tampabay.com

Ups and downs for Lions teams

By CHRIS WAGENHEIM
Published May 10, 2007


The Saint Leo softball team finished strong, winning its last six games - three against the University of Tampa and three against Rollins.

After starting the season 1-9, the Lions rallied during conference play to edge both UT and Rollins in the Sunshine State Conference standings. The Lions finished fourth while Rollins and UT finished fifth and sixth, respectively.

"We finished up the year pretty strong, " coach Christi Wade said. "We finished 33-20 (15-9 SSC). It's not where we wanted to be, but we finished up on a positive note as we go into next year."

Saint Leo's sophomore ace, Ashley Urbanik, ended the season on a personal high note, receiving SSC player of the week honors for the week of April 30. Urbanik was only the second Lion to get the honor this season, Ally Maddox got the nod for the week of April 1.

Urbanik allowed two earned runs on nine hits and three walks over 17 innings in the Lions' sweep of Rollins. Urbanik finished the season with a 1.29 ERA and 24-11 record and was the conference leader in looking strikeouts.

"She definitely picked it up, " Wade said. "She has done a lot better than her freshman year."

Saint Leo baseball

Where the Lions softball team flourished at season's end, the baseball team knew only disappointment. To be fair, the Lions faced long odds; their last three games were all visits to the University of Tampa (39-9, 17-4).

"It just so happened our schedule worked out that way, they are the best team in the country but we have them on the schedule so we go play them like any other team, " coach Ricky Ware said.

The Lions were outscored 28-8 in the three games, their closest being the last on April 28. Saint Leo led the Spartans through the first three innings, stayed tied through the top of the fifth, but was surpassed in the bottom of the same inning, eventually losing 9-4.

"Our pitching staff was hanging, " Ware said. "And I'm not laying blame, but it seemed like we couldn't find any good pitches in the late innings."

Saint Leo dropped eight of its last 10 games and finished the season 26-25, 10-14 in the SSC. Ware said he was happy they finished above .500 for the second season in a row, but was unhappy they slipped from fourth in the conference to seventh.

But Ware thinks the future could be bright for the Lions.

He called his incoming recruits "the best this college has ever had." Ware said he addressed weak spots in his lineup, emphasizing strong hitters and more solid pitching.

This season the Lions' pitching took a hit; they lost Nick Taft and Aaron McLamar to injuries. McLamar had 10 saves for last season, second best in the conference.