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.