Saturday, May 31, 2014

MAAC Changes Tournament Format

The MAAC Council of Presidents announced Thursday that beginning next season, the MAAC softball championship will be held on the campus (or at the field the softball team uses regularly) of the regular season champion. Previously, the tournament was always held at a predetermined location. If the new format had been in place this past season, Marist would have hosted the tournament. The number one seed will, however, have the option of opting out of hosting if there is a facility conflict.

The Council of Presidents also confirmed that the softball tournament will continue to field six teams, terming it a success that resulted in "greater fan interest".

Monday, May 19, 2014

Carly Argyle's Dramatic Home Run

Carly Argyle's 7th inning home run vs. Fairfield at the 2014 MAACs which led to an Iona comeback win on their way to the championship.

Sunday, May 18, 2014

MAAC Recruit Update: Paige Hess, Siena Saints

This is the first of a series of articles highlighting the players who will begin their MAAC softball careers next season.

When infielder Paige Hess signed with the Siena Saints last November, she boasted a career batting average of .483 at Camp Verde High School in Gilbert, Arizona. She just completed her senior season at Camp Verde, resulting in an improvement of her already gaudy career average! Paige had a terrific senior season, which resulted in her being named to her All-Section team, batting .495. That pretty much maintained her yearly average, but she showed a marked improvement in her power numbers, hitting 10 home runs while driving home 43 in 29 games played. She produced an excellent slugging percentage of .949, and reached base over 50 percent of the time. She also hit 15 doubles. Paige had her best season in the field, with a .955 fielding percentage, helping to turn six double plays.

Paige Hess this fall will be joining a Siena team that had a record number of wins this past season, is graduating only one player (albeit a great one in Jessika-Jo Sandrini), and has an outstanding group of young recruits coming aboard. In the meantime, Paige will play travel ball this summer with the Arizona Hotshots.
Photo courtesy of: AzDew Photography - Dennis Webb

Friday, May 16, 2014

MAAC Season Ends With Gaels' Loss

Eileen McCann ended her career with a big bang
Northwestern 14
Iona 4 (6)

The Iona Gaels season ended tonight when they lost 14-4 to Northwestern at the Seattle Regional. With the loss, the 2014 MAAC season also came to an end.

Believe it or not, the final score was not indicative of how close this game had been. In fact, it seemed for awhile that Iona was going to win it. The Gaels jumped to the early 2-0 lead in the bottom of the first inning when after Ashlyn Morris doubled, senior Eileen McCann ripped a pitch over the fence for a home run. The homer allowed her to tie the Iona record for career RBIs. She hit 3 for 3 in her final game, and made many nice plays in right field. Northwestern did come back to take a 4-2 lead, but a two out bases loaded single by senior Katie Jansson in the bottom of the third inning tied the game for the Gaels, who were hitting the ball hard, whether safely or not. But things fell apart for Iona with two outs in the top of the fourth, as Northeastern put up four runs. They would add another six runs in the top of the sixth inning to end the game early.

Iona finishes their season 24-24, and bids farewell to seniors Eileen McCann and Katie Jansson. And so another MAAC season comes to an end; it was one filled with weather problems and cancellations, but also one with a very entertaining conference tournament.

Iona Drops First Game To #12 Washington

Sarah Schutz had the Gaels' only hit
#12 Washington 8
Iona 0 (6)

The MAAC champion Iona Gaels lost their first game of the Seattle Regional to the host #12 Washington late Thursday night 8-0.

The first inning of this game saw Iona fall behind 5-0 to the Huskies. With two Washington runners on base, Iona pitcher Carly Argyle induced a simple fly ball out, but saw that taken away when the home plate umpire called an illegal pitch, the first such call to go against her all season. Carly walked that batter, and then the next which put Iona behind 1-0. Then Washington's Ali Aguilar drove a pitch over the fence, and the Gaels found themselves in a 5-0 hole. Iona would get only one base runner the whole game, that coming in the top of the second inning thanks to Sarah Schutz's infield single. Washington starter Kaitlin Inglesby shut the Gaels down the rest of the way, walking no one.

Iona will play Northwestern Friday at 6:30 pm EDT. The winner of that game will advance to another elimination game immediately following; the loser will see their season end.

Wednesday, May 14, 2014

Seattle, Washington Regional

The Seattle Regional will take place May 15-17, 2014. It's a double elimination format, with the winner advancing to a Super Regional.

Iona Gaels

Record: 24-22
Leading hitter: Eileen McCann (.416)
Leading pitcher: Carly Argyle (3.53; 15-8)

Washington Huskies

Record: 33-13
Leading hitter: Victoria Hayward (.424)
Leading pitcher: Bryana Walker (1.68; 18-8)

BYU Cougars

Record: 33-21
Leading hitter: Sydney Broderick (.365)
Leading pitcher: Tori Almond (2.14; 10-6)

Northwestern Wildcats

Record: 33-16

Leading hitter:Brianna LeBeau (.394)
Leading pitcher: Kristen Wood (3.55; 18-9)


Monday, May 12, 2014

Kehli Washington To Play Pro In Europe

Kehli Washington, who just completed her playing career at Rider University, will be heading to Europe this summer to play professional softball.

The 2013 MAAC stolen bases leader has signed a contract to play in the Netherlands. Kehli is no stranger to Europe, having been born in Sweden.

Read the story here

Sunday, May 11, 2014

Iona To Play In Seattle Regional

The MAAC Champion Iona Gaels learned tonight that they will be traveling to Seattle, Washington to play in the Seattle Regional. It will be a double elimination format.

The Gaels will begin play this Thursday against the host, #12 Washington Huskies. Also in the field will be Northwestern and Brigham Young University. Game times have not yet been set.

Gaels Are Bringing It Back Home!

Eileen McCann joined the elite 4 championship club!
Iona 8
Manhattan 0 (5)


The MAAC Championship trophy is returning to New Rochelle!

After having their bats shut down yesterday, the Iona Gaels returned to their powerful ways Sunday, winning their fourth MAAC title in the past five seasons. The game was never in doubt, as they stormed out of the gate with a three run first inning, highlighted by Sarah Schutz's long double to left field that scored two runs. A Katie Jansson double produced the third run.

The Gaels then ended the game early in the bottom of the fifth inning with a five run barrage, which began with a Sarah Schutz three run blast over the left field fence. Sarah finished the game 3 for 3 with 5 RBIs. Junior Bri Schauer then ended the game, and sent the Iona team into a frenzy of celebration, when she sent a screaming line drive over the left field fence for the 8-0 win.

Carly Argyle, who was named the tournament's Most Outstanding Player, was the winning pitcher with her one hit performance that never gave Manhattan a chance.

With the win, Eileen McCann earned her fourth MAAC Championship, joining 1990's Canisius players Jody Tassone, Kristin Spak, Nicky Pavlick and Becky Hapeman as the only players in MAAC history to accomplish the feat.

Iona now awaits the NCAA, who will inform them at 10 pm EDT tonight where they will play and against whom in the upcoming National tournament.

Saturday, May 10, 2014

Danielle Gabriel Shuts Down Powerful Gaels

Danielle Gabriel completed the threesweep for the LJs
Manhattan 1
Iona 0


The Manhattan Lady Jaspers just beat the Iona Gaels 1-0 at the MAAC Championship in Fairfield to force a winner take all championship game Sunday.

Wow. Manhattan just completed the improbable...a 3 for 3 day! Facing elimination for the third time today, the Lady Jaspers again got fabulous pitching, this time from Danielle Gabrielle. The freshman held the MAAC hitting leaders to just two hits, and was in complete control walking no one while striking out three. Manhattan got the only run they would need in the bottom of the first inning when Elena Bowman sent a pitch sailing far over the right field fence for her 13th homer of the season. Shutdown pitching and solid defense kept Iona from posing a serious threat the rest of the way.

Manhattan and Iona will meet Sunday at 11 am for the championship of the MAAC.

Manhattan Stuns Marist; Reaches Championship Round

Amy Bright's 8 K shutout lifts Manhattan to title chance
Manhattan 1
Marist 0


The Manhattan Lady Jaspers just eliminated the defending champion Marist Red Foxes at the MAAC Championship in Fairfield. Manhattan will now play Iona for a chance at the crown.

Amy Bright was lights out in the pitching circle, striking out eight while limiting Marist to just three hits. Manhattan scored the only run of the game in the bottom of the sixth inning when Jenn Vazquez singled home Katie Bowen, who had led off the inning with a single of her own.

Manhattan plays Iona next. A win by the Gaels gives them the title; A Manhattan win creates a winner take all game Sunday.

Manhattan Eliminates Siena In Extras

Manhattan 5
Siena 4 (9)


The Manhattan Lady Jaspers just beat the Siena Saints 5-4 in 9 innings at the MAAC Championship in Fairfield .

Andi Stallard's two out, bases loaded single brought home Emily Cutler with the game winning run. Manhattan had trailed 4-3 in the bottom of the eight inning, but Jenn Vazquez's solo homer tied it.

Manhattan will now face Marist shortly in another elimination game.

The Siena loss ended Jessika-Jo Sandrini's storied career with the Saints. She leaves with many records to her credit.

Friday, May 9, 2014

Gaels Look To Return To Glory

Eileen knows championships
Iona 6
Marist 2

In the winner's bracket game at the MAAC Championship in Fairfield Friday, the Iona Gaels defeated the defending champion Marist Red Foxes 6-2, and advanced to Championship Saturday. Marist was not eliminated with their loss.

They're back!

If the rest of the MAAC thought they were rid of the Iona Gaels' endless championships, they may be in for a rude awakening very soon. On Saturday, the former threepeaters dominated the defending champs in a convincing win that vaulted them into the driver's seat and a spot in the Championship game.

Marist has championship experience it's true, but 2014 Player of the Year Eileen McCann has three times as much. Eileen has been playing out of her mind in this tournament, but more than that you know that her teammates are feeding off her three ring knowledge of how to get it done. Katie Jansson has two rings; Allie Hand, Bri Schauer and Carly Argyle have a ring also, but it's Eileen McCann who embodies the Iona dynasty image. And she's hitting .714 in the tournament.

The Gaels nearly blew open this game in the bottom of the first inning, loading the bases with their first three batters. But Marist starter Paige Lewis did a good job getting out of that jam. Iona came right back and put up four runs in the second. After the Gaels again loaded the bases, with Bri Schauer's single and an error that put Carly Argyle aboard, and a walk to Kelsey Long, Eileen McCann stepped to the plate and smashed a pitch to deep right field that scored three runs. She scored herself when Kristen Turner doubled her home.

In the meantime, Carly Argyle was pitching a masterful game, befuddling the Red Foxes time and time again. It wasn't until the top of the sixth inning that Marist finally got their offense going when Becca Freeman singled home a pair of runs to halve the lead and give them life. But Iona responded in the bottom of the same inning with two hits and two runs scored on an error and wild pitch. Jordan Courage closed out the game for Iona in the 7th inning for the 6-2 win.

Iona advances to and waits for their opponent in the Championship round, where they will have two chances to win one game. They will be trying for their fourth title in five seasons. But don't count Marist out, they always seem to rebound quickly after a loss. They will play an elimination game Saturday.

Manhattan Eliminates Monmouth

Senior Katie Bowen adds a tournament win to her great career
Manhattan 4
Monmouth 2

In an elimination game Friday at the MAAC Championship in Fairfield, the Manhattan Lady Jaspers stayed alive with a 4-2 win over the Monmouth Hawks. The loss ended Monmouth's first season in the MAAC.

There weren't any signs of nervousness from these two teams who faced elimination Friday, which made for a good game. Monmouth took a 1-0 lead in the bottom of the first inning behing Justene Reyes' sacrifice fly RBI. Amanda Paxson gave Manhattan a 2-1 lead in the top of the third inning  with a two RBI double; she finished the game 2 for 3. Monmouth responded in the bottom of the same inning when Vanessa Cardoza singled home Shannon Fitzgerald who had singled, was sacrificed to second base, and took third on a wild pitch. But the Lady Jaspers would take the lead for good in the top of the fifth inning when Katie Bowen and Amanda Paxson, who had both singled, were driven home by Jenn Vazquez and Andi Stallard. Amy Bright pitched a very good game for Manhattan, getting the complete game win while striking out striking out six. Sydney Underhill took the loss; and ended her fine freshman season with a record of 18-15. She will be a pitcher to watch the next three seasons.

Manhattan goes on to play Siena Saturday in an elimination game, which would have been played today except for the weather problems. Monmouth closes their inaugural season in the MAAC with a 22-21 record.

MAAC Tournament Extended

Due to the inclement weather in Fairfield this week, the MAAC Championship has been extended to continue through Sunday, if necessary. New schedule is on right side of this page.

Thursday, May 8, 2014

Saints Win First Tournament Game; Eliminate Stags

Jessika-Jo isn't done yet!
Siena 4
Fairfield 0

The Siena Saints stayed alive in the MAAC Championship Thursday with a 4-0 win over the host Fairfield Stags, who were eliminated from the tournament with their loss.

Siena's All-MAAC pitcher Jessika-Jo Sandrini played today's game like it might be her last - and it would have been had she lost. But she's not ready to call it a career yet, and pitched one of her best games for Siena, resulting in a three hit shutout win. The Saints took advantage of three Fairfield errors to get all the runs they would need in the bottom of the fifth inning. Stephanie Viggiano's RBI and Lauren Milligan's unearned run gave Siena a 2-0 lead. They would add two insurance runs in the sixth inning with RBIs by Lauren Milligan and Melanie Kalesse. Jessika-Jo ended the game with seven strikeouts.

This was the first tournament win in Siena history; they will play an elimination game Friday vs. an opponent yet to be determined. Fairfield ends their season after what must be for them a disappointing performance at the tournament which was played on their campus.

Melanie White Grounds The Hawks

Marist pitcher Melanie White has become a force
Marist 4
Monmouth 0

The top seeded Marist Red Foxes advanced to the MAAC Championship winner's bracket game when they beat Monmouth Thursday 4-0 in Fairfield, CT.

It wasn't until late in the season that junior Melanie White worked her way into the Marist starting rotation for MAAC games, but she's made the most of her opportunity. And suddenly she's become a shutdown pitcher. She shutdown the Monmouth Hawks today, keeping them off the scoreboard. The only trouble she had came in the first inning when, after striking out the first two batters she faced, she gave up two singles, and hit another batter to load the bases. But she got out of that jam, and allowed only one Monmouth hit the rest of the way. In the meantime, her teammates got on the scoreboard in the bottom of the fourth inning, scoring all four of their runs with RBIs coming from Alyssa Zahka, Janna Korak, Nicole Cheek and Haley Birnbaum. Melanie White controlled the remainder of the game, striking out eight.

Marist will play Friday against Iona in the winner's bracket game. Monmouth will play Manhattan in an elimination game originally scheduled for today that got postponed due to rain in Fairfield.

Iona Wins Another Thriller

"Gnarly" Carly took over the game in the 7th
Iona 6
Fairfield 3 (8)

The Iona Gaels advanced to the MAAC Championship winner's bracket game with another comeback win, this time 6-3 over Fairfield in extra innings Thursday in Fairfield, CT.

This game began in similar fashion to Iona's Wednesday win as both teams got shutout pitching for the first three innings. Jordan Courage started for the Gaels; Becca Trott for Fairfield. The Gaels got on the board first when Eileen McCann singled, stole second base, got to third on an errant throw, and was driven home by Kristen Turner's single in the fourth inning. Fairfield answered back with a three run fifth inning, Lauren Filicia's single and Tori Reed's two run double giving them a 3-1 lead. The Stags seemed firmly in control of this one as the game entered the seventh inning. But a one out single by Bri Schauer brought Carly Argyle up to the plate as a pinch hitter, and under rain drops Carly drove Becca Trott's first pitch far over the left field fence,sending her teammates into a frenzy of celebration. Carly then took to the circle in relief, and retired the Stags with just a careful walk to Lauren Liseth. The game was set to go into extras when the rains forced a 90 minute delay. When action resumed, Iona went on a four hit, three run onslaught in the top of the eighth inning. Fairfield errors and RBIs by Katie Newton and Allie Hand gave Iona a 6-3 lead. Carly Argyle then quickly retired Fairfield in the bottom of the inning for the win.

During this game, Eileen McCann broke the Iona record for career hits. Iona will face Marist Friday in the winner's bracket game.

MAAC Players Of The Year

The official MAAC POYs


Eileen McCann, Iona Gaels


Rae Ball, Fairfield Stags


Kristen Turner, Iona Gaels

Wednesday, May 7, 2014

Gaels Top Manhattan In Thriller

Sydney Dimon delivered the game winning hit
Iona 6
Manhattan 5

The #3 Iona Gaels came from behind to beat the #6 Manhattan Lady Jaspers 6-5 on opening day at the MAAC Championship in Fairfield, CT.

This MAAC tournament game began as a pitchers' duel and ended as a slugfest. The game was scoreless through the first three innings with Iona's Carly Argyle and Manhattan's Katie Bowen both looking very sharp in the circle. But Iona broke the deadlock in a three run bottom of the fourth inning when Allie Hand singled home a run, and Kelsey Long doubled home two runs. This seemed to wake up the Manhattan offense, who put up two runs in the top of the fifth inning, thanks to a bases loaded walk to Jenn Vazquez, and Andi Stallard's sacrifice fly RBI. The top of the sixth inning started well for Carly Argyle, as she quickly retired the first two Manhattan batters. But a four pitch walk to pinch hitter Anna Crowley left the door ajar for the LJs, who bolted through with three runs to take a 5-3 lead. After a walk to Katie Bowen, and an intentional walk to powerful Elena Bowman, Carly was relieved by Jordan Courage. Up to the plate stepped Amanda Paxson. Amanda is among the nation's leaders in getting hit by a pitch, and you guessed it - she was promptly plunked, and the game was tied. Jenn Vazquez then stroked a double down the right field line good for two runs, and giving her three RBIs in the game. Things suddenly weren't looking good for the Gaels. Iona still trailed 5-3 in the bottom of the seventh inning when Eileen McCann led off by smashing a double to the left field fence. Kristen Turner immediately followed that with a single, and alertly took second base when Manhattan was being very casual with the ball. Sarah Schutz was then hit by a Katie Bowen pitch to load the bases, and Katie was relieved by freshman Daniell Gabrielle, a tough spot for sure. Danielle very nearly got a double play when Katie Jansson lined out sharply to shortstop Stephanie Reinhardt. Kristen Turner, however, just made it back safely to second base. Bri Schauer then stepped up and delivered a huge two run single just inside the right field line to tie the game at 5-5. With a runner on third base, pinch hitter Sydney Dimon then hit a fly ball to right field that just found an empty space, and Iona won 6-5.

Jordan Courage got the win in relief for the Gaels; Katie Bowen suffered the loss. For the Gaels, Kristen Turner hit 3 for 4; Eileen McCann was 2 for 2. Allie Hand also had two hits. For Manhattan, Elena Bowman was 3 for 3. Iona will face #2 Fairfield Thursday morning. Manhattan is still alive in the double elimination tournament, and will face an opponent still to be determined.

Sydney Underhill Shuts Down The Saints

Freshman Sydney Underhill tossed a 3 hitter
Monmouth 2
Siena 1

The #5 Monmouth Hawks edged the #4 Siena Saints 2-1 on opening day at the MAAC Championship in Fairfield, CT.

As a freshman, Monmouth's pitcher Sydney Underhill was thrown right into the action this season as one of the Hawks' two pitchers. She struggled a bit early in the season, as freshmen will, but as the season has progressed, so has she. She may have pitched her finest game of the season Wednesday in Fairfield as the MAAC tournament began, holding Siena to one run on three hits. For most of the game, all Siena seemed able to muster off of her were ground balls, easily gobbled up by her infielders. In fact, Siena's only run came as a result of a ground ball she herself could not handle, in the bottom of the sixth inning. This extended the frame, and led to Jessika-Jo Sandrini's RBI single and an unearned run. But that's all the Saints would get. Monmouth got all they would need in the top of third inning, with two RBIs coming off the bat of Justene Reyes, which scored Jill Freese and Nikki Sandelier, both of whom were walked by Siena pitcher Jessika-Jo Sandrini. J-J held the fort the rest of the way, limiting the Hawks to only five hits, but Sydney Underhill was in complete control of this game.

Monmouth will take on #1 seed Marist Thursday morning. Siena is still alive in the double elimination format, and will meet a team yet to be determined.

Tuesday, May 6, 2014

2014 MAAC Softball All Stars*

*Not the official All-MAAC team, but as chosen by this blog


Jessika-Jo Sandrini, Siena Saints

19-10; 2.48 ERA. 2.16 ERA in MAAC games.


Elena Bowman, Manhattan Lady Jaspers

.305; 12 Home Runs; 41 RBIs. 4 HRs in MAAC games.

First Base

Kristen Turner, Iona Gaels

.344; 11 Home Runs; 50 RBIs. .365; 27 RBIs in MAAC games.

Second Base

Kristen Filicia, Fairfield Stags

.384; 19 RBIs. .421 in MAAC games.


Kyrsten Van Natta, Marist Red Foxes

.340; 9 Home Runs; 39 RBIs; 18 Stolen Bases.
.379; 5 Home Runs; 22 RBIs; 14 SBs in MAAC Games.

Third Base

Bridget Hogan, Niagara Purple Eagles

.313; 3 Home Runs; 20 RBIs. .410 in MAAC games.


Eileen McCann, Iona Gaels

.400; 5 Home Runs; 24 RBIs.
.429; 4 Home Runs; 19 RBIs in MAAC games.

Taylor Kuzma, Marist Red Foxes

.386; 7 Home Runs; 36 RBIs; 18 SBs.
.388; 5 Home Runs; 19 RBIs in MAAC games.

Maureen Duddy, Marist Red Foxes

.359; 20 Stolen Bases.
.418; Led in hits; 13 SBs in MAAC games.

Designated Player

Jordan Paolucci, Quinnipiac Bobcats

.357; 9 Home Runs; 26 RBIs.
.474, top in MAAC games.

Monday, May 5, 2014

MAAC Championship Team Profiles

#1 Marist Red Foxes (26-22)
7-3 vs. the field

Taylor Kuzma .386; 7 HRs; 36 RBIs; 18 SBs
Maureen Duddy .359; 20 SBs
Kyrsten Van Natta .340; 9 HRs; 39 RBIs
Janna Korak .331; 5 HRs; 25 RBIs
Becca Freeman .308; 15 RBIs

Melanie White 2.79; 6-6
Paige Lewis 3.01; 11-6
Janine Lalli 3.35; 8-5

#2 Fairfield Stags (20-20)
6-4 vs. the field

Kristen Filicia .384; 19 RBIs
Lauren Filicia .363; 20 RBIs; 11 SBs
Gianna Kinhofer .340; 19 RBIs
Lauren Liseth .328; 4 HRs; 22 RBIs
Sammy Ruffolo .317; 5 SBs

Becca Trott 2.94; 6-10
Rae Ball 2.99; 12-8

#3 Iona Gaels (20-21)
6-4 vs. the field

Eileen McCann .400; 5 HRs; 24 RBIs
Kristen Turner .344; 11 HRs; 50 RBIs
Allie Hand .343 8 HRS; 27 RBIs
Bri Schauer .325; 16 RBIs
Katie Jansson .286; 5 HRs; 26 RBIs

Carly Argyle 3.71; 12-8
Jordan Courage 5.01; 6-11

#4 Siena Saints (28-24)
5-5 vs. the field

Stephanie Viggiano .353; 20 RBIs
Alyssa Lancaster .346; 29 RBIs
Abby Carpenter .315 6 HRs; 24 RBIs
Paige Lloyd .290; 22 RBIs
Chelsey Drew .273; 4 HRs; 24 RBIs

Jessika-Jo Sandrini 2.48; 19-10
Danielle Cacciola 3.17; 5-4
Toni Edwards 3.73; 3-7

#5 Monmouth Hawks (21-19)
5-5 vs. the field

Rachel Shotzbarger .325; 24 RBIs
Justene Reyes .311; 18 RBIs
Kayleena Flores .310; 21 RBIs
Vanessa Cardoza .300; 17 RBIs
Jill Freese .298; 4 HRs; 24 RBIs

Sydney Underhill 3.25; 17-13
Breanna Sniffen 6.43; 4-6

#6 Manhattan Lady Jaspers (22-27)
1-9 vs. the field

Katie Bowen .324; 5 HRs; 20 RBIs
Elena Bowman .305; 12 HRs; 41 RBIs
Jenn Vazquez .299; 9 HRS; 37 RBIs
Amanda Paxson .299 5 HRS; 21 RBIs
Andi Stallard .232; 12 RBIs

Katie Bowen 3.52; 11-6
Amy Bright 3.98; 8-15
Danielle Gabriel 3.98; 3-5

Red Foxes Take First; Field Set

Will Marist repeat as MAAC champions?
With their doubleheader sweep of St. Peter's Sunday in Poughkeepsie, the Marist Red Foxes won the MAAC regular season title. It was the first such title in their history. Of course, they won the conference tournament in 2013, and with it an automatic bid to the national tournament. But this season they won't be playing for the championship in their backyard; the 2014 MAAC Championship will be held at Fairfield University. More on that later.

The 2014 MAAC Championship seedings:
  1. Marist Red Foxes (16-4)
  2. Fairfield Stags (15-5)
  3. Iona Gaels (14-6)
  4. Siena Saints (13-7)
  5. Monmouth Hawks (12-8)
  6. Manhattan Lady Jaspers (10-10)

Saturday, May 3, 2014

MAAC Saturday

Marist senior Alyssa Zahka has been on a tear
Manhattan, Monmouth and Siena joined Marist, Fairfield and Iona in the six team MAAC  championship, clinching berths Saturday.

Marist moved into first place with a double shutout of Canisius Saturday in Poughkeepsie, beating the Griffs 5-0 and 8-0. Alyssa Zahka continued her torrid pace in the batter's box, hitting a homer and driving home five runs on the day. Maureen Duddy had a fine day also, hitting 4 for 5 with three runs, two RBIs plus two stolen bases. The games were never in doubt, with Melanie White and Janine Lalli both tossing shutouts. With the wins, Marist is assurred of one of the top two spots in the MAAC, which qualify them for a day one bye when the tournament begins. With their game one loss, Canisius was eliminated from contention, the third time in the past four seasons for the once dominant Golden Griffins.

The Fairfield at Manhattan doubleheader was a success for both teams. Game one saw the Lady Jaspers win 4-2, and in doing so clinch a spot in the tournament. Katie Bowen got a senior day circle win for Manhattan, tossing a five hitter. Stephanie Reihardt's fourth inning double provided the winning run. Fairfield dominated game two, 8-0, and clinched a top two spot in the MAAC and a first day tournament bye. Shelby Butwell and Gianna Kinhofer hit homers for the Stags. Fairfield still has a chance at first place, although they are done playing for the regular season. Manhattan will finish either 5th or 6th; that will be decided by their doubleheader at Monmouth Sunday.

Speaking of Monmouth, the clinched a spot in the tournament after they beat Rider in game one of that doubleheader in Long Branch 5-0, and Fairfield beat Manhattan. The Hawks got good pitching again from freshman Sydney Underhill in the win; she improved her record to 16-13. Alicia DeSanto drove home two runs for Monmouth. Game two saw the Rider Broncs put forth a great effort despite being on the outside of contention. They scored a 6-5 seventh inning comeback win, with Montana Berg driving home the winner.

The Siena Saints swept St. Peter's in Loudionville by scores of 7-2 and 7-6. The game one win clinched a spot in the tournament for the Saints. Melanie Kalesse hit an impressive 7 for 8 on the day, which included a triple and two RBIs. Jessika-Jo Sandrini improved to 18-10 with the game one win; she's the winningest pitcher in Siena history now. For St. Peter's, freshman Crystal Carlucci hit a home run and drove home five runs in game two.

Niagara had hoped to stay in contention after a 2-0 game one win at Quinnipiac, but wins by Fairfield and Monmouth squashed that hope. Senior Jen Sansano was again stellar in the win, striking out seven while holding the Bobcats to two hits. Game two saw Quinnipiac gain the split with a 6-4 win. Courtney Solt was 3 for 4 for the Bobcats.

Sunday is the final day of the MAAC regular season, and even though the six qualifiers have been set, there is still some seeding to be decided before the tournament gets underway on Wednesday in Fairfield.

Friday, May 2, 2014

Final Weekend Of Regular Season

As the 2014 MAAC softball regular season winds down this weekend, the final standings are still very much in doubt. We know that Fairfield, Marist and Iona have all clinched spots in the upcoming tournament, which will be held in Fairfield. Four teams still have a chance to finish in first place, although Fairfield and Marist have the best chance of doing so. This season, with six teams qualifying for the tournament, the first two finishers will receive a bye on the first day, so the top teams still have plenty to play for this final weekend.

Quinnipiac, St. Peter's and Rider are the only teams currently who have no chance of qualifying for the tournament, but each of them still has a potential say in deciding who goes and who doesn't. Canisius and Niagara are the two teams on the outside who still have a chance to qualify; each must win their remaining four games, and hope for some help. Siena, Monmouth and Manhattan are all currently in the top six, but a final losing streak by any of them could end their season on Sunday. So it looks like their will be a lot of heated action these final two days, beginning on Saturday!

Thursday, May 1, 2014

Marist Sweeps Saints; Clinch Berth

Melanie White was masterful in game one
Marist 4
Siena 1

Marist 6
Siena 5

The defending MAAC champion Marist Red Foxes swept a crucial conference doubleheader Thursday in Loudonville, N.Y. over the Siena Saints.

Melanie White has not been in the usual Marist starting rotation for conference games this season, but was a surprise starter in game one of this doubleheader. And after giving up a run on an Alyssa Lancaster single in the bottom of the first inning, Melanie totally shut down the Siena attack, allowing just another single the rest of the way. She struck out eight Saints in the game. Her team scored three runs in the top of the third inning, with a two RBI double by Taylor Kuzma, and a theft of home by the same Taylor, who remains one of the top hitters in the MAAC with her .382 average. She hit 3 for 4 in the game. Becca Freeman drove home another Marist run in the top of the fifth inning for the 4-1 win. The win clinched a spot in the upcoming MAAC championship for the Red Foxes. Alyssa Lancaster had both Siena hits; Jessika-Jo Sandrini suffered the loss for the Saints.

Siena also needed just one win (with five games remaining on their schedule at the start of game two), and seemed determined to get it in the nightcap, which included a rain delay. The Saints jumped in front 2-0 in the bottom of the second inning, thanks to RBI singles by Stephanie Viggiano and Paige Lloyd. But that lead did not last, as the Red Foxes tied the game in the top of the next inning when Alyssa Zahka doubled home two runs, the beginning of a big game for the senior. It was in the top of the fifth inning when Alyssa blasted a homer that also scored Taylor Kuzma, who had walked, to give Marist a lead they would not relinquish. The Saints didn't give up however, closing the gap to 4-3 in the bottom of the fifth when Melanie Kalesse singled and eventually scored on a wild pitch. RBIs by Taylor Kuzma and Kyrsten Van Natta gave the Red Foxes a three run lead in the top of the sixth inning. A two run home run off the bat of Chelsey Drew pulled to Siena to within 6-5 in the bottom of the seventh, but that remained the final score as the rally failed. Paige Lewis earned the win for Marist; Toni Edwards took the loss for the Saints. Alyssa Zahka was 2 for 3 with that home run to go with four RBIs for Marist.

Marist is now 12-4, with a shot at finishing first overall. Siena fell to 10-6, and still seek that clinching win in their final four games, all to be played on their home field.