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Tuesday Tidbits: Bat and ball edition

December 7, 2010

Jean “Cy” Cione, EMU’s first women’s athletic director, died November 22 in Bozeman, Montana, where she lived. Cione also coached also coached women’s track and women’s basketball at EMU, and was a professor of sports medicine at EMU for 29 years.

Born in Rockford, Illinois in 1928, Cione tried out for the Rockford Peaches of the All American Girls Professional Baseball League in 1945, upon whom the 1992 movie, A League of Their Own was based. She played for four AAGPBL teams, helping the Kenosha Comets to a league championship in 1952. During her ten-year AAGPBL career, she pitched three no-hitters, compiled a 76-65 record with a 2.33 ERA, and was responsible for one unassisted triple play. Cione was Inducted into the National Baseball Hall of Fame, the National Italian American Sports Hall of Fame, and the Eastern Michigan University Athletic Hall of Fame and she also served as vice president of the AAGPBL Players Association.

The EMU softball team signed five high school seniors to join the team in 2011-12. Melissa Felkey, a multi-sport standout from Tecumseh high school, will help out at first base or as a utility player in 2011-12. She was an All-State Honorable mention selection in 2010, as well as Regional Most Valuable Player after helping her team to a regional championship last season. She was also an integral part of her squad that clinched the state championship in 2008.

Jennifer Lucas, from Pinckney High School, earned All-District, All-Conference, and All-Region honors last season, and was also named All-District and All-Conference in basketball. Lucas also helped her travel team win the NSA National Championship in 2008, and her team also took the ASA State Championship in 2010 en route to a national ranking of 13th in the country.

Lindsay Rich is a pitcher and infielder from Perrysburg, Ohio. She was a member of the All-NLL City League Tournament team in 2009, and in 2010 she was named to the All-County, All-NLL, and All-Northwest Ohio squads. Rich also played a role in her travel team’s 2010 ASA ninth place national championship tournament finish, where she posted a 3-1 record.

Heidi Schmidt, a senior from Canton, will join EMU as a utility player in 2011-12. She was an All-Division selection for Salem High School in 2009 and 2010, as well as making the All-Conference team in 2008 and 2009 after helping lead her team to a conference championship. Schmidt is also a three-year letter winner in basketball.

Jessica Wilkes, a senior from Glen Ellyn, Illinois, will join the pitching staff in 2011-12. In 2009, Wilkes earned All-Conference, All-Area, and Third Team All-State honors en route to a sectional championship for Glenbard North High School. The following season, the Panthers went on to win regionals, with Wilkes earnings Conference Player of The Year in addition to All-Area and Third Team All-State honors. In 2007, her travel team took the AFA National Championship and also took 10th at the ASA Nationals.

The EMU softball team has also announced their schedule for the 2011 season, which will run from the Florida Gulf Coast Tournament in February, through — hopefully — the MAC tournament in mid-May. The Eagles will play 13 home games at Varsity Field this spring.

The EMU baseball team has signed two high school seniors, both from Tampa, Florida, to join the Eagles in 2011-12. Chad Witkowski was one of the top hitters and pitchers for Steinbrenner High School in 2010. He hit .481 with eight doubles, nine home runs, 24 RBI and 21 runs scored. On the mound, Witkowski was 8-1 with a slim 2.16 ERA, striking out 44 batters over 48 and two-thirds innings. Ian Ham was a Tampa Tribune All-Hillsborough County honorable mention selection as a junior for Tampa Catholic High School in 2010. The Eagles will add a third Floridian, in sophomore transfer Kristian Calibuso.

The baseball team also announced their 2011 schedule this week (printable PDF). The Eagles will begin play on February 18 at 2010 national semifinalist Clemson. Other highlights of the non-conference schedule include Kentucky, Tennessee Tech, Presbyterian College, Austin Peay, Alabama A&M, and Kansas. The season will end in late May or early June, with the MAC Tournament from May 25 to 28, followed by the NCAA Regional Tournament the first week of June.

Friday night at Bowen Field House, the EMU wrestling team defeated Cleveland State 38-3, with the Eagles losing just one match. With the win, the Eagles advanced their dual meet record to 3-1. Next up, EMU travels to face the Northwestern Wildcats this Sunday.

I guess I lied when I wrote a few weeks ago that we were done with soccer for 2010. The National Soccer Coaches Association of American (NSCAA) has named Monique Budani to the All-Great Lakes Region First Team, and Stephanie Clarke to the Third Team. Budani is the fourth first-team selection in EMU history, and this is the first time EMU has had back-to-back first team selections (Ashley Rodrigues was named to the first team last year).

Budani’s .874 save rate in 2010 ranked her 13th nationally, and the 17 shots she stopped against Michigan State ranked fifth nationally.

EMU’s men’s and women’s swimming and diving teams hosted the EMU Invitational over the weekend. The EMU men won their side of the affair for the 13th consecutive time, finishing with almost 50% more points than second-place finisher Ashland, while the EMU women finished second behind the University of Michigan, who won for the 8th consecutive time. Both EMU teams will take a break for about a month, seeing their next action when both travel to Miami, Florida, for the Florida International University Invitational on January 2, 2011.

According to the Eastern Echo, the exhibit on the history of EMU football (on display at the Halle Library through January 2011) was put together in hopes of boosting attendance at the football games.

The idea of the event first came into consideration when the deans and department heads met to discuss the year’s conflicts and solutions. Rachel Cheng, interim university archivist, says the university football team was having an audit year by the NCAA Division I and they needed support from the university to get more people to attend football games.

“We told ourselves, what could the library do to help?” Elaine Logan, associate university librarian said. “So, we did an exhibit of the history of EMU football.”

That’s all well and good, but it doesn’t really help promote attendance at football games when the exhibit opens at the very end of the season.

The EMU women’s basketball team split their road trip last week. On Wednesday they defeated the University of Missouri at Kansas City 64-58 (now 3-6; 0-2 in the Summit Conference), then on Friday they lost 72-57 to Missouri State (now 5-2; 0-0 in the Missouri Valley Conference). Returning home, they were whomped last night in the Convocation Center, 68-44, by #23/21 Wisconsin-Green Bay (8-0; 0-0 in the Horizon League). Top-to-bottom rankings are harder to come by in women’s basketball than men’s basketball and football, but the Eagles are 0-2 against top-25 opponents, and 5-2 against unranked teams this year.

The women’s basketball team will play two games this week, both in the Convocation Center and both doubleheaders with the men’s basketball team. Tomorrow night, the women will play Detroit (3-4) at 6 pm, followed by the men’s game against Drake at 8. Saturday the men will play Detroit at 2 pm, followed by the women’s game against Canisius (2-4) at 4:30. As far as I can tell, both pairs of games will be broadcast live on WEMU with streaming video available from Eagle All-Access, though some parts of the EMU website indicate that there might not be a broadcast for the women’s game against Canisius, and/or for the men’s game against Drake.

I’ve not seen any official announcement of this, so take it for what it’s worth, but I’ve heard from several generally reliable sources that tickets to the doubleheader on Saturday will be just $3, and will include a hot dog and soft drink. If true, that’s a great deal; normal single-game tickets are $9 for men’s games, $7 for women’s games, and $3 for youth tickets to either (children under 12 are free on weekdays). The EMU list of promotions lists Saturday as Ypsilanti Appreciation Day with no explanation, so maybe that’s it.

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