greg.mcilvain@gaflnews.com



VALDOSTA -- The Valdosta State University baseball team signed three players during the early signing period which recently closed.

The Blazers, the defending Gulf South Conference champions, added two infielders and a pitcher.

The players are:

n Infielder Robert Morgan (5-10, 170). The former Crisp County High player was a first-time all-state shortstop at South Georgia College last season, hitting .378.

n Infielder Scott Brooker (6-1, 180). Hit .364 with six home runs, 41 RBI and 15 stolen bases for Class AA state runnerup Brantley County High.

n Pitcher Russ Crum (6-0, 170). Was 10-4 with three saves and a 1.48 earned-run average for Perry High. He struck out 124 and walked just 18 in 90 innings, including 11 complete games.

The Blazers open the 2003 season Feb. 1, hosting Clark Atlanta in a 2:30 p.m. doubleheader at Billy Grant Field. Head coach Tommy Thomas needs 35 wins to become Division II's all-time winningest coach.

KIRTANE HEADED NORTH:

Valdosta State assistant tennis coach and former player Sachin Kirtane is leaving the school to become head women's tennis coach at the University of Northern Iowa.

Working under his former college coach, John Hansen, Kirtane helped both the Blazer and Lady Blazer programs to conference titles and national tournament appearances. The men's program has reached at least the quarterfinals of the last three national tournaments, making the semifinals in 2000.

Kirtane played four seasons at Valdosta State from 1995-1998, including the 1995 Gulf South Conference championship team which finished fourth nationally. During his playing career he earned all-Gulf South and all-America honors.

He earned undergraduate (marketing) and graduate (business administration) degrees from Valdosta State.

The Northern Iowa women's tennis program was eliminated due to budget concerns this past May, but was reinstated the next month because of Title IX compliance concerns.

BLAZER TENNIS RANKINGS:

The Valdosta State men's tennis team was ranked No. 8 and the women No. 25 in the end-of-fall team rankings released Monday by the Intercollegiate Tennis Association.

The men had four players listed in the individual rankings. Marco Borges was ranked No. 27 and Philip Laucht No. 43 in singles, while Borges and Peter Kreutzfeldt were ranked No. 6 and Laucht and Andy Von Michaelis No. 14 in the doubles rankings.

Borges and Kreutzfeldt win the South Region fall doubles title and finished sixth in the national fall tournament.

VOLLEYBALL ALL-CONFERENCE:

Two senior members of the Valdosta State volleyball team earned second-team all-Gulf South honors.

Suzy Watson and Rachel Hoodzow were selected to the team by the league's East Division coaches.



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