April 23, 2014

Softball Hosts Sacred Heart on Thursday Before Traveling to Reigning MAAC Champ Marist on Saturday

Quinnipiac University Bobcats (9-30, 5-9 MAAC)
Sacred Heart University Pioneers (12-24, 1-11 Northeast Conference)
Marist University Red Foxes (16-20, 7-3 MAAC)

Thursday, April 24, 2014 (QU Softball Field – Hamden, Conn.)
Sacred Heart @ Quinnipiac – 3:30 pm
Saturday, April 26, 2014 (Softball Park at Gartland Athletic Field – Poughkeepsie, N.Y.)
Quinnipiac @ Marist – 1:00 pm
Quinnipiac @ Marist – 3:00 pm

Cross-Town Clash
The Quinnipiac University softball team (9-30, 5-9 MAAC) has three games on the slate this week starting with a non-conference clash with Sacred Heart on Thursday from Hamden followed by a MAAC road doubleheader on Saturday against the reigning 2013 MAAC Tournament Champion and NCAA Tournament participant Marist Red Foxes. The Bobcats host the Pioneers on Thursday at 3:30 pm from the QU Softball Field and will begin their doubleheader at Marist on 1:00 pm on Saturday.  

All-Time Against the Competition
Quinnipiac's two opponents this week are on complete opposite ends of the spectrum as the Bobcats have battled the Pioneers 18 times already in their series history while the weekend doubleheader against Marist will be the first all-time meeting between both squads. The Bobcats are 11-7 all-time against Sacred Heart with a perfect 6-0 record from the QU Softball Field. The two teams last met earlier this season as the Pioneers limited the Bobcats to just one hit in a 4-0 shutout at Pioneer Park on April 10.

Scouting the Pioneers
Sacred Heart (12-24, 1-11 NEC) comes in riding a seven-game losing streak three of those losses came in extra innings while five of those games have been decided by a margin of two runs or less. Their pitching staff has allowed more than four runs in a game just once during the streak but their offense has combined for a total of eight runs in the last seven games. The Bobcats' former Northeast Conference foe comes in with an impressive 2.74 team earned run average (ERA) while their offense has sputtered throughout the 2014 season with only 88 runs scored in 36 games (2.44 runs per game). Justine Sibthorp is the only Pioneer with a batting average above .300 as she leads the team at .302 for the season. Sibthrop also leads Sacred Heart with 17 runs scored and an on-base percentage of .368. Annie Dreher is the lone Pioneer with a double digit RBI total as she leads the team with 15 RBI, five home runs and seven doubles this season. Jade Bowins (.260, 9 RBI, 12 walks, 5 SB) and Andrea Sidor (.245, 10 runs, 6 doubles, 8 RBI) also help fill out the Pioneer lineup. Two underclassmen headline the Pioneers' dominant pitching staff as freshman Jamie Carlson comes in with a 3.08 ERA and 90 strikeouts in 104.2 innings (both team highs). Sophomore Adrianna Mallory has appeared in 17 games (14 starts) and has the best record on the team at 6-7 with a 2.53 ERA and 40 strikeouts in 72 innings. Rounding out main strength of this Sacred Heart squad is junior Kacie Wentworth who comes in with 15 appearances (6 starts) and a 4-5 record to go along with a team-leading 2.23 ERA in 59.2 innings.  

Scouting the Red Foxes
The MAAC's Tournament Champion in 2013 is off to another good start in conference play as Marist enters the weekend with an overall record of 16-20 and a 7-3 mark in MAAC play. As of Wednesday this week they sit behind Fairfield and Siena in third place in the conference standings. Two wins on Saturday against Quinnipiac would clinch them a spot in the 2014 MAAC Tournament. Marist had been on an up-and-down stretch for much of April as they split season series with Fairfield, Monmouth and Rider before sweeping Niagara last weekend at home. The Red Foxes are a perfect 6-0 this season from their home field and will bring that undefeated mark into play on Saturday in their first all-time meeting against Quinnipiac. Marist is one of the best-rounded teams in the MAAC as both their offense and pitching has carried the team throughout the 2014 season. Four of the top five hitters for the Red Foxes are underclassmen headlined by freshman Rebecca Freeman who leads the team with a .341 average to go along with four doubles, one homer and 11 RBI. The lone upperclassmen among Marist's top five hitters is junior Taylor Kuzma as she comes in with a .340 average with 25 runs scored, four doubles, five home runs, 24 RBI, 12 walks and nine stolen bases. Rounding out the top five hitters for Marist are all underclassmen including sophomore Maureen Duddy (.340 average, 23 runs, four doubles, two triples, 11 stolen bases), sophomore Kyrsten Van Natta (.321, 25 runs, seven home runs, 28 RBI, 18 walks, 14 stolen bases) and freshman Janna Korak (.312, 21 runs, five doubles, four home runs, 15 RBI). Marist also poses a significant threat on the basepaths as they lead the MAAC with 47 steals and 10 different players who have at least one stolen base on the season. On the mound the Red Foxes are led by Paige Lewis who's appeared in a team high 17 games (12 starts) and owns a 3.19 ERA and 8-5 record in 79 innings. Janine Lalli also sports a solid 3.27 ERA in 15 games (11 starts) with a 6-5 record and team high 42 strikeouts in 70.2 innings.

Paging Giunta
Sophomore infielder Paige Giunta played the role of hero on Easter Sunday for the Bobcats as she lifted a walk-off double to left center field that scored the game-winning run all the way from first in a 6-5 comeback victory over Monmouth. It was Giunta's second double of the season and first career walk-off hit. After compiling two hits in the doubleheader against the Hawks Giunta's batting average is up to .304 with one homer, six RBI and a .522 slugging percentage in 11 games.

Comeback Kids
Quinnipiac scored four runs in the bottom of the seventh in a 6-5 come-from-behind victory over Monmouth for their second such comeback from a three-run deficit in three weeks. The Bobcats also trailed UConn on April 3 by three runs heading into their last at-bats before plating four to pick up a pair of thrilling comeback victories in the last three weeks.

In a Category All Her Own
Quinnipiac's top hitter this season has been their redshirt junior Jordan Paolucci who comes in riding a career high 14-game hitting streak. The streak is the longest since before the 2004 season as she continues to lead the team in average (.369), home runs (7), RBI (23) and slugging percentage (.641) while her on-base percentage of .463 also leads the team.

Player of the Year Candidate
Normally known for her home run prowess, the Bobcats' all-time leading home run hitter in Paolucci is rounding out her candidacy for MAAC Player of the Year with an outstanding season at the plate. A year after winning the home run crown in the Northeast Conference, Paolucci leads the MAAC in hitting with a .553 average (21-for-38) in 14 MAAC games while she also leads all players in conference-only games in terms of slugging percentage (.974), on-base percentage (.625), hits (21), home runs (4) and is second in RBI (15).

Take Your Base
One of the most improved Bobcats from last season has been sophomore outfielder Abby Johnson who comes into the week with a .307 average, 19 runs scored, four doubles, 11 RBI, 23 walks and nine stolen bases. Manning the Bobcats' leadoff position for a majority of the season, Johnson has excelled drawing walks as she leads the team and is 3rd overall in the MAAC with 23 walks. Her walk total through 39 games is already the highest since Paolucci drew 26 walks in the 2011 season.

Good Things Come in Threes
Junior infielder Nikki Barba has continued to fly under the radar this season as one of the team's strongest all-around players. Shifting over to the shortstop position for the first time in her career this season, Barba ranks 3rd in the MAAC with 29 assists. She also has been stellar at the plate with the 8th-best average of any MAAC player while she is 2nd with seven sacrifice bunts and 1st with three sacrifice flies. Barba also went deep on Easter Sunday against Monmouth to establish a new single-season career high with five home runs in 2014.

Johnson Goes Yard
One of the lone bright spots for the Bobcats in their Sunday doubleheader against Iona was their slight leadoff hitter in sophomore Abby Johnson. Standing only 5'4 tall, Johnson took the Gaels' top pitcher Carly Argyle deep for a two-run shot to left field. The home run was the first for Johnson this season and just the second of her career for Quinnipiac.

For the First Time
Quinnipiac junior Hannah Lindsley had the pitching performance of the year on Monday, hurling the first no-hitter for Quinnipiac softball in the Division I era (since 1999) to defeat Manhattan, 2-0. Lindsley had everything working as she limited the highest-scoring lineup in the MAAC coming into the weekend to nothing offensively. Lindsley's no-hit effort is the first for any Bobcat pitcher in the 16-year history as an NCAA Division I program. As if the accomplishment wasn't impressive enough, Lindsley came just one walk and one hit batter away from throwing the first perfect game in the 37-year history of the program. Lindsley finished with a line of seven innings, no hits, no runs, two strikeouts and just one walk. Her defense fielded the ball perfectly as all 21 outs were secured without error in the Bobcats' victory.

Some More Notes About Hannah's No-No
In a game that was made up from a March 29 postponement, play began in the fourth inning with Lindsley already having worked through three hitless frames. She finished off her no-hitter with four frames of no-hit ball on Monday afternoon to become the first player in the history of NCAA Division I to throw a no-hitter in a game that was played on multiple days. The shutout is also the first for any Bobcat pitcher this season and the fourth of Lindsley's career.

Offensive Explosion
Throughout the Bobcats' five-game weekend on the road from April 5-7, the Bobcats put on an offensive display that rivals some of the best stretches the program has ever seen. Quinnipiac scored 43 runs in five games and batted .407, slugged .717 and totaled an on-base percentage of .494 to pick up a 4-1 record on the road. The Bobcats also added 12 doubles, 11 home runs, 41 RBI, 11 stolen bases and 22 walks throughout the offensive explosion.

Record-Breaking Bobcats
The Bobcat offensive attack busted out a single-game program record 20 hits, tallied 15 unanswered runs and also scored the largest margin of victory on the road since May 6, 2005 as they defeated Saint Peter's, 16-4, on April 5 in five innings. For Quinnipiac, their dominating performance was the 12-run margin of victory since Feb. 26, 2012 in a 14-1 win over Saint Peter's and their largest margin of victory on the road since a 13-1 victory over St. Francis (Pa.) back on May 6, 2005. It was also their first win via mercy-rule since April 7, 2013 (W, 13-5) in six innings against Mount St. Mary's and their most runs scored since March 16, 2013 in a 16-7 win over Colgate.

Let the Good Times Roll
In addition to the single-game hits record established on April 5, several more Bobcats picked up some record-breaking performances. Courtney Solt tallied a career high four hits and tied a single-game program record with five runs scored. Jordan Paolucci drove in a career high six runs which tied another single-game program record. A total of 11 Bobcats tallied a base hit on Saturday and 12 batters reached base safely to break yet another single-game record.

Paolucci's Player of the Week
After one of the most impressive offensive displays in the history of Quinnipiac softball last weekend, junior catcher/infielder Jordan Paolucci took home MAAC Player of the Week honors on April 8 for the first time in her storied career. The Bobcats' all-time home run leader spearheaded an incredible week for the Quinnipiac offense that averaged over 8 runs per game and close to 10 hits in seven games last week for a Bobcat squad that rattled off three straight wins to have a 4-3 winning record. Paolucci raked .565 (13-for-23) in seven games with nine runs, two doubles, two walks, three home runs and 12 RBI.

Home Run Heaven
In a doubleheader against Rider on April 13, the Bobcats combined for eight home runs against the Broncs. Quinnipiac came one homer shy in game two of tying the single-game program record but set a two-game record with the eight home runs. Among those to go deep were Paolucci (twice), Hannah Lindsley (twice, first two career homers), Nikki Barba (10th career), Katie Alfiere (second career, first since April 1, 2012), Keilani Finley (first career) and Paige Giunta (first as a Bobcat).

Offensive Explosion
Quinnipiac has enjoyed plenty of offensive success in their first season in the MAAC as they rank 1st among all 11 teams in home runs with 15 through 14 conference games. They also rank 2nd in the MAAC with 22 doubles and 178 total bases. The Bobcats also rank 2nd in the conference with 44 walks as a team in conference-only games while they also rank 3rd in runs scored (68), 3rd in hits (111) and 3rd in RBI (62).

See the Ball, Hit the Ball
Jordan Paolucci enters Thursday riding her career high 14-game hitting streak. During her hitting streak she went through four-game stretch wherein she hit one home run in those four games straight. Paolucci has absolutely destroyed the ball in the 10-game stretch as she's batting .583 (21-for-36) with seven runs, four homers, 15 RBI and a monster 1.028 slugging percentage. She also has walked seven times to give her a .660 on-base percentage.

Exclusive Company
Quinnipiac's red-shirt junior Jordan Paolucci became just the third Bobcat in program history to reach the 100 career RBI club on April 5 against St. Peter's. She finished with three RBI to join Sarah Collins '06 (124) and Kerri McMahon '96 (120) as the only three to reach the 100-career RBI milestone. With 112 RBI entering the week, Paolucci needs just 13 more to become the program's all-time record holder.

Finding a Way
Quinnipiac's 11-10 come-from-behind victory over UConn on April 3 saw the Bobcats erase a three-run deficit heading into their half of the seventh inning. For the Bobcats, the game against UConn on Thursday represented many firsts:

- First walk-off hit since Jordan Paolucci's grand slam in the 8th inning against FDU on April 20, 2013

- First comeback from at least a two-run deficit in the 7th inning or later since April 26, 2012 against Iona

- First time Bobcats came back from a deficit of more than three runs in the 7th inning since before the 2004 season

- Most combined runs (12) between both teams in the 7th inning of a game in program history

One Shining Moment
Even more history was made with Nikki Barba's walk-off single with the bases loaded as she struck a 1-2 fastball to right field that broke a 10-10 tie and score the game-winning run from third base. The hit gave Barba a 3-for-4 day (tied career high) with two runs, career-high four RBI, one double and one home run. It was also the first walk-off hit of Barba's three-year career.

Welcome to the 100 Hit Club
Quinnipiac's junior second baseman Nikki Barba became the 31st player in Quinnipiac softball history to record her 100th career base hit last weekend. She tallied a single against Green Bay to join the long lineage of success for the Bobcats in recruiting dynamic offensive talent. Barba also became the second player for the Bobcats this season to join the 100 hit club as Jordan Paolucci did so back in February.

Five Away from 100
With just five more base hits, sophomore Courtney Solt would become the 32nd player in Quinnipiac softball history to reach 100 career hits. Solt tallied a single-season program record 66 hits during her debut season as a Bobcat in 2013 and has tallied 29 this season. If she were to reach 100 before the end of the season, she would join the all-time hits leader Alicia Longobardi '97 (219 hits) as the only Bobcats to reach 100 before the start of their junior season.

Leading Off
Ever since her move up into the leadoff position in the Bobcats' order, sophomore Abby Johnson has been a revelation with the team's 4th-best average at .356 (26-for-73) with the 2nd-best on-base percentage (.484) as she has also picked up 15 runs, 16 walks, three hit-by-pitches and nine RBI in 26 games since the move-up the order. Johnson has also played stellar defense out in right field as she leads all the Bobcats' outfielders with eight assists on the season.

Full Steam Ahead
Nikki Barba has picked up another solid year at the plate, tallying a hit in 20 of the last 31 games for Quinnipiac. During this stretch, Barba is batting .367 with five home runs, 21 RBI, 13 walks, five doubles and 14 runs scored.

We Want More Robey
After tallying just six at-bats throughout the entire 2013 season, sophomore pitcher/first baseman Sydney Robey has come out of nowhere to lead the Quinnipiac offense through 39 games. Robey has compiled a .280 average (30-for-107) with 15 extra base hits (9 doubles, 6 home runs). She also sports the 5th-best on-base percentage (.364) as she's chipped in 11 walks in 2014. She tallied her first career homer against Georgia State while she tied a single-game program record with three doubles against Campbell. Just this week she smashed her team-leading fifth home run of the season and also tallied her first career three-hit game, going 3-for-4 with two runs against St. John's.

MAAC Player of the Week
Courtney Solt became the first Quinnipiac player to ever win a MAAC Player of the Week award after the sophomore outfielder had herself an incredible four-game stretch at the Towson Invitational. She batted .727 (8-for-11) with five runs, one RBI, one double, one walk, three hit-by-pitches and three stolen bases. Solt posted an incredible .800 on-base percentage and slugged .818 for the week. She recorded at least one hit in all four games while she reached base safely at least twice in all four games.

MAAC Pitcher of the Week
The Bobcats' lone senior Katie Alfiere made some history this week as she became the first Bobcat to win a MAAC Pitcher of the Week award. The weekly award win is the second in Alfiere's career and the first for the program since May 7, 2012. She won the award after pitching in four games last weekend for Quinnipiac with 8.2 innings pitched allowing seven hits, two earned runs, one walk and three strikeouts. Alfiere finished with a 1.82 ERA and also picked up a clutch two-out save on Sunday as she entered with the bases loaded and didn't allow a run to score against St. John's (NY).

Karwoski's First
Newly hired head coach Jill Karwoski earned her first career win at Quinnipiac with a 5-3 victory over St. John's (NY) on Sunday, March 9. Her team certainly earned the victory as they found themselves down 3-1 after just two innings but rallied for a come-from-behind 5-3 win. Karwoski also made a pressure-packed decision to bring in senior pitcher Katie Alfiere with one out and the bases loaded in the seventh and her senior came through with two consecutive outs that left three Red Storm runners on-base to seal the victory.

Home Run Queen
Undoubtedly the greatest power hitter the Quinnipiac softball program has ever seen, junior catcher Jordan Paolucci became the all-time leader in career home runs for the Bobcats over the weekend. She jacked out a solo home run in the second inning against Maine to pick up her 31st career home run, passing Sarah Collins '06 for first place on the all-time list. Paolucci is currently on pace to slug more than 50 career home runs as she still has over 80 percent of the games this season including another full year in 2015 to add to her already impressive record. 

Power Player
Quinnipiac's junior catcher Jordan Paolucci shook off a tough start to the season where she was batting less than .240 after 24 games and is now all the way up to .369. Paolucci slugged her second grand slam of the season on Saturday against St. Peter's which was the fifth of her career, easily the most of any Bobcat in program history. 

In Steps Jill
Quinnipiac University Director of Athletics and Recreation Jack McDonald announced the hiring of Jill Karwoski as the head coach on Feb. 27, 2014. Karwoski comes to Quinnipiac from Providence College where she served as the assistant coach in 2012-13. Prior to joining Quinnipiac, Karwoski was the head coach at Merrimack College for the 2011-12 season. Before Merrimack, Karwoski spent four years as the associate head coach and recruiting coordinator at Boston College, a position she held from 2007 through 2011. She also has head coaching experience at Morehead State University where she manned the helm from 2004 through 2007.

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