March 2, 2012
Patriot League Softball Central
Center Valley, Pa. -- It's been a slow start to the Patriot League softball season, but that will change in the upcoming weeks as multiple teams hit the road for spring trips early in March.
Army, Bucknell, Holy Cross and Lehigh start the trend this weekend as they head on the road for action. The Black Knights will play five games in Washington, D.C. while the Bison head to Huntington, W. Va. for four contests including two against host Marshall.
The Crusaders and Mountain Hawks each begin their spring trips to Kissimmee, Fla. on Sunday. Both teams will compete in the Rebel Spring Games, with Holy Cross playing 12 games against 11 different teams and Lehigh looking at 10 contests versus eight different opponents.
Holy Cross will be the fifth Patriot League team to open its season on Sunday. Lafayette plays it 2012 opener on March 10 when it begins its spring trip, with Bucknell, Army and Colgate also spending the week of March 10-18 on their spring trip to Florida.
Army has been the busiest team through the month of February, as the Black Knights started on Feb. 10 and have already racked up a 4-3 record. Three of Army's four wins have come by one or two runs.
Bucknell also holds a winning mark after going 2-1 in its action at the Phoenix Softball Clash at Elon on Feb. 18. The victories included a 2-0 shutout of the hosts as Alex MacLean tossed a complete-game three-hitter.
Lehigh and Colgate have also opened their seasons, with the Mountain Hawks going 1-5 at the Wolfpack Challenge at N.C State and the Raiders dropping four contests at the University of Virginia Invitational on the weekend of Feb. 24-26.
Patriot League Notebook
Lehigh Picked First in Preseason Softball Poll
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.
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.
Fernandez Earns Lowe's Senior CLASS Award Distinction
Lehigh senior first baseman Julie Fernandez has been named as one of 30 candidates for the Lowe's Senior CLASS Softball Award. The award encompasses community, classroom, character and competition. A two-year captain for the Mountain Hawks, Fernandez has excelled in all four areas as one of the top hitters and first basemen in the region and as a behavioral neuroscience major with her sights set on medical school. Fernandez is the only Patriot League softball student-athlete to be named a candidate, joining an impressive list which features All-Americans, Academic All-Americans and more. The 30 candidates will be narrowed to 10 finalists midway through the regular season, and those 10 names will be placed on the official ballot. Ballots will be distributed through a nationwide voting system to media, coaches and fans, who will select one candidate who best exemplifies excellence in the four Cs of community, classroom, character and competition.
Patriot League Women's Softball Weekly Awards
PLAYER OF THE WEEK
REANNA JOHNSON, ARMY Sr., OF, Rancho Cucamonga, Calif.
Johnson has played a key role in each of Army's victories as the Black Knights have started 4-3 on the season. She went a combined 8-for-15 with six runs scored and four RBIs in wins over Utah, Campbell, Monmouth and Norfolk State. Johnson was 5-for-8 with three runs scored and an RBI in Army's doubleheader sweep of Monmouth and Norfolk State on Sunday. Johnson is batting .364 overall through Army's first seven games. She wins her second career Player of the Week honor.
PITCHER OF THE WEEK
ALEX MacLEAN, BUCKNELL Jr., P, Northampton, Pa.
MacLean tossed a three-hit shutout to lead Bucknell to a 2-0 win over Elon on Feb. 18. She did not walk a batter and struck out five while going the distance. MacLean has a 3.97 ERA in 11.1 innings for the season, with seven strikeouts and just two walks for the year. She is in the top 10 in Bucknell history in appearances (61), starts (49), innings pitched (306), wins (22) and strikeouts (215). MacLean earns the fourth Pitcher of the Week award of her career.
ROOKIE OF THE WEEK
MORGAN LASHLEY, ARMY Fr., P, Davidson, N.C.
Lashley has been a workhorse in Army's first seven games, appearing in each contest with five starts. She has pitched in 30.2 of 43.1 innings with a 3-3 record and one save. Lashley went the distance in a 3-2 win over Utah and 5-4 victory over Norfolk State, and also pitched 6.2 innings in a 10-8 triumph over Campbell. She recorded her first save in an 8-4 win over Monmouth on Sunday. Lashley has 24 strikeouts in her 30.2 innings pitched.
JEN COLQUHOUN, LEHIGH Sr., SS, Oak Park, Calif.
Colquhoun is batting .409 with two home runs, three RBIs and five runs scored in Lehigh's first six contests.