Playoff Chances on the Line for Softball Entering Final Weekend of Regular Season at RMU and STFU
Quinnipiac University Bobcats (16-32, 8-8 NEC)
@ Robert Morris Colonials (26-15-1, 12-4 NEC)
St. Francis U Red Flash (23-28, 4-12 NEC)
Saturday, May 4, 2013
Quinnipiac @ Robert Morris – 1:00 p.m./3:00 p.m.
North Athletic Complex – Moon Township, Pa.
Sunday, May 5, 2013
Quinnipiac @ St. Francis U – 12:00 p.m./2:00 p.m.
Red Flash Field – Loretto, Pa.
With four games remaining in the 2013 regular season schedule, the Quinnipiac softball team remains in contention for the fourth and final spot in the NEC Tournament. The Bobcats will be traveling to Robert Morris and St. Francis U this weekend with their eyes set on four victories combined with four losses from the Colonials. That is the scenario still in play for Quinnipiac as they hope some last season magic will lift them into the postseason for the fourth consecutive season. Currently 16-32 (8-8 NEC), the Bobcats will look to rely on their high-powered offense and hope to receive some dominate outings from their fully staffed pitching lineup heading into their first doubleheader of the weekend against Robert Morris.
Robert Morris Scouting Report
The Colonials come into the weekend with a 26-15-1 overall record and sit tied for second in the NEC standings at 12-4. Despite their .750 mark in conference play, they have been sputtering of late, losing three of their past five games including a pair of splits with Central Conn. St. and Bryant. Robert Morris has dominated at times throughout the 2013 season as they reeled off eight straight victories at one point as they jumped out to a 5-0 start in NEC play. Where the Bobcats must take advantage is the Colonials' offensive attack. Ashley Gerhart leads the team with a .339 average (43-for-127) but no one else in the Robert Morris batting order hits above .300. Power hitters are sprinkled throughout the lineup as Haileigh Stocks leads the team with six but seven regulars have all hit at least two home runs for the season. The Colonials are a free-swinging bunch as they've only walked 67 times this season. The Bobcat pitchers will have to be one point because the Colonials certainly have an ace up their sleeve in Nicole Sleith. The ace of the Robert Morris staff owns a 15-7 record, 1.62 ERA, four saves, and an impressive 184 strikeouts in 147 innings. She holds opposing hitters to just a .175 batting average as she's allowed just 92 hits in her 147 innings this season. Geena Badolato has also pitched well throughout the 2013 season as she is 8-6 with a 2.36 ERA in 106.1 innings. Pitching more to contact, Robert Morris also owns one of the most stout defenses in the league with a combined .976 fielding percentage.
All-Time Against the Colonials
These two sides have met multiple times throughout the years including a thrilling 12-inning affair in the 2012 NEC Semifinals down in Moon Township. The Bobcats came out with a 4-3 victory to down the Colonials in that marathon contest to advance to the NEC Championship but Robert Morris has dominated the overall series with a 5-12 overall record. The Bobcats are 2-6 playing in Moon Township as they will have to play well in order to continue their recent success.
St. Francis U Scouting Report
A team that has been victimized time and time again throughout the 2013 season, the Red Flash own a deceiving 23-28 overall record with a 4-12 mark in the NEC. They've fallen by three runs or less seven times throughout their intra-conference slate. The one-run losing streak started back in early April where they lost to the NEC's frontrunner CCSU, 12-11, in eight innings. Playing LIU Brooklyn at home two weeks ago, the Red Flash again fell in extra innings, 6-5, in eight to the Blackbirds. Not to be outdone, they are coming off a weekend in which they lost to FDU by the same score, 2-1, in both games of a doubleheader. This Red Flash team would like nothing more than to end their season on a good note as their offensive leader, Chelsy Cosentino, comes in with a .359 average with 61 hits to rank in the top-five of the Northeast Conference. She also leads the team with 26 RBI, 13 doubles and three triples this season. Sabrie Neeb represents the power threat for the Red Flash lineup as she comes in with a team-high six home runs to go along with 24 RBI and a .308 batting average. The Bobcats had better prepare for Ketarah DeVries who has thrown a remarkable 196.2 innings this season and holds a 16-15 record. She ranks in the top-five in the NEC in several pitching categories including innings pitched, strikeouts (134), wins and appearances (37).
The Bobcats finished with a successful 2013 home finale as they split a pair of games with future MAAC foe Manhattan on Thursday. Nicole Gubellini highlighted the effort with a complete game five-hit shutout in game one while Alex Alba became the progrma's all-time leader in doubles while Jordan Paolucci broke the single-season RBI record for Quinnipiac, all in their 6-0 victory in the first game. The nightcap was a back-and-forth affair in which the Bobcats came back from three runs down to tie the game in the sixth innings but ultimately couldn't hold on late as the Jaspers won game two, 6-5, in eight innings.
Alex Alba and Jordan Paolucci each made some history on Thursday as they both broke Quinnipiac records in their first at-bats. Alba began with a double in the first to pass Sarah Collins '06 on the all-time doubles list in Quinnipiac history. She added another in game two and now stands alone in first place with 45. Paolucci added on to the record-setting day as she smacked an RBI single in the first to pass Kerri McMahon's 18-year record established back in 1995 for the most RBI in a single-season. Paoluccui's 2013 total now stands at 42, first place in the records books.
One of the most transcendent players on this 2013 Quinnipiac softball squad has been freshman Courtney Solt. She has been sensational out of the leadoff spot all season as she just went 4-for-7 in two games against Manhattan with five runs scored. She now has compiled 60 hits and a .373 batting average and is now one of just four Bobcats ever to record 60 hits in a single-season.
Freshman Nicole Gubellini tossed the best game of her young career on Thursday against Manhattan as she recorded her first career complete game shutout, allowing just five hits and three walks. Manhattan certainly had their opportunities but Gubellini wasn't fazed, helping strand 12 Jasper baserunners throughout her complete game effort.
Alex Alba Career Highlights
The Bobcat shortstop for the past four seasons will leave Quinnipiac with her name etches in the record books for quite some time. Alex Alba currently sits first all-time in doubles with 45, third in hits with 195, fifth in runs batted in with 92, and eighth in home runs with 13 for her career. Named to the All-NEC Second Team last year, she has appeared in 192 of 203 games throughout her four years.
Bridget Figmic Career Highlights
A true model of consistency, Saturday's game against Robert Morris will be Bridget Figmic's 137th consecutive start at the hot corner for the Bobcats. She is in the midst of a career year with 32 hits and 19 runs batted in coming into the weekend while continuing her sensational defensive play at third base as she leads her team with a .969 fielding percentage and just six errors this season. One of the senior co-captains, her leadership and dedication to the program has helped lift the team to new heights the past four seasons.
Kortney Kesses Career Highlights
Quinnipiac's jack-of-all-trades the past four seasons, Kortney Kesses has played every position other than pitcher and shortstop. Her versatility is unquestioned and she is a driving force for the players as the other senior co-captain. She has broke out this season with career highs in hits (24), home runs (3), RBI (11), runs (20), walks (18) and stolen bases (4) coming into the weekend.
Lauren Salgado Career Highlights
Lauren Salgado has brought significant speed and intensity to the Bobcat lineup for the past four seasons. Standing at just five feet, four inches, she currently has the third-most steals in program history with 46 and is 11th all-time with 140 hits. Saturday's game will be her 202th appearance throughout her four years, all of which manning the outfield position for Quinnipiac.
Jordan Paolucci's walk-off grand slam in game two against Fairleigh Dickinson was her third grand-slam of the season and first walk-off. It was the second time the Bobcats had walked-off on a grand slam in two weeks as Alex Alba went deep with the bases loaded the end game one of a doubleheader against Mount St. Mary's.
Ace up the Sleeve
Hannah Lindsley tossed the best game of her career as she twirled a three-hit shutout of the Knights in game two, going the full eight innings and allowing no runs on three walks with four strikeouts. It is her second shutout of the season and first since her first start of the year back in Feb. where she tossed a complete-game two-hitter against Drexel.
Solt-an of Swat
Freshman Courtney Solt has quickly established herself as one of the best players for the Bobcats this season. With her four hits in two games played this week, including her 18th multi-hit game of the season, Solt has become the 20th player in Quinnipiac history to record at least 50 hits in a single season and just the fourth ever to reach 60 hits in one year. She already has 60 hits, 36 runs, nine doubles, four triples, 15 RBI, eight stolen bases and a .373 batting average. Her fielding has also been well above average as the rookie has committed just two errors all season while manning the left field position.
This Bobcat squad certainly has had a hand for the dramatic as they won four games in come-from-behind fashion during their seven-game winning streak which came to an end two weeks ago. Quinnipiac outscored their opponents by an incredible 23-1 margin in the sixth and seventh innings during the recent seven-game uptick.
This Quinnipiac squad matched their second-longest winning streak since the 2004 season where the team won nine consecutive games. The Bobcats won seven games in-a-row, a feat the Bobcats have matched twice since 2004 as they reeled off seven straight in the 2006 and 2012 season.
Sophomore Jordan Paolucci continues to supply the power for the Bobcats as she tallied one run batted in last week as she continues to lead the Northeast Conference in both home runs (11) and RBI (42). She also became the first player in program history to slug at least 10 home runs in multiple seasons.
The Bobcats employ the stolen base more than any team in the conference as they feature the quickest lineup in the entire league. They come into the weekend with nine players who have at least two stolen bases this season with seven of which coming in with at least four. Courtney Solt leads the team with seven but Brittney Cyr has five stolen bases without being caught this year.
Sophomore Nikki Barba has been one of the most well-rounded hitters at the plate for the Bobcats all season as she comes in with a batting average (.346), on-base percentage (.437) and slugging percentage (.529). She also sports impressive hitting numbers across the board including hits (47), doubles (13), home runs (four), RBI (23), walks (19), stolen bases (five) and runs (30) as she ranks in the top-three on the team in all categories.
Good Luck Striking Her Out
One of the nation's toughest batters to strikeout all season has been Courtney Solt. She enters the week ranked in the Top-20 in the nation as far as the Toughest to Strikeout. Solt has struck out just seven times in 176 plate appearances this year which is good for 17th-best in the nation.
Quinnipiac senior shortstop Alex Alba and freshman outfielder Courtney Solt both helped rewrite the record books last week as they claimed NEC Player of the Week and Rookie of the Week, respectively. It marked the first time since May 3, 2008 that the Bobcats have seized both weekly awards and just the second time in program history to feat has ever been accomplished.
Hits, Hits and More Hits
Sophomore second baseman Nikki Barba had her hitting streak of 11 games snapped on April 10 against Fairfield. The hitting streak is the longest for any Bobcat this season as Barba absolutely tore the cover off the ball in the 11-game span with a .44 (16-for-36) batting average, five RBI, four doubles, nine runs and two walks.
Solt won the second Rookie of the Week honor of her career last week as she joins an impressive list of Heather Schwartzburg (2008), Krista Seeman (2007) and Kristin Sheriff (2005) as the only Bobcats to win multiple Rookie of the Week honors in program history.
Streaking to the Top
One of the senior leaders on this Bobcat team, Alex Alba, had herself one of the most stellar weeks Quinnipiac has seen in quite some time. She earned her second career NEC Player of the Week and first since May 10, 2010 after compiling a .481 batting average (13-for-27), .517 on-base percentage (15-for-29) and .704 slugging percentage through eight games in Fla. Of her 13 hits, six of them were doubles as she now leads the team with seven on the season. She also chipped in an amazing nine RBI and eight runs scored through the week-long series of games.
Don't Stop at One
Sophomore catcher Jordan Paolucci had herself quite the week down in Fla. as she hit two grand slams during the spring break schedule. She hit her first career grand slam on Tuesday, March 12 in a showcase game against national power South Florida. It gave the Bobcats a 4-0 lead in a game which they competed throughout and only fell by a three-run deficit, 7-4. She then hit her second of the week on Saturday, March 16 against Colgate to help the Bobcat secure a 16-7 victory.
Runs, Runs and More Runs
The Bobcats tied their program record with 16 runs scored to beat Colgate, 16-7, in five innings on Saturday, March 16. Quinnipiac tallied 16 hits on the afternoon to go along with a program record 12 runs scored in the third inning alone. The 16-run total tied a program record as the Bobcats hadn't scored that many runs in a game since March 3, 2006 when they beat Coppin St., 16-0. The Bobcats also scored 16 runs back in 2001 against St. Francis (Pa.) in a 16-4 victory.
The game against Colgate featured a program record 12 runs scored for the Bobcats in the third inning. One of the most impressive footnotes about the record-setting inning is the team trailed Colgate, 7-1, entering the frame and 11 of the 12 runs were scored with two outs.
Jordan Paolucci has had herself a nice start to the season with a conference-high 40 RBI but she has really picked up her play of late as she rode an impressive seven-game streak with at least one RBI that ended on Friday, March 15 against Radford.
Making the Right Moves
Quinnipiac head coach Germaine Fairchild made a lineup change down in Fla., dropping Jordan Paolucci down from her usual cleanup spot to the fifth position in the lineup while moving sophomore second baseman Nikki Barba into the fourth place in the Bobcat lineup. Paolucci has compiled a .289 batting average, nine home runs and an impressive 33 RBI while Barba has batted .358 with one homer, 13 RBI, 11 doubles and 21 runs scored in 27 games since making the move.
Bridging the Gap
One of the more under-the-radar stars for the Bobcats this season has been senior third baseman Bridget Figmic who comes into the weekend as one of the Bobcats' key offensive contributors in several offensive categories including batting average (.256), on-base percentage (.354), walks (18) and runs (20). She already has tallied seven multi-hit games this season and knocked in two runs in three separate games last week.
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.
Contact: Maxx McNall; firstname.lastname@example.org