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.

Friday, February 5, 2016

2016 Preview: Fordham

Right now, the Rams are the dominant force in the conference and Coach Bridget Orchard has her 2016 squad poised to continue its run.
Rachel Gillen (photo by Thom Kendall)

Pitching: It all starts in the circle and with Rachel Gillen, Fordham may have the best pitcher in the conference. Last year, Gillen went 24-9 with a 2.33 ERA and 250 SO in 213.1 innings. As the season went on, Gillen only seemed to grow stronger, which is a great sign for 2016. Gillen is a bonafide ace who could lead Fordham past the regional round for the first time. Lauren Quense returns to the circle in 2016, after suffering a season-ending injury in 2015. Quense had a solid rookie campaign in 2014 and will be counted on for big innings in 2016. The one concern for the Rams is depth, as Gillen and Quense are the only pitchers on the roster.
Sydney Canessa (photo by Thom Kendall)

Offense: The good news for Coach Orchard is that she returns many big bats in her lineup. At the top of the lineup, Amy Van Hoven and Sydney Canessa return after solid 2015 seasons. Van Hoven hit .384 with 76 hits, 25 RBI, and recorded 16 steals, while Canessa hit .323 with 63 hits, 5 HR, and 36 RBI. Rachel Gillen also packs a big punch at the plate, as she hit .374 with 52 hits, 6 HR, and 39 RBI. Lindsay Mayer is back after a stellar season, which saw her hit .319 with 59 hits, 9 HR, and 52 RBI. Coach Orchard will need to replace the big bats of Kayla Lombardo, Michele Daubman, Cora Ianiro, and Paige Ortiz. The good news is the that she has some talented bats returning from her bench in 2015. Morgan Figueroa and Madison Shaw had solid rookie seasons, but are poised for breakout campaigns in 2016.
Lindsay Mayer (photo by Thom Kendall)

Catching: After the departure of Kayla Lombardo, the Fordham will look to Ally Vergona and Stephanie Ferri to hold down the fort. Vergona has a stellar arm behind the dish and may have the early edge. Vergona also hit .273 in part time duty last year. Freshman Kylie Michael should also figure into the mix.

Newcomers: Coach Orchard brought in a talented group of freshman who figure to make a big impact in 2016. Chelsea Skrepenak, Jessica Hughes, and Jordana Storm are a couple to keep an eye on.

Schedule: Fordham is going to face a grueling nonconference schedule which includes early season matchups against Alabama, Auburn, Tennessee, James Madison, UCF, Hofstra, and St. John's. Fordham's toughest test in conference play will come when they hit the road to face Dayton.

Outlook: Fordham is the favorite to win the conference and should have a great shot at an at-large bid regardless of whether or not they win the conference tournament.

2016 Preview: Dayton

Dayton had its best season in program history in 2015 and the Flyers are back for more in 2016. Dayton has a great shot at winning its first ever Atlantic 10 title.
Manda Cash (photo by Thom Kendall)

Pitching: Just like Fordham, Dayton is led by a stellar southpaw in Manda Cash. Cash burst on to the scene in 2015 and put up the best numbers in the Atlantic 10. Cash went 13-2 with a 1.49 ERA and 167 SO in 122.1 innings. Cash should carry an even bigger work load in 2016 and Dayton will go as far as she can take them. While Kayla English has graduated, the good news is that Gabrielle Snyder is back. Snyder went 8-6 with a 3.00 ERA and 52 SO in 93.1 innings. Snyder should figure to have an even bigger role this season. Coach Cara LaPlaca is also bolstered by the return of Emily Froment who missed all of 2015 due to injury. If Froment can return to her all-Rookie form from 2013, Dayton is going to be in great shape. Freshman Jessica Gillam also figures to see some big innings. Dayton's depth in the circle may be their biggest strength in 2016.

Offense: Atlantic 10 Player of the Year Tiffany Ricks and her huge bat are gone, leaving a big hole in the Flyers' lineup. In addition, Natalie Mariano and Jordan Jennings have also graduated. Gabrielle Snyder leads the way for the Flyers after hitting .396 with 65 hits, 2 HR, and 37 RBI. Kailee Budicin and Hannah DeSalvo are also back after solid seasons, which saw them each hit .297. The Flyers will need someone to step up and provide some power at the plate, as Dayton lost 24 of its 30 HR from last season.

Catching: Kathy Hess returns behind the dish and she should be a key player for Dayton once again. In 2015, Hess hit .279 with 10 RBI. She also did a nice job defensively, as she threw out 9 would be base stealers. Kyle Davidson, Kailee Budicin, and Kelly Fitzgerald could also see some time behind the plate.

Newcomers: Coach LaPlaca has a talented group of freshmen in 2016. Madi Maloof is the sister of former All-Conference performer Kathleen Maloof and could see some time in the outfield for Dayton. Aspyn Novak, Kayla Laquiere, and Jessica Gillam figure to see key playing time as well.

Schedule: Dayton's schedule starts off easy, but then gets quite difficult as they will face Chattanooga, Tennessee, Louisville, Michigan, and Ohio State in nonconference play. The Flyers may have the best conference schedule, as they will get Fordham, St. Louis, and St. Joseph's at home.

Outlook: Dayton has the pitching and the schedule to get them to the NCAA tournament, but the Flyers success will come down to how well they hit.

2016 Preview: St. Louis

St. Louis heads into 2016 with big expectations and a great chance at bringing home the program's first ever Atlantic 10 title.
Brianna Lore (photo by Thom Kendall)

Pitching: Brianna Lore is back for her senior season and the former Atlantic 10 Pitcher of the Year is looking to reclaim that title once again in 2016. The senior southpaw is already the St. Louis' career leader in wins and she is looking to lead the Billikens to new heights. The great thing for Coach Christy Connoyer is that St. Louis brings back its other two pitchers from 2015. Laney Kneib served as the club's closer in 2016 and she was stellar in that role going 8-1 with 2.86 ERA with 31 SO in 83.1 innings, while recording 6 saves. Maddie Baalman is back after a solid freshman campaign which saw her go 10-7 with a 4.71 ERA with 31 SO in 91 innings. Freshman Kallen Loveless should also see some key innings in the circle.
Alex Nickel (photo by Thom Kendall)

Hitting: The Billikens wielded some big bats in 2015, hitting .301, while slugging 55 HR. Leading the charge on offense is junior shortstop Alex Nickel. Nickel had an outstanding season, hitting .415 with 71 hits, 56 runs scored, 11 HR, 32 RBI, and 10 steals. She is one of the top all-around players in the conference and should be an early favorite for Atlantic 10 Player of the Year. Beyond Nickel, the Billikens also bring back six .300 hitters from 2015. Brianna Lore hit .340 last year with 52 hits, 4 HR, and 32 RBI. Emma Buckles hit .336 with 38 hits, 1 HR, and 19 RBI, while recording 8 steals. Allie Macfarlane is back as St. Louis' RBI leaders after a stellar rookie season, which saw her hit .327 with 51 hits, 8 HR, and 50 RBI. Coach Connoyer will also count on Mackenzie Peter, Elizabeth Everingham, and Josie Knesel for big seasons at the plate.
Hailey Weavers (photo by Thom Kendall)