Monday, December 23, 2013

2014 MAAC Preview - Marist College

Last season: The Red Foxes won the MAAC championship, finishing with a 30-26 record, 10-6 in the conference. They lose key players to graduation, but bring aboard a talented freshman class.

2014 roster:  All-MAAC catcher Alyssa Zahka will lead a productive and experienced senior class this season. Alyssa had a fabulous junior season, hitting .371 with eight home runs and 41 RBIs. She's also outstanding behind the plate, committing only three errors last year. Aly Klemmer has been very consistent over her career, hitting 19 home runs while averaging over 20 RBIs per season. She had her best season in 2013, hitting .316. She will play first base and outfield. Infielder Haley Birnbaum saw limited action in 2013, but she's a player who drove home 59 runs her first two seasons of play. Pitcher Paige Lewis has a career record of 25-20, and will have the opportunity to step into a primary circle role.

Junior pitchers Melanie White and Janine Lalli will be called upon to take a greater role in the circle this season with the graduation of Emily Osterhaus. Both have had periods of great pitching. Janine has a career record of 15-4; Melanie stands at 8-16, but with an ERA of 3.16. Outfielder Taylor Kuzma slumped last season, and will look to return to her freshman season form when she hit .262 and stole 10 bases.

Nicole Cheek leads a talented sophomore class. Nicole was named twice to the All-MAAC team (as a designated player and outfielder). She pounded out 15 homers, and set the Marist RBI record with 52 as a freshman. She hit .348, led the team with a .663 slugging percentage and also scored 43 runs. After a slow start, speedy outfielder Maureen Duddy surged in the second half of the 2013 season, finishing with a .311 average. She stole 14 bases, and scored 39 runs. Infielder Kyrsten Van Natta was setting the MAAC on fire early in the season, before settling into a final .266 batting average, stealing 15 bases. Colleen McWilliams hit only .138 in limited action as a freshman, but did hit two homers with 10 RBIs.

The Red Foxes have another strong class of recruits joining the team this season, and they all figure to see significant playing time. Janna Korak and Rebecca Freeman can hit for power. Jordynn Jo Barrera has all around ability. Jayne Oberdorf will have a chance for significant circle time. Under Coach Ausanio, if a freshman can produce, she will play regularly.

Outlook: Although Marist lost some key players to graduation, they still have the pieces in place to repeat as MAAC champions. They are a well coached team with a well rounded and versatile roster. Add to that the invaluable experience of winning it all, and the Red Foxes should be in the thick of things in 2014.

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