As the saying goes, defense wins championships. For baseball, a big part of that defense is pitching.
One inning. One play.
That is all that separated the men’s baseball team from a berth in the College World Series last season.
Jeff Donovan earned WIAC player of the year honors while leading the football team to its fifth straight conference title and its second national championship in three years. Now, less than five months later, Donovan is at the helm of the baseball team’s WIAC championship and its own run to a national championship. For his efforts in both sports, the former Wauwatosa East High School star has been named the 2009-10 Royal Purple Male Athlete of the Year.
They received a standing ovation at a Wisconsin Badger basketball game. They have been recognized by the Whitewater Common Council. They even mingled and shared a few laughs with Gov. Jim Doyle at his mansion in Madison. It’s been quite the ride for the football team since defeating Mount Union College (Alliance, Ohio), 38-28, on Dec. 19 to win the program’s second national championship in three years. However, with the first of 15 spring practices beginning today, senior wide receiver Aaron Rusch already has his eye on the 2010 season.
Sports Editor Chris Kuhagen hands out his team MVP, Offensive MVP, Defensive MVP and Breakout Player of the Year for the 2009 national championship football team.
The 2009 season will not be forgotten anytime soon. It was a season the UW-Whitewater football team dominated for much of the year. It was a season where numerous team and individual records were broken. And it was a season that ended in the most dramatic fashion on Division III’s grandest stage.
The pieces have been in place all season. Now, more than three months after the football team’s opening game in Dickinson, N.D., the puzzle is almost complete. This final piece to the Warhawks’ perfect campaign and second national championship in the last three years could be put into place Saturday in Salem, Va.
Senior quarterback Jeff Donovan’s career hasn’t always been the smoothest. The spotlight has been on him since his freshman year and now, in his final year as the quarterback of one of the top-ranked football offenses in the country, he is shining in that spotlight.
At the football team’s annual media day session in August, Troney Shumpert had one main objective for his defensive unit in 2009. “Our goal is to be better than we were last year,” the senior defensive back said. More than three months later, as Shumpert and the Warhawks (12-0) head into Saturday’s NCAA home quarterfinal game against Wittenberg (12-0), that goal is a reality.
The UW-Whitewater football team just won its fifth straight conference championship. Sports Editor Chris Kuhagen notes his top five reasons on how Lance Leipold’s team accomplished this feat once again.