The year 2007 was an exceptional one for the University of Tampa. Baseball and women’s soccer each brought home a championship trophy to add to the two brought home by the 2006 baseball and volleyball teams. Here’s a look at the last year’s success.
The baseball team repeated its 2006 glory with an equally impressive National Championship in June 2007. Just a year after having five players drafted by MLB teams, Tampa posted a 53-10 record and knocked off Columbus State University by a score of 7-2.
But the back-to-back championships weren’t enough for this record-setting club. A total of seven players signed with MLB teams, with six being drafted and C Chris Rosenbaum signing a free-agent contract with the Los Angeles Angels of Anaheim. It’s a long road for a young MLB player to make it to the “show,” but it’s not out of the question. Jonathan Holt has serious professional talent, and is a stand-up young man as well. He was the Most Outstanding Player at the championships, and should rise quickly through the ranks of the Cleveland Indians program.
In a blast from the Spartan past, C Mike Rabelo was traded from the Detroit Tigers to the Florida Marlins in the Dontrelle Willis deal. Rabelo played three season from 1999-2001. In 2006, he became the first Spartan to advance to the majors since Tino Martinez. Rabelo was drafted in the 14th round of the 2001 MLB draft.
Despite the return of key players Katelen Dixon, Margeaux Sinibaldi and Danielle Macdonald, the Spartan volleyball team fell short in its title defense. Ranked in the top five for a majority of the season, Tampa lost to Washburn University 3-2 after building a 2-0 lead. The Spartans finished 31-3 on the season.
Four Spartans were named to the AVCA All-America team, a record for the program. Erin Clark and Alisha Green joined Dixon and Sinibaldi on the list. Sinibaldi also set the SSC record for career digs this season, and the All-American award was her second.
It looked like it would be a difficult year after losing a number of key members of the 2006 Final Four team, but Tampa bounced back and showed some real heart late in the season to take the Division II national title. Jocelyn Charette (transfer), Malana Winskas (graduation) and Samantha Robinson (graduation) were all main components of the 2006 success, with Charette scoring 21 goals, Robinson adding 28 assists, and Winskas winning her record fourth-consecutive SSC Defensive Player of the Year award.
Not to mention that 2006 South Region Coach of the Year Bobby Johnston left the school to take an assistant position at his alma mater, James Madison University in Virginia. The coaching spot wasn’t vacant long, as former UT assistant Gerry Lucey returned to Tampa after a Final Four appearance as the head coach of West Chester University.
The team scored 20 fewer goals than 2006 (a 28% decline) and gave up two more this season, but they scored when they counted most: the NCAA tournament.
It helped to have Division II Player of the Year Shannon Aitken on the club. Aitken recorded 14 shutouts and saved nearly 80% of all shots that came her way. Not to mention she did the unthinkable in stopping four penalty kicks in two overtime games in the championship tournament. It’s rare for a men’s team to stop PKs, and even more rare for a woman to do it, statistically.
Aitken, Ashley Flateland, Shelby Kuni, Emily Stack and Courtney Evans all made the All-America team. Flateland left the program after the season to attend JMU.
And in the end