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March 09. 2013 12:37AM

Eric Emmerling's NH College Notebook: SNHU plans to add four new sports over next three years

Southern New Hampshire University plans to expand its women's sport offerings over the next three academic years, adding women's golf in the fall of 2013 and resuming field hockey in 2014. Women's outdoor track and field will begin in 2015-16, along with women's bowling, contingent on interest.

Women's golf is one of the fastest-growing sports at the NCAA Division II level. In the past 10 years, a total of 86 Division II institutions have added the sport, an increase of nearly 97 percent. Presently, 10 other New England institutions, including Dartmouth College, compete in women's golf.

Current Penmen men's golf coach Matt Arvanitis will mentor the women's team. A former standout student-athlete for the Penmen and a member of the SNHU Athletic Hall of Fame, Arvanitis has served as the Penmen men's golf coach since 2005 and guided SNHU to NCAA appearances in 2006 and 2009, while also having an individual qualifier in 2010.

The university fielded field hockey from 1977-1981 before dropping the sport in favor of women's soccer. The Penmen currently sports an active club field hockey team. The plan is to have a head coach aboard by late summer in order to begin recruiting.

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TIFFANY RUFFIN contributed a basket in 5 minutes of play coming off the bench during Boston College's upset win over sixth-seeded Virginia, 66-57, in first round play of the ACC tournament.

The 5-foot-7 junior from Seabrook once helped Winnacunnet of Hampton win four straight state titles and was twice named New Hampshire Union Leader Player of the Year. At BC she started in 26 of 28 games last season, averaging 5.6 points and 3 assists a game.

Following a coaching change, Ruffin's role changed this season. She averaged about 13 minutes a game coming off the bench, averaging 1.1 points, 2 assists and 1.4 rebounds while directing the offense.
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KATHERINE HARRIS will contribute some key minutes when Bucknell University battles Navy in a Patriot League semifinal tourney game tomorrow night. The Derry sophomore, who starred in two sports at Pinkerton of Derry, has started 15 games this season, averaging 2.1 rebounds and 3.9 points.

"I feel like we're always in control when she's out there," said Bucknell coach Aaron Roussell of the 5-foot-5 Harris. "She can get people in the right spots. She is a solid heady point guard."

When not schooling players on the court, Harris, who owns a 3.83 GPA, serves as a student tutor.
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ALEX HALL has tallied 763 points at the University of Hartford, including 21 double digit scoring efforts. The senior, Pembroke's all-time leading scorer with 1,617 career points, is averaging 5.8 points ad 2.5 rebounds a game this season.

Like Ruffin, Hall's role switched from starter to off-the-bench contributor this season. The 5-foot-7 shooting guard has had some of her best performances playing the University of New Hampshire, netting a career-high 22 points against the Wildcats her junior season and tallying 15 against them this year.

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STRONG START: The Southern New Hampshire University baseball team won its first eight games, including a pair of no-hitters and a strong start from Franklin's Derrick Sylvester. The 6-foot-6 junior righty allowed three hits while striking out six while tossing seven shutout innings.

Riley Palmer is off to a hot start. The junior from Goffstown is hitting .286, leading the team with 16 RBI and walloped a grand slam homer. Classmate Tyler Poisson of Rochester (Spaulding) is hitting .286. Pitchers Joe McCarthy, a Nashua (Bishop Guertin) freshman and sophomore John Pickowicz from Hill (Franklin) have each thrown two strong relief stints.

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SEVEN GRANITE STATE BALLPLAYERS appear on the UMass-Lowell baseball roster. The group includes sophomore infielder Pat Parker of Merrimack who hit .400 while starting the first six games of the season, as well as the righty pitchers Garrett Cole of Bedford (Trinity) and Manchester's Shane Beauchemin (Memorial) who lead the pitching staff in strikeouts.

Fresh off a standout sophomore season (7-1, 0.82 ERA) Cole, a redshirt junior, has whiffed 13 batters in 12 innings, including the 100th of his career already this season. He's 0-1 in two starts. Beauchemin is 2-0 with a 2.08 ERA while holding opposing hitters to a .180 average and recording 10 strikeouts in 13 innings of work.

Other New Hampshire bred River Hawks include sophomore relief pitcher Geoff Fisher of Londonderry, outfielders Luke Reynolds, sophomore, of Manchester (Memorial), freshman Louis Tarantino of Nashua (North) and sophomore infielder Ryan Gendron, a former Nashua South star.

"There's always seems to be plenty of talent in New Hampshire, so we always keep an eye on what's happening in our backyard," said Ken Harring who spent four years as the St. Anselm College skipper before taking over at Lowell nine seasons ago.

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FORMER WINNACUNNET INFIELDER Casey Cotter, Merrimack College's top hitter last season (.324), tallied eight hits in the first four games of this season, scoring six times and knocking home six teammates. The senior's effort produced a .571 batting average.

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