—UE’s softball team survived day one of the Missouri Valley Conference tournament by knocking off Missouri State 4-2 in extra innings Thursday before a late night 5-3 victory over Illinois State. Next for the Aces is a 2:35 p.m. meeting against second-seeded Drake in the tournament’s semifinals in Omaha (steamed online at Valley Live and WUEV.org). Before Thursday, UE’s program hadn’t won an MVC tournament game since 2004.
—Coach Wes Carroll’s UE baseball team wraps up MVC play this weekend with a three-game set at Illinois State. Game times between the Aces (20-29, 9-8 MVC) and Redbirds (31-17, 11-4 MVC) are 6 p.m. Friday, 2 p.m. Saturday and 1 p.m. Sunday. Depending on the weekend’s results, UE could finish anywhere from second in the league to sixth. It’ll take victories against Illinois State, a winner in 17 of its last 20 games, to improve the Aces’ current fifth-place standing.
—The Cleveland Plain Dealer, after UE signee Duane Gibson’s state championship season at Villa Angela-St. Joseph’s High School, named him the paper’s Boys’ Player of the Year to headline all-star teams. Gibson averaged 11.9 points, 8.9 assists 6.4 rebounds and 3.9 steals per game as a senior.
—The Aces will need help in each of those statistical categories — mainly points and assists — next season now that Colt Ryan has graduated. UE’s all-time leading scorer is still training in hopes of signing a professional contract this summer. Keep up with Ryan on his Twitter page (@cryan_11).
—Another former UE basketball player working on the future is Samantha Heck, a recently graduated senior playing in China for a United States all-star team. Heck is two-thirds through the foreign tour in which many players go on to play professionally, mainly in Europe having been seen by scouts.
—A number of news outlets, headlined by CBS Sports, reported Thursday that the NCAA will likely keep its shot clock at 35 seconds next season but will look at other rules, particularly block/charge calls and defending that prevents a player’s freedom of motion.
—Now that UE has hired Manolo Concepcion to replace Mike Swan as head volleyball coach, the Aces’ athletic department is seeking an assistant. UE’s support staff last season was made up of assistant coach Dean Torgerson, graduate assistant Stephanie Budde and volunteer coach Nathan Antoine.