Sunday, February 23, 2014

This Weekend In The MAAC

Freshman Bridget Hogan had a big game in Niagara's first win of the '14 season
Five more MAAC teams opened their seasons this past weekend, with Manhattan once more having their (rescheduled) tournament appearance in North Carolina cancelled due to unplayable conditions. Overall the MAAC didn't fare well in this early season action, but there were bright spots.

The Rider Broncs got busy, getting six games played at the Aggie Invitational hosted by North Carolina A&T. They lost a pair of games on Friday; most noticeable was their 15-6 loss to Maryland-Eastern Shore, a game in which they had held a 5-2 lead. Freshman Amanda Crimarco hit her first college home run in the game, but the Broncs surrendered 13 runs in the final three innings. They then lost 10-1 to St. Francis. On Saturday, Rider got their first win of the season, 6-1 over Coppin State. Home runs by Ally Breeden and Dana Sensi paced the Broncs; freshman Kaitlyn Kallert earned her first career college win. Earlier the same day, the Broncs dropped a 7-3 decision to Morgan St., despite a 3 for 4 performance by senior Kehli Washington. On Sunday, the Broncs dropped another game to UMES, this time by a 3-0 score before closing their weekend by beating the host Aggies 8-7 with four seventh inning runs. Freshman Delaney DeMello had three hits in the game.

Niagara began their season with an extra innings loss to Elon, who hosted the tournament the Purple Eagles and Iona played at this weekend. Niagara took a 5-4 lead in the seventh inning, but could not hold it, losing 6-5 in eight innings. Amanda Werth was 3 for 4 with three RBIs in the loss. The Purple Eagles dropped a game to UMBC later that day, 3-1. Kim Bryson took the loss, although she allowed no earned runs. On Sunday, Niagara came from behind to win 5-2 in eight innings vs. St. Joseph's. Freshman Bridget Hogan had a big game, hitting 3 for 4 with a home run and three RBIs, including the game winner. Jen Sansano won her first game of the season with a five strikeout performance.

Siena began their season at the Buccaneer Challenge hosted by East Tennessee St. with a strong pitching performance by Jessika-Jo Sandrini. J-J earned a complete game shutout, striking out six. She also drove home the only run in the 1-0 victory over Oakland. The Saints lost their second game on Saturday, 6-1 to the host Bucs. For the day, Alyssa Lancaster was a perfect 5 for 5. On Sunday, Siena dropped a pair of games, including a tough 3-0 eight inning loss to Oakland. Toni Edwards started this game for the Saints, and pitched very well before being relieved by Jessika-Jo in the sixth inning. An eight inning three run home run by Oakland ended the game abruptly. The Saints then lost again to the host team, this time 7-1.

Fairfield began their season on Friday at the Citrus Classic in Orlando, Florida. They lost 7-3 to Northern Illinois in their first game of the day; Sam Frugillo had three RBIs in the loss. Four errors by the Stags hurt starter Becca Trott, who struck out seven. Four of NIU's runs were unearned. Rae Ball's three hit performance in the circle vs. Lamar later in the day gave the Stags their first win of the young season, 2-1. Sammy Ruffolo began what would be a 6 for 6 streak with a pair of hits and an RBI in the game. Orlando experienced thunderstorms on Saturday, and the Stags had their scheduled games cancelled. On Sunday, they lost a tough one to East Carolina, again errors playing a major role. Sammy Ruffolo had a great game, hitting 4 for 4 with an RBI. A two out double in the top of the seventh inning by Kristen Filicia tied the game, then Sammy drove home what appeared to be the game winner. But a costly error in the bottom of the same inning cost the Stags the game in a 5-4 loss.

Iona was at the Elon tournament, dropping all four games this weekend. They had leads in each of their first three games, but could not hold them. On Friday the Gaels lost 13-9 in eight innings to UMBC. Iona had a 7-4 lead in the game before surrendering nine runs in the final three innings. Freshman Kristen Turner had a fabulous college debut, hitting 4 for 5 with a homer and three RBIs. Christine Costello hit 3 for 4. On Saturday, the Gaels lost to the same UMBC, this time by a score of 10-8. The Gaels had a 4-1 lead in this one, but a nine run UMBC fifth inning spelled their doom. Bri Schauer hit two homers in this one, to go along with four RBIs. The Gaels dropped a pair of games on Sunday, 5-2 to St. Joseph's and 10-1 to host Elon.

Canisius went 0-5 this past weekend, losing 5-0 to Miami and 8-1 to W. Kentucky, who hosted the tournament, on Friday. After a 2-0 loss to Belmont on Saturday, in which Jen Consaul allowed only two hits an one earned run, Canisius suffered the worst loss in their history, 17-0 to Bradley. But the Griffs rebounded on Sunday, when Jen Consaul again pitched a great game, shutting down the host Hilltoppers and holding a 1-0 lead through six innings. But two crucial Canisius errors in the bottom of the 7th inning scored two unearned runs and gave the Griffs a 2-1 loss.

Thursday, February 20, 2014

Monmouth Announces Eight Signings

WEST LONG BRANCH, N.J. – Monmouth University Softball Head Coach Louie Berndt has announced that eight student-athletes have submitted written commitments to join the Hawks in 2014-15. Kaitlin Baron (Matawan, N.J./Saint John Vianney), Kaelynn Buskey (Mechanicsburg, Pa./Cumberland Valley), Raeann Buskey (Mechanicsburg, Pa./Cumberland Valley), Brittany Guidera (Concord, N.C./Central Cabarrus), Kyleigh Hanson (Snohomish, Wash./Snohomish [Mesa C.C.]), Chloe Howerth (Rockton, Ill./Hononegah), Brooke Redmond (Cooksville, Md./Glenelg) and Amanda Riley (Tracy, Calif./John C. Kimball) will begin classes at Monmouth in Fall 2014 and take the field for the Hawks in Spring 2015.

Read more here

Tuesday, February 18, 2014

2014 MAAC Preview - Niagara University

2013 MAAC Pitcher Of The Year Jen Sansano
Last season: The Purple Eagles finished 16-30 in 2013, but made a late surge into the MAAC tournament with a 9-7 conference record.

2014 roster: Niagara's senior class features two starting pitchers, one of whom, Jen Sansano, after transfer produced a great season which resulted in her being named pitcher of the year in the MAAC. Jen finished with an 11-12 record and 2.14 ERA, but was top pitcher in conference games with a 1.33 ERA. In those MAAC games, she allowed her opponents to hit just .155. Kim Bryson in the latter half of 2012, was probably the best pitcher in the MAAC. Last season she experienced a slump, possibly because of the chaotic coaching situation at Niagara. When that issue was resolved, she began to return to her old form. Outielder/infielder Brittany Richberg had her best season in 2013, finishing with a .315 batting average, leading the team with 11 stolen bases. She hit .333 in conference games. Aileen Hinton hit .227 in '13, which included a home run, but was at .333 in MAAC games. Connal Kelly hit .167 in limited action.

Outfielder Ambur Farmer leads the junior class after hitting .257 last season, with 13 extra base hits including three home runs. She however was one of the top hitters in conference play, producing a .409 average, scoring 10 runs in those games. Utility player Amanda Werth was second on the team with a .330 average, which included 15 RBIs. Infielder Desarae Maldonado hit .208 last season, .242 in conference play. Outfielder Katie Gruarin hit .203 last season, with 21 runs scored and six stolen bases.

With the exception of first baseman Becca Saggiomo, the Niagara sophomore class saw limited action in 2013. Becca did hit .138 in 38 starts. Pitcher Sydney Smyers finished with a 2-2 record. Ally Gay hit .154; Taylor Huenink hit .100. Miranda Ortega was used in a few games as a pinch runner.

Niagara will welcome aboard seven freshmen this season. Promising pitcher Bridget Hogan may not see extensive circle time behind the two seniors on the staff, but she also can hit. Chanelle Ward out of California may get an opportunity at shortstop. Rachel Ziarnowski, Sarah March and Theresa Fleckenstein can all play catcher. Ali VanGiesen can play outfield and infield. Alexandra Moore is an infielder.

Outlook: After Niagara resolved their coaching issue last season, the team went on a run that took them all the way to the MAAC tournament. Interim head coach Larry Puzan was afterward rewarded with a permanent position. He has been with the team several years as a pitching coach. His main job this season is to get senior pitcher Kim Bryson back on track; if he does, the Purple Eagles should have pitching unmatched by the rest of the conference. Jen Sansano was dominant in conference play, and figures to be so again; if Kim returns to her 2012 form, Niagara will be a top favorite to win it all. Although the team lost offensive production due to graduation, there is still enough there to complement the potentially great pitching.

Thursday, February 13, 2014

Weather Report

People in the south can't deal with old man winter
The weather report for the MAAC is not fact all games for this weekend have been cancelled. Manhattan was set to play in Durham, North Carolina at N. Carolina Central's tournament, but as you can see in the above photo, it is quite a mess down there. Quinnipiac had better climes to go to, the N. Florida tournament, but they simply could not get out of snow bound Connecticut in time to participate.

Weather in the eastern USA is supposed to be much better next weekend.

Sunday, February 9, 2014

Golden Griffins Split Again

Meghan Cuda hit another homer on Sunday
Canisius 4
Bowling Green 2

Cleveland St. 9
Canisius 0 (5)

The Canisius Golden Griffins finished 2-2 at the Cleveland State Dome Tournament with another split on Sunday in Cleveland, Ohio.

Sunday went pretty much the same way as Saturday did for Canisius, with the team winning a close one before losing big in the second game. Canisius took an early lead over Bowling Green in their first game of the day when a third inning Val Nappo single scored Meghan Cuda. Bowling Green took a 2-1 lead in the bottom of the third with a pair of unearned runs, helped along by two Canisius errors and a wild pitch. But in the top of the fourth inning after Alexis Roman and Michelle DelPrince both reached base after two outs, Meghan Cuda hit her second homer in as many days, a three run blast which gave the Griffs the lead for good. Meghan finished the tournament with two homers and seven RBIs. Canisius starter Jen Consaul was solid in the complete game victory, giving up just a pair of hits and those two unearned runs. Meghan Cuda and freshman Lindsey Silfer each had a pair of hits for the Griffs.

Game two for Canisius against host Cleveland State mirrored their second game on Saturday...another 9-0 loss, this time by run rule. A first inning, first pitch home run by the Vikings set the tone in this one. Freshman Sarah Andrews took the loss; Canisius had just three hits, one by Lindsey Silfer who finished with three on the day.

Saturday, February 8, 2014

Canisius Splits On Opening Day

Meghan Cuda hit a grand slam in game one
Canisius 11
Bucknell 10 (8)

Robert Morris 9
Canisius 0

The Canisius Golden Griffins opened their 2014 season with a split at the Cleveland State Dome Tournament Saturday in Cleveland, Ohio.

After falling behind to Bucknell 1-0 in the first inning, the Griffs exploded for a six run second inning. Singles by Lindsey Silfer, Jessica Berzins and Val Nappo loaded the bases for Tori Nappo whose sacrifice fly tied the game. After Bethany DeMarco drew a walk to load the bases once more, Alexis Roman's infield single gave Canisius the lead. With the bases still loaded, sophomore Meghan Cuda then cleared the bases with her first home run of the season, giving Canisius a 6-1 lead.

What seemed like a comfortable Canisius lead turned out not to be, as the two teams exchanged offensive flurries for the remainder of the game. Bucknell pulled to within 6-3 with a pair of runs in the bottom of the third inning; Canisius got one back for a 7-3 lead in the top of the fourth thanks to a Robin Kennery RBI single. After Bucknell scored twice more in the bottom of the same inning to cut the Griffs' lead to 7-5, Canisius again attempted to pull away from the Bison. A Val Nappo run courtesy of a wild pitch in the top of the fifth inning, and two RBIs by the same Val Nappo in the top of the sixth inning gave the Griffs a 10-5 lead. But it was another lead they could not hold, as Bucknell tied the game in time to send it into extra innings. Canisius would finally seal their first victory of the new season in the top of the eighth inning thanks to a Bucknell error which scored Alexis Roman, who was on second base because of the tournament tiebreaker rule.

Freshman Sarah Andrews earned her first college win with two innings of relief after starter Jen Consaul surrendered nine runs. But Sarah wasn't as fortunate in the Griffs' game against Robert Morris, which she started, and which the Colonials won 9-0. Canisius was never really in this game, being effectively shutdown by NEC Pitcher Of The Year Nicole Sleith.

Canisius is back at the Dome Sunday for two games against Bowling Green and Cleveland State.

Season Begins Today For MAAC

Canisius College will become the first MAAC team to take the field in this new season when they play a pair of games today at the Clevelenad State Dome tournament.

The Golden Griffins participated in this same tournament last season, taking three of four games. They will play Bucknell and Robert Morris Saturday, then face off against Bowling Green and the host Vikings on Sunday. I'll update the games on twitter. Let the '14 season begin!

Sunday, February 2, 2014

2014 MAAC Preview - Canisius College

Senior Jen Consaul was again solid in MAAC play in '13
Last season: The Golden Griffins finished out of the tournament with a 6-10 record in 2013; 22-25 overall. This season they lose two pitchers, one to graduation and another who left school.

2014 roster: Canisius will have two seniors on their roster, both of whom will be asked to play key roles. Pitcher Jen Consaul had a productive 2013 season despite the team's losing record, posting a 15-13 record with a 2.36 ERA. She ranked fourth in the MAAC in conference play with a 2.35 ERA. First baseman/outfielder Val Nappo improved her batting average 24 points last season, hitting .264, while driving home 15 runs.

All-MAAC infielder Robin Kennery leads the juniors this season after having a fabulous 2013 season. Robin improved her batting average 75 points, finishing at .350. Versatile offensively, she can hit for power (3 home runs, 39 RBIs), and also run well (7 doubles, 6 stolen bases, 25 runs). Outfielder Michelle DelPrince improved her batting average 67 points last season, finishing at .315. She also contributed 16 RBIs, six stolen bases, 28 runs and 12 extra base hits. Designated Player Marissa Miller had a breakthrough season in '13 after overcoming some injury problems earlier in her career, hitting four home runs with 17 RBIs in 26 starts. Kalie Michalski, used mostly as a pinch runner, scored six runs last season.

Infielder Erica Afanador will be a redshirt sophomore this season after missing most of 2013 with injury. Infielder Meghan Cuda had a great beginning to her career making All-MAAC her freshman season after hitting .346, with seven triples, tops in the conference. Her 14 stolen bases were among the leaders in the MAAC also. Another Canisius freshman who had a solid career start was Bethany DeMarco, who hit .296 with a pair of homers and 17 RBIs. Centerfielder Tori Nappo slumped at the end of 2013, but still finished among the team leaders with 21 RBIs. She hit .230. Shortstop Alexis Roman hit .235 as a freshman, with 11 RBIs and 15 runs. Pitcher Jenn Solis saw limited action as a freshman, but did finish with a 2-2 record.

Canisius will have five freshmen on the squad this season, hoping to get help in the circle and the outfield. Pitcher Sarah Andrews will have ample opportunity for innings with the early departure of Corinne Schaus. Outfielder Jessica Berzins sat out her freshman season at Northridge, and signed with Canisius instead. Samantha Sharkey can play outfield as well as infield. Taylor Decker and Lindsey Silfer both have much catching experience.

Outlook: The once mighty Golden Griffins have failed to qualify for the MAAC tournament twice in the past three seasons. They were solid offensively in 2013, but after Jen Consaul saw a big dropoff in their pitching. They also struggled greatly defensively, something not ordinary under Coach Rappl. Jen Consaul has improved her performance every season; I would expect the same this year. She's been very good in conference play too, but one of the young pitchers will have to step up and help for Canisius to get to the tournament even with what should be a dynamic offensive attack.