March 13, 2014

Softball Concludes Florida Trip With Five Games at Michele Smith Spring Break Tournament

Michele Smith Spring Break Tournament
Eddie C. Moore Softball Complex – Clearwater, Fla.

Quinnipiac University Bobcats (1-11, 0-0 MAAC)
Wagner Seahawks (4-8, 0-0 Northeast Conference)
Florida A&M Rattlers (6-13, 0-0 MEAC)
Purdue Boilermakers (8-14-1, 0-0 Big Ten)
Wisconsin-Green Bay Phoenix (8-2, 0-0 Horizon League)
Rutgers Scarlet Knights (5-7, 0-0 American Athletic)


Friday, March 14, 2014

Wagner vs. Quinnipiac - 2:15 p.m.
Florida A&M vs. Quinnipiac – 4:30 p.m.
Saturday, March 15, 2014
Purdue vs. Quinnipiac – 9:30 a.m.
Wisconsin-Green Bay vs. Quinnipiac – 6:45 p.m.
Sunday, March 16, 2014
Rutgers vs. Quinnipiac – 11:15 a.m.

The Quinnipiac softball team will wrap up their 12 game stint in 10 days down in Florida with an appearance in the Michele Smith Spring Break Tournament. The Bobcats will play a series of five games against a mix of big name schools (Purdue, Rutgers) and one former conference opponent (Wagner). Quinnipiac is currently 1-11 on the season and are attempting to get back on the winning track with conference play looming in a couple weeks.

All-Time Against the Competition
This weekend will mark the Bobcats' first ever games against Purdue and Florida A&M but they do have some experience playing the three other teams. Starting the Wagner, a former conference foe, the Bobcats are 9-6 all-time against the Seahawks and ride a three-game winning streak into their matchup on Friday. Quinnipiac lost to Wisconsin Green Bay, 7-2, in their only previous meeting coming on March 11, 2011. Finally, the Bobcats are 1-3 all-time against Rutgers but haven't played the Scarlet Knights since the 2009 season when they fell, 6-2, out in Northridge, Calif. Quinnipiac's lone victory over Rutgers came in the same tournament on March 7, 2009 when they picked up a 1-0 victory.

Scouting the Seahawks
Wagner comes into the tournament with a 4-8 record. The Seahawks went 2-2 in their last outing at George Washington's Colonials Tournament, defeating Howard twice and falling to Binghamton and GWU. Junior Kelsey Parker and freshman Taylor Beeson are leading the charge for the Seahawks offensively. Parker is hitting at a .417 clip with 15 hits on 36 at-bats and had driven in 14 runs while Beeson owns a batting average of .361 and is 13-for-36 at the plate with 11 runs and eight RBIs. McKaleigh Goodhale is the top pitcher for Wagner as she sports a 3.54 ERA. The freshman has thrown 21 strikeouts in 28 innings on the rubber.

Scouting the Rattlers
Florida A&M comes into the weekend with a 6-13 record, including a 5-3 mark over their last four games after starting the year with a record of 1-10 through the first 11 games. The Rattlers feature a potent offense that is led by Whitney Farris (.333/6-18), Mies McBride (.333/4-12) and Amanda Weaver (.333/3-9) as all three share the team-lead for batting average. Amanda's sister Alyssa Weaver is tied for the team-lead in RBI with four, sharing that spot with Amber Fullwood who leads the team with two extra base hits this season. On the mound, Florida A&M is led by Kenya Pererira who leads the team with a 4.59 ERA in eight appearances while their leader in games started has been Ashleigh Minter who has started five games and comes in with a 5.37 ERA.

Scouting the Boilermakers
Purdue (8-14-1) kicks off its week long spring break swing through Florida and on to University Park, Pa., at the Michelle Smith Spring Break Tournament in Clearwater, Fla., this weekend. The team returns 17 players from its 2013 squad which posted a 21-32 mark, an 8-14 Big Ten mark and Big Ten Tournament second round appearance. Outfielder Andie Varsho (.394) and first baseman Ashley Burkhardt (.351) lead the Boilermaker bats, while four other players are batting .250 or better. Varsho has scored a team-best 14 runs and registered 11 stolen bases. Burkhardt has added seven doubles and five home runs, as well as a team-best 20 RBI and 13 runs scored. Lindsey Rains has driven in 14 RBI with six doubles and two home runs and also stolen five baseswhile Danielle Fletcher has accounted for 10 RBI with four home runs. In the circle, the Purdue staff has combined for 124 strikeouts in 147 innings. Sophomore Lilly Fecho (6-7) has done the bulk of the pitching, striking out 89 batters in 83 innings, including 12 complete games.

Scouting the Phoenix
Wisconsin-Green Bay is the only team the Bobcats will play this weekend that comes in with a winning record as the Phoenix are 8-2 to start the year. The Phoenix defeated their one common opponent with the Bobcats as they took down Indiana State, 3-1, last weekend at the Hilltopper Spring Classic from Bowling Green, Ky. Hailey Mohrfeld comes in with a team-leading batting average of .583 to go along with four runs, one double and one triple. Their pitching depth is quite strong as three out of the four pitchers own ERAs below 3.00. Ashley Nannemann hasn't allowed a run in eight innings while Lauren Danner comes in with an impressive 1.40 ERA to go along with four strikeouts in five innings.

Scouting the Scarlet Knights
Rutgers (5-7) went 0-2 two weekends ago at the CSUN Invitational, falling to Portland State and host-school Cal-State Northridge in Northridge, Calif. The Scarlet Knights had their first four games at the tournament canceled due to inclement weather. Rutgers owns a .286 batting average through its first three weekends, as two players – seniors Alexis Durando and Loren Williams – own averages of at least .400. Williams leads the team with a .455 batting average and .682 slugging percentage. Junior left-hander Alyssa Landrith leads the team with a 2.33 ERA in seven appearances, tossing five complete games. She is averaging 1.1 strikeouts per inning.

MAAC Pitcher of the Week
The Bobcats' lone senior Katie Alfiere made some history this week as she became the first Bobcat to win a MAAC Pitcher of the Week award. The weekly award win is the second in Alfiere's career and the first for the program since May 7, 2012. She won the award after pitching in four games last weekend for Quinnipiac with 8.2 innings pitched allowing seven hits, two earned runs, one walk and three strikeouts. Alfiere finished with a 1.82 ERA and also picked up a clutch two-out save on Sunday as she entered with the bases loaded and didn't allow a run to score against St. John's (NY).

Karwoski's First
Newly hired head coach Jill Karwoski earned her first career win at Quinnipiac with a 5-3 victory over St. John's (NY) on Sunday, March 9. Her team certainly earned the victory as they found themselves down 3-1 after just two innings but rallied for a come-from-behind 5-3 win. Karwoski also made a pressure-packed decision to bring in senior pitcher Katie Alfiere with one out and the bases loaded in the seventh and her senior came through with two consecutive outs that left three Red Storm runners on-base to seal the victory.

Problem Solved
After committing 25 errors through the first seven games of the season, the Bobcats looked to have found the right combination on the field as they've committed just one error in each of the last five games.

Home Run Queen
Undoubtedly the greatest power hitter the Quinnipiac softball program has ever seen, junior catcher Jordan Paolucci became the all-time leader in career home runs for the Bobcats over the weekend. She jacked out a solo home run in the second inning against Maine to pick up her 31st career home run, passing Sarah Collins '06 for first place on the all-time list. Paolucci is currently on pace to slug more than 50 career home runs as she still has over 80 percent of the games this season including another full year in 2015 to add to her already impressive record. 

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 12 games. Robey has compiled a .345 average (10-for-29) but all but three of her base hits have gone for extra bases (five doubles, two home runs). She also sports a team-leading on-base percentage of .472 as she leads the team with six walks. She tallied her first career homer against Georgia State while she tied a single-game program record with three doubles against Campbell. Just last weekend she slugged her second home run of the season against Maine and also tallied her first career three-hit game, going 3-for-4 with two runs against St. John's.

In the Lead Role…
In just her second career start at the leadoff position, sophomore Abby Johnson picked up her first career three-hit game, going 3-for-4 with one RBI against St. John's. Often found all over the lineup, Johnson might have found a new home atop the Bobcats' order as she walked twice in three plate appearances on Saturday in her first career start at leadoff as she has reached base safely in five of her first seven plate appearances.

Born to Run
Freshman walk-on Kathryn Vitale made quite the impact in the Bobcats' first victory of the season as she came on as a pinch runner in the fifth inning and used her speed to create immediate problems for St. John's. With Sydney Robey on third and Vitale at first, the freshman successfully stole second and forced a wild throw down from the catcher, allowing Robey to easily score from third. It was Vitale's first career stolen base and helped lead to Robey's run which represented the game-winning run for the Bobcats.

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 (.276), on-base percentage (.333), hits (8), 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 respectable batting average (.214, 6-for-28) to go along with the best ERA (6.36) of any Quinnipiac pitcher. She has pitched in nine of the 12 games this season and thrown more than one third of Quinnipiac's total innings (25.1).

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. 

Milestone Watch
Two Bobcats are approaching career milestones as Jordan Paolucci is just five RBI away from reaching 100 for her career. She is well on her way to becoming the Bobcats' all-time leader as she trails Sarah Collins '06 for first place by 29 RBI. Meanwhile, Nikki Barba is just six hits away from becoming the 31st player in Quinnipiac softball history to reach 100 career hits. Barba already has 94 in just over two seasons of play and is on-pace to enter the Top 10 by the time her career is over. 

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.

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