Three members of the University of Akron women’s basketball team are looking toward life away from school that still includes basketball.
Point guard Kacie Cassell, forward Rachel Tecca and guard Hanna Luburgh spent last weekend in Nashville, Tenn., as participants in the ProHoops Combine.
WNBA coaches and staff evaluated the three Zips for possible invites to training camps and they were also evaluated for possible international teams.
The combination of Tecca and Luburgh led the nation in scoring for much of the 2013-14 basketball season. They finished combining for 44.3 points per game (22.2 points per game for Luburgh, 22.1 for Tecca) and were integral, along with Cassell, to the team capturing their first Mid-American Conference championship, which allowed them to make their first appearance in the NCAA Tournament.
Cassell averaged 6.5 points and 6.5 assists per game on her way to providing the spark for the Zips’ offense.
They enjoyed the experience and offered perspective as to where they could potentially stand with respect to professional careers.
Tecca earned a spot on the combine’s all-star team and Luburgh, in addition to receiving nominations to the same team, also won the 3-point shooting contest.
“I think we got a lot of exposure and we’re just excited to see what opportunities come out of that tryout,” Tecca said.
Professional basketball isn’t as lucrative for women as it is men, even in the WNBA. That being the case, they have made sure that they have options that will likely lead to careers that are more lucrative than hoops.
The Northeast Ohio Medical University recently accepted Cassell for its pharmacy program.
Tecca has already earned a master’s degree in business and Luburgh received word this week of acceptance in the University of Findlay’s doctoral physical therapy program.
Whether they turn pro ultimately depends on the offers that come out of the combine. However, they could all agree that it was nice to have those choices.
Tecca and Luburgh also participated in the Global-1 Sports Private Workout, a session in which only 35-40 players participate.
The axiom “patience is a virtue” is paying dividends for the UA baseball team, which owns a 16-14 record overall and 6-3 record in the Mid-American Conference.
Take note of those 16 wins. That’s one more than the Zips won all of last season. Coach Rick Rembielak apparently turned the page on those days of misery.
The offensive statistics are on pace to improve significantly over 2013.
The team’s batting average is up 23 points (.245 vs. .268), on-base percentage is up 42 points (.319 vs. .361) and slugging percentage is up 27 points (.316 vs. .343).
Thus far, the top of the order with right fielder Joey Havrilak (.315, 21 runs scored and 18 RBI) and center fielder Devin Ahart (.313, 21 runs, 15 RBI and 20 BB) has set the table for the offense.
The power numbers 59 extra-base hits, including nine homers, aren’t overwhelming, but still are on pace to best last year.
But the pitching has also improved greatly.
John Valek (2-2, 2.76), J.T. Brubaker (2-2, 4.41) and reliever Zach Beaver (4-0, one save, 3.80) have led a staff that’s lowered the team ERA by seven-tenths of a run over last year.
Softball rising, too
The UA softball team’s situation last year wasn’t as dire as the baseball team’s, but with a 16-9 record the Zips are on pace to beat last year’s 23-28 mark.
Although the team’s ERA is up slightly, it has made great strides offensively.
The Zips are hitting at a .293 clip when last season they hit .244 as a unit.
George M. Thomas can be reached at email@example.com.