the Sugar Bowl and Orange Bowl money trickled down and benefitted everyone?

Although I do a poor job of covering non-revenue sports here at HC, I am a firm believer that strong non-revenue sports do wonders to enhance the overall image of your athletic programs.  They don't make any money (uh, hence the name "non-revenue sports"), but they go a long way for publicity.  UVa, for example, has gotten tremendous mileage out of their historically strong men's soccer, lacrosse, and women's basketball programs, which have all either competed for or won national championships.

Successful non-revs keep your name in the paper and on television and cast a positive light on your overall athletic program as a big-time (there's that term again) production.

Oddly enough, despite racking up a great record that includes a victory over #5 Michigan earlier this year, these Hokies still haven't received a single vote in the softball poll.  Well, I've got to figure that situation will remedy itself some time in the future.  The Tech roster boasts just one senior, five juniors, five sophomores, and four freshmen, including the ever-important Crowell and Dobbe.

Crowell and Dobbe really seem to be hitting their stride, and if they stay healthy, this team is going to be good for a really long time.   Get a load of the press release from May 8, 1998, when Tech signed Crowell:

Crowell, a native of Waldorf, Md., was named Washington Post Player of the Year in 1997 and Maryland Independent County Player of the Year in 1996 and 1997. A prep star at Maurice J. McDonough High School, Crowell led her team to three AAA state titles. A pitcher and infielder, Crowell posted a combined record of 28-0 in 1996 and 1997 with 371 strikeouts and a 0.28 ERA. In 1997, she hit .518 with a slugging percentage of .807. She also pitched 14 shutouts, seven no-hitters and two perfect games.   Crowell was a high school All-American in both 1996 and 1997 and was voted as one of the top 16 players in the country both years. --

One of the top 16 players in the country?  Wow.   No wonder she throws no-hitters more often than I clean the cat box.

The team has ten more regular season games, and then the Atlantic 10 championships May 7-9.  I expect the NCAA regionals to follow, or something ain't right in this world.


Strength and Speed

The latest Hokie Huddler column by Jimmy Robertson is up on the web site.  It's about one of our favorite subjects, the Gentry-fication of the Hokie football team.  The article talks about the records that have been set this year in the weight room and includes a table of key stats and lifts for the 10 Super-Iron Hokies.  A glance at the list will reinforce that Derrius Monroe's spring game performance was no fluke, as Derrius is not just a Super-Iron Hokie, but a fast Super-Iron Hokie.  This is highly recommended reading.  My favorite quote:

"I can't ever remember having that many award winners," said Gentry, who's been at Tech for 12 years. "I think the players are hungry. There's so much competition for spots and that helps too. As we continue to get good players, we have good competition and that carries into the weight room as well."

If we are to continue to improve as a football team, the key is to somehow stay hungry as higher levels of success are achieved.  One way to achieve that hunger is through competition amongst the players.  Florida State, despite having a legitimate shot at going 11-0 each year, stays hungry because the starters know that if they let up, the High School All-American behind them on the depth chart will take their job.  The Hokies need that same edge if they are truly going to push for a national championship in football.


Project: Thank You Part Two is Ready to Go

Nova Hokie 95 sent me the final information for Project Thank You 2.   For those of you who are participating, click here to find out who you get to write your letter to.  Get on it!


Tech Notes

  • On Wednesday, the baseball team beat a floundering UVa team again, this time in Charlottesville, 11-7.  The Hokies lead the three-game series 2-0, with the third game scheduled for April 28th in Danville (I believe it's standard for the two teams to play a game in Blacksburg, a game in hell, and a game at a neutral site each year).  Tech is now 25-14 with about 15 regular season games left.


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