Bobcat Softball Begins 12-Game Spring Break Stint in Florida With Five Games at USF Under Armour Showcase this Weekend

USF Under Armour Showcase
USF Softball Complex – Clearwater, Fla.

Quinnipiac University Bobcats (0-5, 0-0 MAAC)
Indiana State Sycamores (7-5, 0-0 Missouri Valley)
Cleveland State Vikings (7-6, 0-0 Horizon League)

Maine Black Bears (1-3, 0-0 America East)
Seton Hall Pirates (3-12, 0-0 Big East)
St. John's (N.Y.) Red Storm (5-9, 0-0 Big East)

USF Under Armour Showcase
Friday, March 7, 2014

Indiana St. vs. Quinnipiac – 9:30 a.m.
Cleveland St. vs. Quinnipiac – 11:45 a.m.
Saturday, March 8, 2014
Maine vs. Quinnipiac – 9:00 a.m.
Quinnipiac vs. Seton Hall – 1:45 p.m.
Sunday, March 9, 2014
Quinnipiac vs. St. John's (N.Y.) – 11:15 a.m.

The Quinnipiac softball team will begin their 12-game stint down in sunny Florida with the USF Under Armour Showcase this weekend. They will take on five teams in the next three days including matchups against two Big East schools (Seton Hall, St. John's (N.Y.)) as they look to pick up their first victory of 2014.

All-Time Against the Competition
Quinnipiac will be meeting three teams (Indiana State, Cleveland State and Seton Hall) for the first time in program history while they will look improve their all-time records against Maine (2-1) and St. John's (N.Y.) (0-2) this weekend. The Bobcats split two games against the Black Bears last season while Quinnipiac last played the Red Storm on March 11, 2011 in a game that ended in a 4-3 loss.

Scouting the Sycamores
Indiana State is 7-5 after a 2-2 finish at the Killtopper Classic in Bowling Green, Ky. Last weekend where it swept a doubleheader against Wright State and IUPUI. The Sycamores finished the 2013 season with a 16-34 record, including a 5-19 conference mark, and have been chosen to finish last in the 2014 MVC Preseason Coaches' Poll. Indiana State is led by freshmen Erika Crissman who is batting .406 this season with a double, triple and three RBI for a .500 slugging percentage and .500 on-base percentage. Preseason All-MVC First Team selection Morgan Allee is second on the team with a .368 batting average and leads the team with six walks. The Sycamores' pitching staff is led by Taylor Lockwood (3-2, 2.87 ERA) and Yvette Alvarez (4-3, 3.26 ERA) who combine for 37 strikeouts this season.

Scouting the Vikings
Cleveland State is 7-6 heading into the USF Under Armour Showcase after a 3-2 weekend at the Winthrop Invitational. The Vikings finished the 2013 season with a 22-27 record, including an even 11-11 mark in the Horizon League. The Cleveland State offense is led by Katelind Phillips (.412) and Cynthia Woodard (.400) who leads the team with five doubles and four home runs this season. The Vikings' pitching staff is led by the duo of Susan Knights (3-4, 1.31 ERA) and Sara Shields (3-1, 3.35 ERA).

Scouting the Black Bears
The only team the Bobcats will face this weekend that has played fewer games than they have, the Maine Black Bears come in with a 1-3 overall record. Their lone victory came against Western Mich., whom the Bobcats fell to by a score of 13-1. Two of their losses have come against a national power in South Florida, making their losing record less of a burden. Jessica Burk leads the Maine offense with a .400 batting average (4-for-10), one RBI and two runs scored. Their pitching staff has shined with Kylie Sparks leading the way with a 1-1 record, 2.10 ERA and six strikeouts in 10 innings. Erin Bogdanovich also comes in with respectable numbers including a 4.50 ERA and one complete game in her two appearances in 2014.

Scouting the Pirates
Seton Hall is coming into the weekend with a 3-12 overall record while in the midst of a nine-game losing streak. Their last victory came on Feb. 16 against Delaware State as they traveled first to Arizona State and then to UNLV for a pair of warm weather tournaments in which the Pirates went winless in four games each. Meredith Henze leads the Pirates' offensive attack with a .390 average to go along with six home runs, 12 RBI, two doubles, five walks and nine runs scored. Jackie DiPietro (.406, 7 RBI) and Yasmin Harrell (.324, 6 runs, 7 stolen bases) help provide depth behind Henze. Seton Hall's pitching staff is led by Casey Moses who has struggled this season with a 7.97 ERA and 1-5 record through 10 appearances in 2014.

Scouting the Red Storm
The Red Storm of St. John's enter the weekend with a 5-9 overall record having last seen the field on March 2 in a doubleheader split with Western Carolina. St. John's is led by Erin Burner who is one of three players batting over .300 on the season at .419. Burner also has a team leading 18 hits, four doubles, four home runs and 11 RBI's. Tori Free leads the Red Storm pitching staff with a .436 ERA and 4-5 record over 35.1 innings pitched with 40 strikeouts. 

We Want More Robey
After tallying just six at-bats throughout the entire 2013 season, sophomore pitcher/first baseman Sydney Robey has come out of nowhere to lead the Quinnipiac offense through five games. Robey has compiled a .385 average (5-for-13) but all five of her base hits have gone for extra bases (four doubles, one home run). She tallied her first career homer against Georgia State while she tied a single-game program record with three doubles against Campbell.

Right in the Nik of Time
Junior infielder Nikki Barba has put together a solid all-around offensive season, ranking among the three best Bobcats in terms of batting average (.333), on-base percentage (.467), runs (2), hits (4), doubles (1) and walks (3).

All Over the Field
Perhaps the Bobcats' best all-around player thus far has been their junior utility player Hannah Linsley who comes in with a team-high batting average (.400, 4-for-10) to go along with the best ERA (3.60) of any Quinnipiac pitcher. She has pitched in every game this season, allowing no runs in three of her five appearances, and throwing nearly half of Quinnipiac's total innings (11.2).

Power Player
Quinnipiac's junior catcher Jordan Paolucci shook off a 0-for-10 start to the season with a monster grand slam to right center field against Fla. Atlantic. The home run was her first of the season while the grand slam was the fourth of her career, easily the most of any Bobcat in program history.  

One Away
Paolucci's home run on Sunday against the Owls was the 28th of her career which puts her just one shy of matching Sarah Collins' program record of 29 career homer. After just two seasons, Paolucci has established herself as the most superior power threat the Quinnipiac program has ever seen and is on-pace to eclipse 50 dingers for her career.

Preseason Selection
The Bobcats were picked to finish seventh in the MAAC preseason poll which was announced earlier this week as Quinnipiac garnered 58 points among the vote of the league's head coaches. Defending MAAC Tournament Champion Marist was voted as the preseason favorite in the league followed by the reigning MAAC Regular Season Champion Fairfield and 2013 NEC Tournament participant Monmouth.

Early Honors
A host of Bobcats including juniors Jordan Paolucci and Nikki Barba as well as sophomore Courtney Solt were all named to the College Sports Madness Preseason All-MAAC Team announced earlier this month. Paolucci and Solt each earned a First Team distinction while Barba was named to the Second Team. Paolucci had a banner year, establishing a new single-season program record with 44 RBI while also leading the NEC in home runs (12) and finishing third on the team with a .322 batting average. Solt broke the single-season hits record at Quinnipiac with 66 base knocks in 2013 to go along with a team-leading .375 batting average, 37 runs, nine doubles and NEC-high five triples. Barba's numbers improved dramatically from her freshman season as she raked .331 throughout 2013 with a team-high .421 on-base percentage, 31 runs, 13 doubles, four home runs and 23 RBI.

Last Season Recap
The Bobcats finished the 2014 season with a record of 17-35 and finished their final season as a member of the Northeast Conference in seventh place overall with a mark of 9-11 in NEC play. Quinnipiac failed to reach the postseason for the first time since the 2009 season, breaking up a string of three straight trips to the playoffs for the Bobcats.

In Steps Jill
Quinnipiac University Director of Athletics and Recreation Jack McDonald announced the hiring of Jill Karwoski as the head coach on Feb. 27, 2014. Karwoski comes to Quinnipiac from Providence College where she served as the assistant coach in 2012-13. Prior to joining Quinnipiac, Karwoski was the head coach at Merrimack College for the 2011-12 season. Before Merrimack, Karwoski spent four years as the associate head coach and recruiting coordinator at Boston College, a position she held from 2007 through 2011. She also has head coaching experience at Morehead State University where she manned the helm from 2004 through 2007.

You Will be Missed
The Bobcats graduated a core of four seniors last season that were all significant contributors not only in 2013 but throughout their four years at Quinnipiac. The Bobcats said goodbye to one of their best shortstops in program history, Alex Alba. She graduated with the most career doubles (45) of any player ever at Quinnipiac as well as the eighth-most homers (13) and fifth-most RBI (92). She also finished just five hits shy of becoming just the second player in Quinnipiac history to reach the 200 career hit club as she finished her four years with 195 base knocks. Also among the graduates was outfielder Lauren Salgado, the Bobcats' center fielder the last three seasons, who finished third all-time with 47 career stolen bases and 10th all-time in career hits (141). Two other major departures include third baseman Bridget Figmic (.243 batting average, 21 runs, 19 RBI, 19 walks, .962 fielding percentage) and first baseman Kourtney Kesses (.220 batting average, 23 runs, three home runs, 12 RBI, team-high 20 walks, .959 fielding percentage). Quinnipiac will need to fill three big departures across their infield and one in the outfield if they hope to compete in the 2014 season.

Back With Vengeance
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 in 2012 and returned fully healthy in 2013 as the starting catcher wherein she finished with another stellar season as the team's main backstop. As a redshirt sophomore in 2013, Paolucci led the team with a stellar all-around campaign including a single-season program record 44 RBI, NEC-high 12 home runs, .322 batting average, 22 runs, five doubles, .611 slugging percentage, .401 on-base percentage and three stolen bases. She led the team in every slugging category in addition to her holding the top spot in the NEC in home runs (12) and RBI (44). Paolucci's successful comeback season garnered recognition on the 2013 NFCA Division I All-Region Second Team honors in the Northeast region. She also pulled in NEC First Team and College Sports Madness All-NEC First Team honors for her impressive season.

Home Run Frenzy
Paolucci's incredible 2013 campaign featured a couple more statistical highlights as she recorded a hit in over 90 percent of the team's games which also included a home run in nearly 23 percent of the games as well. She also became the first Bobcat in program history to record multiple seasons with at least 10 home runs including three grand slams in 2013 with her signature moment coming on April 20 when she crushed a walk off grand slam in the eighth inning to win it for the Bobcats.

Solt of a Good Player
The first season for outfielder Courtney Solt won't soon be forgotten as she broke a 17-year-old program record, finishing with 66 hits to break the single-season program mark established by Kerri McMahon back in the 1995 season. Solt finished her first season with the Bobcats with a .375 batting average, tied for the third-most triples in a single-season in Quinnipiac's history (five) and also finished with the eighth-most runs scored (37) in a single-season at Quinnipiac. Her defining season granted her College Sports Madness All-NEC Second Team accolades for her efforts.

Tied at the Top
Solt also became just the second Bobcat ever to win three NEC Rookie of the Week titles in 2013 as she joined Krista Seeman who accomplished the feat back in 2007. Her success from 2013 has carried over into the 2014 preseason accolades as she was the only Bobcat to garner a MAAC preseason All-Conference selection.

Nikki Breaks Out
Another Bobcat who broke out in 2013 was their then-sophomore second baseman Nikki Barba who took home her first career All-NEC distinction with Second Team honors following strong season. She went from sixth on the team in batting average in 2012 all the way up to second with a .331 mark at year's end. Her average was good enough for a Top-10 spot in the NEC in 2013. Barba improved across the board in terms of hits (49), runs (31), RBI (23), home runs (4), doubles (13), walks (20), stolen bases (7), on-base percentage (.421) and slugging percentage (.500). She ranked in the top-three on the team in all respective categories and did so while starting all 52 games at the second base position for the Bobcats.

Hot Streak
Barba strung together an 11-game hitting streak early in the 2013 season which finished as the longest streak for any Bobcat hitter throughout last season. She hit a combined .444 (16-for-36) throughout the hitting streak with four doubles, nine runs and five RBI.

Position Movement
Expect to see plenty of Bobcats playing in new positions in 2014 as Quinnipiac will need to replace four starters in critical positions (centerfield, shortstop, third base, first base). Only one player on the team, Sydney Robey, is not listed as a utility player entering the 2014 campaign.

On the Mound
The Bobcats were hard pressed to replace their best pitcher in program history last season but they are lucky enough to have all four of the five pitchers who saw action on the mound return for another season at Quinnipiac. Junior Hannah Lindsley had a breakout season as she finished 2013 with the best stats in every pitching category for the entire Quinnipiac pitching contingent. She tallied 7 wins with a 4.10 ERA, 9 complete games, 121.1 innings, 64 strikeouts and two saves. Linsley will be counted on to step in as the team's ace after she put together a solid 7-12 record after pitching in just one game during her freshman season. Other pitchers who will be counted on include senior Katie Alfiere (1-8, 6.19 ERA) who will be looking to bounce back from a difficult 2013 campaign while sophomore Sydney Robey (6-8, 5.27 ERA) showcased some dynamic ability from the mound in spurts last season and will be looking to round herself into a consistent contributor for the Bobcats in 2014.

A Slew of Newcomers
The 2014 Bobcats will include a significant amount of newcomers as freshmen Keilani Finley will join fellow classmates Taylor Schussler and Kathryn Vitale in their first seasons with the team. Finley hails from Alameda, Calif. and will look to help fill the hole vacated by Lauren Salgado in the Bobcats' outfield while Schussler, who also played for Quinnipiac women's rugby team, will provide some much needed depth at the infield position, as well as Vitale who figures to see time in the outfield. Also joining Quinnipiac for their first season with the team is sophomore walk-on outfielder Katie Strong who hails from South Windsor, Conn.

Big MAAC Moves
Quinnipiac softball will be competing in their first season as a member of the MAAC in 2014 after being a member of the Northeast Conference for 12 seasons. The Bobcats will be facing a brand new slate of competition as they played three different MAAC foes last season a total of six times. Quinnipiac finished with a 3-3 record in those six games against their new conference foes as they split two games each coming against Monmouth, Fairfield and Manhattan. Included in their six-game stretch was an impressive 6-4 victory over MAAC Regular Season Champs Fairfield on the road as well as a convincing 8-1 victory over NEC Tournament participant Monmouth.

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