Sports Updates-Spring 2016Men’s Basketball
It was another great season for the Bethel men’s basketball program as the Pilots posted their fourth consecutive 20+ win season. Bethel finished the 2015-16 campaign with an overall record of 22-8 (CL 11-7) to give them a third-place finish in one of the nation’s toughest NAIA DII conferences, the Crossroads League. The Pilots earned an at-large bid to the 2016 NAIA DII National Tournament where the team made it all the way to the “Sweet Sixteen” before bowing out against NAIA No. 4 Briar Cliff. Highlights from the ’15-16 season include junior Clay Yeo becoming the second quickest player in BC men’s basketball history to reach the 1,000-point milestone, and Yeo, Senior Travis Smith, Junior Caleb Oetjen, Sophomore Gage Ott and Freshman Luke Fisher all picking up postseason honors from the Crossroads League.

Women’s Basketball
The Lady Pilots finished the 2015-16 regular season with a 12-18 mark, which is two games better than a season ago and a three-game improvement from ’14-15. Locked in a three-way tie for sixth place in the league, BC traveled to Indiana Wesleyan University for the quarterfinals of the Crossroads League Tournament where they ended their season by falling to the Wildcats. Though Bethel loses one to graduation, the top four scorers were members of the junior class and were responsible for 47.8 of the team’s 66.9 points per game this year. Among those juniors is Madison Schrock, who set a new Lady Pilot record for free throw percentage in a season (95.1 percent), tied a program record with eight made three-point field goals in a game (vs. Aquinas), and tied a program record for free throw percentage in a game (100 percent; 10-for-10).

Men’s Indoor Track and Field
One year after winning the NCCAA Indoor National Championships, the Pilots returned to the national stage and came home with a runner-up finish at the 2016 championships. The Pilots’ championship run was highlighted by an individual national title win by Mishawaka High School product and BC sophomore Erik Escobedo in the weight throw. Escobedo also took third place in the shot put, earning him NCCAA All-American status for both events. Overall, the men’s team set seven new program records, including a pair by Granger, Ind., native Tommy Grant and Elkhart Christian Academy product Joel Hartman. In addition, BC had 10 individuals or relay teams qualify for the NAIA Indoor Championships.

Women’s Indoor Track and Field
The women’s indoor track and field team produced four NCCAA All-Americans this season, all participating in field events. The Pilots’ top finisher in 2016 was Senior Taylor Tepper in the women’s pole vault. This is her fourth NCCAA pole vault title in indoor and outdoor competitions combined. Also claiming All-American honors were Junior Melanie Nellis (weight throw), and seniors Jeslyn Lewton (pole vault) and Arielle Byl (high jump).

The Pilots have high hopes for the 2016 season after finishing the 2015 regular season by winning six of their last eight games. Six of eight major position players will be back on the field to give the Pilots a solid and experienced defensive core that will help the youthful pitching staff. Offensively, Bethel returns four of their top five threats from a season ago, led by Sophomore Eric Kelver. As a freshman, he finished second on the team in hits (45), doubles (13) and batting average (.313).

The Pilots will step onto Bethel’s new softball diamond for the first time this season after the facility went through a complete overhaul in the past 18 months. The team will also look different on the field with the loss of four seniors to graduation, leaving just seven returners. Filling out the 2016 roster will be incoming freshmen Gabby Warner, Danica Mast and Hunter Brummett, along with transfer Rachel Podgorski. BC’s first home game in their newly renovated facility was March 15.

For the first time in Bethel Athletics history, the Pilots will be represented in the sport of women’s lacrosse. As part of the Women’s Collegiate Lacrosse League (WCLL), BC will participate in the DII Central Region against Grace, Taylor, Bowling Green, Ball State and Toledo. The Pilots’ 11-game schedule features just one home contest, which took place March 22 at the football facility at John Young Middle School.

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