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.

Wednesday, March 28, 2012

Live Blog for Today

Friday, March 16, 2012

Atlantic 10 Mid-Season Review

Sorry for the lack of postings over the past few weeks. Work has been extremely busy and time consuming over the past few weeks.

Here is a quick review of how things have gone thus far in conference during non-conference play

The Favorite

UMass: The Minutewomen have played the toughest schedule in the conference and right now they come into conference play as the heavy favorites. The Minutewomen are not invincible, but right now they are the most complete team in the conference and they find themselves in an excellent position for an at-large bid if they are unable to win the conference. Sara Plourde has been a force in the circle thus far, as she has picked up big wins over ranked opponents Michigan and Georgia Tech. Plourde has been tagged up a little more than usual this year, but it is also worth noting that her losses have come to undefeated #1 Alabama and undefeated Louisville, NFCA Leadoff Classic champion DePaul, SEC Power Tennessee, and likely NCAA Participant UAB. In other words, only the best teams and players in the country have been able to hit her. A10 teams will have to be on top of their game to beat her. The Minutewomen offense is much improved in 2012 and the scary thing is that they have not reached their peak yet. Cyndil Matthew and Quianna Diaz-Patterson at the top of the UMass order is a scary combination and both appear poised for all-conference season. Lindsey Webster and Kyllie Magill have yet to get going in 2012, but when they do watch out. UMass' schedule is not quite as tough this weekend, so it will be interesting to see how the bats respond. The achilles' heel of this team is depth in the circle. Sara Plourde is the fittest pitcher in the league and can pitch an extraordinary amount of innings, but she needs help. Caroline Raymond and Lindsey Webster have been unable to pitch thus far in 2012 and if they cannot pitch at all this year, Plourde could be fatigued both mentally and physically at the end of the year.

The A10 Championship is UMass' for the taking. There is still a long season ahead of us, but right now UMass is the clear favorite.

The Contenders

Charlotte: admittedly we were somewhat skeptical of Charlotte at the beginning of the season, but you never doubt an Aimee DeVos led squad. Charlotte's impressive freshmen class has gotten the 49ers off to a strong start and they will need to keep producing for this squad to advance to the Atlantic 10 Tournament. Lexi Betancourt has been impressive in the circle for the 49ers and she will need to maintain her high level in the circle for the 49ers to make it to St. Louis. Jackie Kleinsmith has led the 49er offense and right now she is the leading contender for Atlantic 10 Rookie of the Year, as she is hitting .463 with 2 HR and 19 RBI. Perhaps more importantly, she has provided protection in Charlotte's order for Bri Gwaltney who has continued her hot hitting at the plate, as she is currently hitting .355 with 6 HR and 18 RBI. Charlotte has the offensive firepower to advance to the Atlantic 10 Tournament, but its pitching will need to step up if they want to get through UMass, Fordham, and St. Joseph's.

Dayton: the Flyers have gotten off to a so-so start in 2012, as they have picked up a couple of big wins, but also some puzzling losses. Dayton has been impressive on offense, but they have not been as consistent in the circle. Alysha Isaacson and Kathleen Maloof have been outstanding at the plate, hitting .483 and .396 respectively. Both players are serious contenders for Atlantic 10 Player of the Year right now. Brandy Brown, Carlyn Harlow, and Tiffany Ricks have also been impressive for a Dayton squad that is hitting .267 with 19 HR and 17 SB. The Flyers will need to put up even better offensive numbers as they move into conference play, especially with the staff only having an ERA of 4.67. Freshman Kayla English has given the Flyers their first serious strikeout pitcher in a long time, but she has also struggled with walks. The Flyers will need her to step up if they want to make a run in St. Louis. Alysha Isaacson also figures to play a big role in the circle for the Flyers. Isaacson is not a big strikeout pitcher, but she is lefthanded and features and excellent  changeup which is an excellent combo. Coach LaPlaca will also need Sarah Wedel and Sydney Cicchetti to provide quality innings as well. Dayton will be in the mix with a number of other teams to claim one of those final two spots.

George Washington: the Colonials have the most work to do right now, but they seem to be rounding into form. The Colonials got off to a very rough start to the season and they are doing their best to work out of it. Kara Clauss is having a solid year in the circle and George Washington is going to be relying on her heavily in Atlantic 10 play. On offense, Autumn Taylor is having a career year, hitting .361 with 22 hits, 5 HR, and 14 RBI. Lauren Wilson is also having an excellent 2012 season, hitting .315 with 4 HR. The Colonials definitely have a bit more power this year as they have already hit out 11 HR. The key for this team moving into conference play will be how the offense performs against good pitching.

Fordham: the Rams have had a rough non-conference slate when compared with the success they have experienced the past two seasons. Right now the Rams have one quality win (Virginia) and only one other win (Longwood) against a team with a winning record. Unless the Rams run the table from here on out, an at-large is just not a realistic possibility. Jen Mineau is heating up, but she has not looked as invincible as she has in the past few years. Part of that has to be due to the fact that she has picked Fordham's only wins of the year and on multiple occasions she has thrown back to back games. The Rams need either Taylor Pirone or Michele Daubman to step up in the circle, otherwise the Rams could have a very long season. Paige Ortiz and Nicole Callahan have been consistent all year at the plate and Lindsey Kay Bright has come on strong as of late, but Fordham needs production from the rest of the lineup. The Rams have the best shot of challenging UMass, but they have a long ways to go.

St. Bonaventure: this team has been perhaps the most pleasant surprise in 2012. The Bonnies have gotten off to a 8-8 start in 2012, which is definitely one of the best starts for the program in recent memory against one of the toughest schedules they have seen. The Bonnies have gotten very good pitching in the circle from Diana Phalon and Jen Sansano. Sansano and Phalon have been a dynamic duo and Coach Mike Threehouse will count on them during A10 play to give both opposing squads different looks in the circle. The Bonnies have been led at the plate by Ashley Snider and Kelli Rohan who have been on fire at the plate. Snider is swinging a very powerful bat right now, along with Brooke Frey and Jessenia Andujar. Rohan has been doing an excellent job of setting the table for these powerful sluggers. Rohan has excellent speed and she is definitely right in the mix for A10 Rookie of the Year at this point in the season.

St. Joseph's: The Hawks have gotten the worst of the injury bug, as Monica Aguilar is out for the year. Aguilar is one of the most if not the most feared hitters in the conference and her absence leaves a significant void in St. Joseph's lineup. Nicole Palase is leading the way for the Hawks at the plate, as she is hitting .318 right now, behind her Maria Ficca, Bernadette Moran, and Rochelle Christman are also having solid seasons, but they are hitting just .226 as a team right now. The good thing for the Hawks is that they have the best pitching staff in the conference right now and many of the other coaches in the conference would kill for the depth that Coach Terri Adams has in the circle. Lauren Pembleton, Erin Gallagher, and Taryn Ashway have been an excellent trio in the circle and right now the Hawks have the best ERA in the A10. If the Hawks can get the bats going, St. Joe's will do very well in conference play.

St. Louis: The Billikens are hovering around .500, but they have not faced the toughest schedule until this past weekend. It is hard to say whether they will advance to the Atlantic 10 Tournament, but they will be in the mix. The Billikens have three solid pitchers in Kelcie Matesa, Julian Austin, and Hannah Huebbe who will be counted on for critical innings down the stretch. St. Louis' big problem right now is the offense. Jessica Buschjost and Erin Harcar are having outstanding seasons, but the rest of the lineup has been a bit stagnant at times. Buschjost is really creating havoc for opposing defenses, as she is hitting .341 with 29 hits and 19 steals. Erin Harcar is also getting the job done as she is hitting .282 with 20 hits, 3 HR, 10 RBI, and 14 steals.  The Billikens however are going to need more players to step up if they are to make the Atlantic 10 Tournament. It would be quite an embarrassment if they could not advance to the tournament they are hosting.

Temple: The Owls got off to a slow start, but they have won their last four and this team appears to be rounding into shape. In the circle, the Owls have made great strides as Jessica Mahoney and Brooklin White have gotten off to strong starts and Capri Catalano has been rounding into form. The pitching staff has been Temple's biggest strength this season, as the offense is only hitting .218. A number of Owls have gotten off to slow starts at plate, but the offense has started to slowly pick up. Meaghan Marley, Brooklin White, and Ali Robinson have been leading the way. The real key for the Owls is if they can get the powerful bats of Sarah Prezioso, Steph Pasquale, and Rachel Knable going. This trio hit 19 HR last year, but so far this year they and the team have hit just one. The Owls will be at the Atlantic 10 Tournament, but the offense will determine just how far they go.

The Others
La Salle and Rhode Island have both improved from 2011, but they do not appear to be in a position to challenge for an A10 Tournament bid in 2012.

This may be the last post in a while unless anyone would like to help out, if you can please email atlantic10softball@gmail.com

In the meantime follow us on Twitter, as that will be updated frequently