March 14, 2013

Softball Finshes Spring Break Schedule With Five Games at City of Clearwater Spring Invitational This Weekend

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Complete Game Notes as PDF

City of Clearwater Spring Invitational
Eddie C. Moore Complex – Clearwater, Fla.

Quinnipiac University Bobcats (4-13, 0-0 NEC)
Maine Black Bears  (1-22, 0-0 America East)
Radford Highlanders (3-13, 0-0 Big South)

Colgate Raiders (0-9, 0-0 Patriot)
Dartmouth Big Green (5-3, 0-0 Ivy)
Cornell Big Red (3-5, 0-0 Ivy) 

City of Clearwater Spring Invitational Schedule
Friday, March 15, 2013

Maine vs. Quinnipiac – 11:00 a.m.
Quinnipiac vs. Radford – 1:00 p.m.
Saturday, March 16, 2013
Quinnipiac vs. Colgate – 11:00 a.m.
Dartmouth vs. Quinnipiac – 4:00 p.m.
Sunday, March 17, 2013
Quinnipiac vs. Cornell – 9:00 a.m.

One Last Ride
The Bobcats appear to be hitting their stride entering the final weekend series of their spring break down in Fla. Winners of two of their last three games, the Quinnipiac softball team comes in with a 4-13 overall record but have played extremely well of late. They are coming off a pair of non-conference wins over Maine and UT-Chattanooga sandwiched between a gritty 7-4 loss to national power South Florida. Quinnipiac looks to carry the momentum into the City of Clearwater Spring Invitational where it will play five games against Maine, Radford, Colgate, Dartmouth and Cornell before heading home on Sunday. 

Rivalry Renewed
The Bobcats will faceoff against Maine on Friday in what will be a rematch from their game earlier this week in which Quinnipiac came away victorious, 6-5. Maine enters the weekend with a 1-22 record and the longest losing streak in the NCAA at 22 consecutive games. Luck has not been on their side all season as four of their losses, including two of their last four games, have come by just one run. Emj Fogel (.273 batting average) and Jessica Burk (.296 batting average) highlight the Black Bear's offensive unit while Jean Stevens comes in with three of the four home runs Maine has hit on the season to go along with 12 RBI. The Black Bears feature three quality pitchers in Hannah Hill, Alexis Bogdanovich and Beth Spoehr who all come in with ERAs below 5.00. 

Scouting the Highlanders
The Big South's Radford Highlanders come into the weekend with a 3-13 overall mark but have played a challenging schedule against two ranked opponents (North Carolina, Georgia) twice and another trip to South Carolina that all ended in losses for Radford. Becky Mantel comes in as the clear offensive leader for the Highlanders as she has recorded a team-high six runs, 12 hits, seven walks, three hit-by-pitch, .423 on-base percentage and .286 batting average. She leads the team in all six categories and headlines the crop of Radford hitters. The pitching staff will feature Rachael Walters who comes in with all three of her team's victories this season as she has thrown 44.1 innings and owns a 4.58 ERA. 

Challenging the Raiders
Colgate comes in winless through nine games this season as the Raiders have taken part in one spring tournaments in the Stetson Classic and a pair of doubleheaders against non-conference foes Florida Atlantic and Stetson. Overall, the Raiders have played three of their nine games this season against Stetson, losing the three by a combined 12 runs. They've challenged a host of other opponents in Fairleigh Dickinson and even Florida Atlantic as the Raiders fell by a combined three runs in two games against the Owls. The Raider offense is led by Alana Dyson who enters with six runs and 10 hits to lead the team in both categories. Despite an 0-4 record, Courtney O'Connell comes in as the best Colgate pitcher with a 4.14 ERA in 23.1 innings.

The Lowdown on the Big Green
Dartmouth sports a 5-3 overall record through eight games this season and will be looking to continue to stretch their lead in the Ivy League standings which currently stands at three games entering the weekend. The Big Green are the only Ivy League team to sport a winning record thus far in the 2013 season. Dartmouth's secret to success this year has been the performance of their ace pitcher Kristen Rumley who comes in with a 4-1 record, 2.00 ERA, three complete games, 35 innings, 31 strikeouts, .239 batting average against, and just seven walks allowed this year. Her teams have won half the games she has appeared in this season and the Big Green will certainly look for Rumley to carry the pitching staff down in Fla. Hillary Hubert comes in as the team's best hitter with a solid .381 batting average and a team-high seven RBI. Her blistering start to the season has her with an eye-popping .536 on-base percentage through eight games as the Bobcats will need to find a way to shut her down if they are to walk away with a victory.

Cornell's Big Rundown
The Big Red has played its last two weekends at George Mason, going 3-5 in eight contests at a pair of tournaments. Cornell is coming off a 1-3 weekend in Fairfax, Va., with its lone win coming against the host Patriots, 3-0. It dropped a pair of contests to Longwood (8-0, 8-1) and a one-run game to Monmouth (2-1). Cornell is hitting .296 as a team with four regulars hitting .364 or better. Sophomore Linda Laeufer Is leading the way the way at .400 with a double, a home run and three RBI to lead the offense, while Christina Villalon is batting .381 with a pair of doubles, a home run and a team-best four RBI. Kristen Towne (.364, three doubles, 3 RBI) and Erin Belles (.364) have also been early leaders at the plate. The Big Red was solid in the field for the first two weekends outside, committing just seven errors in the eight games for a .968 fielding average. Junior Alyson Onyon is 3-2 record with a 1.93 ERA in five starts for a pitching staff that has struggled with control issues. Cornell has walked 40 batters and hit six others in 52.0 innings of work. Onyon has three complete games, including a shutout, and is allowing opponents to hit just .204. The Big Red has struck out 35 in 29.0 innings in the circle.

Weekday Wrapup
Entering their weekday non-conference showdowns, the Quinnipiac softball team entered trying to shake an eight-game losing streak. They certainly did just that and some as the Bobcats took down Maine, 6-5, on Tuesday to earn their first victory in nine games. Nikki Barba certainly paced the Quinnipiac attack with three hits and two RBI while Alex Alba (two hits, one RBI, one run) and Courtney Solt (two hits, one double, one run) certainly did their part to chip in the victory. Freshman Sydney Robey picked up her first career victory as she three four solid relief innings against the Black Bears. The Bobcats then fell to national powerhouse, 7-4, but the team didn't go down without a fight. Jordan Paolucci belted her first career grand slam in the first inning to put her team up 4-0 against the 2012 Women's College World Series finalist USF but the Bulls' pitching staff shutdown Quinnipiac after that and rallied for seven consecutive runs in the win. Finally on Wednesday, the Bobcats outslugged UT-Chattanooga with seven two-out runs in the sixth to secure an 11-8 victory. Solt had another stellar game with three hits, two RBI and two runs while Paolucci hit her second home run in as many games. Katie Alfiere picked up her first win of the season while Robey shutdown the Mocs in the seventh to lock down her first career save. 

Bursting onto the Scene
Freshman outfielder Courtney Solt has been the team's best player throughout the season in what has been a blistering start to her young career. Solt already has 22 hits, nine runs, five doubles, three stolen bases and a .367 batting average to lead the team in all five offensive categories. She is riding a four-game hitting streak in which she has compiled a .600 batting average (9-for-15) with five runs scored over the span. She already has totaled seven multi-hit games this year and four three-hit games already. 

Moving on Up
Sophomore Jordan Paolucci has been a welcome return to the Bobcats' lineup this season as she has belted a team-high four home runs and driven in 13 runs to lead the team as well. She has homered in two straight games, hit her first career grand slam on Tuesday against USF, and is batting .438 (7-for-16) over the past six games.

RBI Streak
Jordan Paolucci has had herself a nice start to the season with a team-high 13 RBI but she has really picked up her play of late as she enters the weekend riding a six-game streak in which she has driven in at least one RBI in all six games for Quinnipiac. 

Just 10 Away
Paolucci's home run on Wednesday against UT-Chattanooga was the 19th of her career as she now moves into a tie for second place in the all-time record books for career home runs. She is now tied with Sammi Allendorfer '07 and is just 10 home runs shy of Sarah Collins' all-time record of 29 career dingers in a Bobcat uniform. 

Barbed Wire
A key contributor throughout the week was sophomore second baseman Nikki Barba who came in hitless in her previous seven at-bats but quickly turned it around with a 6-for-11 streak over the three weekday games. She also drove in four runs through the three-game stretch and recorded her second three-hit game of the season against Maine on Monday.

Sixth Inning Magic
Wednesday's game against UT-Chattanooga was certainly one of the most memorable wins in recent memory for the Bobcats as the team scored seven straight runs in the sixth inning, all with two outs. The seven run frame gave the team an 11-4 lead which ultimately stood up in a 11-8 win over the Mocs in what was a season-high for Quinnipiac in runs (11) and hits (14). 

Getting Back to Form
After struggling coming out of the gates this season, Alex Alba appears to be hitting her way back into form as she recorded a pair of multi-hit games against Maine and UT-Chattanooga this week. Her batting average rose from .195 starting the week to .255 currently. Alba has also scored a run in three straight games and recorded her 34th career double on Wednesday.

Senior Leader
Senior third baseman Bridget Figmic comes into the third weekend set as one of the Bobcats' key offensive contributors in several offensive categories including batting average (.300), on-base percentage (.429), walks (eight) and runs (eight). She already has tallied three multi-hit games this season and knocked in two runs to help lead her team to victory against UT-Chattanooga. 

Good Luck Striking Her Out
One of the nation's toughest batters to strikeout all season has been freshman Courtney Solt. She enters the weekend ranked in the Top-20 in the nation as far as the Toughest to Strikeout. Solt has struck out just once in 63 plate appearances this year (1.59 percent). 

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. 

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. She now currently stands with 154 career base knocks.

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 .319 batting average (15-for-47), eight runs, two doubles, four home runs, three 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 is second on the team in batting average (.347), on-base percentage (.418) and slugging percentage (.510).

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.

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 now come back to the Northeast and will be starting their home slate for the 2013 season with a matchup against UConn on Wednesday and Fairfield on Thursday from QU Softball Field in Hamden, Conn. Quinnipiac will then have a day off before heading down to Robert Morris and St. Francis (Pa.) for a pair of NEC doubleheaders to start the conference slate for 2013.

Contact: Maxx McNall; maxx.mcnall@quinnipiac.edu