AFP Sports Blog – Feb. 13-15, 2009

– News: ODU knocks off VCU, 69-65, Sunday, 3:09 p.m.
– News: Wallace qualifies for Nationwide race, Saturday, 12:45 a.m.
– News: JMU softball sweeps pair to open season, Friday, 4:30 p.m.
– News: Crown Royal to honor Purple Heart winner at RIR, Friday, 2:10 p.m.
– News: Hokies have action-packed 2009 slate, Friday, 9:40 a.m.

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News: ODU knocks off VCU, 69-65, Sunday, 3:09 p.m.

Senior Eric Maynor (Raeford, N.C.) scored 22 points and sophomore Larry Sanders booked a double-double, but Virginia Commonwealth University had Old Dominion slip through its fingers in a 69-65 loss before 8,424 Saturday at the Constant Convocation Center.

The Monarchs’ Gerald Lee scored nine of his 18 points during a critical stretch late in the second half. His final jumper gave ODU (16-9, 9-6 CAA) a 59-57 it would not relinquish with 2:25 remaining. Following a pair of Darius James’ free throws that extended the margin to four, Lee drove and lane and kicked to Ben Finney in the corner for a 3-pointer with 1:25 on the clock. The Rams (18-8, 11-4 CAA) would never recover.

Finney added 16 points and five rebounds, while Frank Hassell chipped in with 10 points and six boards for Old Dominion.

Sanders finished with 10 points, 14 rebounds and five blocked shots for VCU. Freshman Bradford Burgess (Midlothian, Va.) scored 16 points and hit 4-of-5 3-point attempts.

The Monarchs out rebounded the Rams, 43-37, and outscored VCU, 35-20, in the paint.

The Rams opened the second half with a 14-0 blitz, sparked by a Burgess 3-pointer and capped by a three-point play by junior T.J. Gwynn (Burlington, N.C.), to pull ahead, 42-37.

However, Lee dropped back-to-back layups for ODU during a 7-0 burst to tie the score at 42-42 with 12:52 remaining.

  
News: Wallace qualifies for Nationwide race, Saturday, 12:45 a.m.

With the waning entrants circling the 2.5-mile Daytona International Speedway during NASCAR Nationwide Series qualifying, Mike Wallace was making circles in his garage stall – on his feet.

Wallace, driving the No. 01 Fishburne Military School Chevrolet for JD Motorsports, had to make the race on time. Running around the high-banked trioval in 50.480 sec/178.288 mph placed him 28th in the 43-car field for Saturday’s Camping World 300.

On having to wait to see if you made the race: “The lap was pretty simple, much like it always is at Daytona. But the pressure of having to make the race was killing me. I don’t think people realize what a driver and team go through when you’re not locked in by points.

Now that you’re in: “Man, what a relief. We just needed to be better than six other cars to make the race, and we did it by being one of the 13 who got in on speed. I can’t say enough about Johnny Davis and the JD Motorsports team. They have been working overtime to get this car ready and make the show. Congrats to my teammate Danny O’Quinn who did a great job and qualified in the top-10. That’s a great start for him running a full-time season.

How is everyone at Fishburne Military School going to watch the race: “Oh, this is great. They are putting up large screen TVs in the common area and everyone from the school – students, faculty, alumni and families – is coming out to watch the Daytona race together. I can’t thank them enough for working with us to make this all happen. I am only running one race for JD Motorsports and Fishburne; so we’re going to try and make them proud. The general is going to be here for the race, so we had better be good.” www.fishburne.org

Wallace already has three DIS wins: One in ARCA (1994), Camping World Truck (2000) and Nationwide Series (2004)

Tune in for the win: Race time is 1 p.m. (ET) on MRN Radio and Sirius NASCAR Radio Ch. 128 with all viewing pleasure taking place on ESPN2.

  
News: JMU softball sweeps pair to open season, Friday, 4:30 p.m.

The James Madison softball team swept a pair of games as they continued their 2009 campaign at the College of Charleston Classic on Friday.

Madison improved to 3-3 with the wins, dropping Howard to 2-3 and ETSU fell to 0-1.

Game two of the day featured a pitching duel between JMU starter Meredith Felts (Greenville, N.C./J.H. Rose) and ETSU right-hander Marissa Hardy as both pitchers cruised through the first 4 innings without being scored on.

The Dukes finally broke through in the top of the sixth inning. Freshman shortstop Ashley Burnham (Danvers, Mass./Danvers) led off the inning with a single to left field and took second on a stolen base. She advanced to third on a sacrifice bunt. Madison got the run on an unconventional play as senior catcher Julia Dominguez (Sterling, Va./Park View) walked and immediately took off for second. She was thrown out at second but Burnham managed to take home during the resulting play.

Felts controlled the ETSU offense all game, throwing a complete-game three-hitter and only twice allowing a runner to reach second. The first-team All-CAA selection did not walk a batter and struck out eight Buccaneers. She improved to 1-1 on the season and lowered her ERA to 2.23.

The Dukes threatened in the top of the fourth inning, putting runners on second third following an ETSU error, a single and a wild pitch but Hardy escaped the jam by inducing a fly out to right field.

In the day’s earlier game, JMU opened with a 10-3 win over Howard. JMU scored 10 runs on 14 hits with one error, while Howard scored three runs on nine hits and two errors.

The Dukes broke the game open in the bottom of the fifth inning. After the Bison had taken a 2-0 lead in the top half of the inning, senior second baseman Kaitlyn Wernsing (Clemmons, N.C./West Forsyth) led off the inning with a triple to right center followed by a walk by junior first baseman Shannon Moxey (Church Road, Va./Mills Godwin). Senior pinch runner Megan Forbes (Fincastle, Va./Lord Botetourt) stole second to put a pair of runners in scoring position. Freshman shortstop Ashley Burnham (Danvers, Mass./Danvers) drove Wernsing home with a fielder’s choice. Howard shortstop Rebecca Kirshner came home with the throw but Wernsing slid around the tag to score the Dukes’ first run.

A single up the middle by senior third baseman Amber Kirk (Hamilton, Va./Loudoun County) loaded the bases in advance of an RBI single to right field by senior catcher Julia Dominguez (Sterling, Va./Park View). The Dukes took the lead on another fielder’s choice, this time by freshman designated player Michelle Clohan (Ashburn, Va./Broad Run). Junior center fielder Brittney Dyson (Waldorf, Md./Thomas Stone) broke the game open with a single through the right side to plate sophomore pinch runner Melissa Hill (Santee, Calif./Westhills). JMU would add two more runs in the inning on an RBI groundout by junior right fielder Chel’sea Ryan (Sandston, Va./Henrico) and a single to right field by junior right fielder Courtney Simons (Richmond, Va./Deep Run).

Kirk finished the game 3-for-4 with a runs scored and an RBI. Dominguez chipped in with a 2-for-4 day with a run scored and two RBIs.

HU took a lead in the top of the fifth inning, scoring a pair of runs of JMU starter Heather Widner (Columbus, Ohio/Bishop Ready). Centerfielder Sondra Jones led off the inning with a walk, followed by a single by right fielder Courtney Young. Following a pop out and a sac bunt to put a pair of runners in scoring position. Shortstop Rebecca Kirshner broke the shutout with an two-RBI double that deflected of Wernsing’s glove. Senior right-hander Jenny Clohan (Ashburn, Va./Broad Run) came as a reliever for Madison, retiring the final out of the inning to escape further damage.

Clohan picked up the win for the Dukes to improve to 2-1. The Dukes all-time leader in innings pitched and appearances finished the game with 2.1 innings pitched, one hit, one unearned run, no walks and three strikeouts.

JMU added four more runs to its lead in the bottom of the sixth. Moxey led off the inning with a single down the line, and advanced to second on a fly out by Burnham. She scored on Kirk’s third hit of the day. JMU got back-to-back doubles by Dominguez and sophomore pinch hitter Katie Spitzer (Broadway, Va./Broadway) to plate two more runs. Scoring was capped off on a slap single by Ryan that scored Spitzer.

The Bison threatened to break up the shutout in the top of the fourth inning, putting runners on first and second with nobody out after Kirshner and first baseman Jennifer Bien-Amie singled to center to lead off the inning. Leftfielder Tierra Maxwell attempted to lay down a bunt but Kirk made a diving catch and doubled off Bien-Amie at first. Widner forced a pop out by second baseman Trina Kindred to end the threat.

Widner pitched the first 4.2 innings for the Dukes, allowing eight hits, two runs, walking four and striking out three.

JMU will return to action on Saturday playing at 2 and 4 p.m. against Syracuse and Akron respectively. 

  

News: Crown Royal to honor Purple Heart winner at RIR, Friday, 2:10 p.m.

An elaborate ceremony today at Daytona International Speedway revealed Russell Friedman, a two-time Purple Heart recipient, as the grand-prize winner of the third annual Crown Royal Presents the “Your Name Here” 400 contest. When Friedman accepted the prize – naming rights to the May 2 NASCAR Sprint Cup Series race at Richmond International Raceway – he spoke of how his efforts could not be recognized alone and that it was important to honor all the individuals who serve our country.

Friedman lives in Huntington Station, N.Y., and was chosen from a group of seven finalists from around the country based on a submission that detailed his experience serving in Iraq. The race at Richmond International Raceway on May 2, 2009, will now be titled “Crown Royal Presents the Russell Friedman 400.”

“Winning the Crown Royal ‘Your Name Here’ 400 contest is absolutely amazing and truly an overwhelming experience,” said Friedman. “Not only do I get to live out one of my dreams, but I get a chance to help recognize all the American soldiers who defend our freedoms on a day-to-day basis and definitely deserve a toast with Crown Royal.”

Throughout the contest, finalists submitted online or video entries describing an honorable act or achievement worthy of toasting with Crown Royal Canadian whisky. Nearly 5,000 entries were received, detailing a myriad of achievements from the heroics of firefighters to dedicated fathers going the extra mile.

“Crown Royal is excited to celebrate the accomplishments of our consumers and race fans by honoring them with a sports experience fit for a king,” said Ami-Lynn Bakshi, vice president, Crown Royal. “We’re looking forward to helping Russell share his moment in the spotlight with all the individuals who selflessly serve this country. The Russell Friedman 400 will be an event for all to remember.”

The ceremony to unveil Friedman as the winner included a 20-foot replica Crown Royal bottle featuring his name as part of the Richmond race logo and was draped with an oversized iconic purple bag for two days leading up to the announcement. A countdown clock ticked away while seven finalists waited with great anticipation as NASCAR driver Jamie McMurray and representatives from Crown Royal and Richmond International Raceway pulled down the bag to reveal the grand-prize winner’s name.

The Russell Friedman 400 will be incorporated into all official race logos, used for thousands of pieces of merchandise and recognized by NASCAR’s broadcast and media partners as the race’s official title. In addition, Friedman will take part in pre-race festivities at Richmond International Raceway, and participate in the trophy presentation to the race winner in Gatorade Victory Lane. During the race weekend he will receive VIP accommodations for himself and a guest.

Leading up to the big day in Richmond, Crown Royal will continue to remind fans to “Be A Champion. Drink Responsibly.” through Safe Rides Home designated driver initiatives and other programming designed to reinforce the importance of drinking responsibly.

“On behalf of Richmond International Raceway, congratulations to Russell and a sincere thank you to him and all the members of our nation’s armed forces to whom this race is dedicated,” said Richmond International Raceway President Doug Fritz. “The partnership with Crown Royal and the ‘Your Name Here’ contest has been a huge success, and Russell is sure to be another great winner. We look forward to continuing this great tradition by having Russell join us for an exciting weekend at America’s Premier Short Track.”

  
News: Hokies have action-packed 2009 slate, Friday, 9:40 a.m.

The Atlantic Coast Conference released its 2009 football schedule Thursday, with two-time defending champion Virginia Tech’s 12-game slate featuring an exciting home line up of both conference and non-conference contests. Tech is also scheduled for two appearances on ESPN’s Thursday night broadcast for the sixth straight season.

The Hokies are slated to open their 2009 season on Sept. 5 in the Chick-fil-A College Kickoff with a neutral site game against the University of Alabama at the Georgia Dome in Atlanta, Ga. It will mark the second-straight season the Hokies have opened the season at a neutral site, as they played East Carolina in Charlotte last year.

Tickets to the Chick-fil-A College Kickoff will not be included in the Virginia Tech football season ticket package. Hokie Club members, football season ticket holders and Virginia Tech students will have an exclusive opportunity to order tickets during a limited time period, which will begin later this month. For ticket information, please visit www.hokietickets.com. If any tickets remain available after this limited time period, tickets will go on sale to the general public. For more information, go to www.hokiesports.com/football/kickoff09/.

Tech will follow the Alabama game with three straight games at Lane Stadium/Worsham Field against Marshall (Sept. 12), Nebraska (Sept. 19) and its ACC opener against Miami (Sept. 26) before facing a demanding six-game stretch in which it plays four games on the road. That stint will begin with games at Duke (Oct. 3) and Georgia Tech (Oct. 17), with a home game with Boston College (Oct. 10) sandwiched in between those two. After an open weekend (Oct. 24), consecutive Thursday night games against North Carolina (Oct. 29) in Blacksburg and at East Carolina (Nov. 5), followed by a road contest at Maryland (Nov. 14), conclude the stint.

The Hokies are scheduled to close their six-game home slate with an ACC game against NC State (Nov. 21) and finish the regular season at Virginia (Nov. 28).

New on the schedule this year as non-conference opponents are Alabama and Marshall. Tech and Alabama last met in the 1998 Music City Bowl with Tech winning 38-7. The Crimson Tide leads the series 10-1, though. The Hokies and Thundering Herd renew acquaintances for the first time since the 2005 season when Tech won 41-14 at home. The Hokies lead that series 7-2. From an ACC standpoint, Florida State comes off the schedule this year and is replaced by NC State for the next two seasons.

Nine of the 12 teams on Tech’s schedule played in bowls last year: Alabama (Sugar), East Carolina (Liberty), Nebraska (Gator), Georgia Tech (Chick-fil-A), Boston College (Music City), Miami (Emerald), North Carolina (Meineke Car Care), Maryland (Humanitarian) and NC State (Papajohns.com).

Once again this season, the league is broken into two separate divisions – the Atlantic (Maryland, Clemson, NC State, Wake Forest, Boston College and Florida State) and Coastal (Virginia, Georgia Tech, North Carolina, Duke, Miami and Virginia Tech) – with the two division winners meeting on Dec. 5 in the Dr. Pepper ACC Championship Game at Tampa, Fla.

Times for most games will be made available, as the season gets closer.

The full 2009 Tech football schedule can be found at www.hokiesports.com/football/schedule.html.

The composite schedule for all 12 ACC team can be found at www.TheACC.com.


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