College notebook: Offseason changes pay off for Corban senior pitcher Virtue

Union High grad making most of his final college season

By Kurt Zimmer, Columbian Sports Reporter

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Changes during the offseason put Caleb Virtue into position for a solid senior baseball season.

The right-handed pitcher has as many wins and as many starts in 2013 as he had decisions in his first three seasons at Corban University, displaying versatility that has had him entering games in relief and starting.

"I feel good," the Union High School graduate said. "It's been a lot of hard work over the last few years, but it's really starting to pay off -- and it's a good feeling.

"During the fall ball season and this last winter, I made a lot of adjustments in my delivery and mechanics and just made everything a little smoother. I've been more consistent with controlling my pitches and throwing strikes."

Virtue was 2-3 in 43 appearances during his first three seasons at Corban, an NAIA Cascade Collegiate Conference school in Salem, with an 8.27 ERA and three starts.

The Warriors matched the school record for victories with a 29-22 regular season, and after ending a 10-year postseason drought a year ago are in the playoffs in back-to-back seasons for the first time in program history.

Corban is the No. 3 seed out of five teams at the NAIA West Grouping Baseball Championships this week at Concordia University in Portland.

After an 11-5 loss Menlo in 12 innings Wednesday, the Warriors will play Oregon Tech in a loser-out game at 9 a.m. today.

The tournament winner advances to the opening round of the NAIA World Series in Lewiston, Idaho.

Going into the NAIA West Tournament, Virtue was 5-1 with three saves in 22 appearances, including three starts, with a team-leading 2.08 ERA. He was tied for the staff lead with 37 strikeouts and was first in fewest runs (26), earned runs (16), doubles (11), triples (0), home runs (0) and walks (15) allowed.

Virtue said he is doing it by keeping hitters off balance.

"My best pitch is actually a changeup," he said. "I've always had a pretty good changeup, and this year I've been able to consistently control it as much as -- if not better than -- my fastball, so that's my go-to pitch. I probably throw it about 50 percent changeups in every game. I throw my fastball a decent amount, and then I have a slider that I throw into the mix every now and then."

One of his two complete games this season was a 1-0 road win April 14 over the University of British Columbia, the top seed at the NAIA West tournament, the first complete game shutout of his collegiate career.

His role has slowly shifted from relief to starting late in the season, Virtue said, but he is still sometimes called upon in crucial situations.

"The last few weekends, I've been starting and then it's kind of, 'When we need you, we're going to put you in,'" he said.' "Really, this year, I've kind of done a little bit of everything."

Limage Concordia female athlete of year

Middle distance runner Junia Limage was named Concordia University's female Athlete of the Year at the school's annual Navy & White Awards Banquet last week.

The Fort Vancouver High School graduate was named the Cascade Collegiate Conference Athlete of the Year across all sports for the 2011-12 academic year after claiming two individual national titles (in the indoor and outdoor 800-meter run) and four NAIA All-America performance across three different sports.

Limage garnered All-America recognition by placing 23rd at cross country nationals, and fifth as part of the Cavaliers' indoor distance medley relay, in addition to her NAIA championships in the 800.

Limage is training in hopes of representing her native Haiti.

McCartney named 'Hornet of the Year'

Kalliah McCartney was named the Sacramento State gymnastics team's "Hornet of the Year" at Sunday's season-ending awards banquet.

McCartney, from Vancouver and a graduate of CAM High School in Battle Ground, was an individual qualifier to NCAA regional competition in the all-around for the second consecutive year. The sophomore narrowly missed qualifying for the NCAA championships.

McCartney, who trained at Multnomah Athletic Club of Portland, was named Western Athletic Conference Gymnast of the Week three times during the 2013 season.

McCartney and Dallas Smith of Heisson were named Academic All-Western Athletic Conference for women's gymnastics.

Smith is also a graduate of CAM High School, and trained at Naydenov Gymnastics in Vancouver.

To be eligible, a student-athlete must have completed at least one academic year, have at least a 3.00 cumulative grade point average and have participated in at least 50 percent of the team's contests.

George Fox's Arn All-NWC in 4x400

After placing second in the heptathon at the earlier multi-events championships, George Fox University sophomore Charity Arn garnered All-Northwest Conference honors by helping the Bruins to second place in the 4x400-meter relay.

The Woodland High School graduate was also fourth int he 100 hurdles and seventh in both the high jump and long jump.

George Fox won a third consecutive team title at the meet held Friday and Saturday at Willamette University's Charles Bowles Track in Salem.

The Bruins totaled 188.5 points to runner-up Willamette's 180.5.

Suggestions for College Notebook? Contact Kurt Zimmer at 360-735-4563 or kurt.zimmer@columbian.com.