Dead Skunk

Greetings From The Booth!

The Hornets are still playing baseball! Congrats to Kevin Anderson’s 34-10-1 squad, who rolled through the ODAC tournament this past weekend and captured their 4th league title, and now will make their 12th appearance in the NCAA Division-3 baseball tournament. On top of that, SU will host the opening round Regional tournament this coming Friday through Sunday at the newly-renovated Bridgeforth Field at Jim Barnett Park in Winchester. The other 3 teams are Stevens Tech, Catholic (DC) University, and St. Joseph. The Hornets will open Friday against St. Joe at 11am, kicking off what should be a great weekend of baseball. I urge everyone to come out and fill the stands and cheer on the Hornets!

I’ve been asked to do the public address announcing for some of the games this weekend, and look forward to returning to my announcing roots, so to speak. I am the long-time PA announcer for Shenandoah basketball (as well as the play-by-play voice for Hornet football), and that is my comfort zone. It’s been a long, long time since I’ve done public address duties from a baseball press box, so let’s take a trip back to the mid-70’s.

As a 14-15 year old playing in the Martinsburg (WV) Senior Little League, my love for baseball extended beyond the diamond up to the press box at Pikeside Field. I also had a love for radio announcing, and always dreamed of being a baseball play-by-play broadcaster. I used to simulate games into a tape recorder, using TV “white noise” as the crowd. The next best thing to doing PBP was PA announcing, and I was fortunate enough to be allowed to handle those duties on nights that I wasn’t playing. I was in heaven, putting my own style and spin on the announcements, starting lineups, etc.

But the thing that got the most comments and attention was my “5th inning stretch” song (games were only 7 innings, so there was no 7th inning stretch). In the booth at Pikeside was a record player, wired in to the PA system. This was used for the National Anthem, and songs between innings, usually pop hits of the day. I somehow stumbled upon the song “Dead Skunk” by Loudon Wainwright III, a fun, nonsensical tune about, you guessed it, roadkill. I decided to play it between innings one evening, and I could see everyone looking up into the booth with either an amused or puzzled expression. I played it again the next game, and the ritual picked up steam, finally becoming the 5th inning stretch song of the Martinsburg Senior Little League (at least when I was doing PA). The song became our version of the Baltimore Orioles’ “Thank God I’m A Country Boy.”

I’m not sure you’ll hear Dead Skunk this weekend at Bridgeforth Field, as someone else will be handling the music, but when I make my way up to the booth on Saturday, I’ll be looking for that record player…

Until the next visit from The Booth…GO HORNET BASEBALL!!!

RW

Sports Dogs Podcast: State Of The Hornets

In our latest SDPC, we check in with Shenandoah University’s Scott Musa with our monthly “State Of The Hornets” update. We put a bow on Men and Women’s Lacrosse, look ahead to the ODAC Baseball Tournament in High Point, NC, wish good luck to some SU Track & Field athletes who continue their seasons, and talk about the first big off-season “win” for new hoop coach Nick Doyle. GO HORNETS!

RW

Sports Dogs Podcast
Sports Dogs Podcast
Sports Dogs Podcast: State Of The Hornets
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Closing The Deal

Greetings From The Booth!

I’m writing this week’s blog only because I didn’t put anything down on Rich Strike in Saturday’s Kentucky Derby. Shoulda, coulda, woulda…

Then, there was one…

Most of Shenandoah University’s athletic teams have finished up their Spring seasons, except for some last chance qualifiers for Track & Field, and of course, Baseball. The number 21/28 Hornets are now 31-10-1 after sweeping Hampden-Sydney in their first-round ODAC tournament series. It’s now on to High Point, NC, for the 4-team double elimination ODAC Championship. Good luck to Kevin Anderson’s Hornets this weekend!

Well, the Washington Capitals let one slip away Monday night, and it very well may come back to bite them in the you-know-where. Leading top-seeded Florida 2-games-to-1 in their best of seven opening round Stanley Cup playoff series, and leading Game 4 2-1 in the third period, the Caps gave up a late goal in regulation, and then lost in OT 3-2. The series is now tied at 2 and headed back to Florida for pivotal Game 5.

Should the Caps go on to lose the series and do what they’ve done every season since winning the Stanley Cup–lose in the first round–they can look back to the heartbreaking end of Game 4, when they were seconds away from taking a commanding 3-1 lead. The Panthers knotted the game at 2 on a man-advantage goal after pulling the goaltender, a low percentage desperation move that almost never works. With the air sucked out of Cap One Arena, the Panthers scored just 4:57 into overtime, and have new life going back to the Sunshine State.

That being said, the Capitals are one of the best road teams in the NHL, and with 2 of the last 3 games away from DC, they will have to be. I have no stats to back me up, but I also think that home (ice) advantage matters least in hockey. In the playoffs, my theory is that often times games are decided by “puck luck,” an odd bounce of the biscuit or crazy deflection. A hot goaltender can also take you a long way, and Ilya Samsonov has performed well for the good guys.

And, of course, the Caps have The Great 8, Alex Ovechkin, arguably one of the 2 or 3 best players to ever lace up the skates. As each game in the series becomes more crucial, what he does will be magnified.  As a team leader, Ovechkin will need to get his team past a possible letdown after Monday’s loss.

Bottom line…great teams know how to close the deal when the opposition is on the ropes. Game 5 will tell us a lot about how great the 2021-22 Capitals are. Catch the action with John Walton on Sports Radio 1450.

Until the next visit from The Booth, #ALL CAPS…#GO HORNETS!

RW

 

 

Getting Hit With A Measuring Stick

Greetings from The Booth!

The visitors booth at Day Field in Ashland, Va., was not a fun place to be this past Saturday. The Randolph-Macon Yellow Jackets used a familiar formula in soundly beating the Shenandoah Hornets 45-14 on Family Weekend at RMC. We’ve seen it all too many times: a ball control offense that possessed the football for over 44 minutes, an efficient passing game (on the rare occasions the Jackets threw the ball) featuring the tight end, and a dominating defense that completely shut down the Hornets. Simply, SU ran into a lemon and black buzzsaw.

No element of football is independent from another. Case in point, the Hornets offense never got anything going on Saturday. Thus, the defense was constantly on the field and eventually worn down by the constant pounding of the Yellow Jackets. Even when the Hornets were hanging in early, thanks to some special teams mistakes by RMC, there was never a feeling that Shenandoah was going to pull the upset, as they did the week before against D-2 Emory & Henry.

Sometimes the best lessons, albeit painful ones, come out of defeats like the one at RMC. The Hornets were riding high after their win against E&H , and rightfully so. But the Jackets showed Shenandoah what the upper echelon of the ODAC looks like. The Yellow Jackets are perennial contenders who have won 3 of the last 5 league titles. They are near the top in the nation in several categories, and they don’t beat themselves. And when they have you down, they don’t let up, usually. If not for a last-second Hail Mary by Washington & Lee, RMC would be undefeated. In short, SU got hit with a measuring stick last weekend, and it left a mark.

For the Hornets, it’s time to move on, because there are still some things to be accomplished. With a win this Saturday against Apprentice, Shenandoah would secure a winning season. And with a win against the Builders followed by a home win in the finale against W&L, the Hornets would finish at 7-3, their best season since the NCAA Playoff year of 2004. This is significant, because 7-3 is that next rung on the ladder that separates you from the middle of the pack, and puts you closer to the the league’s elites.

This season, that’s not quite close enough.

Catch the Winchester Printers Pre-Game Show from at 12:30 Saturday, followed by kickoff at 1. Until our next visit from the Booth…GO HORNETS!

RW