Two times this season, the depth and parity of the Minot State University men's golf lineup has caused Chipper Farrell to leave his low scorer out of the five-player varsity lineup.
With reigning Northern Sun Intercollegiate Conference golfer of the week Casey Gleich suffering from a tendonitis flare-up in his forearm, Farrell is hoping that depth will allow the Beavers to seamlessly replace Gleich and produce a strong showing at the NSIC Spring Championships this weekend.
The NSIC tournament is composed of two rounds in the fall and two rounds in the spring, with the latter to be played Saturday and Sunday at the Paradise Pointe Golf Complex in Smithville, Mo.
Minot State University sophomore Kowan O’Keefe chips a shot onto the green during a 2011 tournament at the Minot Country Club. O’Keefe is tied for second heading into the final two rounds of the Northern Sun Intercollegiate Conference Championships this weekend. Photo courtesy of Michael Linnell/MSU sports information.
The Beavers enter this weekend in fourth place in the team standings, 27 strokes behind St. Cloud State University (Minn.). MSU sophomore Kowan O'Keefe is tied for second in the individual scoring with a two-round total of 155, two strokes back of Sioux Falls' Jordan Mueller.
"I'm basically just gonna go out and play my own game and see what happens and hopefully at the end of the day, it's the result I'm looking for," O'Keefe said. "I can only control my own game, I can't control anything else. Just take it one shot at a time."
O'Keefe finished second to Gleich on Tuesday at the Upper Iowa Invite. The Beavers came in fourth as a team, but would've won the event if they had counted the scores of Gleich - who was held out of the varsity lineup with the threat of his tendonitis.
"I think we're playing real well," Farrell said. "It's just a shot here and a shot there is the difference between first and fourth or fifth place."
Farrell said the chances are "slim" that MSU can make up 27 strokes on SCSU and the other leaders this weekend, but hopes the Beavers can hover around par as a team.
"If we can do that both rounds, I don't know if that'd be good enough to win, but we'd be pretty pleased," Farrell said.
The team and individual with the lowest score automatically qualify for the Division II national tournament.
Farrell said junior Cody Duchscherer and seniors Blair Anderson, Michael DeLorme and Marion Hernandez will join O'Keefe in the starting lineup this weekend.
- Daniel Allar
Beavers looking for first NSIC win
With six conference games canceled due to weather and an 0-6 start in the Northern Sun Intercollegiate Conference, the Minot State University baseball team is treating the rest of the season like the playoffs.
MSU (8-12 overall) dropped four games at No. 4 St. Cloud State on Sunday and Monday and is one of only two teams in the 15-squad NSIC without a conference win. The top eight teams make the NSIC tournament. Minnesota, Crookston is 0-14 in league play.
The Beavers are also without a true home game because of unplayable fields in the city. MSU will play two doubleheaders this weekend, originally scheduled at Corbett Field, against Upper Iowa (10-9, 2-0) in Fayette, Iowa.
"Every team we play here on out we know we're gonna be competing with for the playoffs," MSU coach Brock Weppler said. "This is nothing we didn't expect going into it. We just have to approach every game the rest of the season like it's a playoff game."
Poor playing conditions have canceled 10 NSIC games for the Peacocks, who swept Northern State (S.D.) in their only conference action. Weppler expects his team to see at least two left-handed pitchers when the Beavers meet UIU in doubleheaders set for 1 p.m. Saturday and noon Sunday.
UIU junior southpaw Martin Valdez (3-0) is fifth in the NSIC with a 1.80 ERA. Senior lefty Eric Anderson is 4-0 in four appearances with a 3.38 ERA and leads the Peacocks with 27 strikeouts. UIU has proven well rounded at the plate too. Senior first baseman Mikey Henrichs has started all 19 games and has a league-high .475 batting average.
"They're hitting the ball really well," Weppler said. "We're gonna have to show up and have some good approaches. I think we've got a very good chance of getting on the winning track."
Weppler is encouraged by the way the Beavers played in four games against SCSU. The Huskies snuck by with 1-0 and 4-2 wins on Sunday in St. Cloud. MSU senior Cole Stober gave up five hits in five innings in the 1-0 loss.
In Monday's 8-3 and 7-4 losses to the only nationally ranked team in the NSIC, the Beavers took first-inning leads. The Huskies (21-2, 10-0) responded with five runs in the first inning of game one and pitcher Chris Kubitz improved to 3-0 without yielding an earned run in his first 25 2/3 innings of the season.
MSU senior Mike Turcotte hit the Beavers' first home run of the season in the first inning of game two, but SCSU responded with three runs in the bottom of the inning.
"I thought we had good approaches, but stranded a lot of guys in scoring position and just didn't come up with the big hit," Weppler said.
"The biggest thing I was pleased with there is we didn't let it snowball. I think those games could have gotten out of hand."
Weppler was impressed with the hitting of junior infielder Alex Fornshell. The Minot High product was batting below .200 entering the series, but went 3-for-3 in the first game Sunday and finished the series with five hits.
"He had some really good at-bats and did some things well defensively," Weppler said. "It was good to see him turn the corner. That was a big stride there for him."
- Tim Chapman
Weather forces more cancellations
Events this week for the MSU softball, women's golf and track and field programs have been canceled due to poor weather conditions.
The women's golf meet at Augustana College (S.D.) this weekend has been canceled, along with the North Dakota State Bison Open track and field meet scheduled for Saturday.
The track and field programs compete next at the Dickinson State Blue Hawk Games on April 19, while the women's golf team is off until the NSIC Spring Tournament on April 20-21.
MSU's softball games with Northern State (S.D.) originally scheduled for Wednesday and subsequently moved to Thursday have also been canceled.
"It's disappointing to not get back on the field, but everybody in the area is feeling the effects of the weather this year," MSU coach Bill Triplett said in a press release. "It's unfortunate, but there isn't much we can do about it at this point. We have to move on and be ready for the next set of games."
The softball team (26-5 overall, 8-4 NSIC) expects to host three doubleheaders this weekend at Herb Parker Stadium. The Beavers play non-conference opponent Mayville State on Friday, and host conference foes Concordia-St. Paul (Minn.) and Minnesota State-Mankato on Saturday and Sunday, respectively.
- Daniel Allar