It’s an unbelievable time to be an Air Force sports fan. When each passing week feels like the excitement may be winding down with the school year coming to a close, a new feat brings us back into the fold. Golf, track, lacrosse, baseball, and women’s tennis all had impressive performances and although a few of those sports closed out their seasons, a few are making a final push to end the seasons on a high note, possibly with some new hardware to be displayed on the hill.
I wouldn’t call the season up to this point exceptionally successful. I have stated that I think the talent and drive that this team has doesn’t reflect their record. Air Force sits at 9-13 in the conference and 19-23 overall, but they are scratching and clawing their way to make their season better than .500. After a few close losses and a lone win in the four game series against San Diego State, the Falcons heated up their bats against Nevada winning Friday’s game 13-2, Saturday’s game 14-8, and an unfortunate, but still high-scoring affair on Sunday, 26-15.
There are only two conference series left in the season. One is against New Mexico and the other is against San Jose State. New Mexico is dead last in the conference standings, but they have an 8-12-1 conference record, which makes them evenly matched against the Birds. San Jose State is second in the conference, with a 12-9 record, but they are on an inexplicable ten game losing streak, which makes the opportunity absolutely ripe for Air Force to make up some ground in the conference. The conference is truly up for grabs at this point. Fresno State’s record is 12-7-1, while New Mexico holds up the last spot, so the Falcons are certainly nowhere near being counted out for a shot at winning the MWC tournament.
The most critical statistics are improving pitching and eliminating errors. The Falcons have scored no less than three runs in the last nine games, and five of those games saw five or more runs scored. However, in the last 17 games, there has only been one game with no errors. Even in games with high team ERA’s, the Falcons seem to manage to find ways to win, but it would certainly take the pressure off if mistakes in fielding were avoided.
You can read more about the Air Force win over Bellarmine here, but Air Force will now enter the SOCON as one of the highest seeds, a situation which they are now pretty used to since moving from the WAC to the much more manageable SOCON. The team certainly shouldn’t overlook the conference tournament, but they also should be prepared to play in the first round of the NCAA tournament as well. Since 2014, Air Force has played in the NCAA tournament three times, losing to Denver, Notre Dame, and Duke the first round of each appearance. As impressive as this statistic is, it would be nice for the program to get the monkey off its back and at least make it a little bit further.
The Air Force golf team traveled to the Omni Tuscon National Resort to play in the Mountain West Conference Championships this weekend. New Mexico went very low, scoring 831 as a team, 33 under par. Air Force finished tenth with 873, nine over par. This course was tough and relatively long, playing at 7,194 yards, but the Falcons were able to play their best golf on Sunday, with a team score of 287, which is one under par. Freshman Luke Trujillo, who held the best scoring average on the team this season, played the best golf on the team over the weekend, finishing up one over par.
The fastest team at the Air Force Academy performed in historic fashion at the Drake Relays in Des Moines, Iowa over the weekend. The trip was highlighted by the sprint medley relay team comprised of Miguel Molas, Terrell Bradford, Sedacy Walden, and Michael Rhoads, who won the SMR championship, but also set an Academy record of 3:19:33, which beat the rest of the field by nearly one and a half seconds. On the women’s side, Aryn Maxwell, Megan Irvine, Kelsey Owens, and Grace Proesch ran in the unseeded 4x400 relay to win with a time of 3:51:05.
The women’s tennis team, which has reached historical levels of success this season ended their season in a heartbreaking fashion, losing to San Diego State 4-2 in the semi-finals of the Mountain West Championship. The team picked up a point with a win at number 2 and 3 doubles, but the Aztecs beat the Falcons in singles at the numbers 2, 3, 4, and 5 spots. TJ Fumagalli, the junior in the number one spot was able to secure a win, but it wasn’t enough to take down San Diego State. Despite this season ending matchup, the Falcons had an amazing season, holding the best record in over two decades. It’s also not lost that the team is relatively young. They will be graduating only two seniors this year and the number one and likely number two players, TJ Fumagalli and Ashleigh Harvey will be returning next season. There is no doubt that this is not the last we’ll be hearing of the Air Force women’s tennis success.
Another week down, another set of sports have closed out their seasons. For lacrosse, baseball, and track, there are still events left to play and championships to win, so come back here next week to find out all about what’s going on around the yard.