Coaches pick Red Wolves to finish fourth

JONESBORO — The Arkansas State volleyball team was voted to finish in a tie for fourth place in the Sun Belt Conference Preseason Coaches’ Poll that was released Monday morning as voted on by the league’s head coaches.

A-State received 64 points, along with SBC newcomer Texas State, in the poll after finishing last season with a conference record of 8-6 and advancing to the Sun Belt Conference Tournament semifinals. Defending champion Western Kentucky was the unanimous favorite to win the conference after going 15-0 in SBC play and advancing to the second round of the NCAA Tournament. UALR and Troy both earned 77 points to finish in a tie for second place.

Following ASU and Texas State in sixth place was another new member of the conference, UT Arlington with 47 points. Louisiana-Lafayette (46), South Alabama (39), Georgia State (24), and ULM (13) rounded out the rest of the poll.

The Red Wolves open the 2013 regular season Friday, Aug. 30 at the Missouri Invitational against Pittsburgh at noon, followed by a match against Idaho State later that day at 4 p.m.


Bears win first two games

CONWAY — The UCA Bears began their soccer season with a pair of wins starting with a 4-0 victory on Friday over the Mississippi Valley State Devilettes.

In the 18th minute, senior Adriana Lucar netted her first goal of the season, collecting a pass from Vanessa Randall and firing it home from ten yards out. Freshman Shelby Wilson quickly added to the lead, picking up her first career goal just five minutes later. The Bears would get one more goal in the half when a foul inside the box led to a penalty kick for junior Alex Wurst, who slammed it home to make the lead 3-0.

Wurst got the Bears back on the board in the 55th minute, fielding a pass from Randall and knocking it home for her second goal of the day and pushing the Central Arkansas advantage to 4-0. The Bears had other chances in the second half, but were unable to add to their lead.

Hailey Romero got the start in net for the Bears, making one save and picking up her first career shutout. Shelby Willcocks was in net for the Devilettes, making 12 saves and allowing four goals.

The team traveled to Ruston, La., on Sunday and despite being outshot by Louisiana Tech (0-2) 13-9, the Bears (2-0) picked up the 2-0 victory.

Central Arkansas jumped out to a 1-0 lead in the 26th minute, when Brooke Ballard fielded a pass from Lucar and put it into the back of the net for her first goal of the season. The Bears shot attempts were unsuccessful for the next 23 minutes, until a foul in the box gave freshman Kate Koch a penalty shot. She blasted it home for her first career goal, extending the Bear lead to 2-0. The Lady Techsters got of three shots in the final 30 minutes of the game, but were unable to get on the board.

Koch led the way offensively for the Bears, taking five shots and netting one goal, while Ballard picked up her goal on her only attempt of the day. Lucar, Sarah Correll, and Allie Coleman each added a shot, and Lucar had the game’s only assist.

Romero played all 90 minutes in net for the Bears, making six saves and picking up her second shutout of the season. Caitlyn Updyke was in goal for Louisiana Tech, making two saves and allowing two goals.

The Bears face off with in-state opponent Arkansas State in the first night game in Central Arkansas history on Friday. The game is scheduled to kick off at 7 p.m. and will be preceded by a ribbon-cutting ceremony and a ceremonial first goal. The first 100 fans will receive a shirt commemorating the occasion and halftime will feature on-field promotions.


Hardin’s Calhoun earns honor

SEARCY — Harding University senior Matt Calhoun recently was named the Mike Schmidt Player of the Year for the Prospect League, a summer wood-bat league with teams located in Missouri, Illinois, Indiana, Ohio, West Virginia, and Pennsylvania.

Calhoun, a native of Searcy, Ark., played in 49 games for the Slippery Rock (Pa.) Sliders. He hit .358 with seven home runs and 58 RBI. He scored 28 runs and had 18 extra-base hits. Calhoun was second in the league in batting average, fifth in hits (62), and third in home runs.

Calhoun also was named to the Prospect League Year-end All-Star Team at first base.

In his three-year Harding career, Calhoun has a .276 batting average with 10 home runs and 72 RBI in 129 games. He is the Bisons’ career leader in fielding percentage (.990).