Monday, August 10, 2015

Monmouth Coach Berndt Retires

This is a breaking story, and I'll try to update this later.

A source has informed me that Monmouth head coach Louie Berndt has retired, and the Hawks are currently looking for her replacement. I'm told this is due to an ongoing health issue.

As MAAC softball followers know, Coach Berndt led her team on an impressive MAAC tournament run this past season, falling one game short of the championship. Solid recruiting has her team in good shape, but her field leadership will be missed.

The current Monmouth assistant is Jessica Garcia, former All-American at New Mexico and a member of the professional Akron Racers this season. No word yet if she has applied for the position.

More on this later.

Wednesday, July 22, 2015

NCAA Approves New Rules for 2016

The NCAA Playing Rules Oversight Panel recently approved a number of rule changes proposed by the Softball Rules Committee, the most significant of which will permit the usage of in-game video and statistical technology. The Committee stated that this will eliminate the "burden of enforcement", which implies teams have already been using the technology.

Some of the other approved new rules:
Defensive players will no longer be allowed to block a base without possession of the ball, or being in the act of catching the ball;
Tournament hosts will be permitted to live stream all games that do not involve them;
Non traditional, or dome games must have regulation fences. If not, home runs will be be ground rule doubles;
Deliberate throwing of the ball at an umpire will result in all sorts of ejections, obviously a response to a recent viral video!

Read more here

Tuesday, June 9, 2015

Kelly Rasulo Commits To Siena

Kelly Rasulo of Merrick, New York has verbally committed to play softball at Siena College beginning in the 2017 season.

Named one of the top players in Long Island, Kelly Rasulo is a tall, athletic third baseman who can hit for average and power. She's known for driving home runs. However, she is also very quick in the infield with excellent range, and has been described by her coach at Kellenberg high school as a "stabilizing force" in the infield. Kelly plays travel ball with Team Long Island Gold.

Congratulations Kelly!

Saturday, May 16, 2015

MAAC Season Ends With Fairfield Loss

USC Upstate 9
Fairfield 0 (6)

The Fairfield Stags were eliminated from the NCAA Tournament when they fell to the USC Upstate Spartans Saturday at the Tuscaloosa, Alabama Regional.

The Fairfield offense was never able to get on track in this Regional appearance. Destinee Pallotto pitched well through the game's first five innings, keeping the Stags in the game. The freshman has a bright future. Her circle counterpart, Lexi Shubert, with an ERA well below 2.00, had shut down Fairfield with one hit until the top of the sixth inning when Lauren Filicia and Sammy Ruffolo led off with singles. But the Stags were not able to capitalize; in fact, they never reached third base in the two games played in Tuscaloosa. A Fairfield error, plus a triple and home run helped Upstate end the game early, 9-0.

So that ends another MAAC softball season, one that was marred in the beginning with inclement weather and many cancellations. Teams scrambled to get games played as the harsh winter roared on; this, in my opinion, hampered all the teams in one way or another. But, with El Nino forming somewhere way out in the Pacific, next season is forecast to bring a much milder winter! Maybe some February games in Hawaii and southern Florida might help!

Thank you for reading this season! In the coming weeks, I will bring you news on the new players coming into the conference next season and beyond. Lots of them are pitchers...

Friday, May 15, 2015

Stags Drop NCAA Opener

Future trivia question: Nicole Capra had Fairfield's first ever NCAA Tournament hit
#6 Alabama 8
Fairfield 0 (6)

The Fairfield Stags played their first ever NCAA Tournament game, losing to #6 Alabama Friday in the Tuscaloosa, Alabama Regional.

The Stags were unable to solve Alabama's star pitcher Sydney Littlejohn in this game, and were limited to just two hits and no walks. Nicole Capra got Fairfield's first ever national tournament hit in the third inning; and Lauren Filicia doubled in the sixth inning. But the Stags were never able to get a runner past second base. Alabama pounded out 15 hits in the game, ending it early in the sixth inning for an 8-0 win.

Fairfield will play an elimination game Saturday vs. South Carolina Upstate, who lost to #20 Washington earlier in the day. A win would mean the Stags would play another elimination game immediately following. A loss would mean an end to the 2015 MAAC softball season.

Wednesday, May 13, 2015

Tuscaloosa, Alabama Regional

#6 Alabama Crimson Tide
Record: 42-12
Leading Hitter: Haylie McCleney .462
Leading Pitcher: Sydney Littlejohn 1.52; 15-1

 #20 Washington Huskies
Record: 40-15
Leading Hitter: Ali Aguilar .425
Leading Pitcher: Casey Stangel 4.45; 9-4

 South Carolina Upstate Spartans
Record: 43-8
Leading Hitter: Hayley Reinfeld .447
Leading Pitcher: Lexi Shubert 1.50; 33-5

 Fairfield Stags
Record: 25-22
Leading Hitter: Lauren Filicia .406
Leading Pitcher: Destinee Pallotto 3.64; 11-8

Sunday, May 10, 2015

Fairfield To Play In Tuscaloosa Regional

The NCAA just announced that MAAC Champion Fairfield will be playing in the Tuscaloosa, Alabama Regional.

The Stags will be grouped with host #6 Alabama, Washington and South Carolina Upstate.
More on this Regional this week.

Saturday, May 9, 2015

Fairfield's Time Has Finally Come!

Stags were not to be denied
Fairfield 8
Monmouth 5

Fairfield 11
Monmouth 5

The Fairfield Stags swept the Monmouth Hawks Saturday in Buffalo, New York, winning the championship of the Metro Atlantic Athletic Conference for the first time since 1991.

Seven times previously the Fairfield Stags made it to the championship game of the MAAC tournament, and seven times they walked off the field disappointed. Somehow this season felt different. Maybe because the pressure was not on them this time; last year they hosted the tournament and fell in one day. Maybe after a rough start of the season, they had to fight and claw to get back into contention. Whatever the reason, this time they made it all the way through, and are champions of the MAAC.

Fairfield would have to beat Monmouth twice on this day to claim that championship, and game one began like the streaking Hawks' previous tournament games had begun - with them jumping out of the gate with a substantial early lead. Coach Berndt had her team fired up from the first pitch of this tournament. Monmouth took a 1-0 lead in the top of the first inning thanks to Rachel Shotzbarger's RBI single. The Stags tied the game in the bottom of the first, with Sam Frungillo's ground ball RBI providing the run. But the Hawks came right back with a four hit, three run inning in the top of the second. Vanessa Cardoza led off the inning with a double, followed by Jill Fresse's home run blast over the left field fence. An error scored another run, and the Hawks were up 4-1, and looking well on their way to getting the one win they needed. But Fairfield stayed composed, and put up a three spot of their own in the bottom of the same inning to tie the game up 4-4. They quickly loaded the bases, then took advantage of two Monmouth errors to close to within a run. Sam Frungillo's second RBI of the game then sent the tying run home. Rachel Shotzbarger, who had a great tournament, led off the top of the third inning with a home run to give the Hawks the lead once more. But after that, it was all Fairfield the rest of the day. Pitcher Destinee Pallotto, who was pulled in Fairfield's winners' bracket game vs. Monmouth with the Stags in the lead (they eventually lost), would not leave the circle this day. She shut out the Hawks in game one's final four innings. Her team gave her the lead for good in the bottom of the fifth inning, scoring four times. Molly Roche tied the game with a long homer over the center field fence. The Stags weren't done though, getting four more hits in the frame. Lauren Filicia's RBI single; then Sammy Ruffolo's 2 RBI double to the center field fence sealed the victory, and forced a "winner take all" championship game.

The Stags stormed out early in game two, and never looked back. Sam Frungillo drove home her third run of the day to give them a 1-0 first inning lead. Then a six hit, six run onslaught in the second inning built a lead that Monmouth simply could not overcome. Kate Robinson doubled home a run; she would hit a remarkable 7 for 7 on the day. She was 10 for 14 in the tournament and inexplicably left off the All-Tournament team. Lauren Filicia singled home a run; Tori Reed and Sammy Ruffolo perfectly executed a suicide squeeze bunt; Kristen Ball singled home a run; Kate Robinson singled home another in her second at bat of the inning. Monmouth was visibly stunned after having played ahead the whole tournament. They did keep fighting, scoring five runs in the game, but they never got close to the Stags. Destinee Pallotto pitched her second complete game of the day, and when she recorded the last out, the Fairfield players erupted into a frenzy. They later doused long time head coach Julie Brzezinski with the traditional water bucket shower!

Fairfield won the MAAC way back in 1991 before the conference had an automatic bid to the national tournament, so they will be making their first ever appearance in the NCAAs. They will find out Sunday evening where they will be playing. Monmouth made a great run, and the experience should prove invaluable next season.

MAAC ALL-Tournament Team

Most Valuable Player
Lauren Filicia, Fairfield

ALL-Tournament Team:

Nicole Capra
Destinee Pallotto
Lauren Falkanger
Sammy Ruffolo

Emma Hill
Rachel Shotzbarger
Ashalynn Umiamaka

Amy Bright
Stephanie Reinhardt

Paige Lloyd
Paige Hess




The Stags came out of the losers' bracket to sweep Monmouth Saturday in Buffalo, NY, and will make their first ever NCAA Tournament appearance.

More later...

Friday, May 8, 2015

Monmouth vs. Fairfied This Season

The MAAC rivals have actually played each other five times this season, with Monmouth holding a 3-2 edge:

MAAC Tournament 5/8/15
Monmouth 12
Fairfield 8

@Monmouth 4/19/15
Fairfield 10
Monmouth 2

Monmouth 8
Fairfield 0 (5)

Orlando, FL 3/14/15
Fairfield 9
Monmouth 4

Bules Creek, NC 3/7/15
Monmouth 3
Fairfield 2

Stags Advance To MAAC Championship Game

The Fairfield Stag will play for MAAC title for the 4th time in 5 years
Fairfield 7
Siena 3

The Fairfield Stags have advanced to the MAAC tournament championship round by beating the Siena Saints 7-3 Friday in Buffalo, NY.

Had a few breaks gone their way, we'd be talking about the Fairfield softball program dynasty. The Stags will be playing in the MAAC championship game for the fourth time in the last five seasons when they meet Monmouth Saturday - maybe this will be their year. They got out to a 3-0 lead in this elimination game due to some Siena miscues. Tori Reed's sacrifice fly gave them a 1-0 lead in the first inning after an error. Another Siena error scored two more in the third inning, with Sam Frungillo sacrificing home a run. The Saints got back in the game in the top of the fourth inning with RBIs from Melanie Kalesse and Lauren Milligan, but the Stags answered immediately in the bottom of the same inning when Nicole Capra blasted a pitch over the left field fence, her second homer of the day, and Lauren Filicia drove home a run. Fairfield scored twice more in the fifth inning, thanks to Sam Frungillo's second RBI of the game and an unearned run. Paige Hess would hit a homer for Siena, but Lauren Falkanger otherwise shut the door on the Saints the rest of the way, striking out eight in her complete game win.

So Fairfield will have to beat Monmouth twice on Saturday to win the title. They did, however, score eight runs on the Hawks in today's earlier loss; they know they can hit MU pitching. Siena's season ended, but not before they won multiple tournament games for the first time in their history.

Saints Survive; Manhattan Eliminated

Lauren Butts pitched brilliant game
Siena 4 
Manhattan 1


The Siena Saints won multiple tournament games for the first time in their history when the defeated the Manhattan Jaspers 4-1 Friday in Buffalo. Manhattan was eliminated in the loss.

A Sammy Smaldone RBI single gave Siena the quick 1-0 in the top of the first inning. In the bottom of the same inning, Siena starting pitcher Amanda Gatt surrendered a bases loaded walk, which resulted in a 1-1 game. She got out of that jam, but Lauren Butts entered the game to begin the bottom of the second inning, and was dominant, tossing a one-hit shutout the rest of the way. Siena took the lead in the top of the fifth inning when, after Paige Lloyd singled and Abby Carpenter doubled, freshman Paige Hess ripped a pitch over the left field fence for the 4-1 win.

Siena will now play Manhattan in the final elimination game; Manhattan was eliminated from the tournament.

Monmouth Will Play In Championship Round

Rachel Shotzbarger drove home 5 runs in win
Monmouth 12
Fairfield 8

The Monmouth Hawks defeated the Fairfield Stags 12-8 Friday in Buffalo, earning the right to play for the Championship of the MAAC on Saturday.

This was a strange tournament game, with both teams mounting big comebacks and combining for 29 hits. But it was Monmouth who ended on top of the pile and in the driver's seat. A seven run, sixth inning onslaught sealed the win for the school only in its second year in the MAAC. Rachel Shotzbarger had a huge game, with a homer and five RBIs. Chloe Howerth, Emma Hill and Ashalynn Umiamaka all had three hits; Ashalynn and Kayleena Flores both drove home a pair of runs. For Fairfield, who had a big five run fifth inning, home runs were hit by Molly Roche and Nicole Capra. Tori Reed finished with three hits.

Monmouth waits for their opponent in the championship round; Fairfield plays Siena next in the final elimination game.

Thursday, May 7, 2015

Manhattan Survives; Canisius Eliminated

Amy Bright pitched her team to a new day
Manhattan 2
Canisius 1

The Manhattan Jaspers eliminated the host Canisius Golden Griffins, and will play again Friday at the MAAC Championship.

Manhattan squeaked by the host Griffs 2-1, scoring both their runs in the first inning. Mickayla Romero's double, which scored Jenn Vazquez and Amanda Paxson, both of whom had singled, gave the Jaspers all the runs they would need. Canisius starter Madi Weathers did pitch shutout ball the rest of the way, but her team could manage but one run, that on Jessica Berzins' seventh inning RBI single. Amy Bright, recovered from Manhattan's first game loss, struck out eight Griffs in earning the win.

Manhattan will play Siena in an elimination game Friday. Canisius was eliminated.

Siena Survives; Iona Is Eliminated

Paige Lloyd delivered the winning hit
Siena 2
Iona 1

The Siena Saints eliminated the Iona Gaels Thursday in Buffalo, NY, and will move on to play on Friday at the MAAC Championship.

Siena's Amanda Gatt and Iona's Christine Costello both pitched very well in this game, which was scoreless heading into the bottom of the sixth inning. The Saints hadn't had a base runner for four innings when Stephanie Viggiano tripled to deep center. Then with two outs, Paige Lloyd sent a towering blast over the left center field fence, and suddenly Siena was in front 2-0. The Gaels did mount a comeback in the top of the seventh inning, with Courtney Miller driving home a run to halve the Saints' lead. But Amanda Gatt struck out Tori Danner to end the game.

Siena moves on to survival mode Friday, when they will play Manhattan in an elimination game. Iona saw their season end.

Hawks Crush Canisius; Advance To Winners' Bracket

Big game at the plate for Vanessa Cardoza
Monmouth 12
Canisius 1 (5)

The Monmouth Hawks won a run rule game over the host Canisius Golden Griffins Thursday to advance to the winners' bracket.

This game was All Monmouth All The Time as the Hawks stunned the host Griffs 12-1, pounding out 13 hits. A muffed fly ball scored them a run in the first inning, but it was a five run third inning that saw Monmouth run away with the tournament game. They would add another four in the fourth inning, and two more in the fifth to end the game early. Vanessa Cardoza and Chloe Howerth both drove home three runs, but everyone in the Hawk lineup contributed. Sydney Underhill earned her second win of the tournament.

Monmouth will play Fairield Friday morning in the winners' bracket game. The two teams have already played four times this season, splitting those games. Canisius will face Manhattan Thursday in an elimination game.

Stags Beat Iona, Advance To Winners' Bracket

Lauren Filicia delivered a big hit in the Stags' 6th inning rally
Fairfield 6
Iona 2

The Fairfield Stags advanced to the winners' bracket when they defeated the Iona Gaels 6-2 Thursday morning in Buffalo, NY.

The Gaels built a 2-0 lead in this game when Allie Hand singled home Courtney Miller in the third inning, and Kristen Turner blasted her second homer of the tournament in the fourth inning. They seemed well on their way to a win with two outs in the bottom of the sixth inning, but after a pair of walks, recent ALL-MAAC honoree Lauren Filicia stepped to the plate and calmly stroked a single to center field which brought home the tying and winning runs. The Stags would add three more runs thanks to Sammy Ruffolo's RBI single and Tori Reed's two run homer. Lauren Falkanger earned the win, striking out nine batters.

The Stags will now play Monmouth Friday in the winners' bracket game; the Gaels are currently playing Siena in an elimination game.