Monday, May 17, 1999

Men's Tennis:  Good News.  Softball:  Bad News

Kudos to the men's tennis team, which is this year's Cinderella team in the NCAA men's tennis tournament. The Hokies came from nowhere, ranked 54th as the tournament started, to knock off #21 VCU in the first round and #16 Alabama in the second round (by the way, don't you think Alabama's had about enough of Virginia Tech this year? Heh-heh). Here are links to the articles at

Against VCU, the Hokies were down 3-1 as a team and won three straight matches to defeat the Rams. Against Alabama, individual players stormed back from deficits repeatedly to win matches and boost the Hokies into the Sweet 16. The team rode the backs of brothers Aaron and Adam Marchetti, who are ranked 17th and 45th in the country, respectively.

If you're alert, then you've noticed that this makes the second Sweet-16 appearance by a Tech non-revenue sport this year (women's basketball, obviously, was the other). I have always thought of Tech's non-rev sports as being somewhat weak, but perhaps I'm going to have to revise that estimate.

Remember, this comes on the heels of Top 25 rankings by both softball and women's lacrosse. Add that to the 13-game winning streak put up by the baseball team (more on that later), and Tech has a lot to be proud of in the "Olympic" sports.

When you talk about women's basketball and men's tennis, however, you're not talking about two teams tearing up the weak A-10. You're talking about two teams performing well on a national level. You're seeing the result of Tech's commitment to non-revenue sports, superior facilities, and the success of the football team (and the money that brings) take root.

Congratulations to the men's tennis team, and good luck.

The news for the softball team, however, was not as good. The 54-16 Hokies, ranked #25 in the nation that last time I checked, were passed over by the NCAA tournament selection committee. Although disappointing, this is not a surprise. NCAA selection committees have never been kind to Virginia Tech teams in any sport, and in the women's NCAA sports world, tradition and past success counts for everything, and Tech doesn't have it.

The mission for Tech's softball team, then, is clear: beat UMass. The Minutewomen are the class of the A-10 (this year, anyway), and if Tech's softball team wants to play in the NCAA's, an at-large bid into the 48-team tournament is not something the Hokies should be counting upon, ever. They're going to have to get there by winning the conference tournament, and presently, to do that, you have to go through UMass.

The Hokies have a stellar - and young - pitching nucleus in Dobbe and Crowell. Assuming that the rest of the A-10 stays weak in softball like it was this year, Tech should have one thing in their sights when next year starts, and that one thing is beating UMass.


Hot Baseball Team Gets Ready for A-10 Tournament

As the men's tennis team continues on in the NCAA's, the focus shifts to the baseball team, which has won 13 straight to close out the regular season at 37-14. The record included an impressive 18-3 mark in the Atlantic 10.

This is the kind of success that most people expected Tech to have in the Atlantic 10. The Hokies, as a relatively big-budgeted A-10 team and the southern-most team in the A-10, should be the best in baseball. It remains to be seen if Tech can carry its regular season domination through the upcoming A-10 tournament and into the NCAA's.

And, as a matter of fact, even if they win the A-10 tourney, the Hokies may have to win a play-in game or two to make it into the NCAA's. Last year, the A-10 was tabbed as one of the four-weakest baseball conferences in the NCAA (I have no idea how they determine that), and in that case, the champions of the four-worst conferences must play a mini-tournament just to find out which one of them makes it into the NCAA tournament. So even if Tech wins the A-10 tourney, the Hokies may have to run another gauntlet before they even get to baseball's version of the Big Dance.

A quick glance at the Hokie roster and statistics shows that the baseball team, like the softball team, has a solid young nucleus of pitchers. How about an 11-1 freshman (Jason Bush), a 9-2 sophomore (Larry Bowles), and an 8-4 sophomore (Pat Pinkman, who started out the year 2-3)? By my count, that’s three pitchers who will be together for two more years, and they went 28-7. Subtract Pinkman's rough start, and the three were 26-4. That bodes well for the next few years in Tech baseball, if you're one of those who thinks good pitching beats good hitting.

The A-10 tournament runs from May 20-22 in Boyertown, PA.  For the calendar impaired (like me), that means that it starts this Thursday.


A Guy to Like

Many Hokie fans complain about our football team not getting respect on a national level, but if you've seen the recent CBS Sportsline poll that ranked the Hokie football team 3rd in the country, then you've discovered a guy who likes the Hokies.

The poll was done by Anthony Gimino for CBS Sportsline, and I received the following email from an Arizona resident that shed some light on Mr. Gimino:

Will: thought I would give you a little insight on Anthony Gimino, who ranked the Hokies #3 in that recent CBS Poll. He was a sportswriter here in Tucson for many years for the Arizona Daily Star. Every Friday morning, during college football season, he predicted (with the help of an "Uncle Guido") the Saturday scores of the Top 25 teams, along with the University of Arizona.

Over the years he has always been generous in his predictions and analysis of VT (unusual for a western writer), although he was always unsure what a Hokie was. Those of us who are VT fans in Tucson tried to set him straight. He was one of the few writers who would have rather seen the Hokies here in the Bowl rather than WVU. He thought VT was the much better team.

We're always ragging on Mark Blaudschun of The Boston Globe, Dennis Dodd of CBS Sportsline, and Lee Corso of ESPN, justifiably so. So Mr. Gimino is one for the other side of the ledger. Although I think that #3 is a little high for our Hokies (perhaps, if our offense wasn't so young, I wouldn't think that), I appreciate Mr. Gimino's enthusiasm, and I'll keep an eye out for him.


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