The Cardinals began this spring a step ahead of last year after winning a spot in the South Central Regional Tournament for Division II. In the first national poll of this spring, UIW was voted to the number 30 spot in the country.
In seeking to surpass last year's performance, Incarnate Word is led by senior right-hander Hector Delgadillo, who currently holds school records for victories (27), complete games (23) and strikeouts (240). He was the staff ace a year ago and he is the staff ace this year.
Also back to lead the Cardinals is last year's top hitter, junior outfielder Adrian Lozano who continued the UIW tradition of having at least one player hit better than .400 in a season.
On the women’s side of diamond action, the Cardinals won their way to the Heartland Conference finals before dropping out. Optimism is high once again, particularly since senior righthander Jennifer Reed returns to the mound.
In the history of UIW softball, there have been four no-hitters tossed. Last spring, Reed had three of those four. The fourth was thrown in 2003 by right-hander Jennifer Benavides, who also is back for her senior season.
TRACK AND FIELD
The 2004 NCAA Division II National Championships had three competitors from Incarnate Word. That had never happened before. And, all three are back on campus competing this spring for a return trip to the national spotlight.
One of the three, senior Francisco Leon, placed second in the pole vault last spring. That was his second journey to the championships. Can his third be at the end of spring 2005?
The Cardinals women a year ago won the Heartland Conference title, advanced to the regional tournament, and literally came within one point of moving on to the Division II national tournament. It was that close.
All but two of those players return this season to give the Incarnate Word faithful good reason to think the national tournament is not out of sight in 2005.
The UIW men's team finished third in the Heartland, as did the women. The men sent Osvaldo Machado to the 2004 South Central Super Regional Tournament. This was the third straight year for the selection committee to invite a Cardinals golfer to the event.
Machado is back as are a full compliment of players from a year ago, both men and women.
Can the Cardinals synchronized swimming program truly be called fledgling any longer?
The last three years of action have been a continual climb up the national charts. In 2002, UIW finished 17th at the U.S. Collegiate Championships. In 2003, the Cardinals moved up to number six. A year ago, the final placing was fifth.
The first step toward a national championship this year came during the final weekend of February when the Cardinals captured the title of the South Region, displacing perennial winner, the University of Alabama-Birmingham. The squad from the University of Florida came in third place during action at the Ann Barshop Natatorium on the UIW campus.
Sophomore Danielle Kramer led the way for UIW by winning two individual events and being part of the trio that captured another first place. Kramer began the regional competition by placing first in “A Figures” and then ended the proceedings by placing first in solo routines. Along the way she joined with senior Jennifer Holmquist and freshman Natalie Chase for first place in trios.
Holmquist and Kramer both were All-Americans a year ago. Adding luster to the team is the fact that four of the returning swimmers were Academic All-Americans in 2004.
So, the precedents are set, the hopes are high, and the spring action at Incarnate Word is fully underway.
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