Feb. 8, 2012
Patriot League Softball Preseason Poll
Patriot League Softball Central
Center Valley, Pa. - After winning its 11th Patriot League title last season, Lehigh has been selected to claim the crown again in 2012 as the Mountain Hawks were picked first in the Patriot League Softball preseason poll, it was announced on Wednesday.
Lehigh took home 48 points and eight first-place votes from coaches and sports information directors, who were not allowed to vote for their own team. Colgate, which won last year's regular-season title, placed second with 44 points and the remaining four first-place votes and was followed in the voting by Army (30) and Holy Cross (26) with Bucknell and Lafayette tying for fifth place with 16 points.
The Mountain Hawks went 14-5 in the Patriot League regular season in 2011, and then dominated the League Tournament by sweeping their three games by a combined score of 29-4. All four of Lehigh's first-team All-Patriot League selections return to the field this year. Junior catcher Liz Lucas batted .380 with 10 home runs and 48 RBIs last season, senior infielder Julie Fernandez hit .364 with five home runs and 40 RBIs and senior infielder Jennifer Colquhoun hit .278 with three home runs and 31 RBIs. Rebecca Bliss was one of two pitchers named to the first team as she went 16-8 with 2.97 ERA as a sophomore, and also took home the Patriot League Tournament Most Valuable Player award. Fran Troyan enters his 17th season as the head coach of the Mountain Hawks after winning his eighth Patriot League title last year.
Colgate boasts a pair of sophomores who earned individual awards from the Patriot League in their freshman campaign, as Rachel LeCoq was named Pitcher of the Year and Tera Vaughn took home the Rookie of the Year award last season. LeCoq went 18-9 with 2.14 ERA on the mound with 17 complete games and five shutouts. Vaughn led the Raiders with a .384 batting average while hitting three home runs and notching 36 RBIs. Both players also earned first-team All-Patriot League honors, with the Raiders also returning senior Stephanie Hartquist and juniors Alana Dyson and Courtney O'Connell after second-team All-Patriot League seasons. Colgate went 16-3 in the Patriot League in 2011, and will be led by first-year Head Coach Jamie Grillo.
Army has a pair of first-team All-Patriot League returnees for third-year Head Coach Michelle DePolo. Sophomore Amanda Nguyen led the team with a .383 batting average while scoring 41 runs, while junior Alex Reynolds hit .310 with six home runs and 45 RBIs. The Black Knights have qualified for the Patriot League Tournament and posted a winning overall record in each of DePolo's first two seasons.
Holy Cross qualified for the Patriot League Tournament last season for the first time since 2003, which earned Brian Claypool the Patriot League Coach of the Year award. The Crusaders finished 10-10 in the Patriot League, their first non-losing mark in eight years. To make another step forward, the Crusaders bring back a roster that includes two returning All-Patriot League performers. Junior Sam Fregenti batted .360 with 11 home runs and 34 RBIs last season, while senior Gwen Reimer hit .322 with 26 RBIs.
Bucknell and Lafayette finished tied for fifth in the Patriot League last season, the same spot both teams are picked in the preseason poll. The Bison must replace Patriot League Player of the Year Allison Ford, but bring back junior pitchers Bridget Gates and Alex MacLean. Lafayette has one returning All-Patriot league selection, with Melissa Robinson posting a 2.82 ERA with 17 complete games in her freshman season.
Army will be the first Patriot League team to open the season, as the Black Knights have their first pitch on Friday. Patriot League play starts on the weekend of March 31-April 1 and continues for the following four weeks, with each team playing a four-game series against every Patriot League opponent. The 2012 Patriot League Softball Tournament will be held from May 10-12 at the site of the highest seed from the regular-season standings.
For more on Patriot League softball, including the composite schedule, team information page and record book for the 2012 season, go to Patriot League Softball Central
2012 Patriot League Softball Preseason Poll
1. Lehigh, 48 (8 first-place votes)
2. Colgate, 44 (4)
3. Army, 30
4. Holy Cross, 26
5. Bucknell, 16