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College Notebook : UC San Diego Is Passed Over as Playoff Site

May 12, 1987|Rick Hazeltine

UC San Diego, which has the best record among the NCAA Division III West Region teams and a 3-1 mark against the team with the next best record in the region, figured to be a logical choice as the site of the two-team regional playoff.

So much for logic.

The West Region baseball committee selected La Verne instead, and the best-of-five series between La Verne and UCSD will begin Friday at 3 p.m. A doubleheader will be played Saturday at noon, and, if necessary, another Sunday at noon. The winner will advance to the Division III championships in Marietta, Ohio, May 28-31.

UCSD finished the season ranked No. 14 in the nation with a 29-11 record, including a 14-1 mark against Division III teams. The Tritons have won 12 straight.

La Verne (27-18) was ranked No. 12 in the country in the final NCAA coaches' poll before UCSD swept a doubleheader in San Diego on May 2. La Verne and UCSD split a doubleheader at La Verne in March.

Jim Bowen, a member of the NCAA West Region baseball selection committee and the region's representative to the NCAA committee, refused to specify the reasons for the committee's choice in playoff sites.

Triton Coach Lyle Yates said UCSD was told by the NCAA committee that it was not selected because it lacked a flagpole, a permanent public-address system, permanent bathrooms, covered dugouts and more than one drinking fountain.

When asked if the items Yates specified were accurate, Bowen, who is also the baseball coach and the chairman of the physical education department at Cal State Stanislaus, said: "A lot of things were taken into account as to which one (school) is in the best position to host a tournament. I talked with many coaches as to what would be the best site. I talked to Division II people who had played at both sites."

Said Yates: "I don't think its fair, but we'll just have to go up there and beat them."

The other members of the West Region baseball committee are La Verne Coach Owen Wright and Occidental Coach Jeff Henderson.

Yates, in his sixth season as coach, has led the Tritons to their best season ever.

Last season, UCSD finished over .500 for the first time with a 23-19-1 record. The Tritons lost three straight Western Region playoff games at Stanislaus.

This season, UCSD defeated Division I teams San Diego State, 7-4, and United States International University, 10-7, and lost to Division I University of San Diego, 7-3, after leading, 3-1, in the seventh.

Offensively, UCSD is led by senior Bob Natal (Hilltop High School), who broke his school single-season record of 15 home runs, set last year, with 16 this season. Natal is hitting .449. Brian Rude is hitting .343 and has 12 home runs.

But the key to UCSD's success this season has been its pitching. Last season's staff had set a school record with a 4.20 ERA. This season's staff has a 2.86 ERA.

Freshman left-hander Kyle Abbott is 8-1 with a 1.28 ERA, sophomore right-hander Rick Nowak is 9-3 with a 2.02 ERA and freshman right-hander Mike Morgan is 4-2 with a 1.86 ERA.

"Coming into this year, I felt we were capable of having an outstanding year," Yates said. "I felt this was our year."

UC San Diego (13-6) returns to the NCAA Division III women's tennis championship after a one-year hiatus. The Tritons won the national title in 1985 but failed to qualify last season.

The eight-team tournament starts today and runs through Saturday at Kalamazoo, Mich. Defending champion Trenton State is seeded No. 1, and Mary Washington is No. 2.

UCSD, ranked No. 3 in the nation, has been a mild surprise this season, primarily because of the play of freshman Christine Behrens. Behrens, 15-4 at No. 1 singles, is 11-0 against Division III opponents. She has won 24 of 25 sets in Division III play.

Behrens, though suffering from shin splints, will have plenty of playing time at the tournament. She and the No. 2 singles player, Nancy Calhoun, qualified for the individual singles draw, and Behrens and Rhonda Meier will play in the doubles draw.

UCSD finished the regular season by defeating fourth-ranked Occidental, 7-2. Earlier in the season, the Tritons had beaten Occidental, 5-4.

Last season, San Diego had two teams compete in the NCAA Division I women's tennis championships. This season, neither San Diego State nor USIU even received invitations.

SDSU (Pacific Coast Athletic Assn.) and USIU (West Coast Athletic Conference) have found little solace in easily winning their conference titles. For No. 18 SDSU and Coach Carol Plunkett, this is the first time in nine seasons that the Aztecs have not advanced to the NCAA tournament.

Both schools, however, will be represented in the individual tournament.

Monique Javer will plays singles for SDSU. And USIU will have Sylvie Tetreault and Kefi Binyamini play singles and Tetreault-Clare Thompson and Binyamini-Elizma Nortje compete in doubles.

The UC San Diego men's golf team, ranked No. 2 in the country among Division III teams, travels to the national championships May 19-23 at Mansfield, Ohio. UCSD has finished second to top-ranked Cal State Stanislaus the last two years. Stanislaus has won 9 of the last 11 Division III titles and finished second once.

The Tritons are led by senior Pat Weishan and Dutch sophomore Josst Steenkamer.

USIU hockey coach Brad Buetow said he has signed his sixth player to a national letter of intent. Bryan Wilmer (5-11, 180) of Warroad, Minn., was a two-time all-state selection as a defenseman. Buetow said he expects Wilmer to play a lot as a freshman next season.

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