Four Pivotal NEC Games This Weekend for Softball Against Bryant and CCSU; Senior Day Slated for Sunday at Noon

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Live Stats vs. Central Conn. St.

Quinnipiac University Bobcats (15-27, 8-4 NEC)
@ Bryant Bulldogs (18-20, 7-9 NEC)
vs. Central Conn. St. Blue Devils (27-12, 13-3 NEC)

Saturday, April 27, 2013
Quinnipiac @ Bryant – 2:00 p.m./4:00 p.m.
Conaty Park – Smithfield, R.I.

Sunday, April 28, 2013
Central Conn. St. @ Quinnipiac – 12:00 p.m./2:00 p.m.
QU Softball Field – Hamden, Conn.

Crunch Time
After nearly a week off for the Quinnipiac softball team, the Bobcats are back in action with a pair of vital Northeast Conference weekend doubleheaders against Bryant and Central Conn. St. on Saturday and Sunday. With an 8-4 mark in the NEC this season, Quinnipiac sits in fifth place behind LIU Brooklyn who holds the fourth and final playoff spot. The Blackbirds will finish their Northeast Conference slate this weekend as the Bobcats have four games in hand against them but every remaining game is vitally important with the Blackbirds owning a 11-5 conference record. The Bobcats need their offense to continue to produce while their pitching staff has shown improvement throughout the year and will need some big-time performances heading into the later stages of the schedule. Sunday's matchup against Central will also be Senior Day for the four Bobcat seniors on the roster including Alex Alba, Bridget Figmic, Kortney Kesses and Lauren Salgado.

Bryant Scouting Report
The Bulldogs enter the week with a 17-20 overall record, 7-9 against Northeast Conference opponents (good for sixth place). Coming off two tough loses against BU and UConn earlier in the week, the Bulldogs rallied for a pair of comeback victories over Sacred Heart in Smithfield on Sunday. They have since gone on to beat Brown on the road, 8-3, on Wednesday as they come into the weekend winners of their past three straight games. Over the last four games, junior Lauren Guy has been on an absolute tear, collecting eight hits in 13 at bats for a .615 average (.688 on-base percentage). Guy has collected a pair of homers, drove in three and scored five runs as well over the last four contests. Guys nine homeruns this season is the most all-time in Bryant's five year Division I history and ranks second in program history. She is currently in the running for NEC Player of the Year as she has tallied a .403 average with seven home runs, 32 RBI, 14 doubles, two triples, 23 runs scored and 48 hits on the season. Elle Madsen has also been on fire, hitting .333 (4-for-12) with a .500 obp to go along with two homers and seven RBI. Madsen has been a dominant force on the mound as well, going 9-6 with a 3.22 ERA in 78.1 innings. The rookie sensation leads the Bryant pitching staff this season in wins (9), era (3.22), strikeouts (45) and saves (2).

All-Time Against the Bulldogs
Quinnipiac owns an impressive 7-1 overall record against Bryant since the Bulldogs first joined the conference in 2008. Bryant hasn't scored more than three runs in a game against Quinnipiac since their first meeting on April 5, 2009 when Bryant took down the Bobcats, 6-1, for their only victory in the series. Quinnipiac is riding a seven-game winning streak in the all-time series. 

Central Connecticut State Scouting Report
Entering the weekend, the Blue Devils have had quite an impressive season currently sitting in second place in the NEC standings with a 13-3 record in conference play and 26-12 overall mark. They're a dominate home team with a 14-1 record this season while playing in New Britain and have ran through their past six games, outscoring their opponents 32-1, all Blue Devil victories. Incredibly, the recent hot streak wasn't their most impressive of the 2013 season as they reeled off 12-straight victories from March 23 to April 7 in which they outscored their opponents, 90-19, in the stretch. The winning streak marked a program-record and pushed them to 10-0 in NEC play. They had a hiccup against Mount St. Mary's with a 5-3 loss to end the winning streak and also fell twice to Monmouth in a weekend doubleheader but sit comfortably in second place in the NEC at 13-3. The Blue Devils are balanced throughout the lineup and feature a top player in Kat Malcolm who leads the team in average (.402), runs (38), hits (51), home runs (9), RBI (29), and stolen bases (7). She is among the select few in the running for NEC Player of the Year while Central also features four other players who all bat at least .308 this season. Perhaps the greatest weapon the Blue Devils possess is their ace sophomore pitcher Laura Messina. The reigning All-NEC Second Team pitcher, Messina has had an outstanding year with a 20-8 record. She has allowed just 160 hits and 49 earned runs in 182.2 innings this season as her overpowering arsenal has helped lead to 194 strikeouts this season and a 1.88 ERA. 

All-Time Against the Blue Devils
The Bobcats and Blue Devils will meet for their 16th and 17th all-time meeting on Sunday with the Bobcats currently holding a 10-5 mark over Central Conn. St. in the series history. Quinnipiac is an impressive 7-1 all-time at home against the Blue Devils. Last sesaon's meetings were a pair of tightly-contested battles as the two teams split a pair, 4-2 and 3-2, at New Britain. 

Weekend Wrapup
The Bobcats were locked in a weekend battle with Fairleigh Dickinson that had the Knights winning the first game easily, 7-1, but the Bobcats persevered and won the second game on a walk-off grand slam from Jordan Paolucci in eight innings, 4-0. Quinnipiac moved to 8-4 in NEC play this season and with eight games still left to play in-conference, the Bobcats control their own destiny as they can win-out and make the playoffs. Hannah Lindsley was dominate in game two, tossing a complete-game three-hitter with four strikeouts in her eight innings. It was her best start since her first of the season against Drexel wherein she twirled a complete-game two-hit shutout. Lindsley was backed by Paolucci who slugged her third grand slam of the season as she continues to lead the NEC in both home runs (11) and RBI (40). 

Alex Alba Career Highlights
The Bobcat shortstop for the past four seasons will leave Quinnipiac with her name etches in the record books for quite some time. Alex Alba currently sits first all-time in doubles with 43, third in hits with 188, fifth in runs batted in with 90, and eighth in home runs with 13 for her career. Named to the All-NEC Second Team last year, she has appeared in 190 of 201 games throughout her four years. A stellar shortstop from the get-go her freshman season, this player will go down as one of the program's all-time bests.

Bridget Figmic Career Highlights
A true model of consistency, today will be Bridget Figmic's 132nd consecutive start at the hot corner for the Bobcats. She is in the midst of a career year with 29 hits and 17 runs batted in coming into the weekend while continuing her sensational defensive play at third base as she leads her team with a .967 fielding percentage and just six errors this season. One of the senior co-captains, her leadership and dedication to the program has helped lift the team to new heights the past four seasons.

Kortney Kesses Career Highlights
Quinnipiac's jack-of-all-trades the past four seasons, Kortney Kesses has played every position other than pitcher, catcher and shortstop. Her versatility is unquestioned and she is a driving force for the players as the other senior co-captain. She has broke out this season with career highs in hits (22), home runs (3), RBI (11), runs (17), walks (15) and stolen bases (4) coming into the weekend.

Lauren Salgado Career Highlights
Lauren Salgado has brought significant speed and intensity to the Bobcat lineup for the past four seasons. Standing at just five feet, four inches, she currently has the third-most steals in program history with 46 and is 11th all-time with 134 hits.  Today's game will be her 198th appearance throughout her four years, all of which manning the outfield position for Quinnipiac.

Grand Conclusion
Jordan Paolucci's walk-off grand slam in game two against Fairleigh Dickinson on Saturday was her third grand-slam of the season and first walk-off. It was the second time the Bobcats had walked-off on a grand slam in two weeks as Alex Alba went deep with the bases loaded the end game one of a doubleheader against Mount St. Mary's.

Ace up the Sleeve
Hannah Lindsley tossed the best game of her career last Saturday as she twirled a three-hit shutout of the Knights in game two, going the full eight innings and allowing no runs on three walks with four strikeouts. It is her second shutout of the season and first since her first start of the year back in Feb. where she tossed a complete-game two-hitter against Drexel.

Rewriting Record Books
One of the most consistent hitters the Bobcats have ever seen, Alex Alba is starting to climb her way to the top of the Quinnipiac all-time leaderboards as she now is tied with Sarah Collins '06 for the most career doubles (43) and is in third-place on the all-time hits list (188). During this season, she has compiled the second-most doubles (11) and RBI (23) on the team.

Solt-an of Swat
Freshman Courtney Solt has quickly established herself as one of the best players for the Bobcats this season. With her 10 hits in five games last week, including her sixth three-hit game of the season, Solt has become the 20th player in Quinnipiac history to record at least 50 hits in a single season. She already has 53 hits, 31 runs, nine doubles, 12 RBI, seven stolen bases and a .368 batting average. Her fielding has also been well above average as the rookie has committed just two errors all season while manning the left field position. She is currently riding a seven-game hitting streak in which she has batted .500 with two doubles, two triples, three RBI and six runs.

Miracle Workers
This Bobcat squad certainly has had a hand for the dramatic as they won four games in come-from-behind fashion during their seven-game winning streak which came to an end last week. Quinnipiac outscored their opponents by an incredible 23-1 margin in the sixth and seventh innings during the recent seven-game uptick. 

Seventh Heaven
This Quinnipiac squad matched their second-longest winning streak since the 2004 season where the team won nine consecutive games. The Bobcats won seven games in-a-row, a feat the Bobcats have matched twice since 2004 as they reeled off seven straight in the 2006 and 2012 season.

For the First Time
Freshman Nicole Gubellini had herself a very interesting week as she picked up her first and second career victories but did so in dramatic fashion, walking 10 batters in 5.2 scoreless innings. The 10 walks are the most for a Bobcat pitcher in program history pitching at least five innings without allowing a run. 

Power Outburst
Sophomore Jordan Paolucci continues to supply the power for the Bobcats as she went deep one this past weekend and continues to lead the Northeast Conference in both home runs (11) and RBI (40). She also became the first player in program history to slug at least10 home runs in multiple seasons.

Within Reach
Both senior Alex Alba and Jordan Paolucci are both close to setting new program records as Alba currently has 43 career doubles while Paolucci is up to 26 career home runs. Alba is just one away from becoming the all-time record holder while Paolucci trails Sarah Collins' record of 29 by just three heading into this weekend's games. 

Two Away
Jordan Paolucci continues to shatter the Quinnipiac record books as she is just two RBI away from eclipsing the program's single-season record for most RBI's. She enters the weekend with 40 and needs just two more for the record. 

Speed Kills
The Bobcats employ the stolen base more than any team in the conference as they feature the quickest lineup in the entire league. They come into the weekend with nine players who have at least two stolen bases this season with seven of which coming in with at least four. Courtney Solt leads the team with seven but Brittney Cyr has five stolen bases without being caught this year.

 

Hitting Around
Alex Alba has moved into third place on the all-time hits list at Quinnipiac as her current total of 188 is just two away from sole possession of second place and just 12 away from becoming just the second player ever to compile 200 career hits.

Barbed Wire
Sophomore Nikki Barba has been one of the most well-rounded hitters at the plate for the Bobcats all season as she comes in with a batting average (.350), on-base percentage (.429) and slugging percentage (.520). She also sports impressive hitting numbers across the board including hits (43), doubles (12), home runs (three), RBI (20), walks (14), stolen bases (four) and runs (26) as she ranks in the top-three on the team in all categories.

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 five times in 157 plate appearances this year (3.23 percent) which is good for 12th-best in the nation.

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. 

Hits, Hits and More Hits
Sophomore second baseman Nikki Barba had her hitting streak of 11 games snapped on April 10 against Fairfield. The hitting streak is the longest for any Bobcat this season as Barba absolutely tore the cover off the ball in the 11-game span with a .44 (16-for-36) batting average, five RBI, four doubles, nine runs and two walks.

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.

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. 

RBI Streak
Jordan Paolucci has had herself a nice start to the season with a conference-high 40 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. Paolucci has compiled a .289 batting average, nine home runs and an impressive 33 RBI while Barba has batted .358 with one homer, 13 RBI, 11 doubles and 21 runs scored in 27 games since making the move.

Bridging the Gap
One of the more under-the-radar stars for the Bobcats this season has been senior third baseman Bridget Figmic who comes into the weekend as one of the Bobcats' key offensive contributors in several offensive categories including batting average (.257), on-base percentage (.353), walks (17) and runs (18). She already has tallied seven multi-hit games this season and knocked in two runs in three separate games last week.

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.

Schedule Overview
The Bobcats will next enter their final week of the season as they will take on Manhattan in their last home games of 2013 on Thursday, May 2 for a doubleheader starting at 2:30 pm. They will then head down to Pa. for their last games of the season with doubleheaders against Robert Morris and St. Francis (Pa.) on the road. 

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