Raising the Bar: Community Hails Regional Champion Baseball Team

| June 3, 2013
Campus community members cheered the baseball team in Sunnen Lounge.

Campus community members cheered the baseball team in Sunnen Lounge.

Their season went on so long because collectively they were so good.

Long after spring finals were over, after grades were turned in, commencement concluded — deep into the Memorial Day holiday weekend even — the Webster University baseball team was still in action, chasing a dream that once again eluded them, but one that now seems within the school’s grasp.

The regional championship trophy is theirs for a second year in a row, though all agreed they're aiming even higher.

The regional championship trophy is theirs for a second year in a row, though all agreed they’re aiming even higher.

For the second consecutive year, the back-to-back NCAA regional champions headed to Appleton, Wisc., for the NCAA III Baseball Championships, better known as the D-III College World Series.

Webster University community members celebrated their season with a welcome home reception after they returned from the tournament over the Memorial Day weekend.

They fell short of the ultimate prize, prompting coach Bill Kurich to say at last Tuesday’s reception: “Next year we’ll still be playing on this day.”

But even though they didn’t make it to the national championship game that two other schools played that day, Webster leaders praised how the team, with several individual and collective awards, has raised the standard:

“Two years in a row, that is not a fluke,” President Beth Stroble said as she congratulated the team. “You’ve set the bar higher and established a new tradition.”

Players and staff enjoyed ice cream as the players tied up loose ends on campus after a happily long season.

Players and staff enjoyed ice cream as the players tied up loose ends on campus after a happily long season.

Athletic director Tom Hart concurred, noting the number of kudos he received over the weekend. “Quite a few folks came up to talk about not just that Webster University was there, but that Webster was there again.”

Stroble had the chance to catch the team in action that weekend and came away impressed with the team’s Webster spirit:

“All these young people are wonderful students, and they are students who are athletes. And that is what makes us proud to be part of the Division III effort: All of you came to Webster University for a variety of reasons, a variety of majors, a variety of programs, a variety of career goals. But what brought you together in this tremendous team effort was this baseball team, and to have such outstanding results as students and as athletes is no small measure of who you are as individuals and who you are as a team.”

Coach Kurich, who was named ABCA/Rawlings Central Region Coach of the Year for the second year in a row, credited his great staff and dedicated players:

Coach Bill Kurich (center) with Provost Julian Schuster and President Beth Stroble

Coach Bill Kurich (center) with Provost Julian Schuster and President Beth Stroble

“We have such great support throughout the year. I cannot thank our assistant coaches enough for the culture of our program. It’s a culture of respect for others that starts in the classroom.

“And the things our players do around campus to make this possible: from fundraising to keeping their GPA high and winning academic honors, working out at late hours … I take a lot of pride in our program.”

“I don’t think anyone can take for granted this trip there,” Kurich said. “It is a difficult road. I never got to do it as a player, and it took me 12 years as a college coach to get there. Webster is now a name that is very well recognized, and a name to be reckoned with. When people take the field against us, they know that they’re going to have a tough time.”

Eight of the team’s graduating seniors have now played in two College World Series. Provost Julian Schuster had a message for them and their teammates who will play for another next year:

“When I saw you all come into the room, three words came to mind: You are proud, you are modest and you are determined,” Schuster said. “And those are three characteristics that epitomize the culture that we all try to build at our University.

“You will learn that in whatever your future endeavors are going to be, that the most important thing in life is looking forward. Do not look back anymore, because you have every reason to be as proud of your success as we are. Look forward because the greater successes are still in front of you.”

View more photos of players at the reception on Facebook.

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Category: St. Louis Campus News, Student Affairs and News, Webster Athletics

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