Hey ’Cats. With winter sports fading into the sunset a few weeks ago and spring sports only a few days old, stories are getting harder and harder to come by these days. But fear not! As much as I love unearthing good narrative stories from the Northwest Conference to share with y’all, this week I’m going to go in a different direction and give you some nice little stats and tidbits. Without any further exposition, the week in review:
•Ach! Nishizaki and Boehme to Deutschland:
As I’m sure you read in last week’s issue of TLR, quarterback Aaron Boehme and defensive tackle Paul Nishizaki, two of Linfield football’s finest during the last four years, have signed professional contracts with the Schwäbisch Hall Unicorns of the German Football League. Admittedly the mascot isn’t the most masculine I’ve ever heard of, but in a state of Beavers and Ducks who can talk, right?
Also, while the GFL is certainly no National Football League, this signing is a big deal in the context of the team’s status. Long-time quarterback Chad Rupp of the Unicorns walked a year ago and left a vacancy at the position that was filled well by replacement Brian Brunner in 2010.
Furthermore, Unicorn coach Siegfried “Ziggy” Gehrke has stated that Nishizaki is going to be a big part of shoring up his defense. This means that Boehme and Nishizaki are both in a good place to compete for some serious playing time in a professional league; how many other Division III athletes can say they’re headed for a professional gig after college? Not many. I’ll be keeping up with their exploits occasionally, as well as other Linfield sports alumni, as I can next season, so stay tuned.
•Goin’ down to Dixie:
On another football note, senior tackle Aaron Heston was invited to the Dixie Gridiron Classic Feb. 3, a game that involved almost entirely Division I athletes. This kind of major exposure to NFL scouts could lead Heston to land a walk-on contract next season. If he does, he could become one of only a tiny handful of Linfield players to advance to the NFL. Cross your fingers and watch for more developments here as they come in.
• Smells like a National Championship:
If you recall, I mentioned last week that the softball team was likely to have a lights-out season and belt more homers than you can shake a Louisville Slugger at. Sure enough, as if the fans had cried out “Here we are now; entertain us,” the ’Cats have blasted nine home runs in their first four games. If they keep knocking them out of the park at this rate, and assuming they play in as many games this season as the last (49), the softball team is going to rack up 108 home runs during a single season.
Even adjusting this for what will certainly be lower scores in the post-season, 90-plus is still a fair approximation. That figure would shatter the Linfield and Division III records for home runs in a single season set by last season’s squad. The team also outscored opponents 49-7 in four-straight wins to open the season.
These are some seriously gaudy numbers, and I’m tremendously excited for the group’s prospects at winning a national title in Salem, Va. this year.
•Doucette on the warpath:
Reigning All-American junior Staci Doucette was named NWC player of the week after Linfield’s four-game winning streak against Whitworth University. On the weekend, she hit three home runs (including a grand slam), racked up nine RBIs and batted an unreal .667. She is single-handedly promising fans that attending a Linfield softball game means you’re going to see offensive production every couple of minutes.
All aboard the Wildcat Softball Freight Train! Next stop, Salem!
Chris Forrer/For the Review
Chris Forrer can be reached at email@example.com.