Saturday, May 17, 2008

Lehigh Drops Opener To Stanford 4-0, But High Hopes Today

Stanford rode a fantastic pitching performance from lefty pitcher Missy Penna as she shut down the Mountain Hawks 4-0 yesterday. She scattered four hits, and Stanford proved that they will be an awfully tough team to beat out of the Amherst bracket.

However as rain delayed the resumption of the UMass/Princeton game (tied at 0-0 in the 1st), Lehigh got a bit of a break: they will play the last game of the afternoon (currently scheduled for 2:30) after the UMass/Princeton game and the winner's bracket game. That means that a well-rested Lehigh could be facing a Princeton or UMass team that's already played a full game. This is good news for junior P Lisa Sweeney, who will almost certainly be pitching again this afternoon.

Fingers crossed. Go Lehigh! LehighSports will be again streaming the games for free. If you're in the Lehigh Valley, 91.3 WLVR will also be broadcasting the game, too. If you get CSTV All Access, you can get video of the game here.

Thursday, May 15, 2008

Softball Returns To The Scene Of The Crime; Tkatch Charity Golf Event; And A Prospective?

The women's softball team travels up to Amherst, Mass, but this time they won't have the element of surprise.

After beating Lafayette to take the Patriot League softball title, it's NCAA Tourney time as the Lady Hawks will be facing off against #12 Stanford, Princeton, and UMass in the Amherst Regional. They return to UMass, the scene of their last postseason appearance where they disposed of heavily-favored Texas A&M (seeded #13) and surged into the NCAA regional finals.

If Lehigh can get out of this regional again - winning over the CAA champs, the Ivy League champs, and one of the best teams in the Pac 10 - it would be a fantastic story and another coup for Lehigh. Not to mention beating two of the best academic schools in the world in Stanford and Princeton.

Are the seeds there for an upset once again? I won't count these Lady Hawks out, with a team batting average of .318 led by freshman C Carly Potok (.354), junior OF Alishia Gonzales (.346) and senior OF Kate Marvel (.335). Although not loaded with power, this team nickels and dimes you to death.

As good as the team is, however, it's junior P/OF Lisa Sweeney anchoring the team, batting a cool .416 with 13 HRs, and an amazing 25-4 record pitching with - get this - 297 strikeouts.

(Paging Lisa Sweeney - IronPigs on Line One!)

LehighSports will be streaming the games for free. The fun in Amherst starts Friday at 2:30PM as Lehigh faces off against Stanford, and I for one will be listening in. If you're in the Lehigh Valley, 91.3 WLVR will also be broadcasting the game, too. If you can't listen to the game, the next best thing to do is set up the gametracker, which you can find here on the Amherst Regional page.

[UPDATE: If you get CSTV All Access, you can get video of the game here.]

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Keith Groller of the Morning Call has done a great job talking about the story of former Lehigh football alumnus 'Bo' Tkach in the context of the first Bo Tkach Memorial Golf Tournament which occurred last week.

The tournament was held to honor the memory of Bo Tkach, the popular Northern Lehigh athlete who, along with his father Jim, the Bulldogs head coach, and others, turned Slatington into a football hotbed in the late 1990s.

Bo Tkach committed suicide last July after a long battle with depression and obsessive compulsive disorder. He was 25.

Besides remembering Bo, the tournament was designed to raise funds for the assessment and treatment of youth battling mental illness, especially those in less than desirable financial circumstances.

The tournament raised approximately $55,000.

...

Mike Connor, the brother of Penn State linebacker Dan Connor, was also there. Mike had been Bo's teammate at Delaware and Lehigh.

"We talked a lot about Bo and we talked about the good times," Tkach said. "Bo was with us today. There's no doubt about it. Bo was always so busy and he was busy again at the tournament because we had just tremendous weather. We have a special connection in that department now."


For more info on the tournament and the cause it supports, see http://www.botkach.com. You can also read more about the event from Keith Groller of the Morning Call here and here, including the appearances of former Lion QB Eric Hipple and Lion GM Matt Millen at the tournament.

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It's officially the new season as of today. Know how I know? Because word of 2009 prospectives are starting to roll in, and (yes) that involves Lehigh too. Witness this from the Bradenton Herald:

BRADENTON -- The inquiries have come from all parts of the country. Army. Navy. Boise State. Lehigh. Arizona State. Iowa.

They fill Josh Breitwieser's mailbox daily, trying to gauge the interest of Saint Stephen's versatile football star.

Just what he expected, right?

"It's totally surprising," the senior-to-be said. "I never would have expected it."

Who would? Saint Stephen's didn't even have a football team when Breitwieser was a freshman. Now, not even three years into his varsity career, Breitwieser has become one of the area's most sought-after players.

It's a stunning story - one Saint Stephen's football coach Matt Kitchie saw coming last fall, when in the Falcons' season finale against Leesburg First Academy, Breitwieser had six receptions for 215 yards at tight end.

On the other side of the ball, Breitwieser lined up at defensive end and finished with 21 tackles, three sacks and a fumble recovery.

...

Breitwieser is so effective defensively Saint Stephen's has to take him off the field during practice so the offense can be productive.

"We don't have a single lineman that can block him," Kitchie said.

...

A fleet of suitors at his disposal, Breitwieser has his heart set on playing at the United States Military Academy at West Point.

"A lot of my family has been in the (armed) services," he said. "I kind of got interested in it around middle school and stuck with it ever since."

Breitwieser sports a 3.5 grade-point average, and while being courted by college football programs has been fun, his mind is still set on the classroom.

"I really pay little attention to it," he said of all the college attention he's been getting. "My main focus is on school, getting good grades. I'm just going with the flow right now."

2008 has officially kicked off, alright.

Tuesday, May 13, 2008

Don Most, 'Moola' And Lehigh

As a guy who graduated in 1992, straddling the cusp between the eighties and nineties, I have some strange obsessions about the eighties. Before you start thinking that they're common fare like The Princess Bride and parachute pants, here they are in no particular order:

* The Cars' Elliot Easton's solo album "Change No Change".
* Creepshow ("Wheeere's Myyyy Caaaaake?").
* Eddie Murphy.
* Anything with an Ocean Pacific label on it.
* Howard The Duck (not only did I love this movie growing up, I bought the soundtrack).
* Two words: Dog Police.

Aside from establishing me as some sort of obvious freak, it also might help explain my fascination for another former Lehigh student: director and actor Don Most, who has just directed a new DVD movie called 'Moola'. You probably remember Mr. Most best for his role as Ralph Malph on Happy Days.

Mr. Most recently talked about his latest project, and life at Lehigh in the Allentown Morning Call.

Released on DVD Tuesday, the based-on-a-true-story film is about, in Most's words, ''the great value of the ordinary man.'' Set in the Midwest, the sparkly, Capra-esque comedy follows the ever-changing fortunes of a lightstick manufacturer named Steve (William Mapother of ''Lost,'' who plays one of the ''Others'').

In debt up to his eyeballs and on the brink of divorce from his wife (Charlotte Ross), Steve and his partner (Daniel Baldwin) luck upon a new use for his lightsticks as bovine fertility devices. (Don't ask). Instead of having to file for Chapter 11, Steve is on the brink of selling his company off to a big conglomerate (overseen by ''Green Mile's'' Doug Hutchison and Treat Williams).

...

Most enrolled at Lehigh as an engineering major because his accountant father and housewife mom wanted him to get a real education.

One semester of engineering convinced Most he should pursue a business degree. But even after he made the switch, he was restless, going back and forth to New York to see his girlfriend and to audition for stage and TV work.

''During my freshman year, I'd take the bus to the city,'' he says. ''By my sophomore year, I had a car and I made a lot trips back home, probably more than I should have. I didn't give as much attention to my school work as I needed to.''

During his junior year, Most made plans to spend the summer in L.A. scouring for acting jobs before going back to Lehigh in the fall. But three months turned into six months. He booked ''Happy Days'' on his third audition and Lehigh University was in his rear-view mirror. He never graduated.

I mean, how can you not love this story? For every older alum that can identify with famous Lehigh alumnus Lee Iacocca and his meteoric rise in business, there are hundreds of Lehigh alums and almost-alums of my generation that can identify more closely with this. Maybe it plays into my own lost dreams of doing stand-up comedy, I'm not sure. But in some inexplicable way, his story inspires me.

The article doesn't mention other parts the Don Most's oeuvre, including the underrated Leo and Loree (although Most isn't credited as a writer, his character is basically his life story), and my personal favorite USA Up All Night feature, Stewardess School.

All that, and he's taller than Henry Winkler, too.
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