Archive for March, 2011

YSU Men Drop Home Opener To Walsh

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Youngstown State University finally got to play a home game, albeit at their reserve home field.  The Penguins were down 10-4 after seven innings but clawed their way back and fell just short of a great comeback, 10-8, at Cene Park in Struthers.

Joe Iacobucci went 4-for-5 with two RBIs for Youngstown State, which outhit Walsh 16-14.  Tyler Jones and R.J. Vukovich both had three hits, and Tim Stinson drove in three for the Cavaliers, who improved to 14-11.

Walsh took an early 1-0 lead in the first inning off YSU starter Nic Manuppelli.  Marc Miller led off with a double down the left field line, and he scored after a sacrifice bunt and sacrifice fly.   YSU tied the score in the third when Craig Goubeaux singled and scored on Phil Lipari’s ground out.

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Walsh took a 3-1 advantage with two runs in the top of the fourth, but Neil Schroth‘s RBI double to right in the bottom half cut the margin to 3-2.

The Cavaliers blew the game open with six runs on six hits in the fifth to go up 9-2. YSU scored twice in the bottom of the fifth on an RBI double from Jeremy Banks and Iacobucci’s RBI single off the pitcher to cut the deficit to 9-4.

A sacrifice fly put Walsh ahead 10-4 in the top of the eighth, and two Youngstown State runs in the bottom half cut the margin to 10-6. Padraic Williams had an RBI double to right, and Iacobucci drove him in with his fourth hit of the contest. Both of those runs scored after there were two outs.

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The Penguins set the stage early in the ninth when a walk, single and wild pitch put runners on second and third with nobody out. Goubeaux brought in a run with a sacrifice fly, and Armani Johnson reached on an infield single to put the tying run at the plate. Johnson was tagged out at second on a double steal attempt that allowed Chris Mitko to score and make the margin just 10-8.  Phil Lipari walked and Padraic Williams singled to put the tying run on, but Banks flied out to center to end the game.

In addition to Iacobucci’s three hits, Williams had three and Banks, Goubeaux and Johnson had two apiece.

YSU will play its Eastwood Field opener on Wednesday at 3 p.m. against Niagara.

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After the game, Coach Pasquale offered insight on his squad’s struggles.  ”We are not attacking the baseball in our plus counts.  With two strikes, we are taking big hacks.  Later in this game, we did better with two strikes shortening up our swings to get the ball in play.  We have to do that all of the time.  When we have a plus count, we have to put better swings on the ball, and we really need to improve on that.”

3-on-3 Tournament Proves Many Have-A-Heart

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The 2nd Annual Ella Rose Solak Memorial Scholarship 3-on-3 Tournament was held Saturday at Lowellville High School.  The 3-on-3 tournament raises money for the Ella Rose Solak Memorial Scholarship Fund, which is awarded to a Lowellville High School Senior who will be attending college.  Ivan and Gina Solak, the parents of Ella, are very active and dedicated to this worthwhile cause.

“Last year, as an English project, Taylor Hvisdak, Emily Carlson, and Ashley Moore, came up with the tournament for my daughter, Ella, who at the time was going through surgeries for heart problems.  It wasn’t meant to be a memorial, but she didn’t make it to the tournament”, explained an emotional Ivan Solak (below).  ”We are carrying it on, using it as a scholarship opportunity for the kids, and it worked out really nice.  We had great turnouts both this year and last year.  We want to see how many years we can keep it going.”

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Ella was born on July 14, 2008 with a congenital heart defect known as hypoplastic right heart syndrome.  Throughout a period of nine months, Ella had to undergo a number of surgeries with each one bringing more complications.  Unfortunately, this disease took her life on March 23, 2010.  Ella was only 20 months old when she passed away.  Sometimes tragedy hits close to home.  In this case it did, two doors down to be exact.  The Solak’s are terrific people who did all they could while Ella was alive and the tragedy they had to endure never goes away.

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The turnout on this cold Spring day was phenomenal.  The limit for teams was set at 50 and people were turned away because accommodations could not handle more than the set limit.  The brackets for the 3-on-3 format tournament are set by gender and grade and a 19 & over group.  There is a round robin to determine bracket seedings and then a single elimination tournament.

Solak went on to say, “The support we have received from the community since Ella was born can’t be described in words.  People here have really helped us, and this tournament helps us too.  It is amazing how many people volunteer to help out.  Everyone from 7th and 8th grade volunteers to 60 year old volunteers who are unselfishly giving their time.”

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Have-A-Heart is the name of the foundation that has been set up.  If you would like to make a contribution to the fund, you can visit the Huntington Bank Branch in Lowellville. Sometimes tragedy inspires people to do good for others.  This particular group of people have endured enough stress and persevered to the point of helping someone else.  It is an unselfish cause that proves when bad things happen to good people, they remain good, if not better.

Jordan Ingalls Named Horizon League Player of The Week For Second Week In A Row

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For the second consecutive week, Youngstown State junior Jordan Ingalls has been named the Horizon League Softball Player of the Week, the league announced on Monday.

Ingalls’ back-to-back awards mark the first time since joining the Horizon League that a Youngstown State player has won the award in consecutive weeks.

Ingalls led the Guins to a 6-2 mark last week and batted an impressive .548 with four extra-base hits. Ingalls had a double, two triples and a home run for the week.

She recorded a hit in each game and had multi-hit games six times. She also had three hits in three contests.

She also drove in 12 runs in eight games, including the game-winner against Colgate to cap a 6-5 victory after trailing 5-0 after five innings.

Ingalls leads the team with a .458 batting average with five doubles, four triples, three home runs and team-bests 26 runs batted in and a .764 slugging percentage.

*Photos Courtesy of YSU Sports

Phil Klein Named Horizon League Player of The Week

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Youngstown State senior Phil Klein has been named the Horizon League Pitcher of the Week for the week of March 14, the league office announced.

Klein carried a no-hitter into the sixth inning and did not allow a base-runner until the fifth in leading YSU to a 7-1 victory over Toledo on Sunday. Klein struck out a career-high 13 of the 29 batters he faced in eight innings of work. He allowed one earned run on three hits and one walk.

Klein earned the weekly honor for the first time in his career.

Over his last two starts, Klein has a 1.38 ERA with 18 strikeouts in 13 innings.

Butler Gains More Respect For Horizon League Ousting #1 Seed Pitt

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The Horizon League usually gets just one team into the NCAA’s Big Tournament every year.  The last two years, Butler has been the one team from the conference to represent.  Last year they went all the way to the finals before losing to Duke in the closing seconds. This year, they knocked #1 seed Pitt out of the tournament with a dramatic 71-70 win on a Matt Howard free throw with less than a second remaining.

The last time Butler lost was at Youngstown State, 62-60, on February 3.  The Bulldogs, at that point, were a question mark to even make it back into the tournament field this postseason.  However, they got hot at the right time, won the Horizon League Tournament, and snared the automatic bid.

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Here is where my gripe begins with the selection committee.  There were eleven Big East teams in the tournament.  Eleven.  Why? Yeah, the Big East has some good teams, but the lone Horizon entry knocked out the best (by seeding).  St. John’s had no business being in the field of 68.  Villanova was another questionable choice.  Georgetown stunk.  For Butler to have as many losses in the Horizon League as they did and still win tournament games, why doesn’t Valpo or Cleveland State get an at-large bid? The NIT is in New York, so Villanova and St. John’s wouldn’t have had to travel far to play where they belonged.

I hope Butler rolls through their bracket and wins the whole thing.  It is unlikely, but they are representing a whole conference that is undervalued by everyone from the tournament selection committee and ESPN.  Yep, the giant sports channel does little more than roll a few Horizon League scores on their ticker every half hour or so.

Butler isn’t the only team to do the conference proud.  Homer Drew had some moments with Valpo and Cleveland State has made some noise in recent tournaments.

The “experts” would be hard-pressed to find a conference that has had a better overall winning percentage than the Horizon League in the past ten tournaments.  How about a little respect?

38 Special Concert Review: As Tight As Ever

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38 Special made a visit to Northeastern Ohio to share their traveling party and some really good music with their fans.  The fans got more than their moneys worth at the Packard Music Hall in Warren, as the Wild-Eyed Southern Boys delivered.  Don Barnes (left) and Donnie Van Zant (right) harmonized as well as anyone I have ever heard live.  The whole concert was very tight and proved that this band can still deliver in a big way.

Packed House Productions gets an attaboy for bringing such a big fish to the small pond.  The DeVengencie family, who runs the promotion, donated proceeds from the concert to charity and fans did not have to pay any service fees as they would when ordering tickets through Ticketmaster.

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Having interviewed Barnes a few weeks ago, I was told that this band still had it.  I was promised that the concerts they play are a party and it is all about delivering for the fans.  I learned that there would be no auto tune gimmicks, no drum machines, no lip-synching, or visual distractions to cover bad sounding music.  Give Barnes credit for being an honest man.

Joe Grushecky and The Houserockers played a blistering set to open.  Grushecky was a solid choice to open because the music is pretty much in the same genre, hard-driven, blues-based rock and roll.

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Once Grushecky and company wrapped up, John Batcho, aka Mr. Sports,hit the stage.  Batcho’s station, Y-103, did a really good job hyping the concert for the last several weeks.  Batcho got the honor of introducing the band.  A few minutes of introductory sound later, The first chord of Rockin’ Into The Night hit and the crowd erupted.  Right from the first note Barnes sang, it was obvious that the big sound was still there.  Van Zant harmonized through the chorus of that opening song, and people around me were all amazed at how much 38 Special still sounded like their recordings.

Barnes and Van Zant really share a role of being co-frontmen and both know how to work the crowd.  Danny Chauncey was also on the front line with the big guys and also participated in making sure his feet touched every section of the stage.  Bassist Larry Junstrom typifies a guy that is happier standing back and doing his thing.  Keyboard player, Bobby Capps, stepped forward and sang Second Chance, but otherwise was stationary because his instrument was immovable.  Drummer Gary Moffatt did a couple of fancy things, and I am sure he could have done more, but played his role as a consistent metronome, not missing a beat.

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Anyone who saw the show can vouch that these guys are having a good time.  Van Zant was smiling all night (above) and seems like he enjoys himself.  Barnes just keeps busy.  Don’t get me wrong, he was having fun, or “big fun”, as he would call it, but he was switching guitars, singing, always playing, and still moving around.

The sound quality was fresh.  There were no feedback squeaks of horror or out of pitch lyrics.  For my money, a good sounding band that does not tinker with the arrangements and doesn’t have to move down a key because they can no longer hit those high notes is a band I will always pay to see. Barnes’ vocal range and consistency are amazing. I have always felt he has one of the most underrated voices in the music industry and his performance just backs up what I have been saying.

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While talking to a “casual” fan at the concert in-between acts, he stated he was not sure he would know more than half of the songs, just the biggest hits.  After the concert, I sought him out to learn that he knew all but two.  The catalog that 38 Special offers is more vast than the casual fan realizes.

Before the concert, I got to meet the band.  When I told Barnes I was the guy who interviewed him a few weeks ago, he remembered my name, and for a few minutes, it felt like I was talking to a cousin who I only see every Christmas.  Guys like that are a dime a dozen in this industry and it is refreshing to know that five guys and their manager, Mark Rogers, were never too big for anybody who approached them at the meet and greet.  They signed anything put in front of them, took pictures, shook hands, and answered questions with everyone there.

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After a solid two hour set, the band came back out for a three song encore featuring Hold On Loosely and covered Creedence Clearwater Revival‘s Travelin’ Band to close the show.  An appreciative audience gave a well-deserved ovation to the visitors from Florida on a job well done.

These guys are touring all Spring and well into Summer, they are a must see show if you like rock and roll played the way it should be, with heart and passion and unobstructed.  38 Special…. they never lost a thing.

Also, thanks to Ron Stevens who snapped some great pictures and to Craig Campbell who represents the band for the accessibility and courtesy.

YSU Softball Takes Two, Already Exceed 2010 Win Total

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The Youngstown State softball team rallied from 5-0 deficit and scored five in the top of the seventh inning for a 6-5 come-from-behind victory over Colgate on Friday afternoon at the Rebel Games. The Guins also defeated Bucknell, 9-2, earlier in the day.

The Guins, who improved to 15-7 and surpassed the 2010 win total of 14, trailed 5-0 after five innings, scored one in the top of the sixth before the game-changing seventh inning.

Sophomore Caroline Krombach led off the frame by reaching on an error and moved to third on senior Kim Klonowski‘s second double of the game. Freshman  Samantha Snodgrass followed with a double to right-center field to drive in Krombach and Klonowski to cut the deficit to 5-3.

Junior Haley Thomas doubled home Snodgrass to bring the Guins within one, 5-4, and moved to third on a throwing error. After a walk to Kristina Rendle, Thomas scored on a wild pitch to tie the game, 5-5, and Rendle advanced to third on a throwing error by the Colgate catcher.

Junior Jordan Ingalls, who went 3-for-4, plated Rendle with the go-ahead run with a single up the middle.

Freshman Casey Crozier, who pitched 3.2 scoreless innings of relief, retired Colgate in order in the bottom of the seventh to pick up her ninth win of the season.

Against Bucknell, the Guins used a 12-hit offensive assault to knock off the Bison, 9-2.

Sophomore Vicky Rumph went 3-for-4 with two runs batted in while Rendle, who had a 17-game hitting streaksnapped against Colgate, Ingalls and Krombach each tallied two hits for the Guins.

Crozier notched her eighth win of the season by pitching 3.2 innings of relief against the Bison.

The Guins trailed Bucknell, 2-1, before tying the game in the fourth before exploding for three runs in the fifth and four more in the sixth.

Julie Michaels: Beauty Inside And Out

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Julie Michaels believes that everything that happens, happens for a reason, because God makes it possible.  The beautiful actress/stuntwoman has seen the lights and glitter but uses her faith to stay grounded and positive.  Although she has acted in or performed stunts in several horror genre films, she is that furthest thing there is from dark.  I have known Julie for a few years and she has always been a positive person.  She is beautiful, inside and out.

Julie’s big break came when she played the role of Denise opposite Patrick Swayze in Roadhouse. She is all over the place in bits and pieces and has recently been spotted on Weeds, Big Bang Theory, Desperate Housewives, and Southland.  I recently spoke with Julie via telephone and got as much time as I wanted to ask whatever I wanted.

Paneech: When you were attending college at Washington University, you started participating in beauty pageants.  How do you get involved with those and are the myths about bulimia and anorexia fact or fiction?

JM: I got involved out of necessity.  I was a gymnast at Washington University and I got hurt.  I had to pay for my education, losing my scholarship.  So I went to a meeting and got involved.  It was a good way to make some money for school.  You didn’t have to win, and could still make money.  As far as the myths about anorexia and bulimia and other shenanigans about pageantry, they couldn’t be further from the truth.  There were very intense study sessions, harder than most of my college classes, that helped me.  You learn the proper way to do interviews and get comfortable with interviewing properly.

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Paneech: What events did you compete in as a gymnast?

JM: I competed in the all-around segment.  I concentrated mainly on floor and vault.  The training was good for me and taught me a lot about how to utilize my body in the air.

Paneech: So when did you officially break into acting?

JM: After the University of Washington I attended a performing arts school.  There was a show called Follies and I got the role I was trying out for after my first semester.  It was a great experience for me.

Paneech: How were you lucky enough to land the role of Denise in Roadhouse?

JM: My definition of luck is when preparation meets opportunity.  I went for a first audition, and seven auditions later, I was cast as Denise.

Paneech: Unfortunately, Patrick Swayze is no longer with us.  Were you close with him?

JM: Patrick and his wife, Lisa, were very giving and caring people.  After I did Roadhouse, I got a call for Point Break.  Patrick wouldn’t admit to helping me land the role I got for Point Break, but I always thought he had something to do with it.  Lisa counseled me through a very hard time when a friend of mine, a makeup artist, passed away.  Most of my experiences with Patrick were limited to the time that we shared working together.

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Paneech: Tell me what you think about Charlie Sheen and the route he has taken.

JM: Everyone has an opinion, and you know what they say about opinions, that they are like rear ends and most of them stink.  I don’t know Charlie Sheen personally, I do know one of his closest friends.  This business is very overindulgent and we pray for those that Satan may have gotten to.  This industry, however, has a tendency to only report on the negative and not on good things.  You never hear about someone raising money for Haiti.  Most of the people I work with always give back.  The whole Charlie Sheen thing is an example of the media driving the negative.

Paneech: You are a very religious person, how could you be comfortable doing dark projects like Friday The 13th with people like Kane Hodder?

JM:  You know, I can only watch about the first eight minutes of that movie. I was filming a scene and Kane Hodder was not even in the scene, but he was hiding behind a door.  In the scene, I am running away.  He jumped out from behind that door and scared me.  I jumped over, not on, a car that was there.  Kane is a family man and a very good person.

Paneech: Do you ever go to your agent and say, I want a bigger role?

JM: I was told that I have the greatest agent in the world.  My agent is Jesus and when he wants you to do something, you will.  I always say that you can fight any battle on your knees.  The big trick is recognizing what God wants you to do.  Because of my spirituality, a role I get as a negative makes someone else look good.  It is the whole antagonist and protagonist thing.  I recently did Weeds and 95 percent of the dialogue was profanity, it is a role.

Paneech: What kind of current projects are you busy with these days?

JM: I just did an episode of the Big Bang Theory that aired last week, a good friend of Charlie Sheen’s actually got me in on that.  I also did a car crash for Southland. It was a scene where a felon was being chased and I was driving a car that got hit head-on.  The director told me that there would be no “cut” and that the scene would keep rolling to catch me in pain.  So even after the stunt, I had to act after I had been hit.  There was a cut phrase if I got hurt to cue the director to cut, but I got out screaming, “I can’t feel my legs!”

Paneech: How long can you continue to jump off of buildings and be in car wrecks before you call it a day?

JM: God tells me what to do.  If you listen, just get quiet and listen, you will know.  He will tell me when to move forward or when to step down.  With Him, all things are possible. Sometimes I am a quarterback and sometimes I am a water girl.

Paneech: Were you ever approached to do Playboy?

JM: Playboy is something I considered, but it isn’t me.

Paneech: Do you watch any sports?

JM: I love baseball and football.  I was a big Seattle Mariners fan growing up in that area.  The Mariners of the early 90′s were my team. They were like the Yankees in training.  Football, I have really taken a liking to the Pittsburgh Steelers.  There are a lot of Steelers fans here and they have bee really fun to watch.

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One Word Answers

Favorite Toppings On A Pizza: Canadian Bacon and Pineapple.

Greatest Cartoon Character Ever: Snoopy.

Favorite Kind of Music: Broadway and Show Tunes.

Biggest Phobia: Stupid People.

Worst Habit: Leaving Drawers Open, Drives Me Crazy!

Favorite Holiday: Christmas.

Favorite TV Show: House and Southland.

Favorite Drink: Champagne.

Favorite Thing To Do: Cook.  Cook and Feed The Neighborhood!

Youngstown Phantoms Profile: Scott Mayfield

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In baseball, there are prospects sometimes called five-tool players, simply meaning they have all of the weaponry to dominate their sport if they get hot.  Scott Mayfield would be the closest thing to that caliber of a prospect, but only on the ice instead of the diamond.  Few defensemen not already on NHL teams can skate as fast as Mayfield.  When you go to a Phantoms game, watch him control the puck and weave through what appears to be cardboard cutouts.  He has the size of an NHL defenseman standing at 6’4″, the speed of a good wing, and the puck controlling skills of a center.  There should be little doubt that Mayfield could well end up playing hockey in the NHL very soon.

Paneech: What got you interested in hockey at a young age?

Mayfield: My mom actually just wanted to have a family skating night, so she would take us out to the local rink in St. Louis and we would skate.  I started when I was around four and when I got better, they wanted me to try hockey.

Paneech: You are a big boy, being from St. Louis, are you a Cardinals fan or a Rams fan, and did you consider baseball and football?

Mayfield: I am a huge St. Louis Cardinals fan.  We actually have season tickets about a section over from home plate and I always go to the games, I love them.  I’m not too worried about Albert Pujols not signing yet, but I hope he doesn’t wait too long.  [Adam] Wainwright going down was a tough break.

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Paneech: Who is the NHL defenseman you strive to be like?

Mayfield: I would have to say Eric Johnson, he is my favorite player in the NHL.  He played in St. Louis and then got moved to Colorado, but he is definitely who I try to play my game like.  I like Chris Pronger as well.  I grew up a Blues fan with my family always watching.  Brett Hull, Adam Oates — all of the big names go through there.

Paneech: Let’s talk about your success at the World Junior Challenge and being named a USHL All-Star this season.

Mayfield: I have had a lot of personal success and it’s been great.  Being named the MVP at the World Junior Challenge was a big honor.  Winning a gold medal for my country was probably the most rewarding hockey experience that I have had so far.  I feel a lot of my personal success has come from playing in the USHL.  Being on this team has really helped me.

Paneech: How fired up are you about going to school and continuing your hockey career at Denver?

Mayfield: I’m really excited about that, it is always where I wanted to go.  It is the right fit for me and I have some family connections there and everything.  It’s a great hockey program.

Paneech: Who is your closest friend on this hockey team and why?

Mayfield: Probably Chris Bradley. We were paired together early in the year and we have been hanging out quite a bit lately.  We share a lot of the same interests.

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Paneech: I have read and heard some stories of these long bus trips you guys take.  What is the craziest thing that has happened so far?

Mayfield: The craziest thing was definitely New Years Eve night.  We had a bus trip and somehow there were noisemakers planted in all of our bunks.  (laughs) Then we started going crazy with them, and Coach Patterson came back because he was trying to sleep and started taking all of the noisemakers from us.  We were blowing them in his face, it was a classic moment and a really good time.

Paneech: What USHL team do you look forward to playing against the most, and why?

Mayfield: I definitely like playing against Muskegon.  We had a big stretch with them where we had like six games against them, I think.  Each game was really intense, and that is the kind of game I like to play in.  Waterloo is also one of my favorite teams to go against.

Paneech: In 20 years, do you see yourself more like Charlie Sheen or Alex Zoldan?

Mayfield: (laughs) I don’t even know how to answer that one.  In 20 years, I just hope that I am successful and surrounded with a family.  I want to go as far as I can with hockey, and my dream is to play in the NHL.

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One Word Answers:

Favorite iphone Ap: Angry Birds.

Toppings On A Pizza: Just pepperoni and sausage.

Greatest Cartoon Character Ever: Bart Simpson.

Favorite Music: Country and Rap.

Biggest Phobia: Getting Injured.

Worst Habit: Procrastination.

Favorite Holiday: Christmas.

Favorite TV Show: Sportscenter.

Favorite Drink: Purple Gatorade.

Song No One Would Believe Is On Your ipod: Allright by Darius Rucker.

Favorite Thing To Do: Hang out with my family, I don’t see them enough.

Brandi Brown Gets Screwed For Second Year In A Row

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For the second year in a row, Youngstown State’s Brandi Brown has been snubbed by the voting members of the Horizon League who determine postseason honors.

Last season, Brown, despite having better stats than Yar Shayok of Detroit was voted the runner-up for Horizon League Newcomer of The Year.  It felt like because the Lady Penguins went 0-30 last season that the argument was diluted.  Perhaps individual awards were given to teams with better records.

This season, Brown led the Horizon League in scoring.  I do not care what sport it is, when an individual leads their conference in any category, they should be rewarded for it.  Brown scored 20 points per game AND was tied for fifth in the conference in rebounding.  Top five in the two biggest categories that basketball players are measured.  Brown ranked 15th in the nation, IN THE WHOLE NATION, in scoring, 581 points in 29 games, do the math.

Green Bay seniors Celeste Hoewisch and Kayla Tetschlag were named Co-Players of the Year. They were joined on the first team by Cleveland State’s Shawnita Garland, Milwaukee’s Lindsay Laur and Wright State’s LaShawna Thomas.

Julie Wojta (Green Bay), Chloe Hamilton (Butler), Molly Fox (Wright State) and Brittany Bowen (Butler) joined Brown on the second team.

Brown’s snubbing can also be known as the first time a player was not named to the first team when leading the league in scoring.