A10 Softball Blog

An Atlantic 10 Conference Softball Fan Blog written from a fan's perspective. It is not affiliated with the conference or any of the teams.

Monday, February 28, 2011

Stat Leaders: Team

1. St. Joseph's .295
2. Dayton .285
3. Charlotte .284
4. St. Louis .276

1. Charlotte 77
2. St. Louis 59
3. St. Joseph's 40
4. Dayton 36

1. Charlotte 11
2. St. Louis 6
3. UMass 5
4. Dayton 3

1. UMass 13
1. St. Louis 13
3. St. Joseph's 12
3. Charlotte 12

1. George Washington 1.81
2. Fordham 2.04
3. St. Joseph's 2.78
4. UMass 2.88

1. UMass 13
2. St. Louis 13
3. Fordham 12
4. Charlotte 12

Fielding %
1. Fordham .982
2. Temple .966
3. La Salle .964
4. Dayton .954

Weekend Recap

Charlotte: The 49ers had a good weekend going 3-2 and winning their Green and White Tournament. However, the biggest development of the weekend was Coach DeVos asking Katy Hackett to throw back to back games on Saturday. This has been something that Coach DeVos has been reluctant to do in the past, but she has decided this is going to be Katy Hackett's year. I, for one believe it is the right move. The rest of the A10 is looking very good this year so Charlotte will need to bring it every time out and for the 49ers to do that Katy Hackett must be in the circle. It worked last year for UMass with Sara Plourde, so it will be interesting to see how the 49ers fare. Elsewhere for the 49ers, Tenaya Tucker, Briana Gwaltney, and Kalie continued to provide the power in the lineup. Right now those three players along with Whitney Williams, Kendra McCall, and Jalisa Rock are the threats in the lineup for Charlotte. Hopefully the whole lineup will be ready this week when Charlotte hits the road to face UNC and Furman. After the hurting St. Joe's put on UNC, it will be interesting to see how the 49ers fare against UNC.

Dayton: I was waiting to see an Alysha Isaacson start and I was not disappointed. Isaacson had a stellar weekend throwing 2 complete game wins for the Flyers. She led the Flyers to a 4-1 record on the weekend, which is exactly what this squad needed to do. I am curious to see how Coach LaPlaca distributes the innings moving forward. Dayton won the games they were supposed to and that is a very good sign moving forward. The Flyers also got it done at the plate and the squad is now hitting a solid .285 at the plate. Rachel Archer is leading the squad with a .435 average and she is doing a nice job of filling Molly Meyer's shoes. Kathleen Maloof is continuing to hit the ball well and she currently sits at .419 on the year. Coach LaPlaca is not holding anything back on offense and this team is going for it on the bases. The Flyers are 13 for 16 in SB, so maybe she took a page out of former SLU coach John Conway's book. The Flyers are going to have a tough weekend coming up at Texas Tech, but if they continue to play this way those Red Raiders could be in for a battle.

Chelsea Plimpton
Fordham: The Rams had a solid weekend going 3-2 against some good competition out in Palm Springs. Chelsea Plimpton continued her great senior season by picking up 2 wins and throwing well enough to win in another game. Jen Mineau went 1-1 on the weekend, but perhaps most importantly, she threw two complete games. That is a great sign for the Rams and I think they may have the best pitching staff in the A10 this year. Fordham offense struggled a little bit this weekend, but they also had important breakthroughs. Against Texas on Friday, Gabby Luety hit the 1st HR of the season for Fordham and my fingers are crossed for many more. Fordham won both games that they were supposed to win and also managed to take one that they weren't supposed to (Texas). Fordham is plugging along this year and this pace should be enough to get them into regionals. On offense, Nicole Callahan has come on as of late hitting .300 to lead the Ram offense along with Jocelyn Dearborn, Samantha Pellechio, and Lindsey Bright. Fordham has another tough slate of games this weekend, but things seem to be falling into place for the Rams.

George Washington: The Colonials season may be just 4 games in, but already you can tell they are a much better squad. George Washington went 2-2 on the weekend picking up wins against Iona and Norfolk State and they were also competitive in both losses. In the circle, Kara Clauss was dominant this weekend going 2-1 with a 0.84 ERA and she allowed just 2 runs in 16.2 IP. Heidi Penna had her moments, but she still has some areas she needs to work on. On offense the Colonials hit a solid .262, but compared with last year's marks that number looks outstanding. Right away you could see the impact of freshmen Chelsea Lenhart and Chelsea Curcio on the lineup as they hit .467 and .364 respectively. The Colonials will still need some more production from the rest of the lineup, but these are some good signs. George Washington beat a solid Iona squad that advanced to regionals last year, so maybe there is some hope for the Colonials this year.

La Salle: The Explorers much like George Washington, needed a good start and while La Salle only went 1-3, I think they got the start they were looking for. La Salle had three close games and one not so close one, but it is a good sign that they battled. La Salle also faced one of the most underrated squads in the nation in USC Upstate and while the Explorers did not manage to get a hit, La Salle did keep the Spartans off the bases. In the circle, DJ Guinn and Laura Beth McCreesh were solid and it will be interesting to see how they do at the Rebel Games coming up. On offense, freshmen Jackie McBride and Megan Hodgson led the way hitting .400 and .364 respectively. McBride was responsible for driving in half of the runs this weekend for the Explorers and we are excited to see how she develops moving forward. La Salle will see the competition get a little easier at the Rebel Games and that is when La Salle needs to make its mark. If La Salle can come out of the Rebel Games with a winning record, everything else may fall into place for this squad.

UMass: Well, the Minutewomen played arguably the toughest set of games of any team in the country this weekend and it showed as UMass went 0-5 on the weekend. Starting with the ugly: the Minutewomen managed just 2 runs in the four games they played against ranked opponents and both of those came against Washington. In addition, the Minutewomen defense let down the pitchers committing 8 errors on the weekend contributing to a multitude of unearned runs. In the circle, UMass had an up and down weekend with both Sara Plourde and Lindsey Webster showing flashes of brilliance at times and issues with control at others. Even though it was not their best performance Plourde and Webster showed that they will be a force this year in the A10. The MVP of UMass for the weekend was Kyllie Magill who recorded a hit in all but one game and she is now hitting .323 to lead the squad. If Magill can hit like this against Top 25 pitching she may be a force to be reckoned with in A10 play. In UMass' final game of the weekend against Fresno State: freshman Tiffany Meeks may have won back her spot in the lineup going 3-3 with a HR and 2 RBI. Meeks has some real pop in her bat and it will be interesting to see if she stays in the lineup.

Rhode Island: honestly, I'm not sure what to make of the Rams right now. URI fell to 0-10 after another winless weekend and while I didn't expect them to win any games it doesn't make me any less disappointed that they couldn't pull out at least one win. Clearly, the biggest issues for this squad are in the circle and honestly I'm just not sure what to make of them. Right now I'm not expecting to see the Rams in Charlotte, as they are not getting the job done and the rest of the A10 is looking pretty good right now. Jocelyn Mattison and Fallon Scorpio have looked good in their freshmen campaigns, but there have not been many other highlights. Brittany Julich also did not play at all this weekend, hopefully she will back soon as the Rams desperately missed her bat.

Monica Aguilar
St. Joseph's: I think I had some surprised readers after I made some bold predictions for St. Joseph's this year and this weekend the Hawks made a statement. While UMass and Fordham were off in California, St. Joseph's had a 3-1 weekend with wins over UNC (run rule), NC State, and Georgetown and one loss to NC State by 7-6 score. The Hawks are hitting .295 at the plate led by table-setter Dana Parks who is hitting .556 and Monica Aguilar who is hitting .400 with 9 RBI. Clearly, the top hitter poll at the top of the page was made a bit prematurely as both Parks and Aguilar are having great seasons. The offense has been producing so far this year, which has me very excited to see what they can do down in Clearwater over the next two weeks. In the circle, Erin Gallagher was on her game this weekend, but she was not alone as Lauren Pembleton and Taryn Ashway also had some stellar performances. Ashway did suffer the lone loss of the weekend to NC State, but she bounced back the next day to throw 5 innings of 3 hit relief while striking out 8. The Hawks got their defense under control this weekend and that seemed to make everything click. That game against UNC definitely let other teams know that St. Joe's is a force to be reckoned with this year.

St. Louis: The Billikens are on a roll! St. Louis is now on a six game winning streak after sweeping through UAB's Magic City Classic tournament. St. Louis beat some quality mid-major teams this weekend, including Radford, Lipscomb, and Stephen F. Austin. The Billikens also run-ruled Eastern Kentucky, which beat Charlotte twice the week before. It all started in the circle, as the Billikens allowed only two runs on the weekend, only one of which was earned. Hannah Huebbe has been the leader of this staff with solid performances in each of her appearances, but she is not alone, as Julian Austin and Kelcie Matesa bounced back after some rough outings to have very good weekends. The offense is continuing to put runs on the board and you can't ask them to do much more than that. Surprisingly, St. Louis' offense has been getting it done while All-A10 performer Kristin Nicoletti has struggled at the plate. The rest of the team has been getting it done at the plate, especially Kristain Burger who leads the squad with 3 HR and Rachel Faletto who is tops on the squad in terms of average. Just like St. Joseph's, the Billikens came ready to play this year and if they keep playing like they did this weekend it could be a very good year for the A10.

Temple: I came into 2011 thinking that the Owls would be better, but I was not expecting to see the opening weekend that they had. Temple went 3-2 on the weekend including a nice win over host school USF. Temple also gave Missouri a WCWS team from the past two years all it could handle before falling short 8-7. While it's clear the offense is a lot better, I think the biggest difference between this year's Temple squad and last year's is the pitching in the circle. Brooklin White, along with a healthy Crystal Nyman and Kristen Marris gives Coach DiPietro three solid pitchers that he can turn to and they showed that they can get the job done out there. I was very impressed with the way the Owls beat Western Michigan and Central Connecticut, two teams they needed to beat. I was completely surprised by the beatdown Temple put on USF, that game tells me that this team might even better than I thought. Rachel Knable is leading the charge hitting .400 with 1 HR and 8 RBI after just the 1st weekend of play. The Owls were very efficient on offense scoring 35 runs despite only 34 hits. Those are outstanding numbers, but they will be put to the test next weekend when Temple faces even tougher competition.

Sunday, February 27, 2011

Sunday Results

George Washington beat Iona 3-0
George Washington lost to Fairleigh Dickenson 7-5

Dayton beat Gardner-Webb 3-2

Rhode Island lost to Boston College 5-2

Charlotte beat Robert Morris 5-0

Temple beat USF 8-2

La Salle lost to USC Upstate 2-0

St. Louis beat Lipscomb 3-1

UMass lost to Texas 3-0
UMass lost to Fresno State 7-5

Saturday, February 26, 2011

Saturday Results

UMass lost to Oklahoma State 5-0

Fordham beat Nevada 6-2
Fordham lost to LSU 6-2

George Washington lost to Monmouth 2-1
George Washington beat Norfolk State 4-2

Dayton beat UNC Wilmington 4-0
Dayton beat Gardner-Webb 8-4

Charlotte lost to James Madison 3-2
Charlotte beat Seton Hall 8-0 (5 innings)

La Salle beat Lafayette 5-0

Rhode Island lost to Boston College 6-2
Rhode Island lost to Virginia Tech 10-2 (5 innings)

St. Joseph's beat UNC 8-0 (5 innings)
St. Joseph's beat NC State 5-3

St. Louis beat Eastern Kentucky 8-0 (5 innings)
St. Louis beat Radford 1-0 (8 innings)

Temple beat Central Connecticut State 14-6 (5 innings)
Temple lost to Illinois State 6-1

Friday, February 25, 2011

Friday Results

UMass lost to California 4-0
UMass lost to Washington 9-2

Fordham beat Cal State Fullerton 1-0

Charlotte beat Seton Hall 7-0
Charlotte lost to Robert Morris 11-7

St. Louis beat Stephen F. Austin 5-1

Dayton lost to Appalachian State 11-8
Dayton beat Gardner-Webb 4-3

St. Joseph's beat Georgetown 2-0
St. Joseph's lost to NC State 7-6

La Salle lost to Oakland 3-2
La Salle lost to Howard 9-1 (6 innings)

Rhode Island lost to Virginia Tech 5-0
Rhode Island lost to Coastal Carolina 4-0

Temple beat Western Michigan 5-4
Temple lost to #16 Missouri 8-7

Thursday, February 24, 2011

Weekday Results

Wednesday, February 23rd
Charlotte lost to South Carolina 6-0. The 49ers sent Katy Hackett out in the circle, but it would not be enough against a rejuvenated South Carolina squad. The Gamecocks had a solid day at the plate and in circle and the outcome of the game was never really in doubt. Tenaya Tucker picked up another hit at the plate and she extended her hitting streak to 9 games. However, 4 hits will not be enough for Charlotte to beat South Carolina or any other quality teams. Katy Hackett was okay in the circle, but South Carolina was all over her making her work very hard in her 7 innings.

Thursday, February 24th
Fordham beat #11 Texas 2-1. The Rams finally got two things that they had been missing this year: a complete game by Jen Mineau and a HR. Fordham knocked off a very tough Texas squad that was undefeated until last night. Nicole Callahan was stellar at the plate going 2-3 against Texas freshman pitcher Rachel Fox, but the big hit of the game came in the bottom of the 7th inning when Gabby Luety hit a walk off HR. The Rams had been suffering from a power outage this year so it was nice to see them finally send one deep. Fordham still has some issues on offense, but they are moving in the right direction.

Fordham takes a tough luck loss to #7 Washington 2-0. The Rams almost beat two undefeated teams in one night, but they could not get anything going against Washington's pitching. The worst part about it is that they wasted another outstanding pitching performance by Chelsea Plimpton, this time against one of the top run scoring squads in the nation this year. Washington's pitching is not incredibly tough, so it is a bit disappointing that Fordham couldn't get at least one run on the board. It could be a long season for the Rams if they are not able to put runs on the board, especially when they get great pitching performances.

Wednesday, February 23, 2011

Weekend Preview

UMass: The Minutewomen have an absolutely brutal stretch of games this weekend, including #7 Washington, #11 Texas, #14 California, #19 Oklahoma State, and Fresno State who is receiving votes in the latest poll. This game is going to show the country what this UMass squad is made of. If the Minutewomen can go 2-3 or better the rest of the A10 better watch out. Sara Plourde got a good taste of top competition last weekend against Michigan, I have a feeling she is going to be even better this weekend. UMass has some interesting storylines with its opponents this weekend, maybe the most intriguing a UMass-Washington rematch.

Fordham: The Rams slate of games this weekend is not to shabby either, as they will also see #7 Washington, #11 Texas, in addition to matchups against #20 LSU, Cal State Fullerton, and Nevada. The ranked opponents will test the Rams, but Cal State Fullerton and Nevada are two teams that are struggling a bit. I believe Fordham should beat both the Titans and Wolfpack, especially if the bats can get going. Once again I am very interested to see how Coach Orchard distributes the innings between Jen Mineau and Chelsea Plimpton. I wonder if she will be conscious of the fact that Coach Sortino will be there scouting.

St. Joseph's: The Hawks will head to Chapel Hill, NC this weekend for the Carolina Classic. St. Joe's will be matched up against UNC, NC State, Georgetown, and one other game which has yet to be determined. Georgetown is a very winnable game and the two Carolina schools are very young, but it they will be tough games for the Hawks. If Erin Gallagher is sharp in the circle, St. Joe's can hang with these teams, but if the Hawks play like they did last weekend, it could be a long trip.

Kristen Marris
Temple: The Owls start their season off down in Tampa, FL at USF's brand new softball stadium. Temple will see a good mix of teams this weekend including #16 Missouri and Illinois State who is receiving votes. USF and Western Michigan should also prove to be tough opponents for this young Temple squad. Temple does have a winnable matchup against Central Connecticut State. This is going to be a big year for Temple and it is important that the Owls get off to a good start. I think a 2-3 start would be a good one for the Owls this weekend.

Rhode Island: The Rams will head down to Coastal Carolina this weekend for some games vs. the host Coastal Carolina, from A10 rival Virginia Tech, and fellow northeast squad Boston College. The Rams need to improve on quite a few things from their first weekend of play. The pitchers need to cut down on the walks and HR and hopefully they will be able to start stronger this weekend. The Rams defense can use some work as well, I am hopeful that the Rams can pick up a win, but I'm not incredibly optimistic.

St. Louis: The Billikens may be in store for their toughest weekend of the season as well with two matchups against NCAA Regional teams from last year: Lipscomb and Radford. It that wasn't enough St. Louis will also face a Stephen F. Austin squad that is hungry for some wins. St. Louis is going to need to be sharp this weekend and that is something we just haven't seen out of them this year. The Billikens are going to be tested in all aspects of the game and I am curious to see how they react.

Dayton: This is a weekend that the Flyers need wins from. Dayton will be matched up against three of the weaker teams in North Carolina: UNC Wilmington, Appalachian State, and Gardner-Webb. Dayton needs to perform this weekend, especially since they will be going against Top 25 team Texas Tech next weekend. The Flyers aren't going to be facing great pitching this week so the offense needs to put some runs up on the board.

Charlotte: The 49ers have had an up and down season so far, up when Katy Hackett pitches and down when she doesn't. The level of competition has been raised this week, as the 49ers are bringing in the best group of teams they have seen so far this season with James Madison, Seton Hall, and Robert Morris. I am hopeful Charlotte can go at least 3-2, but I am just not sure that it can happen.

La Salle: The Explorers will open up their 2011 season at one of the lone remaining undefeated teams in division 1: USC Upstate. USC Upstate is going to be a big challenge for the Explorers, but fortunately La Salle also has some easier games. Much like George Washington, La Salle has not gotten off to great starts recently, so a solid opening weekend could do wonders for this squad.

George Washington: The Colonials will open up this weekend at Norfolk State with a good mix of challenging and winnable games. George Washington will have a big test against Iona, but it will be a good challenge for this squad. For the Colonials to have a good year, it needs to start this weekend with more than 1 win. This team was one of the worst teams statistically speaking in all of softball last year so a good start could right the ship right away.

St. Bonaventure: The Bonnies are the lone A10 team not to be in action this weekend. Maybe the extra practice time will help or maybe it will put them at a competitive disadvantage. Either way in the future I would like to see them start a little earlier.

Tuesday, February 22, 2011

Sunday, February 20, 2011

Sunday Results/Weekend Recap

UMass lost to Michigan 5-1. The Minutewomen finished the weekend with a 2-3, but overall it was not a bad weekend for the Minutewomen. UMass had a tough slate of games on the weekend, including two matchups with #10 Michigan. There were some highs for the weekend, but also some lows. And while I use the term "lows" they aren't necessarily all bad things. UMass' offense struggled on the weekend at times, but they also did face All-American Jordan Taylor for 11 innings. The defense also had its moments where the fielding had its lapses, but overall I think it was a good challenging weekend. Sara Plourde was downright dominant at times, but she also showed that she is still not completely back to normal. When she gets her stamina up the A10 better watch out as she has added a drop ball to her repitoire. Lindsey Webster was also effective in the circle in her one appearance and it will be interesting to see her innings moving forward. On offense, Kyllie Magill and Meg Carta led the way, but the surprise was the performance of Stephanie Mayne. Mayne stepped in and was solid all weekend in the DP spot. UMass will face an even bigger test next weekend at Palm Springs and both Sara Plourde and the offense will need to bring it.

Fordham lost to UAB 2-0. Maybe the Rams just don't like playing on Sundays or maybe the bats had an earlier flight back to New York either way Fordham's offense was not there against UAB. Chelsea Plimpton threw another solid game, this time without any relief support from Jen Mineau. The offense did pick it up a bit this weekend, but the power aspect of Fordham's game still hasn't appeared. There was a different lineup for almost every game this weekend. I honestly thought things had been somewhat figured out on Saturday especially when the offense had a 9 run output against DePaul. The Rams may need to rethink their offensive strategy and revert to small ball to move over runners. This team has me perplexed. We know Fordham has great pitching and defense, but this team does not look like the squad I saw in the A10 tournament last year. Fordham just needs to relax out there and put good swings on good pitches and the HR will eventually come. The Rams have some tough games in Palm Springs, but also a couple easy ones. I am curious to see how much or how little Jen Mineau is used in California.

Charlotte beat St. Francis 8-2. The 49ers bounced back after a rough Saturday to win their final game of the weekend. Katy Hackett was once again the star in the circle going 7 strong innings to improve to 4-1 on the year. Hackett is having a career year in the circle, but she is the only Charlotte pitcher who has proven she can throw a complete game. Right now it looks like the 49ers will finish .500, but it will be hard for Hackett to keep this pace during conference play. Katie Watkins and Kalie Lang have to keep the 49ers in games, if not there could be quite a few 5 inning games. At the plate, Charlotte is having a great year led by Tenaya Tucker who is having a career year. Tucker is leading the squad in HR and RBI and she has gotten some help this year from Jalisa Rock and Briana Gwaltney. The 49ers are doing pretty well at the plate, unfortunately their opponents are doing even better. This could be another long weekend for the 49ers with some quality teams coming in.

St. Joseph's lost to Coastal Carolina 8-2. The Hawks had a rough Sunday falling 8-2 to Coastal Carolina. St. Joe's had a rough 1st weekend on defense and in the circle, but surprisingly the offense did well. The Hawks' offense was not very strong last year so it is promising to see St. Joe's break out the bats. Dana Parks led the way hitting a scorching .556 and Laura Cardone was on her game as well hitting .444. These two table setters got the job done at the top of the order and Dana Bieniek and Monica Aguilar did a good job behind them. Maria Ficca also did a solid job in her 1st weekend, but the rest of the freshmen Hawks struggled at the plate. The defense for St. Joe's struggled at times, especially up the middle. If St. Joe's can improve their defense I think the Hawks will be able to cut down some runs. In the circle, Erin Gallagher bounced back after a rough start to have a decent weekend. Gallagher still has room to improve, including cutting down on extra base hits. Taryn Ashway and Lauren Pembleton were solid at times, but at others offenses were able to get to them. This weekend the Hawks will face some quality teams in ACC opponents UNC and NC State and hopefully they will be better prepared this weekend.

St. Louis beat Georgetown 7-5. The Billikens ended the weekend with another 3-2 finish upping their record to 6-4 on the year. To be perfectly honest, St. Louis should have gone 4-1 on the weekend. Other than a drubbing at the hands of Michigan State, St. Louis was competitive in every game. The Billikens offense slipped a little bit this weekend, but they still kept putting runs on the board. Kristain Burger, Tori Holland, Kerri Dockins, and Rachel Faletto have been the leaders at the plate, leading the squad in HR and RBI. St. Louis' issues have not been at the plate, but in the circle. The Billikens' pitching staff now has a 5.54 ERA on the year. Hannah Huebbe has had the best year so far of any St. Louis pitcher with a 3-0 record and a 2.74 ERA. Julian Austin and Kelcie Matesa have been solid at times, but they have also been prone to giving up a lot of runs. St. Louis' defense also struggled this weekend, after a very good performance last weekend. Coach Connoyer does not seem to be as comfortable with attempting SB, as Coach Conway was. Unfortunately for the Billikens, the opponents have not had any trouble running on them.  

Dayton beat Morgan State 8-7 and lost to Elon 4-0. The Flyers ended the weekend with a 1-3 mark, but they were able to score a win on Sunday. One of the positives of this weekend was the solid performance of Dayton's freshmen class, unfortunately most of them did their damage coming off the bench. I am expecting that they will be in the starting this weekend. Dayton had an okay weekend at the plate, but the pitching just isn't there yet. Alysha Isaacson had the best weekend of any Dayton pitcher, but she was not given a single start this weekend. Isaacson offers a different look as a lefty pitcher and I am curious to see how she develops over the course of this season. Kathleen Maloof was the Flyers steadiest bat at the plate, hitting .333, but she was also the only Flyer to hit above .300 and start all four games. Dayton will need to step it up this weekend, as they will have another slate of winnable games this weekend. Action will only get tougher when the Flyers start A10 play so they need to make the most of these games.

Saturday, February 19, 2011

Saturday Results

UMass lost to Michigan 3-0 and beat FAU 6-1. Sara Plourde of UMass and Jordan Taylor of Michigan matched up in a high profile pitchers duel in game 1 of the day and it was a pretty good one. Plourde threw a 4-hitter and struck out 12 in 7 innings, but 2 of those hits were solo HR. The UMass defense also let her down committing 2 errors which led to another Wolverine run. Jordan Taylor had the Minutewomen fooled all day and allowed just 1 hit and struck out 10. Jordan Storro had the lone hit for UMass against Michigan. Game 2 went much better for UMass as the bats finally heated up and pushed out 10 hits and scored 6 runs. One of the breakout stars at the plate for UMass was Stephanie Mayne who reached base all four plate appearances including two basehits and an RBI. The big blow of the day was a 3-run HR by Katie Bettencourt, which blow the game wide open. Meg Carta and Kyllie Magill also added two hits in the offensive output. Plourde struggled with her control a little bit walking 5, but she only allowed 3 hits and she struck out 12 Owl batters.

Jocelyn Dearborn
Fordham beat Indiana 2-0 and DePaul 9-3. The Rams added two more wins after snapping a four game losing streak yesterday. Coach Orchard seems to have figured out a system that works with her two pitchers, starting Chelsea Plimpton before closing with Jen Mineau. Mineau has been very good out of the bullpen, though her strikeout and walk numbers are up so I'm not sure what to make of her performance so far. Maybe she has become a smarter pitcher who is not reliant on strikeouts? Gabby Luety is becoming a force in the middle of the Rams lineup as she drove both runs home in the game vs. Indiana. In game 2, it was the Nicole Callahan and Jocelyn Dearborn show, as those two combined to go 7-8 with 4 RBI. It was nice to see the Fordham offense break out against a solid DePaul team, but Coach Orchard is still searching for her lineup. The runs finally came, but when will the HR come.

Charlotte lost twice to Eastern Kentucky 12-4 in 5 innings and 6-5. After having a very good day yesterday, nothing seemed to go right today for Charlotte. Kalie Lang and Katie Watkins couldn't make it through 5 innings again and once again the 49ers were looking up at a very lopsided number on the scoreboard. Game 2 was even more frustrating, as the 49ers were up 5-0 heading into the top of the 7th and they allowed 6 runs to EKU and to lose. Katy Hackett finally struggled in that last inning, but otherwise she had a solid game. Charlotte really needs to take it one step at a time and play for each out and each pitch tomorrow to bounce back from this rough day. The offense once again put runs on the board though there were not any HR on the afternoon. Sophomores Nikki Gayle and Chelsea Stamey were responsible for 2 rbi in the 1st game and Kalie Lang had the other. In game 2, Tenaya Tucker, Chelsea Ingersoll, and Briana Gwaltney had solid days at the plate as well. Charlotte's defense struggled today committing 4 errors, that will need to improve tomorrow.

St. Louis lost 3-2 to Georgetown and beat Florida Gulf Coast 2-0. Julian Austin took the tough luck loss in game 1 against Georgetown, but she is proving to be quite the pitcher for St. Louis. The Billikens had 6 hits, but they were only able to score two runs. However, the 4 errors that St. Louis committed are an unacceptable number. Coach Connoyer cannot be pleased with that number. In game 2 vs. Florida Gulf Coast, Hannah Huebbe had the FGCU hitters fooled as she threw a 3-hitter with 8 SO. Thankfully, FGCU did not make Huebbe pay for allowing 9 free passes. So it was a solid performance for Huebbe, but there is definitely still room for improvement. The offense put up 5 hits, including a HR by Kristain Burger, a 3B by Tori Holland, and a 2B for Rachel Falletto. The Billikens have a rematch against the Hoyas tomorrow and I think they are going to come out swinging.

St. Joseph's beat Bucknell 8-5 and James Madison 3-2. The Hawks bounced back in style picking up two wins on the day and they showed off some offense and good pitching. Erin Gallagher picked up two wins on the day and bounced back very nicely from a rough day on Friday. Taryn Ashway also improved on her performance from yesterday. The top of St. Joe's order gave their opponents fits all day with their speed and bat control. St. Joe's came through with the clutch hits today including ones by Dana Bienek, Taylor Korpita, and Lindsey Williams. The Hawks committed 5 errors against JMU, but against Bucknell the defense recovered for a flawless game. St. Joe's success comes from doing all of the little things right on defense and at the plate and it appears as though they are finally getting back to that. The Hawks will get a rematch against Coastal Carolina tomorrow

Dayton lost 4-1 to Seton Hall and 5-0 to Elon. The Flyers started their season and they got off to a mediocre start. The pitching was okay and the bats put up 6 hits in each game, but they will need to do better tomorrow. If the Flyers can only put up one run against these two teams, it may be a long year for Dayton especially in A10 play. One bright spot was the relief pitching of Alysha Isaacson who tossed 4 scoreless innings. I think she may have done enough to deserve a start tomorrow for the Flyers. On offense, Kathleen Maloof and Dana Trotta each had multi-hit games, but the rest of the team couldn't string hits together. The Flyers need to show some power at the plate as only one 2B at the plate is not going to cut it. The 3 errors that Dayton committed won't help either.

Friday, February 18, 2011

Friday Results

Kyllie Magill
UMass beat Penn State  10-0 in 6 innings and fell to Tulsa 3-1 in 9 innings. Sara Plourde has bounced back from last year's injury and she looks to be better than ever. She was in command all game allowing just four balls to be put in play. Of the 18 outs in the game Plourde recorded 15 of them via strikeout. Penn State only managed one hit against Plourde, but they had more than just offensive problems. UMass was feeling at the plate in game 1 recording 10 runs and 9 hits. Katie Bettencourt led the way for the Minutewomen going 2-3 with 3 runs scored and a grand slam HR, Megan Carta and Kyllie Magill combined to go 5-7 with 3 RBI and Audrey Boutin added a solo HR. Game 2 against Tulsa did not go quite as well for UMass. Lindsey Webster got the start in the circle and was working out of jams all day long. Webster was very gritty and did not look like a freshman out there and only allowed 1 run through 8 innings before the Golden Hurricanes finally broke through in the 9th. UMass had issues all day long at the plate driving in runners and besides a Sac Fly by Kyllie Magill they could not get anyone home. The bottom of the order was one of the bright spots for UMass in this game, as Jordan Storro, Cyndil Matthew, and Christine Della Vecchia went 4-8 against Tulsa. UMass seemed to have the  momentum, but Tulsa brought in Aimee Creger and she dominated the Minutewomen. Tomorrow is going to be a tough day for the Minutewomen, but who isn't excited about a potential Jordan Taylor-Sara Plourde matchup.

Fordham beat USF 1-0 in 8 innings and fell to Ole Miss 5-3. Fordham got off to a rough start dropping its fourth straight game on the year against Ole Miss. The Rebels figured Chelsea Plimpton out and the offense couldn't make up the difference. Jen Mineau came in for some relief and threw some solid innings of relief. It is still unclear what is going on with her. Gabby Luety and Beckah Wiggins combined to drive in all three runs, but the Rams still do not have a HR. Ole Miss is a solid team, but one that Fordham should beat. Thankfully, the Rams finished the day on a high note. Fordham knocked off host USF 1-0 in 8 innings. Chelsea Plimpton and Jen Mineau combined to throw a 3 hitter against the Bulls . They split the innings in the USF game, making us ponder Jen Mineau's current stamina in the circle. She was effective, but can she pitch the whole game? The offense struggled again in game 2 picking up just 5 hits. Jocelyn Dearborn led the way going 2-4 with the game-winning RBI. Coach Orchard is obviously frustrated with her squad right now, as she continues to shake up the lineup. It may take a little more time to figure out the lineup, but it will happen eventually. Fordham has too much talent to stay down this long.

St. Joseph's lost to James Madison 6-5 and Coastal Carolina 5-1. The Hawks had a rough start in 2011 falling twice in Conway, SC. The St. Joe's offense was actually pretty solid on the day hitting .293, but surprisingly the Hawks' struggles were in the circle. Lauren Pembleton got off to a strong start in 2011 out of the bullpen, as she did not allow a single run in her relief appearances. Erin Gallagher got off to a rocky start, but she got back to her normal self in relief against Coastal. Now that the first two games are out of the way I think St. Joe's will bounce back much stronger on Saturday. I was impressed with the way the offense hit the ball, but I want to see more HR. Laura Cardone, Dana Parks, and Bernadette Moran were a formidable trio at the top of the order, but the bottom of the order was not able to do the same. There were 3 starters that only combined for a single hit. If Erin Gallagher and Taryn Ashway can bounce back from tough starts tomorrow the Hawks will be in good shape.

St. Louis beat Villanova 5-4 and lost to Michigan State 9-0 in 5 innings. The Billikens did exactly what I wanted to see them do in one game, which was show off some power. Tori Holland got it going against Villanova hitting a grand slam to erase a 4-0 deficit. Then with a tie game on the line Kristin Burger stepped up and hit a solo HR to take the lead. Hannah Huebbe struggled against the Wildcats early on, but she was able to bear down and shut down the Wildcats. The second game of the day was just plain ugly as St. Louis lost to Michigan State 9-0 in 5 innings. The offense, defense, and special teams (just kidding pitching) struggled. Julian Austin and Kelcie Matesa walked batters and gave up hits and runs, I guess the only positive was that they kept the ball in the ballpark. The defense committed two errors just adding to the rough the Billikens had. Burger and Kristin Nicoletti were the only St. Louis players to record a hit against Michigan State. St. Louis needs to forget the Michigan State game and take the positives from the win against Villanova.

Charlotte  beat St. Francis 10-2 in 5 innings and UNC Greensboro 3-0. Charlotte finally stepped it up and played two complete games and most importantly the pitching was there. Katy Hackett took down another UNC school firing a 4-hit shutout with 15 SO. Hackett had the Spartan hitters fooled all day and her teammates were able to put some runs on the scoreboard for her. In the other game, Katie Watkins and Kalie Lang didn't get through 7 innings, but thankfully they were on the other side of it this time. The 49ers were helped by a career day from Briana Gwaltney who hit 2 HR with 5 RBI. Jalisa Rock and Tenaya Tucker also had multiple hits in the game. It was a bit tougher against UNCG and Cory Mattson, but the 49ers showed their patience at the plate drawing 8 BB. Tenaya Tucker continued her hot streak at the plate going 3-4 with another HR. Rock added another hit in the game as well, continuing a solid day for the Freshman. Charlotte needs to continue to execute on Saturday and pick up two more wins.

Thursday, February 17, 2011

Coach Sortino previews UMass' 2011 Season

She is very excited about UMass' young squad in 2011 and so are we!

Elsewhere Coach Connoyer preview's SLU's weekend in Ft. Myers

Week 2 Action

Week 2 will see more teams in action for the A10 and hopefully some better results

UMass and St. Joseph's will start play and I am looking for big things from these two teams.

UMass will see matchups vs. #11 Michigan, Tulsa, Penn State, FAU, and one other matchup to be determined. UMass is going to be tested right away with five games scheduled against quality opponents. Michigan, Tulsa, and Penn State will show the UMass lineup tough looks from the circle. Tulsa relies on a deep staff, while Michigan and Penn State usually rely on just two.. I am expecting to see All-American Jordan Taylor in the circle and we should be able to tell just how good this team will be. Sara Plourde is back and according to Coach Sortino she is better than ever, both freshmen pitchers should help her out in the circle and I am expecting this pitching staff to put up big numbers.

St. Joseph's will face James Madison, Coastal Carolina, and Bucknell. I think the Hawks are going to have a special season this year and that sort of year begins by getting off to a solid start. The Hawks aren't facing great pitching or great offenses so all they need to do is go out and take care of business. Erin Gallagher is going to keep the Hawks in most games that she pitches, so it is up to the offense to do the same. The Hawks' offense was weak at times last year and the team's success is going to depend on the output from the plate.

Charlotte, Fordham, and St. Louis will also be in action again this weekend

Charlotte will see a fairly easy slate of games with matchups against St. Francis, UNC Greensboro, and Eastern Kentucky. I guess the biggest lingering question after this past weekend is can Charlotte play more than 5 innings in a game that Katy Hackett doesn't pitch? Honestly, if the 49ers can't rally to do it this weekend, I'm not sure they can do it. This is one of the easiest weekends on the year for Charlotte and anything less than 4 wins is going to be a disappointment. I want to see Katy Hackett continue her strong performance in the circle and I want to see the offense pour it on at the plate. It's time for Charlotte to take care of business.

Kristin Nicoletti
Fordham is going to have more tough games this weekend including UAB, USF, Indiana, DePaul, and Ole Miss. I am expecting a big bounce back weekend for Fordham, specifically for the offense. Indiana, USF, and DePaul all have solid pitching, but I am expecting the Rams to be ready this weekend. The pitching is there with Chelsea Plimpton in the circle, although I am not sure how much we will see of Jen Mineau. Jocelyn Dearborn and Samantha Pellechio were the leaders last weekend at the plate, I am expecting that they will get more help from Co-A10 Player of the Year Beckah Wiggins and A10 Rookie of the Year Jamie LaBovick. I think there will be quite a few "See Ya's" this weekend.

St. Louis is going down to Ft. Myers, FL to face Villanova, Michigan State, Georgetown, and Florida Gulf Coast. The Billikens had a fairly easy opening weekend in terms of scheduling so they will need to step it up if they want to see another 3-2 record. The Billikens have a three headed monster in the circle with Julian Austin, Kelcie Matesa, and Hannah Huebbe, but we need to see Coach Connoyer do a better job of managing her staff. She needs a quicker hook when pitchers are struggling. The offense was on at times, but they didn't show much power and that is not going to work this weekend. St. Louis needs all aspects of its offense to be on.

Tuesday, February 15, 2011

Stat Leaders

Chelsea Plimpton
Batting Average
1. St. Louis .348
2. Charlotte .260
3. Rhode Island  .205
4. Fordham .176

1. Fordham 2.33
2. St. Louis 6.19
3. Charlotte 10.44
4. Rhode Island 11.00

Fielding Percentage
1. Fordham .981
2. St. Louis .971
3. Charlotte .964
4. Rhode Island .940

1. St. Louis 8
2. Charlotte 5
3. Fordham 2
4. Rhode Island 0

1. St. Louis 26
2. Charlotte 18
3. Rhode Island 10
4. Fordham 2

1. Kerri Dockins, SLU .556
2. Rachel Faletto, SLU .538
3. Laura Bohning, SLU .444

1. Nicole Massoni, URI 2
2. Tenaya Tucker, UNCC 1
2. Kalie Lang, UNCC 1

1. Tenaya Tucker, UNCC 7
2. Aly Brand, SLU 6
3. 2 tied with 4

1. Kristin Nicoletti, SLU 3
1. Whitney Williams, UNCC 3
3. Rachel Faletto, SLU 2

1. Jen Mineau, FOR, 1.00
2. Chelsea Plimpton, FOR, 1.17
3. Katy Hackett, UNCC, 1.93

1. Katy Hackett, UNCC 2
2. 4 tied with 1

1. Chelsea Plimpton, FOR 22
2. Allison Hartzell, URI 13
2. Kelcie Matesa, SLU 13

1. Chelsea Plimpton, FOR 18.0
2. Allison Hartzell, URI 16.2
3. Katy Hackett, UNCC 14.0

Week 1 by the numbers

0: Baserunners for Rhode Island in its 1st two games of the year
0.176: Fordham's batting average
1: Weekend to forget
2: Runs scored by Fordham this weekend
3: Wins for St. Louis, the best total for any of the A10 teams in action
4: HR hit by all the teams in action this weekend
6: Run-rule losses for A10 teams this weekend (0 run-rule wins)
8: Hits given up by Jen Mineau in only 7 innings of work
10.44: Charlotte's team ERA
11.00: URI's team ERA
12: losses by A10 teams this weekend
21: Runs allowed by St. Louis in its final two games of the weekend
22: SO for Chelsea Plimpton
22.24: Kalie Lang's ERA
31: BB given up by URI

Weekly Awards 2/14

As chosen by me:

Player of the week: Rachel Faletto, 3B, St. Louis
Faletto was on fire this weekend hitting a scorching 0.538 at the plate with 7 hits, 3 RBI, and 2 SB. The only hit missing from her weekend was a HR, as she tallied 3 doubles and 1 triple. Faletto has some nice pop in her bat and it will be interesting to see if she can keep it up against tougher competition. Faletto was also solid during her time in the field, as she did not commit an error. Maybe Faletto is in store for a breakout year, but at this point it's too early to tell.

Pitcher of the week: Chelsea Plimpton, P, Fordham
Plimpton had a very good weekend in the circle for the Rams going 1-2 with a 1.17 ERA and 22 SO in 18 IP. She saw the lion's share of work in the circle and honestly the Rams didn't really miss Jen Mineau's presence. Plimpton put them in a position to win each game which is all you can ask from your pitcher. She could have easily gone 3-0 if the Rams could have scored more than two runs on the weekend. Plimpton didn't allow many baserunners giving up only 11 hits and 3 BB. If she continues throwing like this there might be another contender for A10 Pitcher of the Year.

Rookie of the week: Jessica Van Nostrand, SS, St. Louis
Van Nostrand made an immmediate impact on the Billikens' lineup hitting 0.417 on the weekend with 5 hits and 3 RBI. She was also able to come around and score 3 of St. Louis' runs on the weekend. Van Nostrand gives the Billikens a solid right handed bat out of the bottom of the order (for now) and if she keeps hitting like this she may be the A10 Rookie of the Year. Just as impressive as her contributions at the plate were her contributions in the field, as Van Nostrand played flawless defense in the shortstop position. It looks like St. Louis has a special one on its hands

Sunday, February 13, 2011

Sunday Results

Fordham finished off its opening weekend by falling 3-1 to Georgia Tech and 1-0 to Chattanooga. We now know two things about this year's Fordham team: Chelsea Plimpton is a very effective pitcher and maybe if she was pitched a little more last year we would be seeing more of Jen Mineau, but my second point is that this offense is STRUGGLING. Fordham did face some good pitching this weekend, but they were only able to put up two runs. Of the 18 hits the Rams had, Jocelyn Dearborn and Samantha Pellechio had 4 each, needless to say I think Fordham will be working very hard in the cage this week. The defense and pitching kept them in the games, but the offense couldn't come through. Fordham needed two wins this weekend, as the next few tournaments the Rams play in are even tougher.

Charlotte lost to Iona 11-3 and beat UNC Wilmington 4-2 for the A10's lone win on Sunday. The 49ers are going to be an interesting team to watch in 2011, as they were all over the place this weekend. Katy Hackett cemented her spot as Charlotte's number 1 going 2-0 with a 1.93 ERA and 12 SO in 14.0, of course she did not face the same caliber competition as Charlotte's other two pitchers. I came into the season with questions abut those pitchers and now I see why Katie Watkins and Kalie Lang were thrown to the wolves (so to speak) and finished the weekend with ERAs of 20.25 and 22.24 respectively. I am hoping those numbers will drop in the coming weeks, if not Coach DeVos will need to start putting Katy Hackett out there a little more or the 49ers will be in big trouble. The offense was decent this weekend and five starters finished with BAs over 0.300. I would like to see Coach DeVos run a little bit more since the 49ers are not a big threat with the longball. Charlotte will see even easier opponents next week and run-rules losses will not be acceptable.

URI finished its tough opening weekend by being run-ruled by Arkansas 8-0 in 5 innings. Well it was ugly on many levels this weekend for the Rams from being held without a baserunner on Friday, to two one-run losses on Saturday, this was just a weekend to forget. On Saturday, URI was able to get on the board putting up 10 runs. Nicole Massoni was the star at the plate for the Rams hitting 2 HR with 4 RBI. Brittany Julich was no slouch either leading the squad with a 0.417 BA and 5 hits on the weekend. Freshman Jocelyn Mattison got off to a strong start hitting 0.308 on the weekend. In the circle, there weren't many positives as there were a lot of walks and hits. The Rams allowed more than a walk per inning and 2 hits per innings, not the greatest numbers for winning games. Not a single Ram pitcher finished with an ERA below 9.00. Hopefully, these two weeks off can give the Rams a good chance to get back to basics.

St. Louis lost 11-3 in 5 innings to UT Martin. The Billikens got off to a strong start this weekend, but it came crashing down in the last two games. Sunday's game was a complete disaster as UT Martin was all over Kelcie Matesa. Matesa could not get in a rhythm at all as the Skyhawks put up 11 runs in the 1st two innings. It put the offense in too big of a hole to get out of. The Billikens got some runners on base, but they just couldn't pull it together. This weekend we learned that St. Louis has a pretty decent offense and defense, but the pitching needs to be worked on. Julian Austin had a solid debut weekend going 1-1 with a 3.65 ERA to lead the squad. Matesa and Hannah Huebbe were on their game at times, during others no so much. At the plate nine Billikens ended the weekend with BA over 0.300, however they did not manage a single HR. Jessica Van Nostrand made an early case for A10 Rookie of the Year hitting 0.417 with 3 RBI and she also played flawless defense at shortstop. The competition is going to get a little tougher at Florida Gulf Coast, but I think the Billikens should still be able to pick up 3 wins again next weekend.

So far it was been an ugly day for the A10...who's looking forward to next weekend when UMass and St. Joseph's return to the field?

Saturday, February 12, 2011

Saturday Results

Charlotte beat UNC Wilmington 6-1 and lost to Virginia Tech 16-5. The Charlotte offense showed up in both games and Katy Hackett was solid in game 1, but pitching was a disaster in game 2. Katie Watkins and Kalie Lang struggled vs. Virginia Tech as the Hokies put up 16 runs. Whitney Williams, Lorena Vela, Kendra McCall, and Kalie Lang all had great days at the plate hitting over 0.300 and combining to drive in 7 of the 10 runs, in addition that combination of players scored 7 of the 11 runs the 49ers scored. The 49ers will look to bounce back today against Iona and a team TBD.

Fordham lost to  #18 Georgia Tech 6-0 and beat FAU 1-0. Fordham started off the day by blanking FAU behind a 3-hit, 11 SO performance by Chelsea Plimpton. Plimpton made a strong case for more innings this year  in her 1st start. The offense on the other hand struggled all day putting up only 8 hits. Samantha Pellechio had two of them, while everyone else struggled to get in rhythm. Jen Mineau was uncharacteristically off against Georgia Tech allowing 5 hits, a surprising 3 BB, and recorded just 5 SO in 5 innings of work. It will be interesting to see if she can bounce back today.

Rhode Island lost to Sam Houston State 5-4 and Prairie View A&M 7-6. At least Day 2 went a little better than Day 1 and the Rams finally got baserunners, hits, and runs. Nicole Massoni had a big day at the plate going 3-7 with 3 HR and 4 RBI. The rest of the Rams were pretty good at the plate as well racking up 21 hits between the two games, unfortunately it wasn't enough. Once again URI's pitching struggled, allowing hits is one thing, but the 10 BBs is unacceptable. In addition, the defense was not at its best either committing 5 errors between the two games. URI should be at the point in its development where it can beat a weaker SWAC team.

St. Louis beat  Akron 11-4 and Nicholls State 3-0, but fell to SE Louisiana 10-8. The Billikens probably had the best day of any A10 team going 2-1. It would have been even better if they didn't have to play a 3rd game. Just like URI, the Billiken bats awoke putting up 21 runs over the three games they played. Freshman SS Jessica Van Nostrand had a great day at the plate going 5-9 with 3 RBI. St. Louis' pitching was for the most part solid with Kelcie Matesa and Julian Austin picking up wins on the day. Against SE Louisiana, I think the Billikens were exhausted and it showed. I am going to write that game off as poor scheduling and once again SLU took care of business.

A10 opens 2011

There were mixed opening day results for the A10, as St. Louis beat Southern 1-0 and Rhode Island was hammered by Louisiana-Lafayette 14-0 and 20-0 and did not record a single baserunner in either game.

St. Louis' pitching was stellar as Kelcie Matesa and Hannah Huebbe combined on a 3-hitter and allowed just 11 SO. The offense was led by Rachel Faletto who was 2-3 with the lone RBI in the game. Kerri Dockins also had a solid game picking up two hits, but the other seven players were only able to combine for one hit. The Billikens may have struggled at the plate, but in the end they took care of business.

There weren't many positives for URI on opening day, I guess one would be Sam Bedore's debut in the circle. Bedore had a rough time in the 1st game, but she bounced back in the 2nd game to toss a scoreless inning. One of the positives on the day, I guess, was that the Rams only committed two errors on the day.

I am expecting Day 2 to go a lot better, both Charlotte and Fordham will kickoff their seasons today.

Season Preview: UMass

UMass Minutewomen
Record (A10 Play): 42-10-1 (17-0-1)
Coach (Record): Elaine Sortino, 31st (1100-457-6)
Returning Starters: Katie Bettencourt RF, Kyllie Magill 2B, Meg Carta C, Teea Rogers 3B, Audrey Boutin 1B
Other Returnees: Cyndil Matthew CF, Christine Della Vecchia IF/OF, Jordan Storro SS, Stephanie Mayne C/3B, Stephanie Mix OF
Key Losses: Carly Normandin CF, Sarah Reeves 1B, Michelle Libby LF, Whitney Williams SS, Jessica Serio C/DP, Bailey Sanders P, Jill Andrews OF
Newcomers: Sam Gray C/IF, Paige Hansen IF, Tiffany Meeks IF, Maggie Quealy 1B, Caroline Raymond P, Candace Waldie UT, Lindsey Webster P/OF

Kyllie Magill
After Day 3 of the A10 tournament, it looked like UMass would its streak of consecutive A10 titles come to an end. On Day 4, UMass showed why it was the defending champions and threw everything they had at Jen Mineau and Fordham and it was quite a bit, as UMass beat Fordham twice to win the A10 Championship. This year it may be even tougher to repeat, as Fordham returns all but one starter and UMass loses five from last year. There are a few other variables that come into play, for one Coach Elaine Sortino. Coach Sortino is one of the best in the game and she knows how to get the most out of her team come crunch time. This year the Minutewomen are a very young, but talented squad. The biggest thing for the Minutewomen is the return of Sara Plourde, who finished 2010 on a poor note. Plourde finally encountered an injury at the end of the year after throwing 311.1 IP with 556 SO, 40-8 record, with a 1.30 ERA. Plourde got surgery to fix the problem and rested the whole fall. The one other intangible UMass has is a clutch player. Quiet, unassuming, not the flashiest, but when UMass needed her most Kyllie Magill came through. If Magill can perform that way this season she could be the top player in the A10.

Sara Plourde
In the circle, Plourde is back, in so many senses of the word. I think her goals for 2011 are to stay healthy the whole year and to keep the ball in the playing field. For Plourde to be fresh at the end of the year she cannot throw over 300 innings again. Plourde is a riseball pitcher and when her legs are fresh her pitches jump. She had some very impressive performances in 2010, including a 1-hitter with 18 SO against Fordham, a 1-hitter with 20 SO against BC, a 1-hitter with 22 SO against Texas A&M in 9 innings, and a no-hitter against Illinois State with 18 SO. She is a stellar pitcher and with her in the circle, UMass has the opportunity to beat any team they go up against. She will have a little more help in the circle this year, as freshmen Lindsey Webster and Caroline Raymond join the ranks in the circle. Webster is going to offer a very different look from Plourde in the circle, as she does not throw quite as hard, but she is more of a drop ball pitcher, which will allow Coach Sortino to offer opponents different looks in the circle. Caroline Raymond is a tall Jennie Finch look a like, but it will be interesting to see if she can pitch like Finch too. She can bring it with some speed, but she is still a little raw, if she can fine tune some things UMass' pitching staff could be scary good in 2011.

Katie Bettencourt
At the plate, All-American Carly Normandin has graduated, A10 Tournament MVP Sarah Reeves has graduated, and 4 year starters Jess Serio and Whitney Williams have graduated leaving big holes in the lineup. The good news for UMass is that co-A10 Player of the Year Katie Bettencourt is back, along with the previously mentioned Kyllie Magill. These two players are going to be counted on to lead the way at the plate, also back is catcher Meg Carta who had an impressive season at the plate in her first year starting. Other than those three, just about every position is up for grabs. After fall ball, it looks like some of the earlier season favorites are Jordan Storro at SS, Cyndil Matthew CF, and Tiffany Meeks at DP. Meeks has a real nice bat at the plate and she should replace some of the power lost from last year's senior class. Matthew is a very fast slapper who will give the Minutewomen a real threat on the basepaths. Storro is a pure athlete who is very versatile, she will need to step up her hitting to cement her spot at the plate. It is going to be interesting to see how this team comes together at the plate.

On defense, the Minutewomen were one of the top fielding teams in the country along with Fordham last year. There is going to be some significant turnover on the defense with a new SS, 1B, CF, and LF at the bare minimum. It is going to be tough for UMass to match last year's defense, but Coach Sortino will have her squad ready. One area I want to see improvement in is throwing out base stealers. Meg Carta threw out only 10 of 64 basestealers, this number needs to improve in 2011. Sara Plourde does not allow many runners and if Carta can show off her arm behind the plate the Minutewomen will be able to keep runners out of scoring position. UMass has the talent and once again the title will go through Amherst in one way or another.

Once again, the Minutewomen will play a challenging schedule in 2011, highlighted by games against Michigan, California, Georgia Tech, Washington, and Oklahoma State. The Minutewomen will be tested from the get go and we will see how the offense performs against some very good pitching. The Minutewomen will be on the road for the first 26 games of the year. 2011 is going to be a challenging year for UMass, but with only 2 seniors on this squad, this squad is going to be even tougher in 2012. The A10 title will come down to UMass and Fordham and it will be interesting to see this battle once again in 2011. Mineau vs Plourde it doesn't get any better than this.

Friday, February 11, 2011

Season Preview: Fordham

Fordham Rams
Record (A10 Play): 49-12 (16-2)
Coach (Record): Bridget Orchard
Returning Starters: Jamie LaBovick 1B/P, Beckah Wiggins 2B, Jocelyn Dearborn CF/3B, Samantha Pellechio SS, Megan Shager C, Lindsey Kay Bright LF, Nicole Callahan DP, Jessica Richards RF
Other Returnees: Chelsea Palumbo IF, Jess Crowley OF, Kat VanBenschoten OF, Jo Krasnisky UT, Brittany Longo UT
Key Losses: Erin Fisher OF
Newcomers: Gabby Luety C/1B, Becca Griswold 3B, Christina Siesta UT, Brianna Ciuffi OF

2011, this is supposed to be Fordham's year. The Rams return all but one starter from last year, while UMass loses seven seniors from last year's squad. Everything on paper says the Fordham will win the A10 title this year, but as the Minutewomen showed on that final day of the A10 tournament it won't be that easy. UMass is not going to give up that title, Fordham will have to leave everything on the field and wrestle it away. Fordham returns the pitching, the power, the postseason experience, but will it add up to a title? The games on April 29th and 30th will be crucial for both the Rams and Minutewomen. The good thing for the Rams is that the UMass Softball Complex isn't the complete house of horrors that it once was, though plenty of bad memories still linger there.
Jen Mineau
In the circle, not too many other teams have the kind of ace that Fordham does. Jen Mineau is one of the top pitchers in the nation and she has received the accolades to show for it. Mineau was named a 1st team Louisville Slugger/NFCA All-American, a Top 10 finalist for USA Softball's player of the year award, All-Atlantic 10, and All-ECAC. She has also been picked as an ESPN preseason All-American. Mineau has a complete game in the circle with the speed, the movement, and the pinpoint control. In 2011, I want to see her take it to another level. I want to see Mineau mix in more change-ups and miss pitches off the plate. Some people may look at that as an odd comment, but Mineau gets into trouble when she gets too cute with her pitches and leaves them over the plate. Sometimes a walk is not the worst thing in the world, when the alternative could be a ball flying over the outfield fence. She has such outstanding movement, but if utilizes her changeup even more she can really keep hitters on their toes. Mineau is a great pitcher, but she must do a better job of keeping the ball in the park. Another thing to fuel Mineau's fire in the circle will be the fact that she lost out on the A10 Pitcher of the Year and ECAC Pitcher of the Year awards to Sara Plourde. Mineau will once again be joined in the circle by fellow New Yorker Chelsea Plimpton. Plimpton is a very good pitcher in her own right and had a very nice season in 2010, despite seeing somewhat limited action, going 11-2 with a 1.57 ERA with 100 SO in 93.1 IP. I feel that she needs to see more work in 2011, in order to keep Mineau fresh for a stretch run. Jamie LaBovick is also back in the circle, after facing some illegal pitch demons, which kept her out of the circle towards the end of the season, she is back. LaBovick just like Plimpton will play an important role in 2011 in keeping Mineau healthy, that is when she's not crushing bombs at the plate.

Beckah Wiggins
LaBovick led the Rams is 2010, with a 0.342 BA and was honored for it by being named A10 Rookie of the Year. She will have some help as Co-A10 Player of the Year Beckah Wiggins, Jocelyn Dearborn and Samantha Pellechio are all back as well. The Rams do not get cheated at the plate, Coach Orchard like to let the Rams swing away and she heard quite a few "See yeah's" in 2010. The Rams hit 0.288 as a team with 60 HR and 76 SB, which are outstanding numbers. Dearborn is not the prototypical leadoff hitter, but she was very effective in the role scoring 49 runs and she hit 12 HR with 40 RBI. Wiggins was one of the biggest bats in Fordham's lineup last year hitting 12 HR with 60 RBI, falling just 1 RBI shy of Whitney Mollica's A10 record. Wiggins had a big bat all year long, but it went quiet when it mattered most. Samantha Pellechio on the other hand, was at her best in the postseason hitting multiple HR in the A10 tournament and Regionals. Pellechio suffered a midseason injury and did not return to form until the end of the year. If she performs the way she did in 2009 the A10 better watch out.

Jocelyn Dearborn
The lineup is going to look a little different in 2011, with Jocelyn Dearborn moving from 3B to CF and Becca Griswold joining the lineup at 3B. In addition, I am expecting to see freshman Gabby Luety in the DP role this year. Luety has a powerful bat and I think it will be hard for Coach Orchard to take her out of the lineup. I think there will be a battle once again for RF this year. Jessica Richards won the job last year, but she did not cement the job with her offensive output nor did Nicole Callahan secure her spot at DP. Fordham was one of the top defense in the country last season and despite the new 3rd baseman, I think that will be true again in 2011. The most impressive thing about the Rams fielding is that the first time Fordham will see dirt this spring will be in Clermont, FL. This is the Rams year with a very strong senior class, an ace in the circle, and a young UMass squad, but this will all come down to how the Rams perform in Amherst and Charlotte if the Rams want a title.

Coach Orchard wants her team and this program to improve and this schedule represents that. Fordham is going to have to bring it every weekend in nonconference play and if they do, the Rams will reap the awards come Regional selection time. Fordham is one of the big teams and has one of the toughest schedules in the country in 2011. Some of the highlights include matchups with Georgia Tech, Alabama, Texas, LSU, Washington, Virginia, and Hofstra. However, as I mentioned earlier the most important games of the year are on April 29th and 30th against UMass in Amherst. Those matchups will decide the A10 regular season title and seeding for the A10 tournament. This is going to be a special year for Fordham and I for one, would love to watch this team on ESPN come postseason play.