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Saturday, April 28, 2012

Pivotal MAAC Weekend

All roads lead to Poughkeepsie

This weekend in the MAAC could be one of "make or break" for a number of teams. It should be very exciting. The way it looks now, six teams are fighting for the top four slots that will qualify them for the tournament in Poughkeepsie next month. It's not possible at this writing to say who will and will not make it.

I think the team who faces the biggest test this weekend is Siena. Are the Saints at the point where they can make a championship run, qualifying for the first time since 2003? Siena leads the MAAC in hitting, but they will be on the road against Rider and Iona.

The Canisius at Marist matchup Saturday is a crucial one. It will feature two of the hottest pitchers in MAAC play. The Red Foxes' Emily Osterhaus, after seeing her innings reduced at the beginning of the season, has stepped up her play considerably with a 3-0 record and 0.36 ERA in conference games. The Griffs' Jen Consaul is 4-1 and 1.40 with only two walks, and has the lowest opponents' batting average in MAAC games (.178). Canisius must get at least a split; Marist has some more leeway, but being swept would give them a tiebreaker disadvantage.

Rider is trying to qualify for the first time since 2006; they will host Siena and travel to Fairfield. The game with the Stags will be crucial (to both teams likely). Fairfield is at 6-4, and can not afford to be swept. Rachael Matreale vs. Becca Trott promises to be a low scoring affair. And Siena's pitching has done quite well as of late; Jessika-Jo Sandrini is 3-0 in conference play with a 1.04 ERA.

Iona should get a pair of wins Saturday when they host St. Peter's, who still need improvement in the circle (although Shelby Beaver has pitched well down the stretch). But the Gaels will host Siena Sunday in a big matchup. Although Iona pounded out 17 hits against Jen Mineau's understudies at Fordham this past week, they have had trouble against good pitching. So you're going to see the number one pitching team in the MAAC vs. the number one hitting team. However, it should be noted that in conference games, Siena is number two in pitching. But of course, the Saints don't have the pressure game experience that the Gaels do.

The standings may look very different Sunday night. Or not. Read all about it here!

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