HAMDEN, Conn. – As the 2014 Quinnipiac softball season draws ever near, three Bobcats found their names on the College Sports Madness Preseason All-MAAC Team released on Sunday, February 2, 2014. Quinnipiac tied for the third-most players represented as redshirt junior catcher Jordan Paolucci (Lake Mary, Fla.) and sophomore outfielder Courtney Solt (Boyertown, Pa.) were named to the First Team while junior infielder Nikki Barba (San Diego, Calif.) earned a Second Team nod. The college sports website, College Sports Madness, made the Preseason All-Conference selections via insight from both staff and independent writers covering MAAC softball.
Each Bobcat earns their first career Preseason All-Conference selection after they all broke out with career years in 2013 to lead Quinnipiac to a record of 17-35 (9-11 NEC) and seventh place finish in their final season as a member of the Northeast Conference.
Paolucci, an NFCA All-Region Team, All-NEC First Team and College Sports Madness All-NEC First Team honoree in 2013, returns for her third season manning the backstop for Quinnipiac. The team's offensive catalyst throughout last season, she finished 2013 with a .322 batting average to go along with 12 home runs and single-season program record 44 RBI. She led the NEC in both home runs and RBI and also belted three grand slams throughout the 2013 season. Her defense at the catcher position also shined as she gunned down 29.2 percent of would-be base stealers during the year. All these impressive numbers come after missing the majority of the 2012 due to injury and two years removed from her 2011 campaign in which she won NEC Rookie of the Year and slugged a program record 15 home runs.
Solt earns her first career preseason distinction after finishing with one of the most-impressive offensive seasons in program history. A College Sports Madness All-NEC Second Team selection in 2013, Solt made an immediate impact in her first season with the Bobcats as she totaled 66 hits, eclipsing the program's single-season hits record. Batting in the leadoff spot from the first game of the season, Solt showed great ability with her ability to get on-base but also posted an impressive 18 RBI to go along with a .375 batting average, .415 on-base percentage and .483 slugging percentage. Her 37 runs scored led the team and her blazing speed helped her pile up nine doubles, a team-high nine stolen bases and an NEC-high five triples throughout 2013. She also finished in the Top 40 in the nation among hitters as the 'Toughest to Strikeout' with just seven punchouts in 191 plate appearances.
Barba rounds out the Bobcats' class with a Second Team selection after being named to the College Sports Madness All-NEC First Team and an All-Conference Second Team honor within the conference coach's balloting. Batting ahead of Paolucci in the cleanup spot for the majority of the 2013 season, Barba shined on her way to a breakout offensive year. She finished with the second-best batting average among the Bobcat hitting contingent at .331 and led her team in on-base percentage at .421. Her all-around hitting numbers all ranked in the top-three among Quinnipiac players as she totaled 31 runs, 49 hits, 13 doubles, four home runs, 23 RBI, 20 walks, seven stolen bases and a .500 slugging percentage. Her 11-game hitting streak throughout March 2013 was the longest of any Bobcat hitter last season.
The four major preseason awards were littered with the MAAC's 2013 regular season champion Fairfield as Lauren Liseth (2013 MAAC Player of the Year) picked up the Preseason Field Player of the Year, Rae Ball earned the Pitcher of the Year and Julie Brzezinski was named Coach of the Year. Marist, the 2013 MAAC Tournament Champion, earned the final major preseason honor as Janna Korak was announced as Freshman of the Year.
College Sports Madness Preseason All-MAAC Team
|First Team||Second Team|
|P||Rae Ball||Fairfield||P||Rebecca Trott||Fairfield|
|P||Jennifer Sansano||Niagara||P||Jessika-Jo Sandrini||Siena|
|P||Jen Consaul||Canisius||P||Carly Argyle||Iona|
|IF||Vanessa Cardoza||Monmouth||IF||Elena Bowman||Manhattan|
|IF||Kate Bowen||Manhattan||IF||Robin Kennery||Canisius|
|IF||Lauren Liseth||Fairfield||IF||Kristen Filicia||Fairfield|
|IF||Jordan Paolucci||Quinnipiac||IF||Nikki Barba||Quinnipiac|
|IF||Paige Lloyd||Siena||IF||Meghan Cuda||Canisius|
|OF||Nicole Cheek||Marist||OF||Brittany Richberg||Niagara|
|OF||Kehli Washington||Rider||OF||Michelle DelPrince||Canisius|
|OF||Courtney Solt||Quinnipiac||OF||Maureen Duddy||Marist|
|UTIL||Alyssa Zahka||Marist||UTIL||Lee Harrison||Saint Peter's|
Field Player of the Year: Lauren Liseth, Fairfield
Pitcher of the Year: Rae Ball, Fairfield
Freshman of the Year: Janna Korak, Marist
Coach of the Year: Julie Brzezinski, Fairfield
The Bobcats' 2014 regular season will begin on Friday, Feb. 14 as Quinnipiac travels down to Jacksonville, Fla. for the University of North Florida Tournament. Quinnipiac will play five games in Jacksonville with matchups against Savannah St. (twice), Southern Ill., Troy and host North Fla.
Contact: Maxx McNall; email@example.com