Sunday, December 30, 2012

2013 MAAC Preview - Iona Gaels

  •  37 Jodi Petersen OF Senior
  • 11 Eileen McCann OF Senior
  • 12 Beth Kann UT Senior
  • 45 Cari Anderson C Senior
  • 33 Paige Murray OF Junior
  • 17 Katie Jansson C Junior
  • 8 Brianna Schauer SS Sophomore
  • 1 Allison Hand IF/OF Sophomore
  • 10 Carly Argyle P Sophomore
  • 18 Sarah Schutz IF Freshman
  • 2 Brianna King C Freshman
  • 13 Sydney Dimon IF Freshman
  • 24 Jordan Courage P Freshman
  • 5 Christine Costello P Freshman

Christmas is over, and I hope you all had a very nice one. For us though, that means that we are in countdown mode to the new MAAC softball season! Over the next month, I will give my take on the state of MAAC softball with individual school previews, beginning with the defending champion Iona College Gaels.

See that photo above? That's the 2010 edition of the Gaels; the one that was beginning a dynasty by winning their first of three consecutive titles. Most everyone in that photo is gone now, including the coach. College careers are short; turnover is constant. No one in the MAAC will have a more profound turnover than the Gaels. The Sarah Jackson era is over (she's a pitching coach with George Washington currently). She'll never be forgotten, but now Iona softball must move on.

The Gaels are this season's biggest question mark. They have a new head coach, Melissa Inouye, who has a very impressive background as an assistant, most recently at Fordham. She's also a former division 1 student-athlete and captain. This will be her first head coaching opportunity. She inherits a team that knows nothing but winning; yet she will have to reshape them after the loss, to graduation, of a pair of All-MAAC pitchers that dominated the other teams in the conference...even intimidated them.

The college game dictates that sometimes young players have a lot put on their plate, and this season it looks like sophomore Carly Argyle (pictured left) is going to be number one in the circle. "Gnarly" Carly has big shoes to fill; and it would be unfair to expect her to be the next Sarah Jackson. However, Carly is a pitching prospect with an impressive pedigree dating back to her days in the California softball scene when she was an all-league performer at Glendora High School. Another circle prospect for the Gaels is Jordan Courage, a freshman by way of Del Oro High School in California. I understand that Jordan was recovering from surgery this past fall, but will be ready by February as the season begins. The Gaels have yet another California pitcher on the roster, freshman Christine Costello. Also dominant in her high school career at La Reina, Christine is more of a power pitcher than Carly and Jordan. She brings leadership and dedication to her game; and may play other positions as well. This season's pitching scenario at Iona could go either way. Carly Argyle pitched 12 innings last season; other than that there is no experience on the staff. They will certainly obtain it this season. There may be growing pains. However, you'll remember that in 2010 Canisius faced the exact same situation, and went 13-3 in the conference while seeing both their young pitchers on the All-MAAC team at season's end. Only time will tell how the Gaels' young pitchers will fare.

The Gaels will be led this season by a pair of senior All-MAAC outfielders. One of the conference's top players, Eileen McCann (pictured left), enters her final season already holding the school's all-time career home run record. She had a great 2012 season, leading the team in hitting and runs scored. More importantly, she's a dedicated athlete who shows up for every game.  Most importantly, she knows how to win once MAAC season begins. So Eileen has two missions this season. First off, I know she wants to win it all again in spite of this being a very different Gael team from the previous three seasons. But also, and in particular with a brand new coach, she will be passing along the legacy of Iona softball to the young players. Eileen has played like a champion from the start, and the Iona program will want to keep that attitude after she has departed. Senior Jodi Petersen did suffer a sophomore slump after winning MAAC Rookie Of The Year; but she came back strong in 2012, particularly later in the season during the big games. The Gaels' leadoff hitter can do it all; she can hit for average or power, and is a very good runner. Jodi stole 15 bases in 2012, which was three more than her combined career total entering that season. Of course, Jodi is part of the winning tradition also. The other two seniors on the team, Beth Kann and Cari Anderson have not seen as much action as Eileen and Jodi, but should be in the lineup more often in 2012, lending experience.

Junior Katie Jansson saw her average fall under .200 after a solid freshman season. The Gaels will be looking for her to pick her game up as she enters the second half of her career. Katie has good all around skills, and I did get the impression that she was fighting through injury last season. Joining the team this season as a walk on is junior Paige Murray. The two non pitcher sophomores, Allison Hand and Brianna Schauer (pictured left) both made significant contributions as freshmen. As a matter of fact, I thought Brianna was one of the team's better players down the stretch. She had a terrific MAAC Championship, landing a spot on the All-Tournament team. Allison hit a homer in the epic 15 inning tournament game vs. Fairfield which almost held up as the winner. She hit .333 at the tournament, with at least one hit in each of the five games. Brianna and Allison will be everyday players this season, counted upon to be major contributors. The Gaels have an interesting freshman class coming aboard; aside from the aforementioned Jordan Courage and Christine Costello is Sarah Schutz, a hard hitting third baseman out of Florida. Also joining the team is Brianna King, a strong hitting and strong armed catcher by way of the New Jersey Intensity. Sydney Dimon, an All-American from Elmira, NY who averaged two RBIs per game in high school looks to break into the lineup immediately. Actually, everyone will get a chance to play this season, as the Gaels will have a roster of only 14 players.

Yes, the Iona Gaels are the big mystery of the MAAC in 2013. During their championship runs, the Gaels were never the team to get into shootouts with their opponents. They had their lock down pitcher, and oftentimes scratching out a few runs was all they needed. Suddenly, the spotlight is on the circle. With their experience, if the Gaels get at least decent pitching, they can make a run for a tournament spot. If one of their young pitchers performs at an All-MAAC level, we could be hearing "fourpeat!". At the very least, the new staff will obtain the seasoning necessary to compete in the future.

Next up: The Fairfield Stags

Thursday, December 20, 2012

Manhattan 2013 Softball Schedule

Manhattan College will open their 48 game softball schedule on the weekend of February 22-24 at North Carolina A&T's Invitational. Their first game will be a rare non conference matchup against MAAC rival Canisius. They will also play St. Francis, Maryland-Eastern Shore and the host Aggies. They will then open their home schedule on March 13 with a doubleheader against St. John's. On the weekend of March 15-17, the Lady Jaspers will participate in the Stony Brook tournament, playing Yale, Providence, Holy Cross and the host school. Then it's off to Kissimmee, FL and the Rebel Spring Games where over three days they will play Albany, Wisconsin-Green Bay and Columbia. They will play a doubleheader against Cornell on the 23rd in Clermont, FL before returning north.

The LJs will open MAAC play at home vs. St. Peter's on April 6, which will be one of eight home dates in 2013. They close conference play early, on April 28 against Siena in Riverdale; and will end the regular season with a doubleheader at future MAAC rival Quinnipiac on May 4.

Manhattan 2013 Softball Schedule

Wednesday, December 19, 2012

Gianna Kinhofer Signs With Fairfield

A recruit I missed, which was reported by the Fairfield site yesterday. Gianna Kinhofer of Ocean, NJ has signed a national letter of intent to play softball at Fairfield University beginning in the 2014 season.

Gianna Kinhofer is a shortstop and pitcher at Ocean Township High School. And although she has won all-county recognition for her work in the circle, Gianna is being mainly recruited for her batting skills. Last season, she hit .494 to go along with an impressive .818 slugging percentage. She also led her team in RBIs. Gianna plays travel ball with the Morris County Belles Gold, one of New Jersey's top teams where she was a teammate of current Stags Sam Frungillo and Taylor August.

Congratulations Gianna!

Tuesday, December 18, 2012

Siena 2013 Softball Schedule

Siena College will launch their 55 game softball schedule on February 23-24 when they play three games at East Tennessee State. The Saints will begin tournament action on the weekend of March 8-10 at the Lady Pirates Classic in Hampton, VA, where they will play Delaware, Central Connecticut St., Maryland-Eastern Shore and Hampton. They will then head to Baltimore, MD, playing a doubleheader at Coppin State on the 14th before participating in the UMBC Spring Classic on the weekend of March 15-17 with Princeton, Morgan State and Georgetown among their opponents. Siena will then go west, landing in Albuquerque, NM for a game against Oklahoma State and a pair against New Mexico on March 23-24. On the 25th they will be in Las Cruces for a doubleheader vs. New Mexico State. The Saints then travel to Texas for a pair of doubleheaders at Texas-El Paso on March 26-27 to close out a challenging month.

On April 3, the Saints will be back home, but on the field of local rival Albany for a doubleheader. They begin MAAC play on April 6 when they host Iona, the first of nine home dates in 2013. They will close the regular season on May 5 at MAAC rival Marist.

Siena 2013 Softball Schedule

Marist 2013 Softball Schedule

Marist College will begin their 55 game softball schedule on March 2-3 at the Norfolk State tournament with games against Delaware, Army and the host school. The Red Foxes then head to UMBC for the Dawg Pound Classic on the weekend of March 8-10 where they will play Rhode Island, Mount St. Mary's, Howard, George Washington and the Retrievers. The team will then head to the west coast to participate in the San Diego Classic, with games against Bryant, Nevada-Las Vegas, San Jose State, Texas Tech and San Diego. On March 19, Marist will play a game in high altitude when they visit Brigham Young University. Staying in state, they will then visit Utah Valley on the 20th. From there, the Red Foxes will head to Fort Collins, CO to play in Colorado State's Spring tournament March 22-24. That's one busy March!

After coming back east and playing doubleheaders at Army, Hofstra and Seton Hall, Marist will open MAAC play on April 7 at home against Fairfield. This will be the first of eight home dates. The Red Foxes close the regular season with a MAAC matchup at Siena on May 5. Again this year, Marist will have the chance of extra homes games due to the MAAC Tournament being played in Poughkeepsie.

Saturday, December 15, 2012

The MAAC's Newest Teams

Yesterday the MAAC announced the expansion of the conference, welcoming Quinnipiac and Monmouth to the fold. Both schools have solid softball programs, and will begin competition as full fledged members of the MAAC in the 2014 season. Here's a brief look at the two newcomers.

2012 Quinnipiac Bobcats

Quinnipiac is coached by Germaine Fairchild, who has won 276 games during her 12 year career with the Bobcats. The team has won 32 games in each of their previous two seasons; and have participated in seven NEC tournaments.Quinnipiac plays fellow Connecticut school Fairfield every year in a home and home series; that rivalry will really heat up beginning in 2014.

QU's Ashley Heiberger slides against Fairfield's Lauren Liseth. The two Connecticut based teams are already very familiar with each other.
2012 Monmouth Hawks
The Monmouth Hawks are coached by Louie Berndt, who completed her third season with the school in 2012. She's a coach with lots of experience however, spending a decade as associate head coach at Florida State where she helped that team to two World Series appearances. She has notched 75 wins in her three years at Monmouth, leading the Hawks to two NEC tournament appearances in that time. Monmouth has made a total of 15 NEC tournaments. In 2014, MAAC fans will get a chance to watch reigning NEC Player Of The Year Kaitie Schumacher, who will be a senior that season.

NEC POY Kaitie Schumacher hit .388 in 2012
Although no announcement has yet been made, it is likely that the MAAC conference schedule will be expanded to 20 games. Hopefully the tournament field will also be expanded. In my opinion, the inclusion of these two programs will raise the level of play in the softball MAAC.

Quinnipiac vs. Monmouth, 2012 NEC Tournament  

Friday, December 14, 2012

Quinnipiac University Joins The MAAC

Quinnipiac University has accepted the Metro Atlantic Athletic Conference's invitation of membership beginning in the 2013-14 school year.

Wow, it's a huge day for the MAAC as they welcome another school into the fold. Quinnipiac University is located in Hamden, CT, not far from MAAC school Fairfield. Quinnipiac does have a softball program, meaning it looks like the MAAC will go to a 20 game conference schedule in 2014 (with Monmouth University also joining; see previous post). And perhaps an expansion of the tournament field? The Bobcats had a very good team in 2012, finishing with a 34-18 record, including a 6-2 record against MAAC schools. We will follow the Bobcats' final season in the NEC.

Welcome to the MAAC Quinnipiac!

Quinnipiac Announcement

Monmouth University Joins The MAAC

Monmouth University has announced that it will accept the Metro Atlantic Athletic Conference's invitation of membership beginning in the 2013-14 school year. Monmouth University is located in West Long Branch, NJ, and is quite close to many MAAC schools.

Monmouth does have a softball program; last season the Hawks finished 24-20, ending their season playing in the NEC tournament. We'll follow the softball Hawks as they play their last season in the NEC.

Welcome to the MAAC Monmouth!

Monmouth President's Announcement

Iona 2013 Softball Schedule

The Iona Gaels begin their 55 game softball schedule on February 8 at the Wilmington Beach Blast in North Carolina, playing Detroit Mercy, Nebraska-Omaha, and the host school. On the weekend of February 22, the Gaels will play in the North Carolina Classic against the Tar Heels, North Dakota State, Iowa State and George Washington, who this season have as their pitching coach Sarah Jackson. Iona begins play in March at the Towson Classic before heading for the west coast. After three weekday games in San Diego, they will participate in the Riverside tournament that will feature a pair of games against Notre Dame. The Gaels will have only six home dates this season, beginning with their home opener on March 20 vs. Temple. They open MAAC play on March 30 when they host Fairfield in a rematch of last season's MAAC Championship. The Gaels close their regular season on May 4 at Saint Peter's.

Iona 2013 Softball Schedule

Thursday, December 13, 2012

Canisius 2013 Softball Schedule

Canisius College will open its 53 game softball schedule indoors on February 16-17 at the Cleveland State Dome tournament, playing the host Vikings, St. Bonaventure, and Bucknell, plus a rare non conference matchup with MAAC rival Niagara. The next weekend, at the North Carolina A&T Invitational, they will play another rare non conference game against a MAAC rival; this time vs. Manhattan. In early March, the Golden Griffins will play in tournaments at Hampton, VA (Pirate Invitational); and Fairfax, VA (Cherry Blossom Classic).
Canisius will open MAAC play on April 6 at Rider. Canisius will then play eight home dates in a row, which makes up their entire home schedule. They close their regular season on May 4 at Siena.

Canisius 2013 Softball Schedule

Wednesday, December 12, 2012

Rider 2013 Softball Schedule

The Rider Broncs will open their 2013 softball season on February 9-10 when they take part in the Pirate Classic at East Carolina University. They will play Towson, Cleveland State, Ohio and the host school that weekend. The Broncs will be at the Patriot Classic in Fairfax, VA on the weekend of March 1-3, with games against Rutgers, Cornell and George Mason. After a road doubleheader at Drexel, Rider will open their home slate on March 13 with a game against Monmouth. They then head south again, this time to Kissimmee, FL for a week at the Rebel Spring Games. The Broncs will open MAAC play on March 30 at Saint Peter's; and close the regular season on May 4 when they host conference rival Fairfield. Rider will have nine home dates in 2013.
Currently, the Rider schedule indicates 60 games, with opponents at the Spring Games still to be announced.

Rider Softball Schedule

Sunday, December 9, 2012

Taylor Decker Signs With Canisius

The Griffs once again look to Arizona for talent!
Taylor Decker of Scottsdale, AZ has signed a national letter of intent to play softball at Canisius College beginning in the 2014 season.

Taylor Decker is a catcher and outfielder at Cactus Shadows High School (love that name!) in Cave Creek, AZ.  A starter behind the plate since her freshman season, she has a strong and accurate arm, earning second team All-Arizona honors in 2011. In the batter's box, Taylor had a great 2012 season, hitting for a .484 average which included a team leading 12 doubles. She also had a .677 slugging percentage, and drove home 16 runs. Taylor currently plays travel ball with the Arizona Storm, and is a teammate of recent Canisius signee Sarah Andrews.

Congratulations Taylor!

Friday, December 7, 2012

MAAC All-American Scholar-Athletes

Senior Eileen McCann can hit and is smarter than you!
The NFCA today released its list of 2011-12 Division 1 Scholar-Athlete All-Americans, recognizing excellence in the classroom. The following MAAC players were so honored:

Canisius College
Lauryn Chris
Jen Consaul
Michelle DelPrince
Lizzy Gatto
Katie Lancellotti
Caroline Main
Val Nappo

Fairfield University
Lauren Liseth

Iona College
Deanne Algeo
Cari Anderson
Melanie Hay
Allyssa James
Katie Jansson
Eileen McCann
Jodi Petersen
Brianna Schauer

Manhattan College
Amanda Babcock
Katie Bowen
Amy Bright
Anna Gallacher
Kelly Murray
Amanda Paxson
Mickayla Romero

Congratulations to all!