Esteban BustillosMercury Staff
Saher AqeelMercury Staff
The softball and men’s tennis teams’ postseason runs ended last weekend after historic runs for both squads.
After winning the ASC West, the men’s tennis team hosted the conference tournament for the first time in program history. The Comets opened the contest with a 5-0 victory against Ozarks on April 28, followed by a 5-2 victory against ETBU the next day.
Although the team was able to get through its first opponent with relative ease, head coach Bryan Whitt said ETBU posed more of a challenge for the Comets.
“They won 2 out of 3 doubles, which kind of put us on the back foot, so to speak, as they say in soccer,” he said. “Now we’re down in the match. We had to fight back in singles, which fortunately we did.”
UTD then faced off against UT Tyler in the championship round of the tourney. Heading into the playoff, the Patriots were the top-ranked squad in the ASC.
The Comets were swept 3-0 in doubles play and then were only able to take home 2 out of 3 wins in singles play.
“Even if we had a chance to come back, coming back from a 3-0 deficit is a pretty tall order,” Whitt said.
Whitt pointed out that even though the season didn’t end how the team wanted, he still thought it was a success.
“Our goal was to basically give ourselves a chance to win the conference title and the first step is to get to the finals and we were able to do that,” he said. “From that standpoint I’m pretty happy with how we played during the season.”
Heading into the season, polls tabbed the softball team to finish in seventh place. After a season that saw the Comets go 18-12 in conference play, however, UTD was able to finish the season as the third-ranked team in the ASC.
Starting off the tournament, the Comets carried over the momentum from the season and took down Louisiana College 6-5 in the first-round of the ASC tournament on April 28. They previously had closed out the season against LC with a 3-0 sweep.
The Comets then fell 8-5 to ETBU, the 17th ranked team in the nation. Head coach Rich Wieligman said despite the loss, the team was able to bounce back and move on to the next game.
“It didn’t affect them to where they just wanted to go home,” he said. “Yeah, losing’s hard, but I loved how hard they played. They left everything on the field that game.”
The next game, UTD took down LeTourneau 8-6 in a game it had to win to stave off elimination. Although the Comets got out to a fast 8-1 lead, weather delays pushed the game into the next day on April 30, when UTD was finally able to take down the Yellowjackets.
“I think the lightning delays helped both teams, but I was glad to see us go through some adversity,” Wieligman said.
Later that night, UTD took on Louisiana College for the fifth time in seven games and was able to come out with a 6-4 victory. Their win meant facing UT Tyler, the number one team in the country, the next day.
After getting to bed at 2 a.m. because of the late start the day before, the Comets geared up for the 11 a.m. start against the Patriots. Despite outhitting UT Tyler 4-3, the Patriots were able to get two runs in the fourth inning to put them ahead. The Comets were unable to catch up and UT Tyler escaped with a 2-1 victory to advance to the ASC final.
Despite the loss, the Comets finished tied for the best record in program history with 25 wins and also getting their first playoff victory in over a decade. Wieligman said, overall, the season was a success.
“We just want to improve,” he said. “We took some big steps this year … We just want to be able to keep working and getting better at some of the smaller things. I think our team chemistry was awesome. I want to definitely continue that because I think that will help a team grow faster than anything.”