Lehigh's Julie Fernandez
March 29, 2012
Center Valley, Pa. -- After a combined 127 games to prepare, the six Patriot League teams will finally begin to face off with the opening of League play on Saturday.
Lehigh, the defending champion and preseason favorite, will open up at rival Lafayette this weekend while Army hosts Holy Cross and Colgate heads to Bucknell. Each Patriot League series is four games with doubleheaders on both Saturday and Sunday.
The Mountain Hawks and Black Knights enter the League season with the most momentum and winning overall records after each sweeping a doubleheader on Wednesday. Lehigh swept Fordham and has won six of its last eight games to improve to 15-13 overall at the start of League action, while Army holds a 15-12 record after winning by a combined score of 31-4 in its doubleheader against St. Peter's on Wednesday.
The Patriot League schedule will continue for five consecutive weekends, with each team facing off in four-game series against its Patriot League opponents. The regular season concludes on April 29, with the 2012 Patriot League Tournament set for May 10-12 at the site of the top seed.
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.
Bliss Earns Patriot League, ECAC Honors After Outstanding Week
Lehigh junior Rebecca Bliss had a memorable three-game stretch, and it gave her the Pitcher of the Week award from both the Patriot League and Eastern College Athletic Conference (ECAC). Bliss had three complete-game shutouts, tossing 21 scoreless innings for the week, to lead Lehigh to close wins over Ivy League opponents. She allowed just nine hits with no walks and eight strikeouts in the 21 innings of work, and did not give up more than four hits in any of her three starts against Penn (2-0), and Harvard (1-0, 2-0). Bliss allowed only a .132 batting average for the week. She had another fine performance on Wednesday, allowing just two runs on five hits in a 4-2 win over Fordham. Bliss is the second Lehigh student-athlete to be honored by the ECAC after senior Jen Colquhoun was named the organization's Player of the Week on March 13.
Freshman Pitching Sensation, Part I
Lehigh freshman Emily Bausher has an incredible resume early in her career, as she already owns a 12-strikeout no-hitter against South Dakota on March 4 to go with consecutive one-hitters with a combined 23 strikeouts in the shutouts of Binghamton and Penn on March 18 and 21. After a pair of hard-luck losses where she allowed four runs in 16 innings against Harvard over the weekend, Bausher posted another victory with a complete game in a 7-2 triumph over Fordham on Wednesday. Bausher has a 1.51 ERA and 7-7 record for the season, with 102 strikeouts in 88.1 innings of work.
Freshman Pitching Sensation, Part II
While Bausher has been spectacular, she has been matched by another first-year player in the Patriot League. Army freshman Morgan Lashley has carried the load for the 15-12 Black Knights on the mound. Lashley has started 20 and appeared in 24 of Army's games, and has made the most of her work with a 10-9 record and 2.60 ERA. She has already thrown 129.0 innings, giving up just 123 hits in that span and striking out 94.
Fernandez Breaks Lehigh Doubles Record, Closing in on Patriot League Mark
Lehigh senior first baseman Julie Fernandez is having yet another fine season, and on Wednesday she made the first mark into the record books. With three doubles in a sweep of Fordham, Fernandez became the Lehigh school-record holder with 52 two-baggers in her career. She passed Stephanie Digneo (2000-03) for the mark, and also moved past Digneo for second in Patriot League history. Fernandez is just four doubles away from the Patriot League record of 56 held by Army's Nicki Robbins (1999-02). She also excels off the field, and is one of 30 candidates for the Lowe's Senior CLASS Softball Award. The award encompasses community, classroom, character and competition. 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.
Fregenti Sets Holy Cross Home Run Record
Early in her junior season, Sam Fregenti is already the all-time home run leader at Holy Cross. She cranked a pair of home runs in the spring trip for the Crusaders, breaking the mark while coming through with the game-winning RBIs in a 7-6 win over Yale on March 6.
Patriot League Softball Weekly Awards
PLAYER OF THE WEEK
MARINA NORTHUP, ARMY So., OF/DP, San Antonio, Texas
Northup batted .400 in six games for the Black Knights, helping lead the way in victories over Villanova and Fairleigh Dickinson. She went 2-for-2 as Army beat FDU 4-1 on Tuesday, and batted 3-for-3 with the only run of the game as the Black Knights topped the Wildcats 1-0 over the weekend. Northup had at least one hit in five of Army's six games, finishing with two runs scored and two RBIs for the week. She was 1-for-3 with a run and two RBIs in a 5-3 loss to Rider on Sunday. Northup had a pair of doubles among her eight hits.
PITCHER OF THE WEEK
REBECCA BLISS, LEHIGH Jr., P, Escondido, Calif.
Bliss had three complete-game shutouts, tossing 21 scoreless innings for the week, to lead Lehigh to three close wins over Ivy League opponents. She allowed just nine hits with no walks and eight strikeouts in the 21 innings of work, and did not give up more than four hits in any of her three starts. Bliss scattered four hits with two strikeouts in a 2-0 shutout of Penn on Wednesday as the Mountain Hawks swept the Quakers. She pitched brilliantly to lead the Mountain Hawks to two wins against Harvard over the weekend. Bliss allowed two hits with four strikeouts in a 1-0 blanking of the Crimson on Saturday, and gave up three hits with two strikeouts in a 2-0 shutout of Harvard on Sunday. Bliss allowed only a .132 batting average for the week. She has 10 career shutouts, and all four of her victories this season have come via shutout.
ROOKIE OF THE WEEK
EMILY BAUSHER, LEHIGH Fr., P/UT, New Egypt, N.J.
Bausher earns her third Patriot League Rookie of the Week honor for another outstanding stretch in her freshman season. She gave up just four runs and 13 hits in 23 innings of work last week, which included a one-hit, eight-strikeout shutout in a 2-0 win over Penn on Wednesday. Bausher pitched well in a pair of losses against Harvard over the weekend, going the distance in a 3-1 defeat on Saturday while tossing nine innings in a hard-luck 1-0 loss on Sunday. Bausher also had 19 strikeouts for the week, and posted a 1.22 ERA while holding opponents to a .165 batting average in the three games. Bausher has three shutouts and leads Lehigh with a 1.46 ERA for the season.
MELISSA ROBINSON, LAFAYETTE So., P, Philadelphia, Pa./St. Hubert
Robinson tossed 9.2 scoreless innings in picking both of Lafayette's victories in a sweep of Manhattan on Saturday. She tossed a three-hit complete-game shutout to lead the Leopards to a 3-0 win in the opener.
MORGAN LASHLEY, ARMY Fr., P, Davidson, N.C.
Lashley allowed just six earned runs in 34 innings on the mound last week, including a complete-game shutout in a 1-0 win over Villanova on Saturday.
JULIE FERNANDEZ, LEHIGH Sr., 1B, Moorpark, Calif.
Fernandez batted .421 with three RBIs during a 4-2 week for the Mountain Hawks against Penn and Harvard.