Inside Marshall Sports

Kiel taken, other items

Herd senior Ryan Kiel was taken in the 37th round of the MLB draft, joining junior Kevin Shackelford and recruit Aaron Blair of Las Vegas. The latter two were picked in the 21st round, so the dilemma begins (and Jeff Waggoner sweats).

Tyler Gatrell could well land a free-agent deal, so he could end up in the minors this summer as well… 

Chuck Neinas was rehired by Conference USA to guide the league through the next minefield of realignment. He has received considerable credit for shepherding Marshall into C-USA, a marriage that wasn’t automatic, contrary to popular belief.

Here is the list of Conference USA players taken in the MLB draft (incoming recruits are NOT included):

Rd.	 Player	   Pos.	  School	  MLB Team
3	Rick Hague	SS	Rice	        Washington Nationals
3	Rob Segedin	3B	Tulane	        New York Yankees
8	Kyle Roller	DH	East Carolina	New York Yankees
10	Blake Kelso	SS	Houston	        Washington Nationals
13	Michael Goodnight RHP	Houston	        Cleveland Indians
14	Diego Seastrunk	C	Rice	        Cleveland Indians
16	Ryan Fraser	RHP	Memphis	        New York Mets
16	Chris Wallace	C	Houston	        Houston Astros
17	Preston Claiborne RHP	Tulane	        New York Yankees
18	Jimmy Comerota	IF	Rice	        Arizona Diamondbacks
20	Chad Mozingo	OF	Rice	        Washington Nationals
20	Luke Stewart	1B	UAB	        New York Mets
21	Scott Copeland	RHP	Southern Miss	Baltimore Orioles
21	Owen Dew	  RHP	UCF	        Cleveland Indians
21	Kevin Shackelford  RHP	Marshall	Milwaukee Brewers
23	Drew Martinez	OF	Memphis	        New York Mets
23	Shane Brown	OF	UCF	        New York Yankees
25	Mike Ojala	RHP	Rice	        Florida Marlins
26	Ty Stuckey	LHP	Houston         Cincinnati Reds
26	Chris Duffy	OF	UCF	        Philadelphia Phillies
31	Stephen Sultzbaugh OF	Rice	        Arizona Diamondbacks
32	Todd McInnis	RHP	Southern Miss	Oakland A's
33	William Kankel	LHP	Houston	        Milwaukee Brewers
34	Dustin Harrington  SS	East Carolina	Chicago Cubs
36	Jared Rogers	RHP	Rice	        Florida Marlins
37	Ryan Kiel   	  LHP	Marshall	Seattle Mariners
38	Nick Graffeo	LHP	UAB	        Kansas City Royals
38	Jared Ray       	RHP	Houston	        Minnesota Twins
39	Ryan Woolley	RHP	UAB	        Texas Rangers
41	Seth Maness	RHP	East Carolina	Florida Marlins
48	Devin Harris	OF	East Carolina	San Francisco Giants

Why I care about C-USA baseball

Three teams in the NCAA, all advance to the super regionals… East Carolina roars back from 6 down to beat South Carolina; Southern Miss and Rice roll… That’s pretty big.

State’s college coach of the year

The state’s sportswriters association is currently voting on college and high school coaches of the year, for the period from April 1, 2008 to April 1, 2009. The ballot is pasted below:

FURFARI AWARD–College Coach of the Year

1. Josh Allen, Alderson-Broaddus women’s basketball–Had team at .500 mark following years of losing.

2. Cal Bailey, W. Va. State baseball

3. Alan Fiddler, Glenville State football–WVIAC champion; 8-3 record.

4. Kevin Garrett, Concord baseball

5. Jon Hammond, West Virginia U. rifle–Won school’s first NCAA championship since 1998 and 14th overall.

6. Bob Huggins, West Virginia U. men’s basketball–Led one-senior team to 23-12 record, Big East Tournament semi-finals after upset of Pittsburgh, and NCAA Tournament berth after being picked, by coaches in pre-season, to finish 9th.

7. Nicole Izzo-Brown, West Virginia U. women’s soccer–Led team to Big East Tournament semi-finals.

8. Bryan Poore, W. Va. State men’s basketball–Bid to NCAA D-2 Regional; 24-6 record.

9. Bill Stewart, West Virginia U. football–1st WVU coach to win 1st two bowl games (Car Care last season; Fiesta). Record 9-4 in 1st full season.

10. Jeff Waggoner, Marshall U. baseball–Advanced to C-USA Finals; 30-30-1 record. No home field.

11. Sherry Winn, U. Charleston women’s basketball–WVIAC champion.

I’ve seen stronger ballots in other years. This time around, I voted for the only coach I nominated: Jeff Waggoner. There is no overriding reason the Herd would get within a run of winning the Conference USA tournament, considering how it played all 61 games away from home. He has done a bang-up job.

Ramblings from the state tournament

Here at the state basketball tournament, where I’ll get to see a little of future Herd WR Aaron Dobson, whom I hope turns out more like Denero Marriott and nothing like Hiram Moore:

— A fan asked me how I would grade the Donnie Jones era so far, and I told him a C+. I think I can stand on that, with those two C-USA tournament debacles accounting for as much as a full grade reduction.

— You probably won’t see much on it this week because we have the state basketball tournament, but Marshall is beginning its C-USA baseball season this weekend at Memphis. I was most impressed that the Herd nearly handed UVa its first loss of the season, and I’ve got a good eye on homegrown freshman Thor Meeks, who has always hit like a “Thor.” Hopefully, I’ll get a game or two during the March 27-29 series with East Carolina at “The App.”

— If you’re somehow feeling dismayed by the Herd’s close 6-4 victory over West Virginia State, don’t be. I get to watch the Yellow Jackets several times a year, and there is no such thing as a cheap win over those guys. With the exception of Chad Johnson getting raked for four runs in the seventh, that’s a *great* pitching performance.

— Yeah, I saw the two Charleston papers get all indignant over the Ridpath settlement. Which is fine, but almost none of the “offenders” were still around. Only Layton Cottrill is still working for the University, the case dragged on so long. This I know: As stupid as MU can be at times, I cannot find David Ridpath to be a sympathetic figure. And yes, I got e-mails back in 2002 or 2003 from “Bobby Sue Pruett,” and I challenged him to divulge his true identity. You can figure this one out.

— I think I’m going to stop at two sets of brackets, in an ESPN media challenge. Some common themes: Louisville and Memphis will meet in a national semifinal; Villanova will win the region everybody else is picking Pitt to take; the choking Panthers will lose to Xavier; Western Kentucky will reach the Sweet 16; and the Big Ten will go down in a slimy heap — as it should; and Rick Pitino will hoist the big trophy.

— I, too, an distraught that only four at-large bids went to “non-BCS” conferences. (And have I told you how much I dearly HATE having the BCS dragged into basketball like that?) You can’t sell me on Arizona being in, nor can you run Michigan and Minnesota by me.

— Memphis fans expended way too much energy over wanting that No. 1 seed. But boy, will John Calipari run the “us vs. the world” theme to its utmost effectiveness. That, along with better defense and foul shooting than last year, will get the Tigers to Detroit.

— Spring footy is 13 days away, isn’t it?

Herd at the Charleston ball orchard…

Here to cover the Herd baseball team for the final time at Appalachian Power Park. The finishes its last home C-USA series Sunday… As you may have seen, I wrote an article for Friday morning on how the Herd is hitting C-USA pitching better, and I’ll be darned if it didn’t hammer the Southern Miss starter in a 16-10 victory. I continue to be impressed with this team.

In Monday’s column, I’ll throw out ticket sales dollar figures for football and basketball … and perhaps an update on Darius Watts, though I was stiffed in an attempt to contact him this week. We’ll see…

The Nigel Spikes question …

… is, in all likeihood, which prep school? But if he ekes out a qualifying test score, that makes the Herd’s roster a little interesting, doesn’t it?

On a down note of sorts, I have noticed the Herd is on the verge of a men’s/women’s sweep in golf … for last place. That’s a big bummer. And yes, I care about golf.

I also care about baseball, which brings me to my final note: You *have* to be a little excited about the state of the Herd program. 7-7-1 after 15 league games, with a trip to UAB on tap? Jeff Waggoner, Tim Adkins and crew are doing a nice, nice job. I heard the Herd is well within the top 100 in the latest baseball RPI…

At the ballyard…

Probably shouldn’t jinx it, but the Herd is downing UCF 7-3 in the sixth inning at “The App” today. Tommy Johnson crushed a homer to deep center, to the right of the batter’s eye and possibly in the street.

Football-wise, it’s past time for another scrimmage. It’s all starting to run together… By the way, we have a new poll up on our Web site, dealing with starting times. Surely, 1 p.m. isn’t going to win, right?

Play ball!

While we wait for Marshall’s (thankfully) late-starting spring football, it’s baseball time at Appalachian Power Park. The Herd has three-game Conference series the next two weekends, against Rice and Memphis.

As you probably know, Rice brings the big, big bats into town. The good news: The Owls aren’t No. 1 like they were two years ago when the beat the Herd 26-6 in the Friday game. Still, the Owls are No. 11, 13 or whatever (there are way too many college baseball polls).

Coach Jeff Waggoner likes his pitching staff, and he did land a pretty good closer in former South Charleston/Hurricane star Arik Sikula. I’m going to assume the Herd will do better than getting outscored 52-16.

Went back and looked at the stories from those games. For the series, the Owls hit .433, smacking 55 hits, 11 home runs, three of those grand salamis. The Herd’s ERA was 14.76.

Gulp! The Owls were 22-2 in C-USA that season. It will be interesting to see if the Herd can give the Owls a run this time around.

And I don’t mind seeing a little baseball. I’ll be at the yard Friday and Saturday night…