Alex Alba Named Northeast Conference Rookie Of The Year

TEANECK, N.J. - Freshman utility player Alex Alba (Sylmar, Calif.) of the Quinnipiac University softball team has been name the Northeast Conference Rookie of the Year, as announced at the NEC Banquet this evening. Sophomore RHP Heather Schwartzburg (Mission Viejo, Calif.) was named one of two pitchers on the All-Conference First Team, while Alba and senior outfielder Heather Maffeo (Milton, Mass.) earned spots on the Second Team. This is the second consecutive season a member of the Bobcats earned the Rookie of the Year honors, as Schwartzburg collected the award last season.

Alba became an all-around contributor in her first season for Quinnipiac, starting 46 games at shortstop or in the circle. The rookie primarily batted clean-up for the team this year, and proved that she felt no pressure at the plate. Alba finished the season leading the team in several offensive categories most notably in batting percentage (.329), slugging percentage (.429) and hits (46). She also led the team in doubles (6) and triples (1). From the circle, Alba saw ten starts for the Bobcats, posting a 5.42 ERA with 36 strikeouts.

Though she was a solid offensive provider throughout the 2010 season, it was the second half of the season where Alba fell into her stride. Just last weekend, Alba put together a solid offensive performance that earned her Player and Rookie of the Week honors on May 10. In the doubleheader against Fairleigh Dickinson on May 8, Alba went 5-for-7 with six RBI on the day. She hit her second homerun of the year in game one, where she helped the Bobcats to a 7-4 victory. In the second game, she drove in all three Quinnipiac runs, including a two-run single in the top of the seventh to ensure the 3-1 win.

Schwartzburg also finished the regular season on a high note, earning Pitcher of the Week honors (her third time this season) on May 10. The sophomore RHP continued her dominant, yet composed presence in the circle for Quinnipiac this year, breaking the program's strikeout record for the second consecutive season. Schwartzburg bested her own record (206 strikeouts in 2009) earlier this season, as she now has 246 K's under her belt as a sophomore. She finished the regular season leading the NEC in seven major pitching categories including strikeouts, ERA (1.33), saves (4), appearances (39) and games finished (16) all while holding opposing batters to a league-low .178 batting average. After picking up both wins at Fairleigh Dickinson on May 8, Schwartzburg became the second pitcher in Quinnipiac program history to record 20 wins in a season. She is just one win away from matching the record set by Michelle Boisvert in 1995.

Maffeo's hard work as both a starter and a key substitute truly paid off for the Bobcats this season. Not only did the senior give clutch performances from the plate for Quinnipiac, but also saw great plays in the outfield. Maffeo drastically improved her numbers from the 2009 season, as she increased her batting average (.313) by over 100 points, her on-base percentage by 107 points, her slugging percentage by 87 points, and improved her defensive fielding percentage by 27 points. Also quick on the base path, Maffeo tallied five stolen bases and scored 14 runs in 2010. Her final season for Quinnipiac was highlighted by two clutch offensive performances against Monmouth and Central Connecticut, where she drove in key runs to help lead the team to victory.

The Bobcats head to the 2010 Northeast Conference Softball Championships tomorrow, where they will play their first game against Monmouth at 12:15 p.m. at FDU Softball Field in Teaneck. The double-elimination tournament will run from May 14-15 with the top four teams from the regular season competing for the championship. This is the first tournament appearance for Quinnipiac since the 2007 season.