Patriot League Softball Tournament Preview

PATRIOTLEAGUEDOTORG Second-team All-Patriot League selection Melissa Robinson leads Lafayette into the postseason.
PATRIOTLEAGUEDOTORG
Second-team All-Patriot League selection Melissa Robinson leads Lafayette into the postseason.
PATRIOTLEAGUEDOTORG

May 8, 2012

Patriot League Softball Tournament Preview Get Acrobat Reader
Patriot League Softball Championship Central (with All-Access audio links)

For more, including the announcement of Patriot League All-Access audio coverage as well as the All-Patriot League and Academic All-Patriot League teams, visit Patriot League Softball Central

CENTER VALLEY, Pa. -- Lehigh will welcome Army, Colgate and Lafayette to Kaufman Field for the 2012 Patriot League Softball Tournament, beginning on Thursday and finishing up with Saturday's championship matchup.

No. 1 seed Lehigh opens the tournament against No. 4 Lafayette on Thursday at Noon, followed by No. 2 Army against No. 3 Colgate at 2:30 p.m. The double-elimination event continues with three games on Friday (11 a.m./1:30 p.m./4 p.m.) and the remaining two teams square off in the championship series on Saturday at Noon with, if necessary, a decisive a game to follow.

The Mountain Hawks earned the top seed in the field after rolling through the regular season with an 18-2 Patriot League mark. Lehigh won the conference by four games over second place Army, with Colgate (12-8) third and Lafayette (7-13) finishing fourth.

Lehigh is hosting the tournament for the ninth time in 11 seasons, but first since 2009. The Mountain Hawks are trying to repeat as champion, and win their fourth crown in the past five years. Lehigh has a League-best 11 Patriot League Tournament titles.

Colgate and Army can each look to history of winning the tournament at Kaufman Field. The Raiders claimed the crown on Lehigh's home turf in both 2003 and 2007, and have three Patriot League titles overall. The Black Knights won it all at Lehigh in 2002, the most recent of their four crowns.

Lafayette will be going for its first Patriot League title. When the Leopards last played in the tourney in 2009, they advanced to the championship round before falling to Lehigh.

The winner of the Patriot League Tournament receives the League's automatic berth to the NCAA Tournament.

Patriot League Tournament Notebook

Familiar Faces in Patriot League Tournament....
Lehigh, Army and Colgate are into the Patriot League Tournament in 2012, which is nothing new for any of the three teams. The Mountain Hawks have made it into the field in each of the League's 22 seasons, while Colgate has only missed once (2008) and Army has been left out of the Patriot League Tournament just three times (1998, 1999, 2009). Lafayette is in the Patriot League Tournament for the first time since 2009, and 13th in its history.

...And a Familiar Host, Too
Lehigh will welcome the tournament teams to Kaufman Field for the ninth time in the last 11 seasons, but first since 2009. The Mountain Hawks hosted the event as the regular-season champion from 2002-09, the first eight seasons it was played at a home site after the Patriot League Tournament was held at Patriots Park in Allentown, Pa. from 1991-01. Army hosted the Patriot League Tournament in 2010, while Colgate welcomed the field last year.

Can Mountain Hawks Do it Again?
Lehigh has clearly been the top team throughout the history of Patriot League softball, and the Mountain Hawks will aim to add to their legacy with another title in 2012. Lehigh has won the Patriot League Softball Tournament 11 times, first from 1993-96, then again in 2001, 2004-06, 2008-09 and last season. The Mountain Hawks will go for their seventh crown in nine seasons, while Head Coach Fran Troyan tries to direct the team to the title for the ninth time in his 17th year at the helm. Lehigh claimed the top seed and right to host the tourney by winning at least a share of the regular-season crown for the 17th time in the past 20 seasons. Lehigh finished alone in first place for the 15th time, and first since a decade-long run from 2000-09.

Army, Colgate Have Done It Before at Kaufman Field
While Lehigh has claimed the League title in six of the previous nine appearances on its home field, Army and Colgate have shown that the visitor can come away with the crown in Bethlehem, too. The Black Knights won the most recent of their four titles in 2002 when they won the Patriot League title while playing as the No. 2 seed at Lehigh, beating the Mountain Hawks in the championship game. Colgate won it all at Lehigh in both 2003 and 2007, accounting for two of its three League championships. The Raiders were the No. 2 seed both seasons, beating Army in the title matchup in 2003 and the host Mountain Hawks in 2007.

Lafayette Looking to Make History
Lafayette has never won a Patriot League title, but the Leopards can draw on good experiences in their last two tournament trips. Lafayette made it to the Patriot League Championship in both 2008 and 2009 at Lehigh, playing as the No. 4 seed in the latter year. The Leopards are trying to become the first team seeded lower than No. 3 to win the Patriot League Tournament.

Better Win the Opener
While a double-elimination format provides an opportunity to rebound from a loss, history says winning Thursday's contest will go a long way towards determining the Patriot League champion. The last six Patriot League champions all won their opening game, and 18 of the 21 all-time winners started with a victory. Only Lehigh (2001 and 2005) and Holy Cross (1998) won it all after an opening loss. Five of the past six champions also won their second game to advance to the championship round, with only Bucknell (2010) rallying after a loss on the second day.

NCAA Tournament Selection
The winner of the Patriot League Softball Tournament receives an automatic berth to the NCAA Softball Tournament, which begins with the regionals on May 17-20. The selections for the 64-team field will be announced on Sunday at 10 p.m. on ESPNU.

Patriot League Tournament History

No. 1 Lehigh The Mountain Hawks have made it to every Patriot League Tournament, with 11 League titles to date. They have advanced to the championship round in 15 of their 21 appearances. Lehigh has won the crown in 10 of its previous 16 appearances as the No. 1 seed in the Patriot League Tournament. The Mountain Hawks are trying to win multiple titles in a row for the fourth time, previously doing so from 1993-96, 2004-06 and 2008-09.

No. 2 Army The Black Knights enter the Patriot League Tournament as the No. 2 seed for the first time since 2005, and go for their first League crown since winning out of the No. 2 spot in 2002. Army has four Patriot League titles, and has advanced to the championship round 10 times. The Black Knights last played in the final round in 2006, which concluded a run of five straight seasons from 2002-06 in the championship matchup.

No. 3 Colgate The Raiders have advanced to the Patriot League Championship in each of the last two seasons, but lost a pair of tight games to Bucknell in 2010 before getting blanked by Lehigh last year. Colgate has won Patriot League titles in 1999, 2003 and 2007, with each crown coming when the Raiders were the No. 2 or No. 3 seed. The Raiders have played in the championship round seven times in their 20 appearances in the Patriot League Tournament.

No. 4 Lafayette The Leopards play in the Patriot League Tournament for the 13th time, and go in search of their first League crown. Lafayette has advanced to the final round twice, in 2008 and 2009. In both seasons the Leopards fell to Lehigh, pushing the series to a decisive game in 2008.

For more history and records in the Patriot League Tournament, read pages 8-10 of the release.

Patriot League Notebook

All-Patriot League, Major Awards Announced
The 2012 All-Patriot League Team and Academic All-Patriot League Team were announced on Tuesday. Two student-athletes won multiple major awards, with Lehigh's Jen Colquhoun as the Player and Scholar-Athlete of the Year and Army's Morgan Lashley named Pitcher and Rookie of the Year. Lehigh's Fran Troyan won the Coach of the Year award. For the full list of All-Patriot League and Academic All-Patriot League recipients, read page one of the release or go to www.patriotleague.org.

Mountain Hawk Trio Moving up Patriot League Record Book
Lehigh senior first baseman Julie Fernandez, a finalist for the Lowe's Senior CLASS Award, already has the Patriot League career record with 63 doubles. Now, she enters the Patriot League Tournament tied for the League record of 257 hits with Lehigh's Stephanie Digneo (2000-03). Fernandez is also third all-time in batting average (.406) and fifth in RBIs (138). Her classmate, Audra Wood, enters the tourney with 170 runs, just one off the Patriot League mark of 171 held by Lehigh's Kim Miller (1993-96). Wood is also fourth with 65 stolen bases. Yet another Lehigh senior, Jen Colquhoun, ranks eighth in career home runs (22) and fourth in RBIs (140). Colquhoun's 13 home runs this season are just three off the Patriot League record, and she has tied a League mark with three Player of the Week awards this year.

Army's Lashley Continues to Shatter Patriot League Records
Army freshman Morgan Lashley has enjoyed a record-setting season on her way to winning both the Patriot League Pitcher and Rookie of the Year awards. She has established marks for appearances (52), starts (47), innings (300.0) and wins (31), where she is just one off the Division I lead. Lashley has pitched nearly the entire way for an Army team that holds a 35-19 overall record and went 14-6 in the Patriot League. She put together a 31-14 record with a 2.26 ERA and a Patriot League-best 223 strikeouts. Lashley also leads all Patriot League pitchers with 33 complete games and 10 shutouts. During League action, she was outstanding with a 14-5 record and 1.85 ERA.