Wednesday, February 2, 2011

2011 MAAC Preview---Siena Saints

2010 Record: 7th Place (7-9)
Departed Players: 5
Incoming Players: 5

Returning Players:
Shannon Jones (.344; 6 HR, 33 RBI)
Mandy Ferro (.323)
Lyndsey McKeever (.271)
Sara Gallacchi (.212)
Courtney Brinkman (.207; 6-7, 3.93 ERA)
Alyssa Sceppaguercio (.200)
Kayla Kaminsky (.191)
Natasha Powlowsky (.179)
Jen Duell (.154)
Kristyn Vaughn (.141)
Kristen Borsella (7 Runs)
Amanda Filippazzo (8-22; 4.75 ERA)

Incoming Players:
Stefanie Sueda (Sophomore)
Darcy Gardner
Taylor Guerin
Samantha Ray
Jessika-Jo Sandrini

Although the Saints finished in 7th place in 2010, they showed definite improvement toward the end of the season and I expect them to continue to improve in 2011. Siena won 5 of their last 8 conference games, and had an outside shot at making the tournament last year. This season they have a new head coach, Bill Lajeunesse, who isn't so new as he has been at the school the previous four seasons as an assistant. When I saw Siena play last year, it seemed that he was already in charge (Coach Parks had announced she was leaving the school during the season). So I don't think there will be any difficulty in this transition. This year he has hired a full time pitching coach, first in the team's history. Abby Arceneaux will help develop the talented young pitchers joining the Saints this season.

Two talented freshmen led the Saints in hitting last season. Shortstop Shannon Jones had her impressive debut season capped off by being named to the All-MAAC Second Team. Shannon is a local product who was heavily recruited but decided to play for her hometown team, much to Siena's fortune. She led the Saints in hitting, homers, doubles and on base percentage. She did commit 23 errors at short, and will have to improve that number, but she just began playing the position her senior year of high school. Shannon Jones will be a force in the MAAC for the next three seasons.

Another local player who chose Siena is sophomore outfielder Mandy Ferro. Mandy had a terrific freshman season, finishing second on the team with a .323 average. A very good runner, she led the team in runs and stolen bases. She also pitched some, but I don't think she'll be seeing any time in the circle this season. Look for her to progress her play upward also.

Junior outfielder Lyndsey McKeever had a solid 2010, and will assume a leadership role on the team the next two years. Lyndsey is an outstanding fielder with speed; she was second on the team in stolen bases.

The Siena pitching staff could be interesting this season. Amanda Filippazzo's 2010 record is somewhat not indicative of her play. She won 5 of her last 7 conference games her sophomore season, keeping the Saints in the tournament hunt. Obviously she progressed as the season wound down, and pitched her best in the big games.

Senior Courtney Brinkman was steady in 2010, and also played well in the field and in the batter's box. She also will be a leader on this team. Joining the team this season are two strong and powerful pitchers. Either or both could be factors for the Saints this season, but of course you never know how a freshman pitcher will make the adjustment to division 1 softball. Darcy Gardner is an outstanding athlete from Seal Beach, CA. Jessika-Jo Sandrini hails from Adna, WA where she was Washington State Player Of The Year twice. She is also an outstanding hitter and will get some swings I believe. The Saints have a chance to have very solid pitching this season.

The Siena Saints are an up and coming team in the MAAC. They may be a year away from contending, but if they get big performances from key players and their pitching improves could be a surprise in 2011.

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