University of Evansville beat

This is Randy Beard, the sports editor of the Evansville Courier & Press. I want to use this space to update University of Evansville sports fans on where we are at with the Aces’ beat since Jonathan Lintner left for an online position with the Louisville Courier Journal.

I received more than 170 resumes once the job was posted, conducted seven phone interviews and then brought three applicants to town for a second round of interviewing earlier this month. A little over a week ago I offered the job to Colleen Thomas, a recent graduate of the University of Michigan who has been working a summer internship at the Baltimore Sun.

Colleen will start work on Aug. 19 and once she gets her bearings and meets administrators, coaches and student-athletes at UE, I’m confident she will provide outstanding coverage of the Aces. She’s an excellent writer, has a background playing sports (her mother is a teacher and coach) and she managed to graduate from college in three years so she may soon be the smartest member of the sports staff.

As I did with Jonathan, I will set expectations for Colleen and then give her the leeway to grow the beat the way she wants.

Speaking of which, reading comments on the Purple Code message board about how Jonathan provided unprecedented coverage of the Aces because he was a fan has kept me amused. I’ve wanted to respond, especially  to the suggestion that we are no longer taking the UE beat seriously since he left.

One poster even suggested I’d rather cover  fishing before writing about college basketball. Wrong on two counts there, I’m afraid.

I would have set the record straight more than two weeks ago on the Purple Code, but I’ve forgotten my password and so far the site administrator hasn’t responded to three emails. So I’ll respond here.

Jonathan did take the beat in a new direction with daily blog entries and constant Twitter posts,  using the skills he learned at Western Kentucky. Those multi-media skills are one reason Jonathan was hired. We expected him to be a newsroom leader in those areas, and he helped raise the bar for reporters on other beats in sports.

But the thing people need to understand is that it wasn’t Jonathan’s decision to  focus on UE athletics. He was assigned that responsibility, although he did often go beyond what I would have demanded because he would post blog entries on his days off. I appreciated that effort.

However, unlike previous writers covering the Aces in the past six years or so, I made sure Jonathan didn’t have to worry very often about having to also cover the IceMen, USI or high school sports. He only got a handful of those assignments because I wanted him to stay focused on covering UE athletics.

In comparison, when I was assigned coverage of the Aces for two years, I was also the sports columnist who worked the desk two to three nights a week while also providing nearly all of our IceMen coverage. So yes, the coverage of the Aces wasn’t nearly as comprehensive as was in the past year.

When I moved up to sports editor here in May 2012, making UE a beat responsibility was as much a priority to me as all college beats had been when I was sports editor in Tallahassee, Fla., and Anderson, S.C.. It remains one now.

I believe Colleen will do a superb job while providing a different perspective..

 

Lloyd signs deal with Padres

Kyle Lloyd

Kyle Lloyd

Former UE pitcher Kyle Lloyd confirmed via text message he’s signed with the San Diego Padres organization after it selected him in the 29th round of last weekend’s MLB First-Year Player Draft.

Lloyd, who arrived at the Padres’ spring training facility in Arizona on Monday, is already off today to report to the club’s short-season A-ball club in Eugene. Ore.

The Eugene Emeralds then start their season Friday night.

Lloyd, a right-handed California native, went 7-4 with a 2.59 earned run average last season as a senior at UE. He started every Saturday as the Aces’ No. 2 pitcher before coach Wes Carroll sent him to the mound in game one of the Missouri Valley Conference tournament.

Lloyd didn’t disappoint in perhaps his most gutsy performance of the season, allowing two runs — one earned — on four hits through 8 2/3 innings of a walk-off loss to Missouri State.

The 6-foot-4, 210-pound hurler touches 92 miles per hour with his fastball and relies on a split-changeup to strike batters out. He fanned 99 in all last year, the fourth-most in a single season by a UE pitcher and second in the MVC behind ninth-round pick Nick Petree out of Missouri State.

Lloyd is the only former Aces player in the minors other than Eric Stamets, a shortstop selected in the sixth round last year by the Los Angeles Angels currently at the High-A level.

Padres select Lloyd in 29th round

Coach Wes Carroll tabbed senior pitcher Kyle Lloyd, the Aces' Saturday starter, to throw in game one of the MVC tournament. Photo by Jason Clark/C&P

Coach Wes Carroll tabbed senior pitcher Kyle Lloyd, the Aces’ Saturday starter, to throw in game one of the MVC tournament this season. Photo by Jason Clark/C&P

The San Diego Padres used their 29th-round pick Saturday to select UE senior pitcher Kyle Lloyd in the MLB First-Year Player Draft.

Lloyd, the Aces’ right-handed Saturday starter, went 7-4 with a 2.59 earned run average last season.

He measured up as 6-foot-4 and 210 pounds before going as the draft’s 868th pick overall.

“I was pretty pumped,” said Lloyd, who will report Monday to the Padres’ spring training facility in Arizona and expects to sign with the organization then.

“I was following online through the MLB site where it just pops up with the pick and the name, and my computer was about to die,” he added. “I went upstairs to get my charger, and I took my phone even though it was about to die too, just in case. That’s when I got the call.”

The California native and Carmel High School product made it three straight years for UE draft selections. Cody Fick, a volunteer assistant for the Aces now, went to the Philadelphia Phillies in 2011′s 23rd round. Then the Los Angeles Angels’ organization picked up former shortstop Eric Stamets in the sixth round in 2012.

In all, coach Wes Carroll has seen seven of his players selected in the draft in his six seasons.

Lloyd will likely sign for a given slot value assigned to his pick before heading off to play short-season A ball for the Eugene (Ore.) Emeralds of the Northwest League, which begin their season June 14. The Padres’ Class A affiliate Tincaps are based in Fort Wayne, Ind.

Not much UE draft buzz out there

Thought I’d put together a post wrapping up thoughts from the Internet’s MLB First-Year Player Draft’s experts on where UE’s best might be selected this week.

Well, there’s not much of that to be found.

The consensus is, rising junior outfielder Kevin Kaczmarski will get drafted at some point but return to improve that stock. Kaczmarski posted a .339 batting average and .504 slugging percentage, but he’s also signed to play another summer with the Waterloo Bucks of the Northwoods League. The Bucks have started their season, however, and Kaczmarski hasn’t yet reported.

One website, baseballdraftreport.com, projects right-handed pitcher Sam Johns to go in the draft. That doesn’t appear likely, though. The redshirt junior Johns went 1-3 with a 4.97 earned run average, splitting his appearances with seven of them starts and seven out of the bullpen. He is 6-foot-3 and 210 pounds — fills out the jersey well — but wasn’t one of the four pitchers given the opportunity to start for UE at the Missouri Valley Conference tournament.

In a March 15 article from his hometown paper, senior outfielder Jason Hockemeyer expressed an interest in playing baseball after his graduation from UE. Hockemeyer, who plans to attend physical therapy school, doesn’t want to get a so-called real job. “When I came (to Evansville from junior college), I knew it was a great decision because we play more games and have a have a lot more scouts see us,” Hockemeyer told the Midland (Tenn.) Daily News. The Aces will also lose senior pitchers Josh Biggs and Jake Naumann, an all-MVC closer, as well as catcher Chris Pearson.

And then there’s senior pitcher Kyle Lloyd, who coach Wes Carroll has talked up plenty heading into the draft that runs from Thursday through Saturday. Lloyd went 7-4 with a 2.59 earned run average and capped his collegiate career with an incredible final game: four hits and a single earned run 8 2/3 innings as UE fell by a 2-1 score to Missouri State in the MVC tournament. The right-handed California native twice earned MVC pitcher of the week honors in 2013 and, despite his position as UE’s Saturday starter all year, went into the postseason as the Aces’ No. 1 pitcher. Baseball America tabbed Lloyd a “Prospect of Note” heading into the draft.

I’ll feature Lloyd, who said as of two months ago he’d never expect to be drafted, in Wednesday’s Courier & Press.

Freeland going to Cape Cod League

capecodlogo

Kyle Freeland

Kyle Freeland

Kyle Freeland will play in the summer baseball big leagues this year.

Freeland, a left-handed UE pitcher who just completed his sophomore season, made the Hyannis Harbor Hawks roster in the Massachusetts-based Cape Cod League, known widely as the nation’s premiere summer baseball destination.

The last Aces to play in the Cape Code League was Eric Stamets, the former shortstop eventually selected in the sixth round of last year’s MLB June Amateur Draft. Stamets also played for Hyannis Harbor in 2011 before his junior and final year at UE.

Freeland went 4-8 with a 4.34 earned run average last season as the Aces’ Friday night starter. Though he struggled down the stretch, the Denver native delivered a winning performance in his Missouri Valley Conference tournament appearance. He scattered seven hits in a complete-game performance against Bradley, helping the Aces advance in an elimination game setting.

The Philadelphia Phillies also drafted Freeland, at 6-foot-3 and 170 pounds, out of Thomas Jefferson (Colo.) High School. He can improve that stock this summer over the 44-game schedule that starts June 12.

There were 253 Cape Cod alumni on MLB rosters as of 2012, meaning one in seven major leaguers spent a summer there. One familiar name that could add his name to that list is Indiana State pitcher Sean Manea, the league’s Outstanding Prospect Award winner in 2012 and an expected first-round pick in next week’s draft.

Fifteen UE players in all will play summer baseball this year, including four for the nearby Dubois County Bombers of the Ohio Valley League.

All UE summer baseball assignments:

Player Team League
Patrick Bellinger DuPage County Hounds Midwest Collegiate League
Phillip Diehl Cincinnati Steam Great Lakes Summer Collegiate League
Kyle Freeland Hyannis Harbor Hawks Cape Cod Baseball League
Cole Heili Sheboygan A’s Wisconsin State League / Northeastern Wisconsin League
Forrest Herrmann Wisconsin Rapids Rafters Northwoods League
Brent Jurceka DuPage County Hounds Midwest Collegiate League
Kevin Kaczmarski Waterloo Bucks Northwoods League
Jake Mahon Waterloo Bucks Northwoods League
Eric McKibban Dubois County Bombers Ohio Valley League
Tyler Miller Richmond RiverRats Prospect League
Kyle Pollock Waterloo Bucks Northwoods League
Jonathan Ramon Southampton Breakers Hamptons Collegiate Baseball League
Kyle Schwinghamer Dubois County Bombers Ohio Valley League
Shain Showers Dubois County Bombers Ohio Valley League
Connor Strain Dubois County Bombers Ohio Valley League

Updates: UE baseball vs. Illinois State

It’s another elimination game for UE’s baseball team at the Missouri Valley Conference tournament – they all are from here on out — but top seed and host Illinois State has the luxury of a 2-0 record so far. The Redbirds also didn’t play earlier today, and they meet the Aces at 7:37 p.m. at Duffy Bass Field.

Refresh for updates or follow on Twitter (@ECP_Lintner) for updates. Should UE win, it plays Illinois State again Friday for a spot in the championship game.

http://storify.com/ECP_Lintner/updates-ue-baseball-vs-illinois-state

Updates: UE baseball vs. Missouri State

UE and Missouri State’s baseball teams are set for a rematch at the Missouri Valley Conference tournament, this time in a 12:30 p.m. elimination game today. The winner advances to play top seed and so far unbeaten Illinois State tonight.

Refresh for updates or follow along on Twitter (@ECP_Lintner).

http://storify.com/ECP_Lintner/updates-ue-baseball-vs-missouri-state-1

 

Updates: UE baseball vs. Bradley

Storms at Duffy Bass Field in Normal, Ill., aren’t expected to affect play all day, but they will likely push back the start time for UE’s elimination game against Bradley originally set for a 12:30 p.m. first pitch.

Once the action does begin, refresh for updates or follow on Twitter (@ECP_Lintner) in a must-win game for the Aces to continue their season.

Continue reading

Updates: UE baseball vs. Missouri State

Fifth-seeded UE faces off against No. 4 seed Missouri State at 4 p.m. Tuesday in the opening round of the Missouri Valley Conference baseball tournament. Rain is in the forecast at Duffy Bass Field in Normal, Ill., which hosts this week’s double-elimination tournament.

ESPN3.com will broadcast the game. Refresh here or follow on Twitter (@ECP_Lintner) for more updates.

Continue reading

Lloyd gets nod in MVC tournament’s opening round

Coach Wes Carroll tabbed senior pitcher Kyle Lloyd, the Aces' Saturday starter, to throw in game one of the MVC tournament. Photo by Jason Clark/C&P

Coach Wes Carroll tabbed senior pitcher Kyle Lloyd, the Aces’ Saturday starter, to throw in game one of the MVC tournament. Photo by Jason Clark/C&P

After talking to UE baseball players and coaches last week, one thing became apparent: Everyone believes winning game one in the double-elimination Missouri Valley Conference tournament is key to taking the whole thing.

The Aces will go with their most consistent arm when they open against Missouri State on Tuesday at Duffy Bass Field, home to top seed and host Illinois State.

Senior Kyle Lloyd, UE’s Saturday starting pitcher all season behind sophomore Kyle Freeland, is 7-3 with a 2.74 earned-run average. He’ll match up with Missouri State ace Nick Petree, an amazing 8-1 with a 1.63 ERA.

The right-handed Lloyd has played second fiddle to left Freeland all season, and his top outing came against Missouri State when the teams played a series at Braun Stadium. Lloyd fanned a career-high 13 batters and threw his second complete game April 17 in a 2-1 Aces win.

The Sacramento, Calif., native and Carmel High School graduate will likely be drafted this June. He’d first like to show that his last outing — it lasted just 2 2/3 innings in a May 11 loss to Illinois State — was simply a fluke.

“It’s not really that I want to prove anything,” Lloyd said. “It’s more that I want to stay consistent and go about my business. It’s all about having confidence out there.”

Lloyd has tallied a career-high 94 strikeouts this season, second in the MVC, up from 58 a year ago when he went 6-3 with a 3.01 ERA.

Look for more on Lloyd’s first start at the No. 1 spot in Tuesday’s Courier & Press.

Other MVC tournament notes:

—UE is 21-27 all-time in the double-elimination tournament. This year marks the Aces’ 14th appearance.

—Last year, UE sandwiched a victory over Indiana State between two losses to Illinois State, which eliminated an Aces squad that finished 32-27.

—UE combined to go 4-5 against the teams in its side of the MVC tournament bracket: Missouri State (1-2), Illinois State (1-2) and Bradley (2-1).

—The Aces’ 10-10 MVC finish this year marked the first at .500 or above for coach Wes Carroll in his five seasons.

MVC tournament links:

—The tournament bracket, per mvc-sports.com

Complete list of matchups and scores

—Story: Aces hope Jake Mahon’s return sparks offense in postseason

Screen shot 2013-05-20 at 4.30.38 PM

Aces open MVC tournament with Missouri State

The final weekend of Missouri Valley Conference baseball play did UE no favors.

Really, with the pitching around this league this year, there is no ideal No. 1 starter to face.

But UE will likely see Missouri State pitcher Nick Petree (8-1, 1.63 earned-run average) again when the fifth-seeded Aces play the fourth-seeded Bears at 4 p.m. Tuesday in the teams’ first-round tournament game hosted by Illinois State. Petree retired the final 16 batters he faced against UE earlier this season in game one of the Bears’ 2-1 series victory at Braun Stadium last month.

For UE, there’s a decision to be made: Friday night starter Kyle Freeland (3-8, 4.59 ERA) or Saturday starter Kyle Lloyd (7-3, 2.74 ERA)? As of yesterday, coach Wes Carroll hadn’t yet decided which arm will take the mound in game one of the double-elimination tournament.

Click here for the MVC tournament bracket, led by regular-season champion and host Illinois State as the top seed. Bradley is the other “Bracket B” team on UE’s side.

—Remember each MVC tournament game will be broadcast live on ESPN3.com until MVC TV airs the championship game. That’s Fox Sports Midwest and Indiana locally.

Look for more in the coming days advancing UE’s MVC tournament run.

Police make arrest in Twitter threats case

The Evansville Police Department on Thursday arrested 24-year-old Naquan Powell on two charges of intimidation, a Class D Felony, for comments officers believe Powell posted on Twitter in reference to shooting up an EPD facility and UE sporting event.

The tweets sent Tuesday morning from account @PopeQuanPaul forced cancellation of the Aces’ baseball game against Austin Peay, after which the university said it would increase security at events moving forward.

“We can’t get any type of mental health help in this damn town. I bet they’d wanna help us if we shoot up a @UEAthletics game tho” the original tweet read, before the account later sent, “Can’t get evaluated for mental health in evansville Indiana until we shoot up @EvansvillePD apparently”

The @PopeQuanPaul account then tweeted Thursday, presumably before Powell’s arrest: “Riding with the FBI now…sitting in this kinda interrogation room…It only took em 2 days to find me. Not even more like 43 hours”

Click here for the official EPD release on the arrest.

Dana Clayton, UE’s vice president of student affairs/dean of students, said in a statement Tuesday that the university did cancel the Austin Peay baseball game in light of Monday’s bombing at the Boston Marathon.

“I think that it’s one of those things where we want to play it safe,” Stanley said. “As opposed to an event like the Final Four where there’s 75,000 people, at our softball game we’re not going have remotely that size of a crowd so it’s easier even for our administrators to have a higher level of alert.”

Courier & Press news reporter Zach Evans will be following the story further. Check out his story here.