Saturday, January 19, 2013

2013 MAAC Preview - Canisius Golden Griffins

  • 20 Amanda Baun P Senior
  • 00 Chloe Contreras OF/PR Senior
  • 33 Katie Medina 2B Senior
  • 18 Stephanie Pfentner C Senior
  • 8 Jen Consaul P Junior
  • 9 Val Nappo 1B Junior
  • 4 Erica Afanador SS/3B Sophomore
  • 15 Michelle DelPrince OF Sophomore
  • 6 Robin Kennery 2B/3B Sophomore
  • 28 Kalie Michalski OF/PR
  • 17 Marissa Miller C/DP Redshirt Sophomore
  • 2 Corinne Schaus P Sophomore
  • 10 Meghan Cuda 2B/OF Freshman
  • 21 Bethany DeMarco C/3B Freshman
  • 14 Tori Nappo OF Freshman
  • 11 Alexis Roman SS Freshman
  • 5 Jenn Solis P Freshman
After a disappointing 2011 season, Canisius College rebounded in 2012 to qualify for the MAAC tournament, finishing in third place. They hope to build on that success in 2013, and will try to do so with some new faces in the starting lineup and, they hope, with a returning star.

The Golden Griffins' senior class will play a big role in determining how far the team goes in '13. The focus as the season begins will be on pitcher Amanda Baun (pictured left). After having a terrific freshman season which saw her break a couple of school records and earn All-MAAC status, Amanda fell on hard times the next two seasons. In fact, in 2012 she was not a factor at all. However, after having a very good fall season, look for Coach Rappl to hand her the ball early and often to see if she has regained her former form when she was among the conference's leaders in wins, strikeouts and ERA. If that form returns, Canisius will be a title contender. What will happen remains to be seen, but if Amanda can regain starting status, the Griffs' pitching suddenly becomes very deep.

Second Baseman Katie Medina's (pictured left) return from injury during the 2012 season sparked her team to a late season run that landed them in the tournament. She led the Griffs in batting last year with a .330 average; often producing big and timely hits. Also very good in the field, Katie's presence in the lineup seems to give the team confidence. But she has been injury prone her whole career; Canisius will need her healthy and on the field to make a run in 2013. Another player who has battled through injury is senior catcher Stephanie Pfentner. Stephanie may be the best defensive backstop in the MAAC; the Griffs missed her noticeably last season when she was out. Actually, teams ran wild on the Griffs without her on the field. They need her healthy too, especially in conference games. At the bat, she has the ability to hit one out at any time, and did so against Fairfield in the 7th inning of a tournament game last year. If she stays healthy, she should be among the conference leaders in home runs. Chloe Contreras is the team's primary pinch runner; and may see some action in the outfield.

Canisius has only two juniors on their roster; but they are important players. Val Nappo and Jen Consaul will serve as the team's co-captains in 2013, and likely 2014 as well. Jen Consaul struggled early in the circle in 2012, but by the time MAAC season rolled around she was pitching very well. In fact, she again was among the leaders in conference play, with a 1.96 ERA and 5-2 record. She showed great control, walking only eight batters. Her biggest game last season was a two hit shutout win over eventual champion Iona, which kept her team in the hunt. Val Nappo, one of the top defensive players in the MAAC, closed out her 2012 season by being named to the All-Tournament team. Although she struggled early at the plate, she finished second on the team with 23 RBIs.

The Golden Griffins will field a strong sophomore class, with players that made major contributions as freshmen. Pitcher Corinne Schaus (pictured left) was pressed into action last season during the team's first conference game. A five run deficit turned into a win; Corinne would go on to gain more victories as the season progressed. She finished among the leaders with a 2.76 ERA in a season which figured to see her on the bench learning. Robin Kennery became the Griffs' third baseman in 2012, and finished the season leading the team in RBIs and doubles. She also stole 11 bases, good for second on the team. Six of those thefts were in conference play, best in the MAAC. Erica Afanador saw significant action at shortstop, and as designated player last season, and performed well, especially in a conference game vs. Siena. It looks like she will see time at shortstop and third base this year. Outfielder Michelle DelPrince had a solid freshman season, hitting .248 with a pair of homers and ten stolen bases. A player to watch out for in 2013 will be redshirt sophomore catcher/dp Marissa Miller. Hampered by injuries her first two years in college, Marissa is now healthy and had a terrific fall season. She hasn't up to this point had the opportunity to play much, but should be a regular this season. Walk on Kalie Michalski was used as an effective pinch runner in '12; stealing a couple bases and scoring five times.

The Golden Griffins' freshman class will likely provide three starters this season. Tori Nappo (Val's sister) is slated to be in center field as Lizzy Gatto's replacement. Alexis Roman will be at shortstop, and also third base. Speedy Meghan Cuda will be in the outfield, and possibly see some time at second base. Any or all of these players may make significant contributions. Bethany DeMarco should also see some playing time behind the plate. Jenn Solis doesn't figure to see a lot of time in the circle this season; however, the Griffs have gone to freshmen pitchers in the pinch the past two seasons, so she needs to be ready.

Canisius is very sound offensively, and in the field. What remains to be seen is how the pitching staff performs. The key is Amanda Baun...if she's back on her game, the Golden Griffins will be fighting for a championship. If she's not, they will need their younger pitchers to step up. At any rate, Canisius should be in the hunt for a postseason berth.

Next up: Marist College

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