March 25, 2013

Snowed In All Last Week; Softball Returns to Action With Home-and-Home Against UConn Tuesday and Wednesday

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Quinnipiac University Bobcats (5-17, 0-0 NEC)
vs. UConn Huskies (11-10, 0-0 BIG EAST)

Tuesday, March 26, 2013

UConn @ Quinnipiac – 3:30 p.m.
QU Softball Field – Hamden, Conn. 

Wednesday, March 27, 2013
Quinnipiac @ UConn – 3:30 p.m.
Burrill Family Field – Storrs, Conn.

Home-and-Home
Due to the horrifically inclement weather that pounded the Northeast, it has been over a week since the Quinnipiac softball team took the field. They last played on Sunday, March 17 against Cornell in a non-conference showdown in Clearwater, Fla. The Bobcats were originally scheduled to play six games last week including a pair of home non-conference meetings and two NEC road doubleheaders to start conference play. Despite the postponements, Quinnipiac is as ready as ever for their home-and-home series against the UConn Huskies this Tuesday and Wednesday. The Bobcats will host their home opener on Tuesday at 3:30 p.m. before heading down to Storrs where they will take on UConn once again on Wednesday from Burrill Family Field also at 3:30 p.m.

UConn Scouting Report
Despite the snowy, cold conditions over the weekend, UConn was able to get three games in from Saturday to Sunday against instate opponents Fairfield and Sacred Heart. The Huskies dropped both games of the doubleheader against the Stags before taking down the Pioneers, 1-0, in eight innings on Sunday. They come into Tuesday with a 11-10 record and will be entering their BIG EAST conference slate this coming weekend with three games at Rutgers. UConn's lineup is loaded with power as the Huskies have slugged 12 home runs as a team this season. Audrey Grinnell comes in with four homers while Marissa Guches and Kim Silva each have two on the season. Silva is the team's top hitter with a .387 batting average to go along with team-highs in runs (11), doubles (nine), slugging percentage (.629) and on-base percentage (.424). Maddy Schiappa (team-high 28 hits) and Guches (team-high 14 RBI) also help supply the pop for the Huskies' lineup. Their pitching staff has a defined ace with Kiki Saveriano who has thrown 75.1 innings and compiled an 8-3 record. She has gone the distance eight times with two shutouts this season and has also recorded 63 strikeouts with a 1.58 ERA. Her opponents bat just .229 against her and the Bobcats will certainly have to put their impressive offense to work if they are to have any success against UConn.

Snowed In
The Bobcats came home last week from their week-long spring break trip down in Fla. and were scheduled to play six games. With snow still on the ground from the 40-inch storm in February, Hamden received another six-plus inches on Monday, making the field conditions unplayable. Quinnipiac was scheduled for a pair of home games against UConn and Fairfield on Wednesday and Thursday but were forced to postpone both. The weather continued to hinder play throughout the weekend as the Bobcats had to postpone a pair of NEC road doubleheaders against Robert Morris and St. Francis (Pa.) till the start of May due to the snow. 

Monumental Moment
Quinnipiac senior shortstop Alex Alba and freshman outfielder Courtney Solt both helped rewrite the record books last week as they claimed NEC Player of the Week and Rookie of the Week, respectively. It marked the first time since May 3, 2008 that the Bobcats have seized both weekly awards and just the second time in program history to feat has ever been accomplished. 

The Solt-an of Swat
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. She already has 29 hits, 16 runs, six doubles, seven RBI, four stolen bases and .372 batting average to lead the team in all categories. Her fielding has also been well above average as the rookie has committed just one error all season while manning the left field position. Her season-high seven game hitting streak came to an end against Dartmouth but she batted over .600 during the span. She also posted a streak of four straight multi-hit games and five total through the eight-game spring break stretch down in Fla. 

Uncharted Territory
Solt won the second Rookie of the Week honor of her career last week as she joins an impressive list of Heather Schwartzburg (2008), Krista Seeman (2007) and Kristin Sheriff (2005) as the only Bobcats to win multiple Rookie of the Week honors in program history. 

Streaking to the Top
One of the senior leaders on this Bobcat team, Alex Alba, had herself one of the most stellar weeks Quinnipiac has seen in quite some time. She earned her second career NEC Player of the Week and first since May 10, 2010 after compiling a .481 batting average (13-for-27), .517 on-base percentage (15-for-29) and .704 slugging percentage through eight games in Fla. Of her 13 hits, six of them were doubles as she now leads the team with seven on the season. She also chipped in an amazing nine RBI and eight runs scored through the week-long series of games. Alba is currently riding a six-game hitting streak wherein she has driven in seven RBI and has four multi-hit games over the recent hitting spree. 

Don't Stop at One
Sophomore catcher Jordan Paolucci had herself quite the week down in Fla. as she hit two grand slams during the spring break schedule. She hit her first career grand slam on Tuesday, March 12 in a showcase game against national power South Florida. It gave the Bobcats a 4-0 lead in a game which they competed throughout and only fell by a three-run deficit, 7-4. She then hit her second of the week on Saturday, March 16 against Colgate to help the Bobcat secure a 16-7 victory. 

Runs, Runs and More Runs
The Bobcats tied their program record with 16 runs scored to beat Colgate, 16-7, in five innings on Saturday, March 16. Quinnipiac tallied 16 hits on the afternoon to go along with a program record 12 runs scored in the third inning alone. The 16-run total tied a program record as the Bobcats hadn't scored that many runs in a game since March 3, 2006 when they beat Coppin St., 16-0. The Bobcats also scored 16 runs back in 2001 against St. Francis (Pa.) in a 16-4 victory. 

Two-Out Magic
The game against Colgate featured a program record 12 runs scored for the Bobcats in the third inning. One of the most impressive footnotes about the record-setting inning is the team trailed Colgate, 7-1, entering the frame and 11 of the 12 runs were scored with two outs. 

All-Time Leaders
Alex Alba and Jordan Paolucci are climbing up the program's all-time record books and are within reach of becoming the all-time leader in their respective offensive categories. After smashing six doubles two weeks ago, Alba now has 39 for her career, just four behind the all-time mark of 43 set by Sarah Collins '06. Paolucci currently sits second all-time in career home runs with 20, just nine behind Collins' all-time mark of 29.

RBI Streak
Jordan Paolucci has had herself a nice start to the season with a team-high 18 RBI but she has really picked up her play of late as she rode an impressive seven-game streak with at least one RBI that ended on Friday, March 15 against Radford. 

Making the Right Moves
Quinnipiac head coach Germaine Fairchild made a lineup change down in Fla., dropping Jordan Paolucci down from her usual cleanup spot to the fifth position in the lineup while moving sophomore second baseman Nikki Barba into the fourth place in the Bobcat lineup. The move certainly has paid dividends as the team is averaging 6.43 runs per-game since making the switch. Paolucci has compiled a .304 batting average, three home runs and an impressive 13 RBI while Barba has batted .333 with one homer, five RBI, three doubles and seven runs scored in seven games since making the move.

Just Nine Away
Paolucci's home run on Saturday against Colgate was the 20th of her career as she now moves into sole possession of second place in the all-time record books for career home runs. She passed Sammi Allendorfer '07 and is just nine home runs shy of Sarah Collins' all-time record of 29 career dingers in a Bobcat uniform. 

Barbed Wire
A key contributor throughout the season thus far has been sophomore second baseman Nikki Barba. She has held a top among the team's leaders in batting average (.333), hits (21), runs (12), doubles (four), home runs (three), RBI (12), walks (eight), stolen bases (two), on-base percentage (.417) and slugging percentage (.540). Barba currently ranks among the top-three on the team in all the listed offensive categories. 

Cyr-tainly Better
One of the most improved players from last year's team has been sophomore outfielder Brittney Cyr. After not seeing any playing time through the first five games of the season, Cyr earned three starts from Mar. 1-2 batting at the number eight hole in the lineup before moving all the way up to number two in the Bobcat lineup between offensive stars Courtney Solt and Alex Alba. She certainly has taken advantage of the opportunity as has compiled 10 hits, four RBI, nine runs and two stolen bases.

Senior Leader
One of the more under-the-radar stars for the Bobcats this season has been senior third baseman Bridget Figmic who comes into Tuesday as one of the Bobcats' key offensive contributors in several offensive categories including batting average (.281), on-base percentage (.379), walks (eight) and runs (11). She already has tallied four multi-hit games this season and knocked in two runs in three separate games last week.

Good Luck Striking Her Out
One of the nation's toughest batters to strikeout all season has been Courtney Solt. She enters the week ranked in the Top-20 in the nation as far as the Toughest to Strikeout. Solt has struck out just twice in 81 plate appearances this year (2.47 percent). 

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 matchup with Illinois-Chicago. She now currently stands with 169 career base knocks, just seven away from fifth place.

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 .312 batting average (20-for-64), nine runs, two doubles, five home runs, three walks and two stolen bases. 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 (.333), first in on-base percentage (.417) an second in slugging percentage (.540).

Schedule Overview
The Bobcats hope to play both games against UConn this week before opening up Northeast Conference play on Friday, March 29 against Monmouth. The two teams are set for a doubleheader from QU Softball Field that will begin at 1:00 p.m.

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