Another Five-Game Weekend Set Down in Florida Looms for Softball as Quinnipiac Plays in the USF Under Armour Showcase

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USF Under Armour Showcase
Eddie C. Moore Complex – Clearwater, Fla.

Quinnipiac University Bobcats (2-7, 0-0 NEC)
Boston University Terriers (3-7, 0-0 America East)
Temple Owls (2-7, 0-0 Atlantic 10)
St. Joseph's Hawks (6-2-1, 0-0 Atlantic 10)
Central Michigan Chippewas (7-4, 0-0 MAC)
SIUE Cougars (7-6, 0-0 OVC)

USF Under Armour Showcase Schedule
Friday, March 8, 2013

Quinnipiac vs. Boston University Chicago – 2:30 p.m.
Temple vs. Quinnipiac – 4:45 p.m.
Saturday, March 9, 2013
Quinnipiac vs. St. Joseph's – 9:30 a.m.
Sunday, March 10, 2013
Quinnipiac vs. Central Michigan – 9:00 a.m.
SIUE vs. Quinnipiac – 11:15 a.m.

Here We Go Again
The Quinnipiac softball team will head back down to Clearwater, Fla. to take part in the USF Under Armour Showcase for a five-game weekend set from the Eddie C. Moore Complex. The Bobcats are coming off a 1-4 weekend from Clearwater last week where they participated in the USF Under Armour Invitational. A pair of underclassmen in sophomore pitcher Hannah Lindsley and freshman outfielder Courtney Solt both shined throughout the weekend and put forth strong showings for the team. The team will look for victories against some of the region's top talent as well as a few teams from out Midwest. The Bobcats open with the Boston University Terriers who finished 2012 ranked No. 41 in the country with a record of 41-16. After the showcase showdown with the Terriers, Quinnipiac will take on Temple later that day followed by one matchup on Saturday against St. Joseph's. Finally on Sunday the team will take on a pair of teams in Central Michigan and SIUE from the Mid American Conference and Ohio Valley Conference, respectively.

Taking on the Terriers

Boston University comes into the weekend with a 3-7 overall record but have played one of the tougher schedules in the country as they've taken on several strong opponents in Wisconsin (three times), No. 17 Arizona (twice) and UC Riverside (twice). Their only victory against those three teams came in their last game on Sunday as they took down UC Riverside, 7-6. The team features two top hitters in Amy Ekart (.421 batting average, two doubles) and Jayme Mask (.355 batting average, 11 hits, three stolen bases). Two more of their hitters tie for the team-lead in RBI with five apiece while their pitching staff is led by Whitney Tuthill who owns the team-lead in ERA (2.90), wins (three), innings (41), strikeouts (25) and batting average allowed (.292).

Scouting the Owls
The Atlantic 10's Temple Owls come into the weekend with one of the most high-powered offenses in the country as they enter with 51 runs in just nine games this season (two victories). Their 2-7 record is concerning but the team scored an incredible 19 runs in a 19-13 win earlier this season against Georgetown. They also had a 12 run outburst in a 12-2 win over St. Peter's as their offense is led by a pair of big time sluggers in Stephanie Pasquale and Sarah Prezioso who come in with 12 and 15 RBI for the season, respectively. Each bats at least .345 in nine games this year and each has dinged a couple home runs to lead the team. Their pitching however, hasn't been up to par with the offense as all five Owls to see time on the mound this year own an ERA above 5.00. Jessica Mahoney has thrown the most inning (29.1) of any Temple pitcher while Kelsey Dominik comes in with the lowest ERA (5.00) on the staff.

Challenging the Hawks
St. Joseph's opened the year at the East Carolina Tournament where the team finished with an undefeated record (3-0-1) against two BIG EAST opponents in Georgetown and St. John's. The team then turned around and went 3-2 last weekend at the USF Under Armour Invitational. They first defeated Loyola Marymount in 10 innings, 4-3, before falling to Central and Western Michigan. They closed out the weekend set with a win over Maine and Georgia State and come into this weekend with a 6-2-1 overall mark. The Hawks are a balanced team with a strong offense led by Dana Parks (.438 batting average, 14 hits, two stolen bases) and Nicole Palase (.409 batting average, seven RBI, .636 slugging percentage). If the Bobcats face the Hawks' Taryn Ashway on the mound, they will be seeing one of the best pitches of all five opponents through the five-game set. Ashway comes in with a 5-1 record, 1.55 ERA, 40.2 innings, 36 strikeouts and just nine earned runs allowed all year in seven appearances (five starts).

Central Michigan's Resume
CMU enters the weekend trip as one of the hottest teams the Bobcats will play as they are 5-1 in their last six games before taking on South Florida for a two-game set on Wednesday. The Chippewas have beaten several quality opponents in Penn State, Loyola Chicago, St. Joseph's and Providence while they challenged No. 19 Kentucky to a 3-1 loss last weekend. Four players on the team have compiled at least 10 hits on the season while CarolAnn Sexauer comes in with team-highs in home runs (two) and RBI (10). Macy Merchant (.417 batting average) headlines the top of the Chippewas' order with 15 hits, seven runs and five stolen bases to lead the team in all three categories. The Central Michigan pitching staff is quite balanced as three different players have started at least two games this season. Kara Dornbos leads the team in innings (30.1) while Chelsea Sundberg has the team-high in strikeouts (22) and Kristen Kuhlman leads in wins (three), ERA (2.57) and batting average allowed (.204).

SIUE Rundown
The Southern Illinois University at Edwardsville softball team enters the weekend with a 7-6 overall record in 13 games this year. Their offensive attack is very balanced as six of their hitters enter the weekend with a batting average of at least .281. Freshman CC Hutchinson enters with a team-leading three home runs, nine RBI and .640 slugging percentage. Alex McDavid has speed to burn as she leads the team with 13 hits, three doubles, eight runs and two stolen bases. The pitching staff features three solid starters without one true dominate ace. Haley Chambers leads the team with three wins, 39 innings, 40 strikeouts and also posts a 2.51 ERA. Erin Greenwalt (20 innings, 20 strikeouts, 2.10 ERA) and Amanda Lambrecht (28.2 innings, 3.66 ERA) round out the staff as the all come in with respectable ERAs and balanced inning total.

USF Under Armour Invitational Recap
The Bobcats are coming off a 1-4 weekend down in Clearwater, Fla. for the USF Under Armour Invitational. The five-game weekend set began with a 7-3 loss to Loyola (Chicago) before taking down Illinois-Chicago 7-3 later that day. Sophomore pitcher Hannah Lindsley picked up her second straight complete game victory as she allowed only two earned runs with two strikeouts over seven innings. Freshmen Courtney Solt and Dani Edmands each finished with two RBI to lead the offensive attack for Quinnipiac. On Saturday, Quinnipiac challenged Providence, taking the Friars to nine innings, before ultimately falling 5-2 in extra innings. Junior pitcher Katie Alfiere did her best to keep her team in the team as she threw all nine frames but it wasn't enough in the loss. The final two games of the weekend resulted in a 5-4 loss to Loyola Marymount and 4-1 defeat at the hands of Kent St.

Sophomore Sensation
Sophomore Hannah Lindsley continues to lead the Bobcat pitching staff in just her second season with the team. Her weekend was highlighted with another complete game victory over Illinois-Chicago as she finished with just two earned runs allowed and two strikeouts over seven innings to help her team to a 7-3 win. Lindsley has pitched brilliantly for the Bobcats all season as she leads the team in innings (23.1), ERA (2.40), strikeouts (11), complete games (three) and wins (two) after starting just one game last season.

Solt's Monster Weekend

Freshman Courtney Solt became the first NEC Rookie of the Week winner for the Bobcats since May 2, 2011 following her signature weekend with the Bobcats. Solt recorded at least one hit in all five games over the weekend at the USF Under Armour Invitational. The freshman posted a .476 batting average as she went 10-for-21throughout the five-game non conference slate down in Clearwater, Fla. at the Eddie C. Moore Complex. She kickstarted her weekend with a 1-for-4 outing against Loyola (Chicago) and then followed with a career day in a win against Illinois-Chicago, going 3-for-4 with one double, one run, two RBI and one stolen base. Against Providence on Saturday, she went 2-for-3 with one RBI, one walk and two stolen bases. After tallying one hit against Loyola Marymount, Solt finished up with a 3-for-4 performance Sunday morning against Kent St. with the only run scored for the Bobcats.

Senior Leader
Senior third baseman Bridget Figmic comes into the third weekend set as one of the Bobcats' offensive contributors in several offensive categories including batting average (.318), on-base percentage (.444), walks (walks) and runs (five). She already has tallied two multi-hit games this season and knocked her first double of the season against Providence last weekend.

150 Club

Senior shortstop Alex Alba continues to climb up the all-time Quinnipiac career leaders as she becomes just the sixth player in program history to record at least 150 hits. She knocked her 150th base hit in typical Alba style as she knocked a double in the first in the team's Friday matchup with Illinois-Chicago. Alba's double was the 33rd of the her career, putting her in a tie with Nicole Chaput for the fourth-most doubles of any player in Quinnipiac history.

She's Back!
Redshirt sophomore catcher Jordan Paolucci made her much-anticipated return to the Bobcat lineup earlier this year as she posted an impressive .280 batting average (7-for-25), three runs, two doubles, one home run, two walks and one stolen base. The 2011 NEC Rookie of the Year missed a majority of last season due to injury after slugging a program record 15 home runs in 2011.

Home Run Barrage
The Bobcats are less than one year removed from having tied the NCAA record with four consecutive home runs on April 1, 2012 against Sacred Heart. The power was supplied by the heart of the Bobcat lineup as sophomore Jordan Paolucci, sophomore Nikki Barba and senior Kortney Kesses combined to supply the power. For Kesses, it was the first home run of her career while Barba knocked her third and Paolucci recorded the 16th of her career.

Hot Streak
Sophomore second baseman Nikki Barba was the Bobcats' hottest hitter at the end of last season, closing the year on a six-game hitting streak heading into 2013. She kept the string alive as she has reached base safely in all six games to start the season, pushing her streak to 12 games in-a-row. During the stretch Barba compiled a .441 batting average (15-for-34). Barba currently leads the team in batting average (.360), on-base percentage (.484) and slugging percentage (.640).

Preseason Selection
The Bobcats were recently selected to finish sixth in the 2013 Northeast Conference Preseason Coaches' Poll, as announced by the league office on Tuesday, Feb. 12. Robert Morris, the 2012 regular season champion, was chosen to win the conference with six first-place votes. Defending tournament champion LIU Brooklyn was picked second with five first-place votes. Next came Central Conn. St. Monmouth, and Bryant followed by the Bobcats. Sacred Heart landed the seventh position, St. Francis (Pa.) is eight, Mount St. Mary's ninth, and Wagner and Fairleigh Dickinson rounded out the field.

Early Honors
Senior shortstop Alex Alba was recently honored by College Sports Madness as a Preseason All-NEC Second Team honoree. The leader in the middle of the infield of the Bobcats' infield and at the plate led the team in several offensive categories last season including home runs (seven), RBI (32) and slugging percentage (.581). She also led all NEC players with 15 doubles and all conference shortstops in fielding percentage (.969). She hopes to translate her success from last season, where she earned a spot on the All-NEC Second Team, into another sensation season in her fourth year with Quinnipiac.

Last Season Recap
The Bobcats finished 2012 with their second straight 32-win campaign and second consecutive trip to the NEC Championship. Despite advancing to the championship round, Quinnipiac couldn't get past LIU Brooklyn who advanced to the NCAA Regional with their 10-5 victory.

2012 Award Winners
The team held their annual banquet back in Oct. where the Bobcat honored four players with end-of-the-season awards. Pitcher Heather Schwartzburg, as previously announced at the Quinnipiac Department-wide Awards Ceremony in May, was named Most Valuable Player. Outfielder Christy Cabrera was named Offensive Player of the Year, shortstop Alex Alba was named Defensive Player of the Year and Ashley Heiberger received the Spirit of the Bobcat Award.

You Will be Missed
The Bobcats graduated a core of four seniors last season that were all significant contributors not only in 2012 but throughout their four years at Quinnipiac. The Bobcats said goodbye to their best pitcher in program history, Heather Schwartzburg. She graduated with the most career wins (78), innings pitched (833.9), lowest ERA (1.51) and shutouts (20) of any pitcher ever at Quinnipiac. Also among the graduates was outfielder Christy Cabrera, the Bobcats' leadoff hitter, who finished first on the team in batting average (.342), on-base percentage (.412), hits (54), walks (19) and runs scored (32). Two other major departures including outfielder Mina Duffy (team-high seven home runs, 30 RBIs) and catcher Ashley Heiberger (19 runners caught stealing, eight stolen bases, .985 fielding percentage).

It's Good to Have You Back
Coming off a 2011 NEC Rookie of the Year and All-NEC First Year season, catcher Jordan Paolucci missed most of 2012 due to injury. Paolucci ended up redshirting last season and returns fully healthy in 2013 as the starting catcher. As a freshman in 2011, Paolucci led the team with a stellar all-around campaign including a .351 batting average, 40 runs, three doubles, .702 slugging percentage, .497 on-base percentage and 10 stolen bases. She led the team in all six of those categories while also slugging a Quinnipiac single-season record 15 home runs in 2011 as she led the NEC in that category as well as total bases (106).

Core Four
One of the biggest strengths for the Bobcats entering 2013 is their infield as they return all four starters from last season. Three of the four returnees are seniors including shortstop Alex Alba, third baseman Bridget Figmic and first baseman Jacquie Ristow. Alba led the team in several offensive categories and shined defensively as well. Figmic enters her third season as the team's primary third baseman as she started all 50 games in 2012 at the hot corner and committed only six errors on her way to a .965 fielding percentage to go along with 23 hits. Ristow will see a majority of her time at first base where she led the infield with a .983 fielding percentage and also collected 30 hits, 10 runs scored, three doubles, one home run and 14 RBI. The final returning piece is sophomore second baseman Nikki Barba who closed the year with a .285 batting average (37-for-130). As a freshman, Barba showed incredible plate disciplines, drawing the second-most walks (15) on the team, as well as 17 runs, six stolen bases and 14 RBI. Much like the rest of the infield, Barba shined defensively with a .957 fielding percentage.

Youth in the Outfield
Expect youth to loom large in the outfield positions this season for the Bobcats as they return one of three starters from last season. Senior center fielder Lauren Salgado returns after compiling 25 hits, 15 runs, one triple, eight RBI and seven stolen bases. Her speed is unmatched on the 2013 roster while the Bobcats will have to fill the other two outfield spots.

On the Mound
The Bobcats will be hard pressed to replace their best pitcher in program history but they are lucky enough to have on their hands another one of the top hurlers in the NEC last season. Junior Katie Alfiere will most likely step in as the team's ace after she put together a solid 7-3 record and 2.45 ERA in 68.2 innings last season. She finished second on the team in ERA, wins and tossed three complete games. She stood out in several categories amongst pitchers in the NEC as she gave up the fewest hits (68), runs allowed (29), earned runs allowed (24), and home runs allowed (zero) of any pitcher in the conference. Her 2.45 ERA was good for 7th in the NEC and unlike Schwartzburg, who was a strikeout pitcher, Alfiere very much pitches to contact as evidenced by her 24 strikeouts in 68.2 innings but with all four infield starters returning as stellar defensive players she is primed for a breakout season.

A Slew of Newcomers
The 2013 Bobcats will include a significant amount of freshman as eight will be entering their rookie campaigns with Quinnipiac. The freshmen include Dani EdmandsNicole GubelliniMolly JarrettAbby JohnsonSydney RobeyAbbey SmithCourtney Solt and Noelle Wager. Three of the first-years are pitchers in Gubellini, Jarrett and Robey while four are also listed as utility players. Two catchers in Edmands and Wagner now allow the Bobcats to go three-deep at the position after Ashely Heiberger played in nearly 50 games as the team's starting catcher last season.

Schedule Overview
The Bobcats begin the 2013 season at the Lancer Lead-Off Classic from Feb. 16-17. They will next travel to the UNC Greensboro Spartan Classic for five games between Feb. 22-24 and then begin a 15-game set as part of the USF Under Armour series in Tampa, Fla. and Clearwater, Fla. The series will span from March 1 through 17 with a home doubleheader against Hartford in between on March 6. In between the Under Armous series is a headlining matchup against 2012 NCAA College World Series Finalist South Florida on Tuesday, March 12 at 5:00 p.m.

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