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.

Tuesday, January 31, 2012

2012 Preview: Temple

Temple Owls
2011 Record (A10 Play)
Returning Position Players: Devynne Nelons 3B, Sarah Prezioso SS, Stephanie Pasquale C, Danielle Ranieri OF, Kate Roth OF, Kayla Cook C/1B, Ali Robinson OF, Gina Sciarrone 1B/DH, Rachel Knable 3B/2B, Melissa Robbins OF, Samantha Schoell OF, Alysse Pujol OF, Christina Sykora OF, Meaghan Marley 2B
Returning Pitchers: Brooklin White, Kylie Kristovich
Losses: Kristen Marris P/OF
Newcomers: Capri Catalano P, Jessica Mahoney P, Julia Kastner 2B/OF, Alex Stermel 1B/OF, Lacey McKeon OF

Pitching: Kristen Marris was Temple's all everything last year, leading off for the Owls and pitching a majority of innings in the circle has graduated, though her strong legacy at Temple will always remain. Coach Joe DiPietro will have quite a few options in the circle, including returnees Brooklin White and Kylie Kristovich and newcomers Capri Catalano and Jessica Mahoney. Capri Catalano is the big wildcard, as detailed here. Catalano could give the Owls a powerful dominant ace, capable of shutting down almost any lineup. Catalano throws the ball with some heat and she could lead the Owls to new heights. Brooklin White also figures to see quite a bit of action again in the circle again in 2012, she went 5-9 with a 8.06 ERA and 33 SO in 61.2 IP. Her biggest key will be cutting down on walks, as she averaged more than one per inning. Freshman Jessica Mahoney joins the Owls and she is an imposing presence in the circle. Coach DiPietro will be counting on her for some key innings this year. Kylie Kristovich also figures to see more innings this year.
Steph Pasquale

Catching: Stephanie Pasquale returns after her outstanding rookie season and Coach Joe DiPietro will count on her to hold down the fort behind the plate once again in 2012. Pasquale had an outstanding freshman season hitting .363 with 49 hits, 6 HR, and 35 RBI. She was also a force defensively, as she threw out 17 baserunners trying to steal, while allowing just 25 steals. Samantha Schoell could also see some action behind the plate for the Owls.
Rachel Knable

Infield: The Owls return all their infield starters from 2011 and this will be an area of strength for Temple once again in 2012. Sarah Prezioso is back after an impressive freshman season which saw her start at shortstop in every game, in addition to hitting .293 with 41 hits, 9 HR, and 25 RBI. Coach DiPietro will look to her once again to produce on offense. Rachel Knable returns for her senior season at second base and she too will look to build on a solid 2011 season, as she hit .288 with 36 hits, 4 HR, and 25 RBI for the Owls. Devynne Nelons returns to third base for Temple and they will look for her to continue her steady play at the hot corner. Gina Sciarrone is back at first and Meaghan Marley is back at designated player. These five returning starters will be pushed for playing time though by a number of different players, including Kayla Cook, Alex Stermel, and Julia Kastner.
Ali Robinson

Outfield: All the starters return for the Owls in the outfield and it is shaping up to be a real talented group in 2012. Leading the way is Ali Robinson in center field. Robinson will likely lead off for Temple this year and she will be looking to build on her 2011 numbers. Last season, Robinson hit .234 with 33 hits, 6 HR, 19 RBI, and 6 steals and these are all numbers she can improve in 2012. Also back is Christina Sykora who had an outstanding 2011, which saw her hit .321 with 35 hits, 3 HR, and 22 RBI. Coach DiPietro will be counting on her to put up those solid numbers once again. Samantha Schoell is the other returning starter for Temple after hitting .234 with 29 hits, 2 HR, and 15 RBI. These three will be challenging for playing time by a talented trio of freshmen in Julia Kastner, Lacey McKeon, and Alex Stermel and returnees Daniele Ranieri, Kate Roth, and Melissa Robbins.
Samantha Schoell

Schedule: Temple's schedule has definitely been turned up a notch and if they can pick up the wins, it might be enough for an at-large bid. Highlights of the non-conference schedule include a trip to the Citrus Classic, where they will face Michigan and Purdue among others and a double header with regional rival Penn State in April. As far as its conference schedule, Temple will be home for 10 games and on the road for 10 games. The Owls will host just Fordham out of last year's Atlantic 10 Tournament participants and they will have to hit the road to take on UMass, Dayton, St. Joseph's, and Charlotte.

Postseason prognosis: Unless something unforeseen happens, Temple will be in St. Louis in May. The two big questions will be what position they will finish in and can they advance past St. Louis? Temple has an outside shot at finishing first in 2012, but more realistically they will finish somewhere between 3rd and 6th. The Owls are going to be solid offensive team once again, but the big key for them will be pitching. If the pitching is there the rest of the league better watch out.

Monday, January 30, 2012

2012 Preview: Charlotte

Charlotte 49ers
2011 Record (A10 Play): 30-24 (10-6)
Returning Position Players: Lorena Vela 2B, Chelsea Stamey IF, Lindsey Holloman 3B, Briana Gwaltney 1B/OF, Chelsea Ingersoll C/IF
Returning Pitchers: Kalie Lang P/1B, Katie Watkins P
Losses: Carol Buchan OF, Katy Hackett P, Tenaya Tucker C, Kendra McCall OF, Whitney Williams OF, Brittany Brinkley IF, Nikki Gayle OF/IF, Ginny Prince IF, Jalisa Rock SS
Newcomers: Chelsea Lisikatos P/IF, Lexi Betancourt P/UT, Natalie Capone SS, Jessie Fennell C/IF, Jackie Kleinsmith C, Alex Rogers OF, Hayley Lewis OF, Sam Slade UT
Katie Watkins

Pitching: Katy Hackett was a huge part of Charlotte's success in 2011 and she was one of the strongest pitchers mentally to ever set foot in the circle for an Atlantic 10 school. Coach Aimee DeVos is hoping for some of that grit and poise to rub off on her young, but talented pitching staff. Katie Watkins and Kalie Lang both return and they will be counted on for a leadership role on this young squad. Also joining the corps in the circle are freshmen Chelsea Lisikatos and Lexi Betancourt. The role of staff ace is clearly up for grabs and Coach DeVos will be looking for someone to step up to the plate and assume that role. Charlotte figures to use all four pitchers this season and having four quality arms is an asset that not many teams have.
Chelsea Ingersoll

Catching: All-Conference Tenaya Tucker has graduated and she was Coach DeVos' rock behind the plate for four years, so this season will mark the beginning of a new era in 49er softball. There are a few contenders for the position including sophomore Chelsea Ingersoll and freshmen Jackie Kleinsmith and Jessie Fennell. Kleinsmith comes in with an impressive travel ball pedigree and she might be the favorite for the job, but I'd expect all three to get a crack at it.
Lorena Vela

Infielders: Charlotte returns three of its four infield starters from 2011 and the infield should be an area of strength both offensively and defensively. Kalie Lang returns after an impressive rookie campaign, which saw her hit .238 with 39 hits, 5 HR, and 38 RBI. With a year of Division 1 Softball under her belt, those numbers should be even better in 2012. Lorena Vela and Lindsey Holloman have been Coach DeVos' rocks in the infield since joining the 49ers and they will once again be counted on to anchor the defense. Vela and Holloman will also look to increase their offensive output in 2012, as the 49ers are going to look to score and score this year. The freshmen will also have a big impact on the infield. Chelsea Lisikatos figures to see some time at first base, in addition to pitching in the circle, as she features a very strong bat. Natalie Capone is the odds on favorite for shortstop at this point, but she figures to be in the mix for other infield spots as well if she is not playing shortstop. Sam Slade and Jessie Fennell should also see some time in the infield.
Lindsey Holloman

Outfielders: The lone returning starter in the outfield in Briana Gwaltney and the 49ers are glad to have back. Gwaltney hit .297 with 46 hits, 10 HR, and 48 RBI in 2011. Gwaltney will be counted on to be the 49ers big run producer in 2012 and she will be counted on to be a leader. A number of players could see time in the 49ers' outfield, but contenders for starting positions could include Hayley Lewis, Alex Rogers, Sam Slade, and Lexi Betancourt.
Briana Gwaltney

Schedule: It is certainly going to be trial by fire for this young squad, as Charlotte's non-conference schedule has been upped a notch. Charlotte will be at home for the first three weekends of the season, welcoming Kansas and Boston College in among others. The big highlight of the non-conference schedule will be Charlotte's trip to San Diego. The 49ers will have to go through the meat grinder that weekend as they will face Fresno State, BYU, San Diego State, and Long Beach all NCAA Regional participants in 2011. Charlotte will also face some more non-conference challenges after conference play has started, as they will face South Carolina, UNC, and NC State. In conference play, Charlotte is one of the few schools that features a balanced schedule, as they will play 10 home games and 10 road games. The 49ers will get the Philadelphia schools and St. Bonaventure and Dayton at home, but they must hit the road to face UMass and Fordham.

Postseason prognosis: This is a tough one to figure out. You can never count out an Aimee DeVos squad, but this will be the youngest and most inexperienced squads that she has ever had. The 49ers could finish anywhere from 4th to 9th this year. They will be right in the mix for one of those final playoff spots. Charlotte is a very talented squad that doesn't have the largest roster, but all of the players can contribute which is a great asset for Coach DeVos. Charlotte is going to be very strong offensively, but ultimately its success will come down to Charlotte's pitching.

Sunday, January 29, 2012

2012 Preview: Dayton

We will now take flight with Dayton

Dayton Flyers
2011 Record (A10 Play): 22-26 (11-8)
Returning Position Players: Lauren Nacke 1B/DP, Kathleen Maloof OF, Rachel Archer OF, Brandy Brown 1B, Dana Trotta 3B, Carlyn Harlow 2B, Jordan Jennings IF, Kasi Vazquez C, Megan Barrett OF, Courtney Kutsulis C, Jenna Lopes IF
Returning Pitchers: Alysha Isaacson, Sarah Wedel
Losses: Emily Stegeman SS, Alicia Nichols OF
Newcomers: Kayla English P, Tiffany Ricks C, Leah Sitter OF, Sydney Cicchetti P, Natalie Mariano OF
Alysha Isaacson

Pitching: This is the big question mark for the Flyers and their success will be determined by the success in the circle. Dayton top two pitchers are back from last year squad in Alysha Isaacson and Sarah Wedel and they have also added transfer Sydney Cicchetti and freshman Kayla English. Isaacson burst on to the scene last year going 12-13 with a 3.21 ERA and 76 SO in 157 IP. The crafty southpaw relies on her changeup to keep batters on balance at the plate and she will look to do the same in 2012. Sarah Wedel is back after her best season to date, which saw her go 7-5 with a 3.46 ERA and 44 SO in 107.1 IP. English and Cicchetti join the mix in 2012 and they have already gotten off to solid starts as Flyers. English shutout Ohio State this fall, showing that she will be a force to be reckoned with in 2012. English is a tall powerful pitcher who could take Dayton to the next level. Sydney Cicchetti also had a solid fall and overall this Flyer pitching staff is moving in the right direction. Coach LaPlaca can count on four solid arms this season, but the big question will be if one of them can develop into a dominant pitcher like some of other teams in the conference have.
Kayla English

Catching: Dayton brings back both of its catchers from last year and they are also adding a freshman to the mix behind the plate. Courtney Kutsulis saw the majority of the action last season and had a solid season, going .236 with 26 hits, 5 HR, and 16 RBI. Kasi Vazquez also played in quite a few games and hit .160 with 1 HR and 8 RBI. Tiffany Ricks will join this group and she also figures to see some action behind the plate.
Courtney Kutsulis

Infielders: The Flyers return a talented group of infielders both defensively and at the plate. Headlining the group is Lauren Nacke who figures to see action at first base and designated player this season for Dayton. Nacke had one of the most dominating seasons in Dayton history, hitting .403 with 54 hits, 18 HR, and 48 RBI. One of the big challenges for Dayton this year will be protecting her in the order. Brandy Brown will likely alternate with Nacke at designated player and first base and she had a solid 2011 season in her own right going .287 with 33 hits, 5 HR, and 16 RBI. Carlyn Harlow and Dana Trotta also return as starters in the infield at second and third base respectively. That leaves shortstop as the big question mark for the Flyers. Likely contenders for the position include freshman Jordan Jennings and sophomore Jenna Lopes.
Lauren Nacke

Outfielders: The outfield is another area of great strength for Dayton and it all starts with Kathleen Maloof. Maloof had an outstanding 2011 season, hitting .344 with 52 hits, 9 HR, and 35 RBI. Maloof will be counted on to be a run producer again in 2012. Rachel Archer also returns after having a solid rookie season, which saw her hit .293 with 36 hits, 0 HR, 3 RBI, and 14 SB. Archer will once again leadoff for the Flyers and her job is to get on base and score. The big question for the outfield is who will hold down that other spot? Contenders for the position include Megan Barrett, Natalie Mariano, and Leah Sitter. Sitter might be the favorite, as it will be hard for Coach Cara LaPlaca to leave her off the field due to her outstanding speed.
Kathleen Maloof

Schedule: Dayton will face some challenging games, but overall it is a schedule that should allow them to cross the .500 threshold. Texas State, Chattanooga, and Ohio State will probably be the toughest non-conference games that Dayton will play. As far as conference play, the Flyers will play 12 games within the comfortable confines of the UD Softball Stadium, which should be a huge benefit for them as they look to return to the Atlantic 10 Tournament.

Postseason prognosis: Like many other teams, Dayton could finish anywhere from 4th to 9th. This season will come down to how they perform against the other teams contending for those final few playoff positions. Regardless of whether they make the Atlantic 10 Tournament or not, Dayton should finish with a record above .500. Dayton is an outstanding offensive club, but the real key will be whether they can keep teams off the board in 2012. If the pitching is there, Dayton could be a real force to be reckoned with.

Saturday, January 28, 2012

2012 Preview: St. Louis

The next team we will feature is St. Louis

St. Louis Billikens
2011 Record (A10 Play): 29-24 (11-9)
Returning Position Players: Liz Jones C/UT, Kelly Flanagan IF, Rachel Faletto 3B, Kerri Dockins 2B, Jessica Buschjost OF, Aly Brand C, Laura Bohning 2B, Jessica Van Nostrand SS, Kelsey Biggs IF
Returning Pitchers: Kelcie Matesa P, Hannah Huebbe P, Julian Austin P
Losses: Kristin Nicoletti OF, Kristain Burger 1B, Caitlin Santefort P/IF, Erin Cejka 1B, Caitlin Trevillyan OF, Tori Holland IF
Newcomers: Erin Harcar UT, Katie Kroeger OF, Breanna Lockette OF, Lindsay Friedman OF
Kelcie Matesa

Pitching: The strength for the Billikens lies squarely in the circle, as they return three quality arms from last year. Kelcie Matesa has been a workhorse for the Billikens throughout her career and Coach Christy Connoyer is going to be counting on her for a strong senior season. Matesa throws with some heat and she throws a real heavy ball in the circle. Matesa had a solid 2011 season going 11-9 with a 2.69 ERA and 139 SO in 133 IP. Hannah Huebbe is the Billikens' other senior ace and her style complements Matesa's quite nicely. Huebbe relies primarily on her drop and change and she really keep hitters off balance in the box. Huebbe had her best season yet at St. Louis in 2011, going 14-7 with a 2.55 ERA and 121 SO in 134.2 IP. Matesa and Huebbe will be the Billikens solid one-two punch again in the circle, though sophomore Julian Austin figures to add key innings as well. Coach Connoyer has the luxury of playing around with her staff to provide opponents with different looks.
Hannah Huebbe

Catching: Behind the plate, the Billikens will look to Aly Brand and Liz Jones once again. Brand saw the majority of the action last year and she hit .259 with 37 hits, 3 HR, and 31 RBI. Brand should see a lot of the work, but Jones is very capable back there as well. Jones hit .308 with 4 hits last year in limited action. If she continues to hit that way she should see even more action in 2012.
Aly Brand

Infielders: Coach Connoyer returns three of four starters in the infield, so this should be a real area of strength for her squad in 2012. Rachel Faletto is back at third base after an impressive 2011 season, which saw her hit .299 with 44 hits, 3 HR, and 28 RBI. Faletto will once again be counted on to help lead the Billikens' offense. Kerri Dockins returns to the second base position and she too had a solid year in 2011, going .299 with 40 hits, 2 HR, 21 RBI, and 10 SB. Jessica Van Nostrand is back at the shortstop position after going .238 with 30 hits, 1 HR, and 18 RBI in her rookie season. There is a vacancy at first base this year and it should be a fierce competition to fill that spot. Kelsey Biggs, Kelly Flanagan, and Breanna Lockette could all see time at first for the Billikens.
Rachel Faletto

Outfielders: Jessica Buschjost is the lone returning starter in the outfield for St. Louis, so she will be counted on to lead a young, talented group of players. Buschjost had a great 2011 season, going .331 with  40 hits, 0 HR, 5 RBI, and 10 SB. She will most likely be the leadoff hitter for St. Louis this year, so she will look to get things going with her speed on the bases. Iowa transfer Katie Kroeger figures to hold down one of the spots in outfield and the other spot seems up for grabs at this point. Lindsay Freidman, Breanna Lockette, and Erin Harcar are all in the mix for that final spot in the outfield.
Jessica Buschjost

Schedule: The Billikens schedule has pockets of difficult and easy games and the Billikens should surpass last season's win total. St. Louis needs to start out strong and come out of the first four weekends of play with a winning record, as they will have an extremely difficult weekend in Louisville on March 10-11, as they will face Michigan, Louisville, and Illinois State all NCAA participants in 2011. After that brutal weekend the Billikens will head home and enter into conference play. After last season, when they missed the A10 Tournament by just a half game, they will need to come to the field ready to play and they cannot afford any off days. St. Louis will have to get it done on the road, as they will only have 8 conference games at home in the regular season. If they can make the Atlantic 10 Tournament, they will get the benefit of playing at home.

Postseason prognosis: 2011 was an incredibly disappointing year for St. Louis, as they did not advance to the Atlantic 10 Tournament for just the second time since joining the conference in 2006. It was Christy Connoyer's first year at St. Louis, but that doesn't excuse the fact that this team had enough talent to make the Atlantic 10 Tournament, regardless of who the coach was. This season we should expect the Billikens to come out with a fire and passion to prove that last year was a fluke. Coach Connoyer is going to have this squad ready to go in 2012 and they are going to be right in the mix for an Atlantic 10 Tournament berth. St. Louis could finish anywhere from 4th to 7th this year and they even have an outside shot at finishing 3rd.

Thursday, January 26, 2012

Atlantic 10 softball throughout the 2012 season

There are numerous ways to follow Atlantic 10 softball in 2012:

The first of which is visiting this blog, to keep track of all of the happenings in Atlantic 10 softball.

You can also follow us Twitter at A10softballblog https://twitter.com/A10softballblog where we will tweet throughout the 2012 season. In addition, we would like to encourage the use of the #hashtag: #A10softball when tweeting about the 2012 season, especially in terms of scores. We encourage everyone to tweet @A10softballblog throughout the year.

On Facebook, you can either friend us http://www.facebook.com/profile.php?id=100003257160871 or like our page http://www.facebook.com/pages/Atlantic-10-Softball-Blog/119222368154948.

We will also be liveblogging once again throughout the 2012 season, including live from certain games. We will post the live blogs here.

We would also appreciate pictures for the 2012 season, if you have any please email them to atlantic10softball@gmail.com

You can also email us (atlantic10softball@gmail.com) if you have any thoughts, concerns, questions, or information that you would like to share with or talk with us about. All conversations are kept in the strictest confidence.

Atlantic 10 Preseason Coaches Poll

Today, the Atlantic 10 announced the 2012 Atlantic 10 Coaches' Preseason Poll.

Here is what they came up with:

2012 Softball Predicted Order of Finish(2011 Overall Finish/A-10 Record in parentheses) 
1. Fordham (42-19/16-4)  
2. Massachusetts (29-19/14-5) 
3. Saint Joseph’s (31-16/10-4) 
4. Charlotte (30-24/10-6) 
5. Temple (22-23/12-6) 
6. Dayton (22-26/11-8) 
7. Saint Louis (29-24/10-8) 
8. George Washington (16-27-1/6-14) 
9. St. Bonaventure (13-20/8-12) 
10. Rhode Island (7-46/2-18) 
11. La Salle (5-38/2-16)
The coaches made only a couple changes from last year's regular season standings: Charlotte and Temple swapped positions at 4 and 5, likewise St. Bonaventure and George Washington swapped positions at 8 and 9, and La Salle and Rhode Island swapped positions at 10 and 11.

The coaches clearly don't think 2012 will be much different that 2011, we have some different thoughts...

The goal of conference play for all teams is to end up here:

Wednesday, January 25, 2012

2012 Preview: St. Bonaventure

The next team in our series is St. Bonaventure

St. Bonaventure Bonnies
2011 Record (A10 Play): 13-20 (8-12)
Returning Position Players: Brooke Frey C, Danielle Frye 1B, Jill Murphy 1B, Christine Watson 1B, Brittany Storch 2B, Kacie Strong 2B, Ashley Nowak DP, Jessenia Andujar OF, Hali Enderby OF, Lindsay Stowell OF, Kristin Sullivan OF, Ashley Snider SS
Returning Pitchers: Jen Sansano P, Diana Phalon P
Losses: Kara Morenus C/3B, Maureen Wells 1B, Erin Nargi P
Newcomers: Katherine Caboot OF, Anndrea Burgess 3B/C, Julia Pratt P, Grace Rooney 3B, Kelli Rohan OF, Victoria Brown SS, Lauren Waite C
Jen Sansano

Pitching: The Bonnies return their top two pitchers from 2011 in Jen Sansano and Diana Phalon and both should improve on their numbers in 2012. Jen Sansano is back after a solid rookie season which saw her go 8-7 with a 3.66 ERA and 60 SO in 101.1 IP. Sansano was the Bonnies workhorse for Coach Mike Threehouse in 2011 and she will likely see the lion's share of innings once again in 2012. Sansano will be even stronger and tougher in 2012 and she is looking to build on that rookie season. Diana Phalon is back after a 2011 season in which she showed dramatic improvements from her previous two. Phalon utilizes an excellent changeup to keep opposing hitters off balance and she will need it to be working again in 2012. Freshman Julia Pratt could also see some significant innings in the circle.
Brooke Frey

Catching: Coach Threehouse returns his leading hitter and starting catcher from last season in Brooke Frey and she will be counted on to be a leader for the Bonnies. Frey hit .347 with 33 hits, 5 HR, and 19 RBI. Frey also showed a keen eye at the plate, drawing 19 walks, while striking out only 16 times. Frey will joined behind the plate this season by freshmen Lauren Waite and Anndrea Burgess. Catching an entire season is tough so Coach Threehouse will look to Waite and Burgess to help ease the load of Frey this season, in addition to getting both of them up to speed in Division 1 softball.
Ashley Snider

Infielders: Maureen Wells and Kara Morenus have graduated after solid senior seasons, but luckily for the Bonnies, both Ashley Snider and Brittany Storch are back in the middle infield and will counted on for leadership. Snider had an outstanding freshman season which saw her hit .310 with 32 hits, 9 HR, and 22 RBI, en route to being named to the Atlantic 10 All-Rookie Team. The Bonnies will see some new starters on the corners with Grace Rooney or Anndrea Burgess likely getting the nod at third and Jill Murphy, Christine Watson, or Danielle Frye at first. It will be difficult to replace both the production and leadership provided by Wells and Morenus, but Coach Threehouse will have a lot of talented options to choose from. Kacie Strong and Ashley Nowak also figure to be in the mix for infield innings as well.
Jessenia Andujar

Outfielders: St. Bonaventure is definitely at its deepest in outfield, where all starters from last year are back and talented freshmen are joining the ranks. Leading the way for the Bonnies is Jessenia Andujar who is back after a solid sophomore season, which saw her hit .287 with 29 hits, 4 HR, and 20 RBI. Joining Andujar in the outfield once again is Lindsay Stowell who also was a mainstay in the Bonnies' 2011 outfield, starting 31 games and hitting .255 with 2 HR, 12 RBI, and 4 steals. Hali Enderby also returns after hitting .157 with 8 hits, 3 HR, and 11 RBI in 2011. Kristin Sullivan, Katherine Caboot, and Kelli Rohan will also be in the mix for outfield playing time. Rohan is very fast and she may increase that steals total for the Bonnies quite a bit in 2012.
Lindsay Stowell

Schedule: The Bonnies will be starting on the first weekend of play for the first time in a while, if not ever. This more than anything else is going to pay huge dividends, as in the past St. Bonaventure would be stepping on the field to play its first game of the year and its opponent could have already played 15-20 games. This team will benefit from an early start and they should have much more success in non-conference play than in previous seasons. St. Bonaventure has also scheduled 52 games for 2012, which is great. We believe in playing as many games as possible and it is our hope that teams within the conference will adhere to that as well. The Bonnies will face some non-conference tests with Ohio State, Bethune-Cookman, and USC Upstate, but there are a lot of opportunities for wins on this schedule and St. Bonaventure could head in to conference play with a pretty good record. During conference play, St. Bonaventure will have just 8 home games and they will have to hit the road to face St. Joseph's, Charlotte, Temple, Dayton, and Fordham all teams that advanced to the Atlantic 10 Tournament last year. If the Bonnies are going to make the Atlantic 10 Tournament they will need to be road warriors.

Postseason prognosis: The Bonnies will be in the mix for one of those final two postseason spots, which will almost certainly be decided in the final weekend of play. St. Bonaventure must come ready to play every weekend, as they cannot afford many or really any sweeps. In a tight conference race every game is going to matter and it will be interesting to see how it plays out. The Atlantic 10 is very deep and talented in 2012, so if St. Bonaventure is going to advance to the Atlantic 10 Tournament they are going to have to earn it. As a general goal though, the Bonnies are talented enough to get at least 25 wins in 2012.

Tuesday, January 24, 2012

UMass and Fordham receive votes in both preseason polls

UMass and Fordham have both received votes in the preseason polls released by USA Softball/ESPN.com and USA Today/NFCA.

In the USA Today/NFCA poll, defending national champion Arizona State was the unanimous #1 and UMass received two votes and Fordham received one vote. Atlantic 10 schools will face 5 teams in the top 10 and countless others in the top 25 and among the team receiving votes.

The USA Softball/ESPN.com poll was a little less generous, as UMass dropped down to one vote and Fordham picked up one vote.

This will not be the last time the Atlantic 10 teams receive votes and we will even go out on limb and say that the Atlantic 10 will see at least one if not multiple ranked teams this season.

Sunday, January 22, 2012

2012 Preview: George Washington

Up next is George Washington

George Washington Colonials
2011 Record (A10 Play): 16-27-1 (6-14)
Returning Position Players: Chelsea Curcio C/IF, Chelsea Lenhart OF, Alexandra Del Prete OF, Kristi Saporito C/OF, Sandi Moynihan IF, Julie Orlandi IF, Autumn Taylor OF, Tara Fogarty IF/C, Lauren Wilson OF, Jillian Stanley C, Jordyn O'Donnell IF, Amanda Zakeri OF, Jamie Yaniga OF
Returning Pitchers: Kara Clauss P, Heidi Penna P, Courtney Martin P
Losses: Katie Terrazas SS, Ali Pardo P, Lacey Cook IF, Ali Waterman OF
Newcomers: Samantha Dos Santos C, Alex Thompson OF, Kaitlyn O'Shea IF, Victoria Valos SS, Chelsey Pedley P, Becca Garlinger IF, McKinley Tretler OF
Kara Clauss

Pitching: One of the biggest reasons for George Washington's great improvement under Stacey Schramm was the stellar performance of pitcher Kara Clauss. Clauss was 5-21 with a 4.63 ERA in 2010, last year she improved to 12-13 with a 2.38 ERA. With the work Clauss has put in over the past few years, she is poised for her best season yet in her senior campaign. Clauss will have help this year from fellow senior Heidi Penna, sophomore Courtney Martin, and freshman Chelsey Pedley. Penna also had an impressive improvement from 2010 to 2011, as she went from 1-5 with 6.38 ERA to being 3-12 with a 4.30 ERA. Coach Stacey Schramm will once again count on Penna for some critical innings in 2012. Courtney Martin is George Washington's other returning pitcher from 2011 and she went 0-0 with a 4.87 ERA and 19 SO in 23 IP. Martin should see an even bigger chunk of innings in 2012, as she had an impressive fall season for the Colonials. Freshman Chelsey Pedley also figures to see innings, as she can give opponents a unique look as she is a southpaw. Coach Schramm will have number of options in the circle and this will be a big area of strength for the Colonials.
Heidi Penna

Catching: This is another area of strength for George Washington and Coach Schramm as there are a number of different athletes who play behind the plate. Chelsea Curcio and Jillian Stanley saw the majority of innings last year, though Tara Fogarty also spent a fair amount of time behind the plate. Freshman Samantha Dos Santos joins the mix behind the plate in 2012 and she will push for playing time right away as well. Dos Santos had an excellent fall season for the Colonials and she has made a serious claim to that starting position.

Infielders: The Colonials bring most of their infield back from 2011, though infield captain and starting shortstop Katie Terrazas did graduate. Sandi Moynihan, Julie Orlandi, and Tara Fogarty are all back in 2012 and they will be looking stay in the lineup this season. Coach Schramm brought in a talented group of freshmen that is going to push for playing time all over the field. Freshmen Tori Valos is the early favorite for the shortstop position and her impact could on George Washington could end up be similar to Chelsea Lenhart's last year. Valos figures to anchor the shortstop position for the Colonials, in addition to holding down a spot in the heart of the order for George Washington. Freshmen Becca Garlinger and Kaitlyn O'Shea also figure to be in the mix for a position in the infield.
Chelsea Lenhart

Outfielders: This is definitely the greatest area of strength for George Washington in 2012, as all of the starters return from 2011. Chelsea Lenhart returns after a sensational freshman campaign which saw her hit .316 with 49 hits, 1 HR, 27 RBI, and 7 steals. Lenhart will likely lead off for the Colonials once again in 2012 and George Washington will go as she goes. Autumn Taylor is also back after an impressive 2011 season, which saw her hit .282 with 35 hits, 3 HR, and 21 RBI all figures that were dramatically improved from her freshman year. Coach Schramm will be counting on her for even better power numbers this season. Lauren Wilson returns for her senior season after hitting .241 with 28 hits, 2 HR, 16 RBI, and 6 SB in 2011. Wilson will also be a big run producer for the Colonials this year and as with her other outfield counterparts, her numbers should increase in 2012. Amanda Zakeri also returns and she is one of the fastest players in the conference. Zakeri will be an impact performer for George Washington in one way or another either as a starter or the first pinch runner off the bench. Freshman Alex Thompson also figures to put forth a serious challenge for one of the outfield positions or the designated player slot after having an impressive fall.
Autumn Taylor

Schedule: George Washington's schedule is very similar to the stage that the program is at right now, as it has been significantly upgraded, but it shows that Coach Schramm is willing to challenge this team and in the next few years I'd expect George Washington's schedule to be among the toughest in the conference. This schedule probably won't get George Washington an at large bid, but it will do an excellent job at preparing the Colonials for Atlantic 10 play. George Washington will have a number of tough games, including ones against Auburn, Pittsburgh, and South Carolina. The Colonials should be battle tested coming into conference play. George Washington has a very favorable conference schedule as they will play 12 home games vs. just 8 road games and they will get UMass, Fordham, Charlotte, and Dayton at home in 2012.

Postseason prognosis: The Colonials surprised many in the conference, including this blog in 2011 when they went 16-27-1 after going just 6-39 in 2010. George Washington showed improvements all across the board in 2011 from pitching and defense to offense. 2012 could be a year of even bigger growths for the Colonials, as they enter into the second year of the Stacey Schramm era. George Washington is going to be right in the mix for an Atlantic 10 Tournament bid in 2012 and the battle for those final two bids to the Atlantic 10 Championship should be one of the most competitive in conference history. The Colonials will be in the hunt this year and every single pitch, play, inning, and game of conference play is going to matter, so they will need to come to the field ready to play and the same can be said for every other team in the conference as well.

Friday, January 20, 2012

2012 Preview: La Salle

Our next team preview is of La Salle

La Salle Explorers
2011 Record (A10 Play): 5-38 (2-16)
Returning Position Players: Shannon Skomorucha C, Breanna DiTommaso OF, Heather Brabazon OF, Liz Reed 2B/OF, Tristan Musho C, Kati Cooper C/OF, Jackie McBride 3B, Emily Moran UT, Megan Hodgson UT, Jamie Dellinger OF, Danielle Cullen 2B/OF
Pitchers: None returning 
Losses: DJ Guinn P, Laura Beth McCreesh P, Kristen Paoletti P, Rebecca Turygan P/2B, Ali Shepherd SS
Newcomers: Kristin Travers P, Alicia Aughton P, Alyssa Bitsimis P, Linnette Seidler OF

Pitching: This is the huge question mark for the Explorers, as not a single pitcher returns. Coach Brianne Brown is going to be counting on freshmen Kristin Travers, Alicia Aughton, and Alyssa Bitsimis in the circle. If La Salle is going to be successful this year they will need to adjust to Division 1 softball right away. Each pitcher will see a fair bit of action this year and it will be interesting to see who steps forward as the staff ace.

Catching: This one of of the areas of strength for the Explorers, as they return two catchers with Division 1 starting experience in Shannon Skomorucha and Tristan Musho. Both catchers should see a fair number of innings behind the plate, in addition to some at bats at designated player. Both catchers have strong arms and solid bats, but more importantly they will counted on for leadership with a young pitching staff.
Shannon Skomorucha

Infielders: The Explorers bring back all but one infielder from 2011 and they will look to a talented sophomore class to lead the way. Jackie McBride, Emily Moran, and Megan Hodgson all return to anchor the infield. Each had a solid freshman debut, but they will really look to make their mark in 2012. McBride and Hodgson will likely anchor the corners and the heart of the order for La Salle. Liz Reed and Emily Moran will likely start in the middle infield positions and they will also likely be at the top of the Explorers order. Danielle Cullen is another Explorer who could see some significant time in the infield.
Liz Reed

Outfielders: La Salle also brings back its starting outfield from last season with Heather Brabazon, Jamie Dellinger, and Breanna DeTommaso. Kati Cooper and Danielle Cullen are also back and freshman Linnette Seidler joins the mix. The Explorers will count on this speedy bunch of outfielders to track down fly balls in the outfield. Coach Brown will need increased production from this group at the plate, the power and speed numbers for La Salle's offense last year were frankly unimpressive. In fact, 2011 Atlantic 10 Player of the Year Jocelyn Dearborn finished the season with more HR and steals.
Heather Brabazon

Schedule: The Explorers have a slightly more manageable schedule this season, as there are plenty of opportunities to pick up more than 5 wins on this schedule. La Salle will head to three non-conference tournaments this year and fortunately for the Explorers they will face just one BCS team (Villanova) which isn't exactly a power. It is also worth noting that the schedule on the La Salle website has a glaring mistake, as it has the Explorers facing off against William & Mary on March 17th, unfortunately William & Mary doesn't have a softball team.

Postseason prognosis: Just like with Rhode Island, La Salle should be much improved in 2012, but they will be up against some powerful teams in the Atlantic 10. It is hard at this point to see La Salle finish anywhere but 10th or 11th.

Thursday, January 19, 2012

2012 Preview: Rhode Island

The is our 1st team preview of the 2012 season, stay tuned for the other 10 in the coming days.

Kicking off the team previews is Rhode Island.

Rhode Island Rams
2011 Record (A10 Play): 7-46 (2-18)**Though the official URI website still has it listed as 2-19. They obviously weren't aware that there were only 20 conference games...
Returning Position Players: Nicole Massoni C, Kelly Coker OF, Fallon Scorpio 3B, Brittany Julich OF, Stacey Fox C, Jocelyn Mattison 1B, Melissa Parente IF, Jhokania DeLos Santos OF, Courtney Prendergast SS, Amy Gleason IF
Pitchers: Erika Szymanski P, Alison Hartzell P, Sam Bedore P, Cassie Baker P 
Losses: Amie Archambault C, Amanda Sbei IF, Jayshree Narendran P, Stacey Stanovich P, Shelby Marquis OF, Charlotte Conaway 2B
Newcomers: Jasmine Clarke C, Jojo Meunier P, Megan Congro OF, Kathleen Davis OF, Kelsey Gammell IF, Cara Martin P, Deanna Wolf IF, Jenna Newborn C, Meghan Kelly IF

Sam Bedore
Pitching: The Rams come into 2012 with one of the largest and youngest pitching staffs in the conference. The Rams struggled quite a bit in the circle in 2011, finishing with a 6.92 ERA and that figure will have to improve if URI is to advance to the Atlantic 10 Tournament. Sam Bedore and Alison Hartzell are the top returnees in the circle for the Rams and they will be counted on for a lot of innings this. Erika Szymanski and Cassie Baker are also back and they will look to build on their 2011 seasons. Rhode Island has also added two freshmen in the circle with Jojo Meunier and Cara Martin. Meunier and Martin figure to add depth in the circle for the Rams, in addition to possibly challenging the others for the role of staff ace. 

Nicole Massoni
Catching: The Rams come into the season with four possibilities at catcher: Stacey Fox, Nicole Massoni, Jasmine Clarke, and Jenna Newborn. Massoni, though will likely hold down the designated player position this year so the starting catcher position will likely come down to Fox, Clarke, and Newborn. Massoni was a force at the plate for the Rams last season hitting .287 with 11 HR and 30 RBI. Rhode Island struggled mightily to throw out runners on the bases last year, so the nod might go to the catcher with the best arm.

Jocelyn Mattison
Infielders: The good thing for URI and Coach Erin Layton is that just about every infielder returns from last season, notably Fallon Scorpio and  Jocelyn Mattison, That duo started almost every game as freshmen and they provided stability for the Rams, both at the corners and in the batting lineup. Scorpio had a solid first season, hitting .263 with 6 HR and 28 RBI and she will be counted on to provide valuable protection in the URI order for Massoni. The shortstop and second base positions could go any of a number of directions with Amy Gleason and Courtney Prendergast having the inside track among the returnees. The Rams do have three freshmen infielders on the roster who will challenge the returnees for any of the starting positions.

Kelly Coker
Outfielders: Coach Layton also brings back most of her outfield from 2011, notably Kelly Coker and Brittany Julich who were steady consistent performers for Rhode Island. Coker hit .264 with 38 hits, 1 HR, 14 RBI, and 9 steals and Julich hit .252 with 32 hits, 1 HR, and 10 RBI. Both Coker and Julich will likely start for URI again in 2012. That leaves the final outfield spot to be decided and that will likely come down to retrunees Jhokania DeLos Santos and Erika Szymanski and freshmen Megan Congro and Kathleen Davis. It is a spot that is up for grabs and all of these players may get a shot at it this year.

Schedule: URI will be challenged early on with games against Central Arkansas, Georgia State, Elon, and Maryland, but they should fair much better than in 2011. Coach Layton did a good job lining up this year's schedule after a rough 2011 season, which saw them win just 7 games. There are definitely quite a few opportunities for victories. The A10 schedule will see the Rams host just 8 games, which is unfortunate for this young team, but that's how it is.

Postseason prognosis: Rhode Island will definitely finish with more than 7 wins in 2012 and based on its schedule,  probably more than 10. This team will be much better this season and they will definitely be competitive in a lot more games. The postseason prognosis doesn't look that great for the Rams because frankly the rest of the conference is loaded this year and it would be a big surprise to see URI finish any spot above 10th. 

Atlantic 10 Player of the Year Preview: Katie Bettencourt

Katie Bettencourt
There is only one player in the Atlantic 10, currently playing who has ever won Atlantic 10 Player of the Year and that is Katie Bettencourt of UMass.

Bettencourt first burst on to the scene in 2009 with a clutch pinch hit against Danielle Lawrie in the epic 13 inning thriller between the two schools in the NCAA regional final. Bettencourt really made her mark in 2010 though, she burst onto the scene hitting .333 with 51 hits, 7 HR, and 31 RBI. Bettencourt was especially dominant during A10 play, hitting .500 with 25 hits, 5 HR, and 18 RBI en route to being named Co-Atlantic 10 Player of the Year.

Bettencourt's offense was sorely missed by the Minutewomen after she went down with a season ending injury last season, UMass hit just .238 with 32 HR with Bettencourt back to anchor the UMass order, those figures will be much better in 2012.

Bettencourt is also UMass' emotional leader on the field, as she plays the game with a fiery intense passion that rubs off on both teammates and opponents. With Bettencourt back in the lineup for the Minutewomen in 2012, we may see a much different Minutewomen squad this year.

Wednesday, January 18, 2012

Atlantic 10 Player of the Year Preview: Stephanie Pasquale

Steph Pasquale
After an absolutely dominating performance as a rookie, Temple's Stephanie Pasquale comes into 2012 as one of the favorites for Atlantic 10 Player of the Year.

Pasquale had a stellar season last year both at the plate and behind it, catching for the Owls. Pasquale hit .363 with 6 HR and 35 RBI. Pasquale was also outstanding defensively for Coach Joe DiPietro throwing out 17 attempted basestealers, while allowing just 24 steals against her.

Pasquale was an absolute force for a Temple lineup that hit .271 in 2011. Pasquale was well protected in the lineup last and that will need to be the case once again if she is to have another monster year for the Owls.

As great as Pasquale's season was last year she has shown that she has the ability to be even better in 2012. Pasquale struck out just 5 times in 2011, but she only managed 10 walks. She has incredible hand eye coordination, but if she shows more of a willingness to take bad pitches this year it is our guess that those walk numbers will skyrocket. She can make contact with almost any pitch, but she should not even try to hit bad pitches.

Pasquale is poised for a big year, whether wins Atlantic 10 Player of the Year or not.

Atlantic 10 Player of the Year Preview: Monica Aguilar

Monica Aguilar

Last year Monica Aguilar had an outstanding year for St. Joseph's providing the thunder to the lightning of table setters Dana Parks, Laura Cardone, and Bernadette Moran. The Hawks would find a way to get their speedy runners on base and Aguilar would drive them in.

Aguilar is looking to become the first Hawks player since Brooke Darreff to win Atlantic 10 Player of Year, in addition to leading the Hawks to their first ever Atlantic 10 title and appearance at NCAA Regionals. There is a special air about this 2012 season and the Hawks leader at the hot corner is a big reason why.

Aguilar put up outstanding numbers at the plate in 2011, hitting .391 with 52 hits, 7 HR, 42 RBI, and 8 steals. Aguilar is also known for her outstanding discipline at the plate, which saw her walk 32 times and strikeout just 11 times. In addition to her offensive exploits, Aguilar is an outstanding defender at the hot corner for Coach Terri Adams and she is never afraid to get dirty and dive for the ball.

Aguilar is a tough nosed-player and she is an outstanding example of everything that Atlantic 10 softball should be both on and off the field.

Tuesday, January 17, 2012

Atlantic 10 Player of the Year Preview: Lauren Nacke

Lauren Nacke
We will start with our player of the year preview by looking at Lauren Nacke of Dayton.

Nacke is coming off of an absolutely dominant performance in 2011, which saw her hit .403 with 54 hits, 18 HR, and 48 RBI. She helped lead Dayton to its first Atlantic 10 Tournament appearance since 2000. Nacke led a resurgent Flyer offense to new heights in 2011, as the Flyers set records in numerous offensive categories.

Dayton finished 2011 strong, winning 9 of its last 11 games before entering the Atlantic 10 Tournament. The Flyers showed that they could compete with anyone, knocking off perennial A10 powers Charlotte and Fordham, in addition to regional power Ohio State.

Nacke will once again be at the heart of the Flyers' order in 2012 and opposing pitchers will need to be careful with how they pitch her. Nacke is poised to have another record breaking season and it is worth noting  that she is just 5 HR from breaking the Atlantic 10 career HR mark, currently held by KJ Kelley of UMass.

Nacke is certainly one of the frontrunners for the A10 player of the year award in 2012.