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.

Thursday, February 5, 2015

2015 St. Louis Preview: Breakthrough Year?

St. Louis had an outstanding run in 2014, which saw the Billikens finish second in the regular season and second at the Atlantic 10 Tournament. Coach Christy Connoyer and her squad are hungry for more this year. The Billikens had one of their best seasons in program history, as they went 30-21 overall and 12-5 in Atlantic 10 play. St. Louis is experienced at the plate and in the circle and they are hungry for a title.
Brianna Lore (photo by Vincent Dusovic)

It all starts in the circle for St. Louis with standout Brianna Lore. The big lefty carried St. Louis last year and earned Co-Atlantic 10 Pitcher of the Year honors. Last year, Lore went 25-13 with a 3.14 ERA and 157 strikeouts in 243 innings. She is one of the toughest pitchers in the conference and gets even tougher with runners on base. She will need some more help this season, as she threw 50 more innings than the next closest pitcher in the conference. If Lore is rested down the stretch, she could very well carry St. Louis to a title. Laney Kneib is also back in the circle. Kneib went 5-8 last year with a 4.67 ERA. The Billikens will look for Kneib to return to her freshman year form, which saw her go 14-8 with a 3.14 ERA. If Kneib bounces back, St. Louis' two-headed monster is going to be scary for opposing offenses. Maddie Baalman also joins the fold in the circle and Coach Connoyer is going to look to her to throw some meaningful innings too.

Hailey Weavers is back after an excellent freshman season, especially defensively. In 2014, Weavers kept the opposing offenses in check on the base paths as she gunned down 12 runners trying to steal. Weavers also hit .200 with 2 HR and 17 RBI. Coach Connoyer is going to look for Weavers to be a leader behind the plate in 2015. Sophomore Macie Wheeler could also see some action behind the plate.
Elizabeth Everingham (photo by Vincent Dusovic)

Coach Connoyer returns some key starters from her infield from last season, including standout shortstop Alex Nickel and third baseman Elizabeth Everingham. The St. Louis lineup is also bolstered by Evansville transfer Emma Buckles who could start at first. Last year, Nickel hit .333 with 49 hits, 3 HR, 20 RBI, and 10 steals. She was an extremely effective leadoff hitter and may be counted on to fill that role again in 2015. Everingham is back after a 2014 season, which saw her hit .290 with 40 hits, 7 HR, and 28 RBI. Everingham is a key bat in the St. Louis order, as she will help protect Lindsay Friedman in the lineup. Coach Connoyer would love to see her put up even bigger numbers this season. Buckles comes to St. Louis after a solid freshman year at Evansville. At Evansville, she hit .263 with 35 hits, 14 RBI, and 12 steals. St. Louis is going to count on her defense at first and her lefty bat at the plate. Miranda Cotton, Brittany Durant, Allie Macfarlane, and Alyssa Tarquino are also fighting for playing time and a starting spot.
Lindsay Friedman (photo by Vincent Dusovic)

Leading the Billiken outfield is Lindsay Friedman and she does a bit of everything for St. Louis. Last year, Friedman hit .346 with 53 hits, 9 HR, 35 RBI, and 32 steals. Friedman is an absolute stud and definitely one of the early favorites for Atlantic 10 Player of the Year. Friedman is joined in the outfield by returning starters Madeline Brungardt and Mackenzie Peter, while freshman Josie Knesel also joins the mix. Peter had a very solid year in 2014, hitting .331 with 46 hits, 2 HR, and 27 RBI. Coach Connoyer is going to look to her for even more production in 2015, during her sophomore season.
Brianna Lore (photo by Vincent Dusovic)

Designated Player
Not only can she pitch, but Bri Lore is also a pretty darn good hitter too. Last year, Lore hit .271 with 36 hits, 3 HR, and 33 RBI. Coach Connoyer is going to look for her lefty bat to hit once again in 2015.

St. Louis starts off nonconference play with difficult tournaments at Mississippi State and Western Kentucky, but from there the level of competition tapers off quite a bit. The Billikens will have ample opportunities to pick up wins and develop confidence heading into Atlantic 10 play. St. Louis opens up conference play with nine straight games at home against Fordham, Dayton, and George Mason. The Billikens will then close the season with four of their last five conference series on the road, including trips to St. Joseph's and UMass to close out the year. St. Louis has a fairly tough road in conference play, but it is certainly manageable for this talented squad.

On the heels of last year's performance, St. Louis is ready to take that next step and win a title. Bri Lore is back in the circle and she gives the Billikens an opportunity to win every time she sets toes the rubber. If Coach Connoyer can find some solid pitching behind her, they are going to be scary good. St. Louis' offense is going to be even better than it was last year and with Lindsay Friedman leading the way, they are going to be tough to stop. St. Louis is ready to knock off Fordham as conference champions, but that will not be an easy task.

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