Epps named NAIA all-American

Thursday, March 21, 2013

Missouri Valley College freshman Jordan Epps was selected as an honorable mention NAIA Division I all-American for his performance during the 2013 men's basketball season.

The guard from Springfield was named to Heart of America's all-conference's first team and awarded "freshman of the year" after leading the league in scoring with 18.7 points per game. He was third in the HAAC with 2.2 steals per game and fifth with 3.5 assists per game.

Epps is the Vikings' fourth all-American under head coach Chad Lance, the first one since Damon Collins was honored in 2007. Epps topped Valley (9-21, 4-14 HAAC) in scoring in 17 of its last 20 games of the season.

Baseball

The Valley baseball team split its home opener Wednesday against Heart of America Conference rival Baker, dropping the first game, 4-2, before getting a 3-0 shutout from freshman Devin Burnworth in the nightcap.

The Vikings were down 2-0 heading into the bottom of the sixth inning, when a squeeze bunt by freshman Greg Gilreath brought in their first run. They tied it in the seventh on sophomore Anthony Corona's two-out single.

The Wildcats regained the lead in the eighth on RBI singles by seniors Justin Lane and Miles Sanderson, and sophomore Kyle Pattrick worked around a lead-off single in the home half of the frame to close out the win.

Burnworth held Baker (2-16, 1-3 HAAC) to four hits and one walk while going the distance for his first career victory. Junior Josh Hartin doubled in a run in the first, Gilreath swiped home during a double-steal run-down in the second and freshman Jacob Stafford stroked a run-scoring single in the fourth.

Valley (2-9, 1-3) is scheduled to host league foe Benedictine on Saturday.

Softball

The Lady Vikings' softball club won three of eight games last week during the Tucson (Ariz.) Invitational.

Valley opened Monday, March 11, with a pair of losses: 11-3 to Judson (Ill.) and 15-6 to second-ranked Lubbock Christian (Texas), but it came back with a pair of wins the next day.

Junior Hannah Garczynski went three for three, with a homer and four RBIs, to spur a 14-3, five-inning rout of Mayville State (N.D.) in the first game. That was followed by another five-inning victory, 12-4 over Purdue-North Central (Ind.), behind a four-for-four performance by junior Pricilla Garcia -- who smacked a pair of doubles and knocked in three runs.

The Lady Vikings were blanked Wednesday by British Columbia, 3-0, and suffered a 16-3 defeat at the hands of Valley City State (N.D.).

Valley closed the meet Thursday with a split, falling to Dickinson State (N.D.), 2-1, before getting an 8-5 win against Dordt (Iowa) as sophomore Lisa Luna drove in four runs.

Garcia led the Lady Vikings' offense with 13 hits in 24 at-bats and sophomore Ashley Cobern pitched two of the team's wins. Valley (3-5) begins Heart of America Conference play Saturday at Baker.

Men's Volleyball

After splitting four matches over the weekend at the Cardinal Stritch (Wis.) Tournament, the 10th-ranked Valley men's volleyball team dropped a MAMVIC West home contest Wednesday to top-ranked Park, 25-21, 25-19, 22-25, 26-24.

Senior Zach Ponolio had 17 kills for the unbeaten Pirates (18-0, 6-0 MAMVIC), who enjoyed a .321 attack percentage.

Junior Jacob Haar knocked in 11 shots and block four and junior Jacob Pederson added eight spikes for the Vikings (14-8, 3-5), who head to Dubuque, Iowa, Saturday to play in the Clarke Quad.

Tennis

Despite opening the spring season with 3-4 dual mark, the Valley men's tennis team is receiving votes in the NAIA Top 25 poll.

The Vikings began the campaign with five matches last week at Hilton Head Island, S.C. -- with 7-2 wins over Ithaca (N.Y.) and Milligan (Mich.) before falling to Georgetown (Ky.), 6-3, Dickinson (Pa.), 5-4, and 22nd-ranked Spring Arbor (Mich.).

Closer to home, Valley was shut out 9-0 Monday at Northwest Missouri State, No. 25 in NCAA Division II, before winning Tuesday at Westminster, 7-2.

Only one doubles combo has competed in all matches, freshmen Wesley Ng and Brock Hughes going 4-3. Junior Nathan Garrett has won six of seven matches from the Nos. 4 and 5 spots, while freshman Lucas Oliveira and Pablo Goicochea each won four tilts -- mostly from down in the line-up, which had to be adjusted with sophomore No. 1 Luiz Felipe Moura sidelined late last week.

The Lady Vikings got their first win of the season at Westminster, 8-1, after losing five on their spring break trip: 9-0 to Ithaca, Milligan, Georgetown and Spring Arbor and 8-1 to Dickinson -- the lone victory coming from freshman Jenna Roller at No. 6 singles.

Junior Virginia Hutcherson of Marshall claimed wins in both singles and doubles, with freshman Ana Cheda, during Valley's match against the Lady Jays.

The Vikings will be in Kansas City on Wednesday to face on Bethel (Kan.).

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