2021 Sports Preview: Almost every TU team to compete this spring
Compiled by Grace Coughlan (Associate Editor), Isaac Donsky (Staff Writer), Cory Kefauver (Contributing Writer), Jordan Kendall (Senior Staff Writer), Njura Kinyua (Contributing Writer) and Jacob Shindel (Contributing Writer).
After all fall sports faced postponement or cancellation in 2020, almost every Towson University intercollegiate team will compete this spring.
Teams which will not be participating in a 2020-21 season include Football and Swimming and Diving.
Slated to begin or continue seasons in the coming weeks are TU’s Baseball, Basketball, Cross Country, Field Hockey, Gymnastics, Golf, Lacrosse, Soccer, Softball, Tennis, Track & Field and Volleyball teams.
Last year, TU’s 2020 Baseball season was cut short due to the pandemic. The Tigers went 7-8 in 2020, ending their season on a three-game winning streak. They won three out of four games vs Lafayette at home and finished the with a 5-2 road victory over George Washington. This year, although Towson has not released their full 2021 schedule yet, Georgia Southern announced that they will host the Tigers on Friday, March 5. It will be a three-game weekend series that will conclude on Sunday, March 7 at J.I. Clements Stadium. The NCAA allowed seniors to gain an extra year of eligibility after an early end last season. Senior left-handed pitcher Austin Weber is one of TU’s most notable returners. Weber’s 2.93 ERA was the seventh-best in the CAA. His 12 strikeouts and two allowed walks in 15.1 innings was the best strikeout to walk ratio in the conference. Three starting pitchers tied for the team lead with four starts each. The best performance came from sophomore right-hander Nick Ramanjulu, who had a 3.22 ERA and struck out 18 batters in 22.1 innings. His best game was at High Point where he pitched six complete innings and only allowed three hits and no earned runs. Junior right-hander Josh Seils is a top prospect for Towson and was slated to be in the MLB Draft this past summer, but due to COVID-19 causing smaller draft pool, wasn’t selected. Last season he struck out 17 batters in 19.2 innings, however, he also allowed 11 earned runs and recorded a 5.03 ERA. On offense, the Tigers also return their top three hitters from last season. Redshirt sophomore outfielder Matt Arceo had the fourth-best batting average in the CAA, he hit .395 and ended the season on a six-game hitting streak. Freshman catcher Burke Camper averaged .314 at the plate and finished with 16 hits and 11 RBI in 51 at-bats. Sophomore outfielder Javon Fields hit .293 and his 13 RBI were second-best. He also stole all seven of his stolen base attempts. Towson is expected to release their schedule in the coming weeks. – Jordan Kendall.
TU’s Men’s Basketball has been heavily affected by the COVID-19 pandemic thus far. Towson (3-10) has had 10 games either canceled or postponed due to positive tests amongst athletes or athletic staffers. The Tigers recently won 78-74 vs UNCW, Jan. 19. Towson has two players averaging double digit points per game in redshirt senior guard Zane Martin and redshirt sophomore guard Nicolas Timberlake. Martin is averaging 16.6 points and five rebounds per game, while Timberlake averages 11.4 points and four rebounds. One of Timberlake’s strengths is his three-point shooting. He leads the Tigers in three-point shooting 34.1% from beyond the arc. Martin returned to Towson after transferring to New Mexico, where he spent two seasons as a Lobo. He previously played for the Tigers from 2016-2018. In the 2017-18 season, he was a Second-Team All-CAA selection and had the third-highest scoring average in the conference with 19.8 points per game. Martin has scored over 20 points in his last two games. Towson recently lost redshirt senior forward Juwan Gray for the season with a torn Achilles. He was one of the best free-throw shooters in the CAA, shooting over 87.5% from the line. His injury has provided more playing time to redshirt sophomore forward Solomon Uyaelunmo. He has scored 10 or more points in three of his last four games and is coming off of a season-high 14 against UNCW. The CAA modified its schedule to reduce the amount of travel in response to the COVID-19 pandemic. The Tigers remaining games at SECU Arena are against William and Mary, Northeastern, and Delaware. Towson will travel to face Hofstra, James Madison, Charleston, and Drexel. – Jordan Kendall.
Women’s Basketball started out its season Nov. 23 last year, defeating East Carolina 89-81. The Tigers (7-3) have had two games cancelled, and seven games are currently postponed. After seeing five games postponed in a row following positive COVID-19 tests, the Tigers returned to play and won both games against Hofstra, Jan. 23 and 24. Redshirt senior Kionna Jeter has been a leader of the team, averaging almost 25 points per game to go along with over six rebounds. Jeter, who could eventually make it to the WNBA, is known for her scoring, which ranked 46th in the entire nation last season. At Jeter’s current pace this year, she is currently ranked 5th in the nation in scoring. Outside of Jeter, the Tigers have the talent to round out the roster, including three other players who are averaging over 10 points per game. Allie Kubek, Aleah Nelson and Shavonne Smith are averaging 10.6, 13.9 and 14.2. points per game respectively. Kubek and Jeter take care of the boards for the Tigers, as both of them average over six rebounds per game, while Nelson has put on a passing clinic so far this year, averaging seven assists per game. The CAA ranks the teams by conference record, which hurts the Tigers, who have only played two conference games, one in which they lost to James Madison and the other a win against Hofstra. Barring any more postponements, the Tigers will get at least one more shot at defeating James Madison, but they will have a lot of chances to rise in the standings. As of now, the Tigers next games against William an Mary have been postponed. – Jacob Shindel.
Towson University’s (TU) Field Hockey team will look to build on its key wins in the 2019 season at the start of their upcoming spring season. The team will be competing in a non-traditional spring season due to the pandemic. In 2019 the Tigers claimed three wins against La Salle, Georgetown, and Temple. They also had a close loss against Colgate in a triple overtime showdown. Top scorers who will be returning this coming season include sophomore attackers Samantha Aljets and Georgia Beachley. Beachley led the team with eight goals and added three assists last season, with two goals in Towson’s win against Georgetown and the Tigers’ lone goal against Temple. Aljets shot seven goals and led the Tigers with seven assists, having two assists in the Tigers win against La Salle, and a goal in their win versus Georgetown. Returning top five scorers include senior defense and midfielder Beira Ho, who competed in the USA Field Hockey Young Women’s National Championship in 2019, and scored one goal and four assists for TU last season. Another power player to look out for is junior midfielder Kathryn Parkinson, who scored four goals for the Tigers last season. The position of goalkeeper will be a question mark for the Tigers in 2021. The team will face a tough conference slate in 2021, potentially seeing competition against Delaware University. – Corey Kefauver.
The Men’s Golf team will begin its 2021 season at the Southern Invitational in Lake Worth, Florida, March 1. The invitational will be hosted by Loyola at the Falls Club of the Pam Beaches.The Tigers will compete in five tournaments this spring, and will finish their season at the Colonial Athletic Association (CAA) tournament in late April. April will be the busiest month for the Tigers, as they are slated to compete in three of their tournaments that month. The Tigers look to build on a few strong finishes from the 2019-2020 season. Two key returning Tigers include senior Derek Gold and junior Justin Griffith.Both Gold and Griffith tied for the 11th overall spot at the Towson Fall Invitational, and together helped Towson finish fourth out of six teams at the invitational. One newcomer to look out for is junior Rick Van Der Nat. As a transfer from Iowa Western Community College, Van Der Nat tied for third in the Blue River Classic and had three top 15 finishes during his sophomore season. Another key transfer is junior Julian Gonzalez. He transferred in after playing for two seasons at Goucher College. Gonzalez had a 71.38 scoring average while at Goucher and took third at the Don Scalf Invitational. The Tigers will look to stay competitive in the CAA this season. – Corey Kefauver.
Towson University’s Women’s Golf team begins its spring season on Feb. 28 at the Kiawah Island Classic at the College of Charleston. The Tigers will play a total of five tournaments this spring, starting in Williamsburg at the Kingsmill Invitational in March and in Annapolis at the Navy Spring Invitational in April. After heading to Annapolis, the Tigers will play at the Women’s Intercollegiate in Kent Island. The last tournament is the Colonial Athletic Association (CAA) championship in North Carolina. The championship is a three-round tournament that starts on April 16. Junior Jordan Cornelius, a top returner from the 2019-20 team, is expected to be a strong force for this year’s team. She finished third at the 2019 CAA Championships as a sophomore, which led her to becoming the first Towson women’s golfer to earn All-Tournament honors since the 2006-07 season. Joining Cornelius is Julia Calomiris, Sarah Perine and Jayla Kang. In 2019-20, Calomiris ranked second in scoring average with an average of 76.9. She earned a career-low-1-under par round of 71 during her second-place win in the Towson Invitational. Jang shot a 71 at the Towson Invitational, creating a new career-low for herself. She’s ranked fourth in scoring, with an average of 77.6. In her 2019-20 season. Lastly, Perine earned the CAA Women’s Golfer of the Week honors after becoming the top finisher for TU at the Bucknell Invitational. She had an average score of 77.5, ranked third in scoring average. – Grace Coughlan.
2020 was not kind to the Men’s Lacrosse team. One year after winning the CAA Championship, the Tigers started 0-6 before the pandemic mercifully ended their season. The final game saw the Tigers come to a 16-4 blowout loss to Georgetown. However, a new year brings new hope for Towson, and with the 2021 schedule now released as of last week, the Tigers can now look ahead to what will hopefully be a much better 2021. The key for the Tigers will be to strengthen a defense that gave up 10 goals per game last season. Returning senior defenseman Koby Smith will be a key contributor in that department. Although he was hindered by a lower body injury last season, Smith was named a Preseason All-American, and forced three turnovers in his final three appearances of the season. Junior Mo Sillah will also be an important defensive piece, as he led the Tigers in turnovers last season with seven. On offense, the Tigers will see the much-anticipated return of fifth-year senior Jake McLean, who missed most of the 2020 season with an upper body injury. Prior to 2020, McLean was a key contributor to Towson’s CAA championship run the year before, scoring 12 points on eight goals and four assists. Fellow fifth-year senior Brody McLean, who led the Tigers in scoring with 12 points on 33 shots in 2020, will also be returning. Towson’s season begins Feb. 6 at Virginia, a team that the Tigers have not beaten since 1991. The rest of the month will see the Tigers face Saint Joseph’s and Duke at home, and Mount St. Mary’s and Richmond on the road. – Isaac Donsky.
The countdown has begun for the start of the Women’s Lacrosse season, a long-overdue start for the Tigers, who have not played since March 2020 after their win against Ohio State. The 2021 season begins on Feb. 13 at Mt. St. Mary’s, their first matchup since 2009, with Head Coach Sonia LaMonica overseeing the Tigers in her 11th season at Towson. LaMonica holds an overall record of 108-63 and has led the team to three conference titles in the course of her reign as head coach. There will be 15 regular-season games with four of the first five games at home. The following four games will be on the road and the last six games of the season will be against Colonial Athletic Association (CAA) schools including William & Mary on April 10, James Madison on April 18, Drexel on April 23, Hofstra on April 25 and Delaware on May 1. The 2021 roster consists of nine starters from last season, including sophomore midfielder Blair Pearre and junior attack Julia Porter, who led the team in goals and assists during the 2020 season. Also among the nine returning players is graduate student defender Sami Chenoweth playing her fifth season. Chenoweth won the 2018 and 2019 IWLCA First Team Mid-Atlantic All-Region awards and was named 2019 All-CAA First Team. Over the winter, Chenoweth merited one of 50 special invitations to a tryout for the U.S. Women’s National Lacrosse team, which is set to play in the 2021 World Lacrosse Women’s World Championship in July. Additionally, the team gains 13 new members, consisting of three transfers and ten freshmen. – Njura Kinyua.
The Tigers are set to kick off their season on Feb. 28, as they travel to play UMBC for their first game of the 2020-2021 campaign. Two non-conference games follow, as they play at Saint Joseph, and then their home opener on March 11 against George Washington. Due to the pandemic, the season will be shortened, as the Tigers will only play eight games before the CAA Tournament kicks off on April 15. The 2019 season presented a tough outing for the Tigers, as they went 4-13-1 overall, and just 1-8 in the conference, finishing in last place. Last year, junior forward Jenna Blank was the only player on the team to score five goals. A bright spot for the team comes via sophomore forward Demi Pierre, who only played 158 minutes total last season through four games, but scored two goals for the Tigers, which ultimately helped them defeat Mount St. Mary’s. It will be a tough stretch for the team as the season winds down, as their final three games of the season come against teams that finished in the top four in the conference last season. They play Delaware, Northeastern and Hofstra, who finished sixth, second and first respectively. Despite what happened last year, the Tigers did improve via recruitment, with five freshmen joining the team. Alex Rush, Khori Banks, Riley Melendez, Nia Christopher and Maja Hannson who’s skills could prove crucial in this much-shortened season. – Jacob Shindel.
TU’s Softball team endured an up-and-down campaign last season before the pandemic. After starting the year 4-6, and suffering through several weekends affected by snow, the Tigers closed out the season with four wins in their final five games, ending the abbreviated season with an 8-7 record. The key to success this year will be to overcome the loss of key players to the transfer portal and graduation. Former pitcher Sara Johnson, who led the Tigers with a 2.79 ERA, transferred to Boise State. Catcher Samantha Carson, whose 3 homeruns led the Tigers, has left for Utah Valley State. Lastly, Julia Smith-Harrington, the dual threat utility player who led the Tigers in most statistical categories last season, is one of four seniors to have graduated. Returning player, graduate student first base Madison Wilson’s 11 RBI’s led the team last year, and she received high praise from Head Coach Lisa Costello for her athletic fielding and clutch performances. The team also has a talented core of juniors and sophomores, with outfielders Lauren Ringhiser and Nicole Kidwiler finishing in the top-10 of batting average for Towson. The Tigers will also look to new faces this year. Before transferring to Towson, junior Rylee Penrod took Palomar College to a conference championship as a freshman, and led the team in homeruns during her sophomore campaign. Incoming freshman Maia Wilkins was named in the Washington Post’s All-Met Rankings in runs, hits, homeruns, and RBIs. The Tigers 2021 schedule has not been revealed yet. – Isaac Donsky.
Women’s Tennis is scheduled to begin its campaign away at Radford on Feb. 12. The 2021 season will consist of 23 matches, with 11 at home, 11 on the road, and one neutral game against South Carolina State. For the first time since entering the CAA 20 years ago, all eight tennis teams in the CAA will play against each other this season. The first CAA matchup kicks off versus James Madison on Feb. 27 and concludes against Delaware on April 17. Jamie Peterson will be leading the team for his fourth year as head coach. He led the team to a 13-12 record in his first coaching run during the 2016-17 season. The team will feature eight returning players, including juniors Jessica Assenmacher and Themis Haliou, as well as sophomore Sarah Pospischill, who each played in 10 of 12 matches during the 2020 season. The team gained three new freshmen in Erin Gray, Lea Kosanovic and Antonia Lawson. Lawson joins her sister, junior Amelia Lawson. – Njura Kinyua.
TU’s Women’s Volleyball team will be playing its postponed fall season this spring. While their schedule hasn’t been announced yet, there are a number of key players who are expected to make a big impact on the 2021 season. As the current CAA Champions, TU has a balance of veterans and new players to start their upcoming season. Sophomore Lydia Wiers will be a returning middle blocker for the Tigers after winning the CAA Rookie of the Year. In the 2019 season as a freshman, she played in 30 matches for a total of 105 sets. Weirs had 121 blocks on the season alongside 518 attempts with 61 errors. She was ranked on the national level in the top 10 in hitting percentage. Sophomore Asia Goins will be returning as the Tigers defensive specialist. Winner of CAA Rookie of the Week in November 2019, Goins played in 32 matches with a total of 103 sets in her 2019 season as a freshman. She earned a career high of 17 digs in a match against Elon last season. Alternating with Goins as a defensive specialist is sophomore Ally Townsend. During her freshman season, Townsend played in 22 matches with a total of 47 sets and logged 56 digs. Freshman middle blocker Aayinde Smith and freshman outside hitter Nina Cajic will be joining the team as rookies this season. – Grace Coughlan.
– The Towerlight’s Spring Sports Preview does not currently include Cross Country, as a 2021 season has not been finalized. This preview also does not include Gymnastics and Track & Field, but will be updated when more information is made available.