March 14, 2013
CENTER VALLEY, Pa. – All six Patriot League softball teams have begun competition during the 2013 season, with several taking on teams in much more hospitable environments than the Northeast in early to mid-March.
Army and Lehigh are the only teams in action Thursday, with both at the Rebel Spring Games in Kissimmee, Fla. The Black Knights play first at 11 a.m. and 1 p.m. against Youngstown State and Butler, while Lehigh takes the field at 3 and 5 p.m. against St. Peter’s and Wagner. Army has a day off Friday before concluding at the Rebel Spring Games Saturday, while Friday marks the Mountain Hawks’ final action in Florida.
Colgate and Holy Cross continue their schedules Friday. The Raiders open play at the USF Spring Break Tournament in Tampa, Fla., with contests against fellow Northeastern programs Rhode Island and Boston College. Colgate has had a tough stretch to open the season, suffering four losses by one or two runs.
The Crusaders picked up three wins in their first 10 outings at the Rebel Spring Games and have five games this weekend at the Stony Brook Invitational against Yale, Providence and Manhattan.
Bucknell has been on a long swing through southern states this week, and the trek continues for the Bison Friday with a doubleheader at Prairie View Friday and two at Texas Southern Saturday before an extended break.
Lafayette has competed in the N.C. State Wolfpack Challenge and Towson Invitational, picking up three wins along the way. The Leopards visit Penn Saturday for a doubleheader before taking part in the Sean Savage Tournament hosted by Delaware State the following weekend.
Patriot League Notebook
LEHIGH EDGES ARMY AS FAVORITE…
Two-time defending champion Lehigh captured 47 points and seven first-place votes to edge Army in the preseason softball poll conducted by the League’s head coaches and sports information directors last month. The Black Knights came in with 45 points and the remaining five first-place ballots. Colgate was third with 34 points and Lafayette next with 22. Bucknell (17 points) and Holy Cross (15) rounded out the poll.
…AND SWEEPS PRESEASON MAJOR AWARDS
A pair from Lehigh claimed the preseason major awards last month as senior catcher Liz Lucas and senior pitcher Rebecca Bliss were named the Player and Pitcher of the Year, respectively, by the head coaches and sports information directors. Lucas hit .348 with 6 home runs and 40 RBIs last year, while Bliss was 19-7 with two saves in 32 appearances and a 2.08 earned-run average.
LEAGUE PLAY BEGINS MARCH 30
Believe it or not, but Patriot League play in softball is a mere two weeks away. The first three League series will take place Saturday-Sunday, March 30-31, with Holy Cross visiting Lafayette, Army hosting Colgate and Lehigh heading to Bucknell.
The 2013 Patriot League Softball Tournament is scheduled for Thursday-Saturday, May 9-11, from the site of the highest seed. The top four teams in the final regular-season League standings will qualify for the double-elimination tournament that begins with No. 1 playing No. 4 and No. 2 battling No. 3 on Thursday. Lehigh has won the previous two tournament titles after Army captured the crown in 2010.
ARMY’S DePOLO HONORED
Army coach Michelle DePolo was enshrined in the Georgian Court University Hall of Fame back in December. The Black Knight skipper was a three-sport athlete at Georgian Court, lettering in soccer, basketball and softball. She was a two-time captain of the softball team, and pitched her club to four conference titles, three regional championships and three NAIA Tournament appearances.
TWO NEW FACES
Bucknell and Colgate have new mentors in the dugout this spring. The Bison are directed by Bonnie Skrenta, who was hired last June after serving 10 years as the head coach at DePauw University. In her tenure there, she guided DePauw to five NCAA Division III Tournament appearances and a pair of 40-win campaigns. She left the school as its all-time winningest softball coach. At Colgate, Melissa Finley is in her first season guiding the Raiders. She was named head coach after serving as an assistant at Penn for four seasons. In her last season, the Quakers won the Ivy League South Division title. She also had a successful four-year playing career at Princeton, in which she went 22-18 and hit .334 as a pitcher and centerfielder.