UMBC SOFTBALL CHOSEN TO FINISH FOURTH IN AMERICA EAST
Defending America East Champion Boston University has been chosen to repeat as conference champion in a vote of the softball coaches. The Terriers received all eight first-place votes and 64 points overall.
University of Maine was chosen second with 48 points, followed by University at Albany (47), University of Maryland, Baltimore County (UMBC) (41), Stony Brook University (31), Binghamton University (27), University of Hartford (16) and University of Vermont (14).
The top four teams in the conference will advance to the America East Championship with the winner of the tournament receiving an automatic bid to the NCAA Softball Championship.
The 2003 America East Champion Terriers return six of nine starters this season. Junior shortstop Jamie Haas, a first-team all-conference choice and Player of the Year for the past two years, will lead a potent offense that ranked number one in the conference last season. Haas hit .312 and was third in the league in hits (56) and second in stolen bases (23). First-team designated player DeKenya Williams, second-team and all-rookie selection Erin McDonald, second-team outfielder Abbey Pauley, second-team selection Jennifer Shields and Josey Mendez, a second-team and all-rookie selection at third base, all return for the Terriers.
The Black Bears return first-team outfielder Jess Brady, who led Maine to a third-place finish in 2003. Brady was third in the conference in hitting at .354 and was first in stolen bases per game with .48 (23 in 48 games). Pitcher Jennifer Merchant and shortstop Brittany Cheney, both second-team and all-championship team selections, return for Maine, along with pitcher Sarah Bennis and designated player Amy Kuhl, who were all-rookie selections. Merchant finished second in the conference in strikeouts with 153, second in appearances with 34, and second in saves (3).
In just their second year in America East, the Great Danes put together their best overall season at the Division I level, amassing a 34-10 record (17-4 in America East) and finishing second in the conference in 2003. This year Albany returns 14 of 17 players including America East Pitcher of the Year Andee Lindgren and Rookie of the Year Maegan Larsen. Lindgren finished last season with a record of 20-6 and a conference leading earned run average of 1.18 while Larsen finished sixth overall in hitting with a .331 average. Senior outfielder Jen Nolette, a first-team selection, sophomore Katrina Dunning, a second-team choice, and sophomore Ashley Rios, who was a second-team and all-rookie choice, all return for head coach Chris Cannata, who was named the America East 2003 Coach of the Year.
The Retrievers enter their first year in America East play after posting a 40-22 record last season in the Northeast Conference (NEC). The Retrievers will feature seven rookies on the roster this year after losing six starters. Sophomore pitchers Lauren Nicholson and Amy Sadowl will both return this season. Nicholsonís ERA of 2.26 was good for third in the NEC while Sadowl had an ERA of 2.65 and recorded 22 complete games. Junior Kristie Pickeral, the school record holder in single season RBI, will return at third base and senior Sarah Crowell will return to right field.
The Seawolves finished the 2003 season in fourth place in America East. Stony Brook head coach Megan Bryant returns one first-team selection in Kristen Brust at second base. Brust finished the season fourth in batting with an average of .347, first in home runs with 13 and first in runs batted in with 37.
Binghamton finished the 2003 season fifth overall in the conference. Head coach Holly Brown returns a number of top players including catcher Jessica Chellis and pitcher Michelle Weeks, both first-team choices and Maria DeStasio, a second-team utility player selection. Chellis hit .246 and had a slugging percentage of .395, while serving as the battery-mate for the Bearcats pitching staff, which ranked second in ERA (1.79). In the circle, Weeks ranked second in the conference in pitching with an ERA of 1.34, held the lowest opponents batting average at .174 and amassed 143 strikeouts in 22 games for the Bearcats.
Hartford, which finished sixth in the 2003 standings, returns two all-conference selections in Liz Borawski, a first-team third base choice, and Samantha Morrison, a second-team outfielder. Borawski led all players in batting with a .400 average, was first in slugging percentage (.650) and ranked second in on base percentage (.469).
Vermont, which finished seventh in America East in 2003, will return second-team catcher Samantha Chase, who batted .253 a year ago.
The America East Championship will be held May 13 to 15 at Kessock Field in Orono, Maine.
Team (First Place Votes)
Boston U. (8)