April 11, 2012
LEWISBURG, Pa. - After a tough tour last week, Bucknell softball returns to the grind this week with series against Marist and Army. The Bison travel to Poughkeepsie, N.Y., on Thursday for a 2:30 p.m. doubleheader with the Red Foxes before returning home to Becker Field for another Patriot League showdown. This one is slated against Army with Saturday's action getting underway at 1 p.m. Sunday begins at noon. Live stats for both days of league play will be available on GameTracker.
Among Saturday's activities at Becker Field will be Bucknell's childhood cancer awareness initiative with the Angel 34 Foundation. The Bison will be collecting donations for Angel 34 through both games against Army. Games and t-shirt giveaways will also be held in between innings.
Bucknell's week will open Thursday at Marist, which has a 15-18 overall record. The Red Foxes have a veteran group returning with 15 of their 16 letterwinners back from 2011. Of those, sophomore Alyssa Zahka is hitting a team-best .310 and also leads Marist in doubles (8) and runs scored (23). Junior Danielle Koltz is hitting .305 at the plate with a squad-high six home runs and 23 RBI. On the other hand, the Red Foxes' pitching staff is led by youth. Freshmen Janine Lalli and Melanie White both have an ERA of less than 3.20. Lalli leads with seven wins, and White has 51 strikeouts on the year.
Marist has a handful of Patriot League foes on its schedule this spring. It has already faced Holy Cross and split with the Crusaders, winning 12-3 and losing 6-3.
Bucknell and Marist have met three times in series history with the Orange and Blue taking a 2-0-1 lead. The last meeting came at the George Mason Invitational in 2010. The Bison came away with an 11-0 five-inning victory. As a freshman, Mary Horton (Plantation, Fla./St. Thomas Aquinas) came away with a 3-for-4 day at the plate that also included two runs scored and two RBI. In three games, Bucknell has a 17-1 scoring advantage.
The Bison are 33-42 all-time against Army. The Black Knights took three of four contests off the Bison at West Point last spring, eliminating Bucknell from the postseason. Although Army earned a no-hitter in a 3-0 game-one win, Alex MacLean (Northampton, Pa./Northampton Area) came back the next day to throw a two-hit shutout in game three in a 2-0 victory. Army finished its 2011 campaign with a 28-25 record overall and a 9-11 mark in the Patriot League.
Two of the Black Knights' three all-league performers from 2011 - Alex Reynolds and Amanda Nguyen - are back this spring. It's a pair of freshmen that are leading the way, however. Rae Anne Payleitner is hitting a team-best .452. Morgan Lashley is 18-11 in the pitchers' circle with a 2.51 ERA and 156 strikeouts.
Army opened its Patriot League schedule by sweeping Holy Cross and outscoring the Crusaders 24-7. The Black Knights then lost three of four to Colgate the following weekend. They spoiled the series sweep with an 8-4 victory in game four.
Bucknell suffered its own sweep at Lehigh last weekend. As a team, the Bison couldn't get their offense going, although Meredith Dickson (Fogelsville, Pa./Northwestern Lehigh) and Colie Escobar (Cherry Hill, N.J./Cherry Hill East) were both 3-for-8 (.375) at the plate. The only upperclassman with a hit against the Mountain Hawks, Dickson has now hit in seven of her last 10 games. She is .381 (8-for-21) in Patriot League play and continues to lead the team in batting for the season at .333 (25-for-75).
Despite the shaky results, MacLean made her way up a couple of Bucknell record lists. The pitcher is now tied with Sharon Nichols for third in career appearances (81) and sixth in career wins (24) and innings pitched (380.1). Three more appearances and three more starts this spring will also move her into the single-season top 10.
It's hard to believe, but the season's end is already approaching. After making the short trip to Saint Francis (Pa.) on April 17, the Bison will host one more series at Becker Field this spring, April 21-22 against Holy Cross. The Sunday matchup with the Crusaders can be heard live on WVBU 90.5 FM and online at SportsJuice.com.