A surprising season ended in a surprising way for Akron.
Holding a 2-0 lead entering the last inning, the Zips gave up three runs to Northern Illinois, eliminating Akron from its first MAC Tournament in four years.
After throwing six scoreless innings, senior Megan MacKenzie gave up back-to-back solo home runs in the seventh. Freshman Julie Boyes came in relief. She gave up a walk and a sacrifice bunt before a Jamie Stanclift error ended the game in the bottom of the seventh.
The Zips, however, wouldn't have made it that far without the freshman Stanclift, whose two-run sixth-inning single accounted for Akron's only runs.
The Zips finished the season at 26-25, but that really doesn't tell the story.
It was supposed to be a rebuilding year, but freshmen like Stanclift and Boyes preferred it to be a reloading year. While the youth carried much of the team, the core of seniors like MacKenzie and Sara Zilles provided solid leadership to make the inaugural season of Lee Jackson Field one to remember.
Coach Julie Wright also is showing to be one of the unappreciated gems of Mike Thomas' coaching choices. Next year will bring higher expectations. But for now, I applaud how well Akron competed in 2006.
The athletic department will announce its coaching selection tomorrow at noon.
The Buchtelite's inside sources are saying a number of very qualified candidates are possibilities. You can read about them a few posts below this one.
With four events completed in the women's MAC Championships, two Zips are already conference champions.
Ashley Kaufman (javelin) and Stevi Large (hammer throw) won their events and brought in a majority of the points that put the Zips into first place for the women.
The men are in fifth place out of seven MAC teams with three events complete. Dan Digman (fourth) and Auston Papay (sixth) placed in the javelin event. Randall Hafner took seventh in the hammer throw.