Digest for 01-30-14


REGIONAL

UAM women’s golf picked seventh, men eighth

RUSSELLVILLE — The Arkansas-Monticello women’s golf team has been picked to finish in seventh place and the men’s team has been picked in eighth place in the Great American Conference preseason coaches polls, released Wednesday by the league office.

The women’s team tallied 14 poll points, seven points ahead of eighth-place prediction Ouachita Baptist and four points behind sixth place Southern Arkansas. The men’s team had 18 poll points, seven ahead of ninth place Ouachita Baptist and six behind seventh place Southern Arkansas.

On the women’s side, Arkansas Tech is the preseason favorite with 47 points and six of the eight first place votes.

The men’s coaches also dubbed Arkansas Tech as the preseason favorite, unanimously with 64 poll points and the maximum number of first place votes.

Both UAM teams open the spring portion of the schedule this Saturday, February 1 at Mystic Creek Golf Course in El Dorado in a GAC dual against Southern Arkansas.

STATE

UA’s Wallace named to watch list

FAYETTEVILLE — Junior utility player Devon Wallace has earned a spot on the 2014 USA Softball Collegiate Player of the Year Watch List, as released Wednesday afternoon by the Amateur Softball Association (ASA) of America and USA Softball.

This marks the second career appearance for Wallace who was previously selected to the Watch List and eventually named a Top 25 Player of the Year finalist in 2013.

Last season, Wallace led the NCAA with a .627 on-base percentage and 79 walks and capped the year as an NFCA All-South Region honoree. She led the team with 13 home runs and 55 runs scored, and finished second on the team with a .376 batting average and 10 doubles. Wallace set Arkansas single-season records with her on-base percentage, walks and .768 slugging percentage.

Entering the 2014 season, Wallace is third place on the program’s all-time list with 28 home runs, just 15 shy of tying the school record of 43 career home runs set by Miranda Dixon (2007-10).

The Southeastern Conference leads the nation’s conferences with seven teams represented on the Watch List. The Top 25 finalists for the 2014 USA Softball Collegiate Player of the Year award will be announced April 9.

REGIONAL

Rams fire Walton, will bring back Williams

ST. LOUIS — The St. Louis Rams fired defensive coordinator Tim Walton on Wednesday after just one season and will reportedly bring back Gregg Williams.

Walton was tabbed to replace Williams, who was hired as defensive coordinator but never coached a down for the Rams after being suspended for the entire 2012 season for his role in the New Orleans Saints bounty program.

The Rams opted to go with a committee approach that season rather than replacing Williams, then brought Walton on board last February.

Multiple media outlets reported that the Rams have re-hired Williams for the job.

Despite defensive end Robert Quinn’s 19 sacks, Walton’s defense gave up 364 points last season, 13th in the NFL. It ranked 19th against the pass and ninth against the run.

NATIONAL

Coyotes to drop Phoenix from team name

GLENDALE, Ariz. — The Coyotes announced on Wednesday that, effective next season, the club will drop Phoenix from its team name in favor of the name Arizona.

“We are very excited to announce that our franchise name will change to Arizona Coyotes for the start of the 2014-15 NHL season,” said team president and CEO Anthony LeBlanc. “Becoming the Arizona Coyotes makes sense for us since we play our games in Glendale and the city is such a great partner of ours. We also want to be recognized as not just the hockey team for Glendale or Phoenix, but the team for the entire state of Arizona and the Southwest. We hope that the name ‘Arizona’ will encourage more fans from all over the state, not just the valley, to embrace and support our team.”

The franchise has carried the Phoenix moniker since arriving from Winnipeg in 1996. The team hasn’t played in Arizona’s capital since relocating to the city’s northwestern suburbs for the 2003-04 season.

Alabama-Auburn men’s hoops postponed to tonight

AUBURN, Ala. — The winter storm that has crippled the Southeast has forced officials to postpone Wednesday’s men’s basketball game between Alabama and Auburn.

The contest will be shifted to Thursday and will start about 25 minutes after the conclusion of the Texas A&M-Auburn women’s game, which has been moved to a 5 p.m. tip.

Safety of the participating teams, staff and fans was considered in postponing the game.

Notre Dame to expand stadium

SOUTH BEND, Ind. — A wide-ranging building project at Notre Dame will expand the football stadium by some 4,000 seats, the school said on Wednesday.

The $400 million project is considered the largest in the 172-year history of the storied the school and will create more than 750,000 square feet in three new buildings attached to the west, east and south sides of the stadium.

Construction will begin in two years, or sooner, and will take about 33 months to complete.

Buildings for the east and west will include some 3,000 to 4,000 premium seats for the football stadium with supporting club amenities. A hospitality area also is planned for the new building on the south end of the stadium.

Current capacity for Notre Dame Stadium, built in 1930, is 80,795 and should increase to about 84,000. It was last expanded, with a superstructure around the original brickwork, in 1997.

Dolphins, assistant GM Gaine part ways

DAVIE, Fla. — The Miami Dolphins and assistant general manager Brian Gaine have mutually agreed to part ways.

Gaine was among the candidates for the general manager vacancy, which was filled Sunday by Dennis Hickey.

The Dolphins needed a new GM after Jeff Ireland left the team earlier this month in a mutual agreement.

Gaine spent the past six seasons with the Dolphins, including the last two as assistant GM. He oversaw the player personnel department and previously was the director of pro scouting.

Before joining the Dolphins, Gaine also worked for the Dallas Cowboys and New York Jets.