Saturday, January 15, 2011

2011 MAAC Preview---Canisius Golden Griffins

2010 Finish: 1st Place (34-19)
Departed Players: 1
Incoming Players: 3

Returning Players:
Emily Helbig (.378)
Lizzy Gatto (.348)
Lauren Hope (.343; 33 SB)
Paige Freiberger (.311; 11 HR 46 RBI)
Katie Medina (.298)
Chloe Contreras (.286)
Katie Lancellotti (.264; 42 RBI)
Lauren Falzone (.233)
Amanda Cannizzo (.222)
Kerry Ulmer (.213)
Stephanie Pfentner (.118)
Lauryn Chris (.080)
Amanda Baun (18-12; 1.98)
Caroline Main (16-7; 2.62)

Incoming Players:
Jen Consaul
Marissa Miller
Valorie Nappo

Losing only one player to graduation, Canisius will field a team in 2011 that is rich with upperclassmen and All-MAAC players. The big concern for the Golden Griffins last season was the inexperience of their pitching staff, a concern compounded by the departure of a third pitcher before the season began. That pitching staff performed well enough to give the team the regular season title, and with a year of experience under their belts they could lead the Griffs to a championship this season. Junior Caroline Main (pictured left) struggled her freshman season, but became a dominant MAAC pitcher last year, going 8-0 in regular season conference play. She was injured in the MAAC Championship. Caroline walked only 40 batters last season, while striking out 139 and was selected to the All-MAAC First Team. Amanda Baun (pictured right) had a terrific freshman season, being named Second Team All-MAAC. She set Canisius freshman records for wins and strikeouts (187). She threw a one-hitter in the MAAC Championship. These two pitchers could be a dominant one-two punch for the next two seasons. They will be joined this season by Jen Consaul, a hard throwing strikeout pitcher who will be given the time to develop.

Canisius will have plenty of offensive firepower with which to support their pitchers. Senior outfielder Lauren Hope is an All-MAAC selection who has led the conference in stolen bases each of her three seasons. She holds the MAAC single season stolen bases record, and is in close pursuit of the career record. Lauren also led the MAAC in triples last season. She scored 40 runs as the team's leadoff hitter.

Senior Paige Freiberger had a great 2010 season, leading the MAAC in home runs and often winning games by herself in late innings. She was injured the day before the MAAC Championship last season, and the team certainly missed their captain. A third baseman with a quick glove, Paige was a First Team All-MAAC selection last season.

Another senior, first baseman Emily Helbig, is perhaps the best defensive player in the conference. But the Second Team All-MAACer had a great season at the plate, leading the team with a .378 average. She hits even better against MAAC pitching. Senior Kerry Ulmer backs her up, and also will be a designated player.

Junior Lizzy Gatto (pictured left) was hitting well over .400 when a Sarah Minice fastball broke one of her fingers late last April. She played through the injury, but her hitting was affected. The All-MAAC center fielder can hit for average or power and has one of the best arms in the conference. Juniors Amanda Cannizzo and Lauren Falzone platoon in the outfield. Amanda beat Manhattan in the MAAC Championship with a 7th inning walk off two run single. Sophomore Chloe Contreras saw limited action in 2010, but produced when called upon. Freshman Val Nappo was recruited as a first baseman, but won't get to play there until next season. In the meantime she could see significant action in the outfield if her fabulous fall season is any indication of her future play. As a high schooler, she was a NFCA Eastern Region selection.

Junior Katie Lancellotti is the anchor of the Griffs' defense at shortstop. Tall and athletic, nearly impossible to move off the bag, she has a lot of range and a good arm. She also hit 6 homers and 42 RBIs in 2010, and is a threat to hit one out whenever she steps to the plate. Redshirt sophomore Katie Medina will start again at second base. One of the top MAAC freshmen in 2010, she's another tall and athletic infielder who is very good at getting on base and rarely strikes out. She's backed up by junior Lauryn Chris, who is also the team's primary pinch runner.

Sophomore catcher Stephanie Pfentner will have to fill the shoes of the departed Michelle Fridey. A good defensive player, she showed signs in the fall of improved hitting. She will be backed up by freshman Marissa Miller, another tall and athletic catcher.

Canisius had an outstanding 2010 regular season, but were hampered by four injuries to key players once the tournament began. If they stay healthy, they will be one of the favorites to win it all in 2011.

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