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Sunday, January 27, 2013

2013 MAAC Preview - Siena Saints

Will these two break a decade long drought?
  • 9 Shannon Jones SS Senior
  • 15 Mandy Ferro OF Senior
  • 2 Samantha Ray 3B Junior
  • 10 Jessika-Jo Sandrini P/DP Junior
  • 1 Chelsea Stout OF Sophomore
  • 3 Lauren Milligan OF Sophomore
  • 4 Stephanie Viggiano SS/2B Sophomore
  • 6 Abby Carpenter 1B Sophomore
  • 13 Meg Volz C/OF Sophomore
  • 14 Antonia Edwards P Sophomore
  • 24 Paige Lloyd 1B/OF Sophomore
  • 5 Jordan Sandrini SS/OF Freshman
  • 7 Mikaela Searight C Freshman
  • 11 Mackenzie Cronin P Freshman
  • 19 Alyssa Lancaster P/1B Freshman
  • 23 Melanie Kalesse SS/OF Freshman
This will be an important season for the Siena Saints, as they not only have a great chance to qualify for the MAAC tournament for the first time since 2003, but could win it all.

The senior class is led, of course, by the reigning MAAC Player Of The Year Shannon Jones (pictured left). Shannon had a record breaking season in 2012, leading the MAAC with a .434 average. She also was tops in the conference in hits, runs, home runs, and RBIs. She set a number of Siena records, and finished in the top 20 nationally with her batting average. She boasts an incredible .398 career average. Expect more of the same as she winds down her career in 2013, but I know Shannon would surrender it all for a MAAC title. This season will be her best chance at accomplishing that goal. The other senior on the team, outfielder Mandy Ferro, has not matched her great freshman season that saw her hit .323. Nevertheless, she is a productive player who runs well, stealing eight bases and scoring 18 runs in 2012.

A fact that has seemingly flown under the radar is that junior Jessika-Jo Sandrini (pictured left) absolutely dominated MAAC games in 2012. She was so "head and shoulders" above everyone else in the conference that the case could be made for her to have been recognized as Player Of The Year. She was named to the All-MAAC team twice anyway (as a hitter and pitcher). In conference games, J-J led in nearly every offensive category: batting average, .522 (118 points higher than number two!); slugging percentage, 1.043 (282 points higher than number two); home runs, hits, RBIs, doubles, total bases and on base percentage. As a pitcher, she was second in the conference with a 1.43 ERA. Jessika-Jo will be seeing a lot of time in the circle this season, and as a junior we may see her become the dominant pitching force in the MAAC. The other junior on the team, third baseman Samantha Ray, had a very productive season in 2012, finishing with a .293 average after hitting .286 as a freshman. She also scored 19 runs, and was solid in conference games.

Of the sophomores, only Meg Volz (pictured left) and Stephanie Viggiano saw regular playing time in 2012. Both had solid freshman seasons. Meg hit .250 after 46 starts last year, driving home 22 runs while scoring 23. Ten of her RBIs came in conference play. Stephanie finished with a .235 average after 29 starts. Chelsea Stout, Lauren Milligan and Abby Carpenter all saw limited action as freshmen. First baseman Paige Lloyd and pitcher Antonia Edwards join the Saints this season as transfers.

A talented group of freshmen will join Siena this season, including Jessika-Jo Sandrini's sister Jordan, who may be an immediate starter. Two pitchers, Alyssa Lancaster and Mackenzie Cronin will have the opportunity of significant circle time. Also making their debuts will be Mikaela Searight out of Washington state, and  Melanie Kalesse from Philadelphia.

The Saints will need a few of their young players to step up, but they have who may be the MAAC's top two players in the lineup. Opposing teams can not intentionally walk both Shannon Jones and Jessika-Jo Sandrini; this pair will continue to cause headaches. The one potential problem for Siena this year is that they lost two pitchers this past off season. Darcy Gardner, who would have been a junior, and freshman prospect Rachel Quackenbush have both left school. The Saints will look for one of their three new pitchers to assume the number two position behind Jessika-Jo. Only time will tell how that will work out. Siena's primary goal will be to qualify for the post season; they have the tools in place to do just that.

Next up: Rider

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