Softball Set to Play Three Games in Two Days Including Marquee Matchup Against South Florida on Tuesday

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Quinnipiac University Bobcats (2-12, 0-0 NEC) vs
Maine Black Bears (1-18, 0-0 America East)
Tuesday, March 12, 2013 – 2:30 p.m.
USF Softball Stadium – Tampa, Fla.

Quinnipiac University Bobcats (2-12, 0-0 NEC) at
South Florida Bulls (14-10, 0-0 BIG EAST)
Tuesday, March 12 – 5:00 p.m.
USF Softball Stadium – Tampa, Fla.

Quinnipiac University Bobcats (2-12, 0-0 NEC) vs
UT-Chattanooga Mocs (14-10, 0-0 Southern)
Wednesday, March 13 – 12:00 p.m.
Eddie C. Moore Complex – Clearwater, Fla. 

Weekday Showdowns
The Quinnipiac softball team looks to get back in the win column this week as they will play three games between Tuesday and Wednesday before taking part in the City of Clearwater Spring Invitational over the weekend. The Bobcats come into Tuesday losers of eight straight games as their record currently stands 2-12 on the season. They will be taking on a Maine squad that also comes in reeling, losers of 18 straight games, the longest such streak in the nation. The nightcap on Tuesday is the marquee showdown for Quinnipiac of the season as they will be taking on South Florida in a road showdown from Tampa. The Bulls advanced all the way to the 2012 College World Series and were ranked in the Top-20 at times this season as they come in with a 14-10 mark. The final weekday game will take place on Wednesday against an impressive UT-Chattanooga squad that has advanced to the NCAA Regionals in three of the past five seasons out of the Southern Conference.

What Lies Ahead?
The Bobcats will play in their final tournament in the USF Under Armour Series as they will take part in the City of Clearwater Spring Invitational. The team is set to play Maine and Radford on Friday, Colgate and Dartmouth on Saturday and finish up with Cornell on Sunday before heading home for their first home opener of the season on Wednesday, March 20 against UConn at 1 p.m.

Taking on the Black Bears
The America East Conference's Maine Black Bears (1-18, 0-0 America East) come into Tuesday's meeting with the nation's longest losing streak at 18 games. The Blear Bears have struggled this season to score runs as they come in with only 39 runs in 18 games this year. Jessica Burk leads the team in hitting as she comes in with a .288 batting average to go along with a team-high seven runs scored. She is supported by Jenn Stevens who leads the team in home runs (three) and runs batted in (12). Kristen Koslosky is also a threat on the base paths as she comes in team-highs in stolen bases (six), on-base percentage (.343), walks (six) and hits (17). Heading up the pitching staff is junior Hannah Hill who comes in with a 4.57 ERA in 33.2 innings while Beth Spoehr has earned the only Maine victory this season and also sports a team-low 3.95 ERA in 28.1 innings.

Scouting the Bulls
The South Florida softball team seems to be hitting their stride after a rough start to the season as they come into Tuesday winners of their last eight games in-a-row as they come in with a 14-10 record this year. The Bulls had a rough span as they lost nine-of-10 games between Feb. 16 and March 1 but they have seemed to regain their stride of late. The entered 2013 after a stellar 2012 campaign in which they advanced all the way to the 2012 NCAA Women's College World Series. The Bulls ran through Regional play with an undefeated 3-0 record including an upset win over #5 ranked Florida. In the Super Regional Round, South Florida took down Hofstra in three games to advance to the World Series where they lost to the eventual runner-up, #4 Oklahoma. The Bulls have already kickstarted their season with a victory over No. 13 Michigan back in Feb. and have beat several quality opponents including Central Michigan and South Carolina over the current winning streak. Stephanie Medina headlines the hitting crop as she comes in with a team-leading batting average of .339 (21-for-62), four doubles, two home runs and 13 RBI. Kenshyra Jackson has belted a team-high five home runs in 23 games to go along with a team-high 14 RBI. The strength of this South Florida team certainly is with its pitching staff as they employ four different starting pitchers, all of which hold ERAs lower than 2.23 and all have started at least three games this season. Sara Nevins leads the stellar group with a 1.30 ERA, 6-4 record and 72 strikeouts in 64.2 innings. Lindsay Richardson (team-high 75 strikeouts and two shutouts) and Erica Nunn (.200 batting average allowed) are also very capable for this South Florida squad. 

Challenging the Mocs
UT-Chattanooga comes in with an illustrious history in softball as they've made the NCAA Regionals in three of the past five seasons. The Mocs come in with a 14-10 record but are hot of late as they've won six of their past seven games including wins over Loyola Marymount and Temple, two teams that recently defeated the Bobcats. The Southern Conference's powerhouse, UT-Chattanooga employs a potent offense with six players all batting at least .296 this season. The Mocs don't supply a ton of power as they've hit only three home runs as a team this season but the team knows how to get on-base with a combined on-base percentage of .363 to go along with 111 runs scored in 24 games this season. Sara Poteat (.388 batting average, 33 hits, 23 runs scored, four triples, eight stolen bases) leads the team in several offensive categories while Kasey Tydingco (14 RBI, five doubles) has driven in the most runs for the Mocs this year. Taylor Deason has been the primary starter for UT-Chattanooga as she has compiled an 11-6 record, 2.84 ERA and 88 strikeouts in 86.1 innings.

USF Under Armour Showcase Recap
The Bobcats couldn't muster a victory last weekend at the USF Under Armour Showcase as they finished up 0-5 in five games. They began with a showdown against Boston University where Quinnipiac fell 7-3 and followed with a 9-0 shutout loss to Temple on Friday. St. Joseph's then dispatched Quinnipiac 7-6 on Saturday before the Bobcats two more on Sunday to Central Michigan and Southern Illinois at Edwardsville. Sophomore Jordan Paolucci was the one highlight over the weekend as she reached base in four straight plate appearances on Sunday including her 17th career home run against Central Michigan.

Home Cooking
Sophomore catcher Jordan Paolucci was the one bright spot for Quinnipiac last weekend as she recorded a hit in three games including a stretch where she reached base safely in four straight plate appearances. The Lake Mary, Fla. product also belted her 17th career home run and second of the season against Central Michigan to break up a perfect game bid for the Chippewas starter Morgan Yuncker. She also reached on a hit by pitch and two singles against SIUE on Sunday.

Sophomore Sensation
Sophomore Hannah Lindsley continues to lead the Bobcat pitching staff in just her second season with the team. Her season has featured a couple of complete game victories including a one-hit shutout against Drexel for her first career victory in just her second career start. Lindsley has pitched brilliantly for the Bobcats all season as she leads the team in innings (30.2), ERA (3.88), complete games (three) and wins (two) after starting just one game last season.

Solt's Monster Weekend
Freshman Courtney Solt became the first NEC Rookie of the Week winner for the Bobcats since May 2, 2011 following her signature weekend down in Florida. Solt recorded at least one hit in all five games over the weekend at the USF Under Armour Invitational. The freshman posted a .476 batting average as she went 10-for-21throughout the five-game non conference slate down in Clearwater, Fla. at the Eddie C. Moore Complex. She kickstarted her weekend with a 1-for-4 outing against Loyola (Chicago) and then followed with a career day in a win against Illinois-Chicago, going 3-for-4 with one double, one run, two RBI and one stolen base. Against Providence on Saturday, she went 2-for-3 with one RBI, one walk and two stolen bases. After tallying one hit against Loyola Marymount, Solt finished up with a 3-for-4 performance Sunday morning against Kent St. with the only run scored for the Bobcats.

Senior Leader
Senior third baseman Bridget Figmic comes into the third weekend set as one of the Bobcats' offensive contributors in several offensive categories including batting average (.286), on-base percentage (.429), walks (six) and runs (six). She already has tallied two multi-hit games this season and reached base in all three plate appearances against B.U. with two walks and a single.

150 Club
Senior shortstop Alex Alba continues to climb up the all-time Quinnipiac career leaders as she becomes just the sixth player in program history to record at least 150 hits. She knocked her 150th base hit in typical Alba style as she knocked a double in the first in the team's Friday matchup with Illinois-Chicago. Alba's double was the 33rd of the her career, putting her in a tie with Nicole Chaput for the fourth-most doubles of any player in Quinnipiac history. Alba's career total now stands at 154 as she is nearing the top-five list.

She's Back!
Redshirt sophomore catcher Jordan Paolucci made her much-anticipated return to the Bobcat lineup earlier this year as she posted an impressive .324 batting average (11-for-34), five runs, two doubles, two home runs, two walks and one stolen base. The 2011 NEC Rookie of the Year missed a majority of last season due to injury after slugging a program record 15 home runs in 2011.

Home Run Barrage
The Bobcats are less than one year removed from having tied the NCAA record with four consecutive home runs on April 1, 2012 against Sacred Heart. The power was supplied by the heart of the Bobcat lineup as sophomore Jordan Paolucci, sophomore Nikki Barba and senior Kortney Kesses combined to supply the power. For Kesses, it was the first home run of her career while Barba knocked her third and Paolucci recorded the 16th of her career.

Hot Streak
Sophomore second baseman Nikki Barba was the Bobcats' hottest hitter at the end of last season, closing the year on a six-game hitting streak heading into 2013. She kept the string alive as she has reached base safely in all six games to start the season, pushing her streak to 12 games in-a-row. During the stretch Barba compiled a .441 batting average (15-for-34). Barba currently leads the team in batting average (.324) and second in on-base percentage (.425) and slugging percentage (.529).

Preseason Selection
The Bobcats were recently selected to finish sixth in the 2013 Northeast Conference Preseason Coaches' Poll, as announced by the league office on Tuesday, Feb. 12. Robert Morris, the 2012 regular season champion, was chosen to win the conference with six first-place votes. Defending tournament champion LIU Brooklyn was picked second with five first-place votes. Next came Central Conn. St. Monmouth, and Bryant followed by the Bobcats. Sacred Heart landed the seventh position, St. Francis (Pa.) is eight, Mount St. Mary's ninth, and Wagner and Fairleigh Dickinson rounded out the field.

Early Honors
Senior shortstop Alex Alba was recently honored by College Sports Madness as a Preseason All-NEC Second Team honoree. The leader in the middle of the infield of the Bobcats' infield and at the plate led the team in several offensive categories last season including home runs (seven), RBI (32) and slugging percentage (.581). She also led all NEC players with 15 doubles and all conference shortstops in fielding percentage (.969). She hopes to translate her success from last season, where she earned a spot on the All-NEC Second Team, into another sensation season in her fourth year with Quinnipiac.

Last Season Recap
The Bobcats finished 2012 with their second straight 32-win campaign and second consecutive trip to the NEC Championship. Despite advancing to the championship round, Quinnipiac couldn't get past LIU Brooklyn who advanced to the NCAA Regional with their 10-5 victory.

2012 Award Winners
The team held their annual banquet back in Oct. where the Bobcat honored four players with end-of-the-season awards. Pitcher Heather Schwartzburg, as previously announced at the Quinnipiac Department-wide Awards Ceremony in May, was named Most Valuable Player. Outfielder Christy Cabrera was named Offensive Player of the Year, shortstop Alex Alba was named Defensive Player of the Year and Ashley Heiberger received the Spirit of the Bobcat Award.

You Will be Missed
The Bobcats graduated a core of four seniors last season that were all significant contributors not only in 2012 but throughout their four years at Quinnipiac. The Bobcats said goodbye to their best pitcher in program history, Heather Schwartzburg. She graduated with the most career wins (78), innings pitched (833.9), lowest ERA (1.51) and shutouts (20) of any pitcher ever at Quinnipiac. Also among the graduates was outfielder Christy Cabrera, the Bobcats' leadoff hitter, who finished first on the team in batting average (.342), on-base percentage (.412), hits (54), walks (19) and runs scored (32). Two other major departures including outfielder Mina Duffy (team-high seven home runs, 30 RBIs) and catcher Ashley Heiberger (19 runners caught stealing, eight stolen bases, .985 fielding percentage).

It's Good to Have You Back
Coming off a 2011 NEC Rookie of the Year and All-NEC First Year season, catcher Jordan Paolucci missed most of 2012 due to injury. Paolucci ended up redshirting last season and returns fully healthy in 2013 as the starting catcher. As a freshman in 2011, Paolucci led the team with a stellar all-around campaign including a .351 batting average, 40 runs, three doubles, .702 slugging percentage, .497 on-base percentage and 10 stolen bases. She led the team in all six of those categories while also slugging a Quinnipiac single-season record 15 home runs in 2011 as she led the NEC in that category as well as total bases (106).

Core Four
One of the biggest strengths for the Bobcats entering 2013 is their infield as they return all four starters from last season. Three of the four returnees are seniors including shortstop Alex Alba, third baseman Bridget Figmic and first baseman Jacquie Ristow. Alba led the team in several offensive categories and shined defensively as well. Figmic enters her third season as the team's primary third baseman as she started all 50 games in 2012 at the hot corner and committed only six errors on her way to a .965 fielding percentage to go along with 23 hits. Ristow will see a majority of her time at first base where she led the infield with a .983 fielding percentage and also collected 30 hits, 10 runs scored, three doubles, one home run and 14 RBI. The final returning piece is sophomore second baseman Nikki Barba who closed the year with a .285 batting average (37-for-130). As a freshman, Barba showed incredible plate disciplines, drawing the second-most walks (15) on the team, as well as 17 runs, six stolen bases and 14 RBI. Much like the rest of the infield, Barba shined defensively with a .957 fielding percentage.

Youth in the Outfield
Expect youth to loom large in the outfield positions this season for the Bobcats as they return one of three starters from last season. Senior center fielder Lauren Salgado returns after compiling 25 hits, 15 runs, one triple, eight RBI and seven stolen bases. Her speed is unmatched on the 2013 roster while the Bobcats will have to fill the other two outfield spots.

On the Mound
The Bobcats will be hard pressed to replace their best pitcher in program history but they are lucky enough to have on their hands another one of the top hurlers in the NEC last season. Junior Katie Alfiere will most likely step in as the team's ace after she put together a solid 7-3 record and 2.45 ERA in 68.2 innings last season. She finished second on the team in ERA, wins and tossed three complete games. She stood out in several categories amongst pitchers in the NEC as she gave up the fewest hits (68), runs allowed (29), earned runs allowed (24), and home runs allowed (zero) of any pitcher in the conference. Her 2.45 ERA was good for 7th in the NEC and unlike Schwartzburg, who was a strikeout pitcher, Alfiere very much pitches to contact as evidenced by her 24 strikeouts in 68.2 innings but with all four infield starters returning as stellar defensive players she is primed for a breakout season.

A Slew of Newcomers
The 2013 Bobcats will include a significant amount of freshman as eight will be entering their rookie campaigns with Quinnipiac. The freshmen include Dani EdmandsNicole GubelliniMolly JarrettAbby JohnsonSydney RobeyAbbey SmithCourtney Solt and Noelle Wager. Three of the first-years are pitchers in Gubellini, Jarrett and Robey while four are also listed as utility players. Two catchers in Edmands and Wagner now allow the Bobcats to go three-deep at the position after Ashely Heiberger played in nearly 50 games as the team's starting catcher last season.

Contact: Maxx McNall; maxx.mcnall@quinnipiac.edu