North Texas Daily

Column: Key upcoming C-USA dates for spring sports

Column: Key upcoming C-USA dates for spring sports

Column: Key upcoming C-USA dates for spring sports
January 14
12:58 2014

John Lugo / Sports Editor

Every spring brings along a new crop of Mean Green sports teams and this semester looks to build off successful seasons last year in the Sun Belt Conference.

With the debut of some teams and the continuation of others, this semester will conclude the inaugural year in Conference USA.  Mean Green fans can expect the following teams to gain attention.

Women’s Tennis 

With conference play for the UNT women’s tennis team underway over the weekend, the Mean Green faced several C-USA foes at the Tulsa Invitational. The team achieved mixed results going 7-4 in doubles and 7-13 in singles.

This year’s unit returns several players from last season, including two members of last year’s Sun Belt All-Conference team, junior Kseniya Bardabush and junior Franziska Sprinkmeyer.

Accompanying them are sophomores Agustina Valenzuela and Dane Jouber. This year’s team also features three incoming freshmen: Ana Sofia Cordero, Kamilla Galieva and Alexis Toma.

Led by coach Sujay Lama, in his eighth season as head coach, the team will look to improve its conference record when it faces Tulsa University on Feb. 21.

Track and Field

Pole vault, high jump, shotput and more make a comeback this Friday as the team heads to College Station for the Texas A&M Invitational—an indoor meet. Last season, both the men’s and women’s teams took home second place in the Sun Belt Conference Indoor Championships.

The season will shift to outdoor invitationals starting March 20 in Fort Worth.The women’s track and field team won its second consecutive Sun Belt Conference Outdoor Championship, while the men finished no. 4.

The younger athletes drive this season’s teams, as only seven seniors are on the men and women’s rosters combined.

Softball

The softball team will start its season on the road, taking a trip to Athens, Ga., on Feb. 7 for the Seventh Annual Red and Black Showcase. Mean Green fans can watch the team the following week when UNT hosts the Lovelace Invitational on Feb. 14 and 15.

Last season, softball ended in the semifinals of the Sun Belt Conference Tournament when the team got shut out 5-0 by the eventual champion, the University of South Alabama. In June of last year, former head coach T.J. Hubbard left the program to coach at the University of Louisiana at Lafayette.

The team will be directed by a new head coach, as Tracey Kee was introduced as the new softball head coach in August last year. Very familiar with Conference USA, Kee spent the last 16 seasons as the head coach of East Carolina University and took the Pirates to three NCAA tournament appearances in the last five years.

Men’s Golf

The men’s golf team is looking to see if it can keep the momentum captured in the Sun Belt Conference last season. The team won the conference championship and former UNT student Rodolfo Cazaubon placed 32nd in the NCAA Finals.

The team has six invitationals left in the season, with the next on Feb. 4 in San Antonio. One of the few sports taking place in both the fall and spring semesters, the team hasn’t had a great success yet, placing no higher than sixth in four invitationals.

However, sophomore Gonzalo Rubio is a player emerging as the standout of the group. Rubio finished in first place with eight under par in the most recent Jim Rivers Intercollegiate, which is the best finish for a UNT golfer in a par-72 tournament since 1998.

Women’s Golf

The team has placed ninth in three invitationals, with its best finish of fourth place coming at the Memphis Women’s Intercollegiate on Sept. 10. Junior McKenzie Ralston is leading the group with an average of 75.08 strokes in the four tournaments participated in so far.

The team will add Abigail Shaddix, a high school senior from Garden City, Kan., to the roster this semester. She was a three-time Kansas 6A Regional Champion and is expected to make an immediate impact as the golfer of the team’s three signees to join this semester.

Four invitationals remain in the schedule before the C-USA Championships starting April 21.

Feature photo: Junior Franziska Sprinkmeyer backhands the ball towards the net at practice on Sept. 18, 2013. Sprinkmeyer had a 12-4 record for singles play in fall 2011-2012. Photo by Edward Balusek / Staff Photographer 

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