Jackson graduate welcomes another national title shot

Friday, May 16, 2003

Megan Kuntze and her Columbia College teammates faced a tall task in their quest for a second straight berth in the NAIA National Softball Championships.

Columbia, the top seed in the Region V tournament in Springfield, Mo., dropped its opening-round game to William Woods College. The Cougars beat William Woods four times during the season but with the 2-1 loss Columbia fell into the loser's bracket.

"We didn't know what to expect," Kuntze said of the team's approach after the opening loss. "It was a long day, but we knew we could do it."

The Cougars rallied for five straight wins, including an 8-0 trouncing of William Woods and back-to-back wins over No. 2 Culver Stockton to claim the automatic bid.

The Cougars will play Spring Hill (Ala.) in the opening round of the double elimination NAIA tournament at 3 p.m. today in Decatur, Ala.

Kuntze, a graduate of Jackson High School, had a key hit in the opening game against Culver Stockton to keep the Cougars' hopes alive. With the scored tied at one, Kuntze hit a walk-off two-run home run to force a final game against the Wildcats. The Cougars cruised past the Wildcats in the second and deciding game 6-0.

"I just try to do whatever I can for the team," Kuntze said.

Kuntze and her Cougar teammates improved to 37-15 with their five wins over the tournament and were ranked sixth in the latest NAIA Top 25 Poll.

The Cougars wrapped up the American Midwest Conference tournament championship a week earlier with a 5-1 win over McKendree College before wading through the Region V tournament. Kuntze went 3-for-4 in the championship game against McKendree with two RBIs and was chosen as a member of the all-conference team for the third straight season. Kuntze finished the regular season hitting .267 with 28 runs scored and 21 RBIs.

At last year's national tournament the Cougars finished 1-2 and tied for 11th overall. Columbia opened with a 1-0 loss to Houston Baptist College, beat Nova Southeastern University 7-2 and was eliminated by Union University 2-0.

Noteworthy

  • Central graduate Marisa Uzoaru, a senior at Florida A&M University, will try to qualify for the NCAA Championships in the high jump when she competes in the East regional May 30 to 31. Uzoaru qualified for the regional with a jump of 5-10 1/10. Last year Uzoaru finished 10th at the national championship with a jump of 5-8 9/10.

    Central graduate Lainie Bohnsack finished third at the MIAA outdoor track championships May 3. Bohnsack cleared 5-4 1/5 feet, which tied for the top jump. Bohnsack lost on the tiebreaker.

    Josh Eftink, a Notre Dame graduate, finished the regular season hitting .410 for Jefferson College in Hillsboro, Mo. Eftink added 40 RBIs. Matt Stroup, a Chaffee graduate, struck out 36 batters in 46 innings. Stroup walked only 12 batters and allowed 12 earned runs.

    Jefferson College fell short in the regional final, losing 4-2 to Maple Woods of Kansas City. In that game Notre Dame graduate John O'Rourke had two hits for Maple Woods. O'Rourke is hitting .341 with 33 runs scored and 21 RBIs. Maple Woods moves to the central district playoff where it will face Connors College in a best-of-three series starting today with the winner qualifying for the Junior College World Series.

    Maryville freshman and Perryville graduate Amanda Nuyt wrapped up her first season for the Saints softball team. Nuyt, an honorable mention goalie for the Saints soccer team, finished the season at .272. Nuyt was second on the team with nine stolen bases and 14 runs scored. Maryville finished 20-16 with Nuyt leading the team in fielding assists with 93.

    Westminster College wrapped up its season at 16-17 with three Perryville residents ending their college careers on high notes. Shaun Duvall and Joel Huering, both Perryville High graduates, and Dusty Wengert, a St. Vincent graduate, all hit over .300 this season in starting roles. Duvall overcame a sluggish start to finish at .358. Duvall was third on the team in runs scored (25), second in home runs (6) and added 19 RBIs. Huering hit .338, led the team in stolen bases (8), was second in runs scored (26) and had 17 RBIs. Wengert had a .311 average, 20 runs scored and 19 RBIs. Both Huering and Duvall received all-conference second team honors in the St. Louis Intercollegiate Athletic Conference.

    University of Missouri starting pitcher Garrett Broshuis, an Advance graduate, was chosen for the Verizon Academic all-district team.

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