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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.

Comments

Anonymous said…
It appears by the number of posts that I may be the only one excited about this weekend's tournament - besides 808Lehigh and LFN, that is. Be that as it may, I believe others may care to know more about the tournament that gets underway this afternoon at 1 o'clock (just moved up in time!) as our Mountain Hawks take on the nation's 12th seeded Cardinal of Stanford. It's not every day that Lehigh - a youthful (10 freshmen and sophomores) non-scholarship program - gets to compete for a D-1 title and finds itself locked into regional play against one of the finest teams in the country, Stanford out of Pac-10. Should we emerge on top at the end of this weekend's double elim-play, the Lady Hawks will be the Sweet 16 and head south to Texas to compete in a Super Regional. For a complete report on what to expect, check out the link below - complete with the four team (Stanford, UMass, Princeton, and Lehigh) rosters and stats along with itune interviews of coaches and players.

http://umassathletics.cstv.com/sports/w-softbl/spec-rel/08-ncaa-softbl-regional.html


As is so often the case in softball, the game begins and ends with pitching. Admittedly, there's a huge difference in the caliber of competition (Pac-10 vs Patriot), but here's a look of the Game One starters for Lehigh and Stanford:

LU
Lisa Sweeney
Jr.
5/7"
ERA 1.54
Record 25-4
Innings Pitched 195.1
K's 297
HR's 7
At Bats 712

STANFORD
Missy Penna
Jr.
5'10"
ERA 1.10
Record 34-10
Innings Pitched 299.2
K's 372
HR's 18
At Bats 1044

The coach of the Cardinal summarized his teams strengths as experience (five seniors)along with power in the middle with speed at the top of the lineup. He did say his team had struggled at times this year in getting timely hits to push across runs with runners in scoring position.

Looking for some intangibles that may weigh-in on the Lehigh side? How about rain in the forecast this afternoon and the affects a cross-country trip (two flights into Hartford, CT and a bus ride north to UMass) may have on the Stanford players.

For those interested, the game can be heard at lehighsports.com


Good luck to the Brown and White!

LU65

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