MACTION! That’s right, todays issue of Hot Corner is all about the Mid American Conference. The MAC has been front and center in local sports news for the last week. The conference has decided to cancel or alter all of its tournaments for the 2020-2021 season. This of course means there will be no MAC Tournament at Akron Firestone Stadium next spring.
The pros and cons of having no tournament are pretty clear. An advantage is the best team in the regular season will now be automatically in the NCAA field of 64. They won’t have to worry about a team having a hot weekend and winning the MAC tournament, ending their hopes of a tournament bid. However, it does hurt the teams that are competitive in the MAC and lets say have a 3-5 seed in a conference tournament. These teams have had a good season, and in normal circumstances would have the chance to go fight for a MAC title, and a NCAA tournament birth. The people that real happy about the MAC (and other mid major conferences) canceling their tournaments are the Power 5 teams. They no longer have to worry about a team in 4th place of the MAC win the conference and in essence steal an at large bid.
We have a couple players in the YSN family who will be directly impacted by the future of the MAC. Let’s highlight a couple of players that are heading to play in the MAC, and won’t be heading to a MAC tournament.
Sheridon Wilber (Jefferson Area)
Sheridon Wilber is a player that tends to get overlooked out of the NE8. While everyone is focused on Poland, and South Range and their postseason runs, Sheridon is quietly become arguably the best dual threat in the conference. Wilber is a three year letter winner at Jefferson. In those three years her batting averages are .541 (2017) .494 (2018) and .474 (2019). In those three years in the circle she had ERA’s of 3.40, 2.17, and 2.47. In 2017 she was Ashtabula County Player of the Year, First Team All County, and 2nd team NE8. The fact that these numbers made her 2nd team consistently will show you how good the NE8 was, and possibly how overlooked Wilber was. Sheridon has signed to play for Akron next spring. In a statement about her signing on GoZips.com Akron coach Meaghan Pettipiece said “Sheridon comes to us with complete athleticism, and great personality. I can’t wait to see her development in the circle and what she brings to our offense as well.” That statement tells me that Akron fully plans on using Sheridon as a dual threat. I’ve personally had the chance to broadcast a few of Wilber’s game, and she is the real deal.
(Photo Courtesy JeffersonFalconAthletics.com)
When you talk MAC softball, the name that has to come to mind is Jen Gilbert. The Ball State outfielder was a super star in the conference. Gilbert finished her career with conference records in RBI (246) Home Runs (75), runs scored (215), doubles (62), and slugging percentage (.810). By the way that 75 home runs mark ranks 8th in Division 1 softball history. After her career at Ball State, Gilbert was drafted 10th overall in the 2014 NPF Draft to the Akron Racers. She is still playing in the NPF as a member of the Canadian Wild, and is also a member of the Canadian National Team set to compete in the Olympics in Tokyo in 2021. Jen was gracious enough to join me all the way from the great state of Texas to be the first special guest of Hot Corner.
(Photo Credit: Don Martukovich)