MARSHALLTOWN, Iowa (May 20) – After a week off due to weather, Marshalltown Speedway sprang back into action Friday evening and three drivers took home back-to-back wins.Jake Murray repeated his win in the Xtreme Motor Sports IMCA Modified division, earning $1,000 and a spot on the ballot for the Fast Shafts All-Star Invitational. Trent Murphy repeated in the IMCA Sunoco Stock Car class and Eric Stanton made it two in a row by winning the IMCA Sunoco Hobby Stock feature.Murray wasted little time in getting to the front of the field in the 25-lap Modified feature, snatching the lead from Jon Snyder on lap three. Eleventh place starter, Tom Berry from Medford, Ore., hustled through the field to grab the runner-up spot.Murphy gained the lead with a handful of laps remaining and then took the Stock Car win by a comfortable margin over Donavon Smith. Jay Schmidt started 12th and came away with third place.Stanton had to run down Gary Pfantz and Nathan Ballard, taking command on lap eight and holding off the field in the 15-lap Hobby Stock feature. Ballard finished second and Pfantz third.Sam Wieben dominated in the Karl Chevrolet Northern SportMod main. Randy Roberts chased Wieben most of the race and finished second. Jared VanDeest started 12th and finished third.
JEFF SCHORFHEIDE/Herald photoIn the world of the controlled violence that is football,the goal of a linebacker is simple: Punish the ball carrier and anyone who getsin the way. It takes a special breed of player to succeed at this gruelingposition, someone who relishes every opportunity for contact and exhibitsunrivaled toughness. Wisconsin’s linebacking corps — Jonathan Casillas, DeAndreLevy and Elijah Hodge — have no difficulty meeting those requirements. Theythrive in such situations. But at least to start the season, that wasn’t the case.After an impressive defensive showcase last year, theBadgers defense, specifically the linebackers, were highly acclaimed headinginto the 2007 season. Jonathan Casillas was named to the preseason watch listfor the Chuck Bednarik award, given annually to the top defender in collegefootball. DeAndre Levy had an impressive campaign in 2006, in which he startedall 13 games and led the team with six sacks. Elijah Hodge, brother of GreenBay Packers linebacker Abdul Hodge, emerged as a special-teams ace and madesignificant contributions as a backup middle linebacker.Unfortunately, the Badgers defense failed to live up to thehigh expectations set forth this year by football pundits and coaches. Blownassignments, missed tackles and a throng of injuries plagued the entire unit. “We all had our share of injuries during camp, and itcarried over into the season and limited our productivity,” Casillas said. The breaking point for the defense came after abysmalperformances against Big Ten rivals Illinois and Penn State. Over the two-gamestretch, the defense allowed an average of 29 points and surrendered more than 800yards. “It was frustrating,” Levy said. “Even the games we won, itfelt like we lost.”Of all the players on defense, none took more heat thisseason than Levy. He did not live up to his role as a hard-hitting presence onthe field and saw a steep drop in his production, both statistically andfundamentally. Often caught out of position, Levy had trouble sheddingblockers, and his tackling and angles of pursuit left much to be desired. After the embarrassing loss to Illinois, Levy called himselfout for failing to play to his ability. “I was fed up. I had enough of being passive and takingpunishment all season defensively,” Levy said. “As a unit, we weren’t playingwell, and individually I felt like I wasn’t doing as much as I could do. I feltlike something had to be done.”Fueled by criticism and personal letdowns, Levy took thepractice field with a new sense of urgency. “I started attacking practice the next few weeks with adifferent mentality,” Levy said. “I tried to go out and put more into[practice], and I knew I’d get more out of it.” Results from the last few weeks indicate that Levy’sintensity and hard work in practice have paid off. His transformation has been startling. The player who onceseemed unfit for the rough-and-tumble role of a linebacker has shown a nastymean streak on the field. Not only was Levy making the tackles he once missed,but he began dishing out punishment with new zeal and ferocity. His defining game could not have come at a better time.After some deep soul-searching, Levy took it upon himself to personallydismantle Indiana’s high-powered offense. During the homecoming game, fans hadtrouble recognizing the blur of red and white that flew across the fieldattacking anything that resembled a Hoosier. That “blur” was Levy, whose defensiveshowcase was a huge factor in the Badgers’ 30 point drubbing of Indiana.Levy, who had arguably his best performance as a Badger,notched eight tackles, a sack, a forced fumble, a fumble recovery and a passbreakup. Later that week, he was recognized as the Big Ten Defensive Player ofthe Week, the first accolade of his college career.”It felt good,” Levy said. “It kind of surprised me, becauseI didn’t realize that my game was that good.” It is clear from the resurgence of hard-nosed football inrecent weeks that the linebackers have taken it upon themselves to transformthe defense into the feared unit of the past. “Basically, the three linebackers started stepping up,”Casillas said. “Once we started making plays and committed to getting our headson right, it kind of got the ball rolling and it carried over from game togame.””We always had the chemistry,” Hodge added. “It’s just thefact that we are playing fast and playing to our abilities. Right now we arehealthy, and we are all flying around.”
Michelle Tumolo participated in pregame warm-ups, suggesting that head coach Gary Gait might send out the senior captain with a torn left ACL to help send Syracuse back to the final four.She was fully dressed in uniform with a knee brace and the eye black that always covers most of her face on game day.But Tumolo wasn’t needed as the rest of the Orange’s attack carried SU to victory.All season long, especially in Tumolo’s absence, Syracuse was powered by the offensive prowess of first-team All-Americans Kayla Treanor and Alyssa Murray, and that continued Saturday afternoon. The duo combined for seven points and led the No. 4-seed Orange (18-3) to a 13-9 win over No. 5-seed Florida (18-3) in front of 975 at the Carrier Dome. With its defeat of the Gators, Syracuse advances to the final four for the fourth time in Gait’s six years as SU head coach.“The bottom line is we knew it was going to be a tough game,” Gait said. “We looked at this game as an opportunity to demonstrate how much we’ve grown and how far we’ve come since the beginning of the year and I think from top to bottom, again, our players gave an incredible effort.”AdvertisementThis is placeholder textThe Orange will travel to Villanova next weekend to face top-seeded Maryland for a spot in the national title game.Treanor set the tone for the Orange with a goal in the opening two minutes of the game to put Syracuse ahead, but it was not an easy first half. She didn’t record a point for the remainder of the period.After the Orange went up 2-0, the Gators countered with three unanswered goals to take their first – and only – lead of the contest, feeding the lively Gator faithful. Meanwhile, the quick footwork of Florida’s Emily Dohony matched Treanor’s, and the UF defender repeatedly denied the SU attack any progress in dodging.But it didn’t matter.“They have threats from all angles,” Dohony said. “They’re very hard to stop.”Murray silenced the Florida fans, spinning through a double team to find an open Kelly Cross to knot the score at 3-3 before firing a low free-position shot past Mikey Meagher.UF’s Kitty Cullen scored to tie the score at 4 going into halftime. But Treanor began the second half like she started the first.Less than a minute out of the break, Treanor dodged across the middle and rifled a shot over Meagher to put the Orange in front for good. She capped off her hat trick two minutes later by beating defender Kayla Stolins to the right and burying her third goal.“And I know she’s going to do her best to get the best shot or opportunity,” Murray said of Treanor, “ … I think she brings it every game.”After a score by UF’s Nora Barry at the 25:48 mark, Syracuse strung together a 5-1 run. Devon Collins scored twice in the 10-minute stretch – one goal after receiving a jump pass from Treanor – and Murray converted another free-position opportunity.The Orange had jumped ahead 11-6 with fewer than 10 minutes remaining.“At halftime, we talked about getting quality shots, getting in front of the net,” Gait said,” and throwing a fake, throwing a hitch, and putting the ball away.”The Orange didn’t need Tumolo for her goal-scoring abilities, but her pregame warm-ups weren’t wasted.For the last minute of the game, Tumolo took the field, caught two passes and passed them along. Tumolo – who has yet to have her torn ACL surgically repaired – wasn’t going to see any meaningful playing time, but she received one last chance to play on the Carrier Dome turf.She then joined her teammates in a midfield celebration, to chants of “Villa-nova” – the site of this year’s final four – from the Orange faithful.“She wanted an opportunity to say goodbye to the Carrier Dome crowd here,” Gait said. “And the game worked out in that players worked hard to give her that opportunity.“ … They wanted her to step on the field and finish her career here. It didn’t finish a month ago, and it’s not over yet, so that was a nice message for the team to deliver.” Comments Facebook Twitter Google+ Published on May 18, 2013 at 7:59 pm Contact Phil: email@example.com | @PhilDAbb Related Stories Syracuse looks to forget late-game heroics of last year, handle Florida in NCAA third roundFlorida’s first-ever senior class leaving legacy in final NCAA tournament runSyracuse defense outduels Florida’s back line in 13-9 quarterfinal victory
Pitchers Jacob deGrom and Noah Syndergaard, who started games 1 and 2 of the National League Division Series for the New York Mets, have names that conveniently fold into a simple mashup: Syndergrom. This is possible for two reasons: their multisyllabic European last names and their strikingly similar pitching repertoires. DeGrom’s fastball averaged 94.9 mph in the regular season, Syndergaard’s was a bit harder, and both men throw the pitch a lot to great effect. The Dodgers got 10 hits in 13 1/3 innings off the two right-handers in the first two games of the series, scoring only one run with Syndergrom on the mound.“They both have amazing fastballs, and I just think deGrom might have a little more location,” said Dodgers pitcher Zack Greinke, who will start Game 5 on Thursday. “They’re both really fast and they both are good hitting pitchers. So they’re about as similar as you’re going to get, I guess, with overall skill set.”There’s a reason three years have passed without Greinke and Clayton Kershaw engendering the same mashup (Kershke? Greinshaw?). The syllables allow it, but the pitchers’ skill sets and opposite throwing hands don’t. While deGrom can be expected to pound plenty of fastballs in Thursday’s winner-take-all Game 5 at Dodger Stadium, just as Kershaw did in Game 4, Greinke will mix it up. Greinke-deGrom is not just a battle of two aces, but a contrast in styles.DeGrom actually dialed up his fastball a bit in Game 1. He threw the pitch 49 times and averaged 96.7 mph, touching 98.5. He’ll offset the heater with an occasional slider that touched 92.9 mph in Game 1 and a changeup that touched 88.4, both of which proved even harder for the Dodgers to hit.Ultimately, it was the perfect mix. The Dodgers never scored against deGrom. The bushy-haired right-hander allowed five hits, walked one batter and struck out 13 in a seven-inning masterpiece.Greinke showed the Mets his fastball, changeup and slider almost equally in Game 2. He will probably not do the same thing Thursday; at least, Greinke will change the sequence of pitches he showed each batter the last time around. That was a staple of Greinke’s success during the regular season, when he led the major leagues with a 1.66 earned-run average.“If you look at how I pitched them last time, I threw more fastballs to their righties and less fastballs to their lefties,” Greinke said, “and they had more lefties than most teams. So it ends up being more off-speed to that team because of the amount of lefties they have. “But you’ve got to probably make somewhat of an adjustment,” he continued, “because you can’t just keep doing the same thing to a team, or else they’ll make the adjustment and get a couple runs and it will be too late. So I have to find a way to mix more fastballs in against them this next time probably.”The Mets hit a pair of solo home runs and led 2-0 when Greinke threw his final pitch of Game 2. The right-hander allowed five hits in total, walked none and struck out eight.When Chase Utley pinch-hit for Greinke in the bottom of the seventh inning, the Dodgers subsequently rallied for three runs. When Utley slid into second base to break up a possible double play and broke Ruben Tejada’s right leg, Greinke’s role in the win quickly became an afterthought (though he was technically the winning pitcher).Utley hasn’t played since that game despite, not because of, a two-game suspension levied Sunday by MLB. His appeal will not be heard until Monday. And who knows, the starting pitchers might ultimately be upstaged by someone else in Game 5. Mets manager Terry Collins said that Syndergaard, and maybe even Game 3 starter Matt Harvey, would be available out of the bullpen.If the Mets carry the day, it could be Greinke’s final start in a Dodger uniform. Greinke can opt out of his contract at the end of the season and is widely expected to do so. He’ll make $71 million over the next three years if he doesn’t opt out, but could command a much larger deal on the open market.“Everything’s been great so far,” Greinke said of his three seasons as a Dodger. “I really can’t think of anything not positive to say about the whole experience. It’s all been good.” Newsroom GuidelinesNews TipsContact UsReport an Error