Softball Hosts Niagara Wednesday, UMBC Spring Classic This Weekend
Kali Shirk leads UMBC with eight steals on the season.
BALTIMORE—The UMBC softball team (7-10) will host four straight days of games this week, beginning with Wednesday’s doubleheader against Niagara at 1 p.m. Thursday kicks off the Sixth Annual UMBC Spring Classic, which will run through Saturday and feature St. Francis (Pa.), Mount St. Mary’s and Niagara. Full schedule follows below:
Sixth Annual UMBC Spring Classic
Thursday, March 20, 2008 – Pool Play
10:00 a.m. Mount St. Mary’s vs. Niagara
11:45 a.m. Niagara vs. St. Francis (Pa.)
1:30 p.m. UMBC vs. St. Francis (Pa.)
3:15 p.m. UMBC vs. Mount St. Mary’s
Friday, March 21, 2008 – Pool Play/Championship Bracket Play
9:30 a.m. St. Francis (Pa.) vs. Mount St. Mary's
11:30 p.m. UMBC vs. Niagara
1:45 p.m. No. 1 Seed vs. No. 4 Seed
3:45 p.m. No. 2 Seed vs. No. 3 Seed
Saturday, March 22, 2008 – Championship Bracket Play
10:30 a.m. Consolation Game
12:30 p.m. Championship Game
Dawg Bites: The Retrievers went 3-2 against a tough field at the Maryland Spring Break Invitational with a key win against perennial NCAA Tournament qualifier Lehigh… Senior pitcher Ashley Gray (Pasadena, Md./Northeast/Delaware State) picked up her first victory of the season with a complete game shutout, and sophomore first baseman Amanda Fefel (Baltimore, Md./Catonsville) hit her third home run of the week… On the second day, freshman Stephanie Weigman (Elkridge, Md./Archbishop Spalding) pitched 6.1 scoreless innings to pick up both victories in relief… She allowed just four hits while striking out eight on the day… Freshman outfielders Lauren Brummell (Hanover, Va./Hanover), Julia Culotta (Street, Md./North Harford/Tennessee) and Lynn Pronobis (Waldorf, Md./McDonough) combined for six RBI, three doubles and a triple in the two games.
On the Purple Eagles: Niagara is 5-9 on the season after a 1-3 weekend at the Maryland Spring Break Invitational, with its only win coming against Valparaiso, 5-3. Freshman second baseman Teresa Healy leads the Purple Eagles with a .410 batting average, a .923 slugging percentage, six doubles and 12 RBI, while softball infielder Jenna Baker leads the Metro-Atlantic Athletic Conference with six home runs. The Purple Eagles were picked to finish second in the MAAC Preseason Poll.
UMBC vs. Niagara All-Time: UMBC leads the all-time series with the Purple Eagles, 6-2, in a young series that dates to 2004. The Retrievers won both meetings last season, as well as their matchup last weekend at the Maryland Spring Break Invitational, a 6-4 decision in favor of UMBC.
On the Mountaineers: Mount St. Mary’s is 7-17 on the season after going 2-1 at last weekend’s Hoya Invitational in Washington, D.C., with wins over Holy Cross and Seton Hall. Sophomore second baseman Lauren Curreri is the reigning Northeast Conference Player of the Week, while freshman outfielder Courtney Zingle is the defending NEC Rookie of the Week. The Mountaineers, who have won five of their last six games, are led offensively by senior outfielder Kristin Fusco, who is batting .328, and junior catcher Amanda Burk, who is slugging .493 with 12 RBI. The Mount was picked to finish ninth in the NEC preseason poll.
UMBC vs. Mount St. Mary’s All-Time: The Retrievers lead the all-time series with the Mountaineers, 28-2, dating back to 1991. The teams were Northeast Conference rivals from 1999-2003, during which time UMBC won nine of 10 meetings. The teams last met on May 3, 2006, in Emmitsburg, Md., a doubleheader that was swept by the Retrievers.
On the Red Flash: St. Francis (Pa.) is 5-14 on the season after going 2-2 at last weekend’s Capital Classic in Dover, Del., with wins over Marist and Central Connecticut State. The Red Flash scored a season-high eight runs against the Blue Devils in an 8-0 victory. Jessica Smith picked up her first career shutout and gave up just one run in 13 innings on the weekend. Nicole Waligora led St. Francis at the plate with a .636 average in four games.
UMBC vs. St. Francis (Pa.) All-Time: The Retrievers lead the all-time series with the Red Flash, 23-7, dating to 1994. The teams were Northeast Conference rivals from 1999-2003, during which time UMBC won six of 10 meetings. The Retrievers have won the last five matchups, including last season’s 5-2 victory at the UMBC Dawg Pound Tournament.
Weigman Tabbed America East Rookie of the Week: Freshman pitcher Stephanie Weigman was named America East Rookie of the Week on Monday, the first award of her career. Weigman led the Retrievers in wins, ERA, appearances, innings pitched and strikeouts last week, as she went 2-2 with a 2.47 ERA and 21 strikeouts in 22.2 innings of work and held opponents to a .210 batting average.
Shepherd Named Candidate for Senior CLASS Award: UMBC senior shortstop Dana Shepherd (Columbia, Md./Oakland Mills) has been named one of 30 candidates for the Lowe’s Senior CLASS Award, which honors the nation’s best softball seniors who also excel in the classroom and make an impact in their community. The award, presented to NCAA Division I student-athletes each year in eight sports, focuses on the “Four C’s” of classroom, character, community and competition. From the list of 30 nominees, a national media committee will select 10 finalists in late March. Those 10 names will be placed on the official ballot for a nationwide vote that will include coaches, media and fans. The award winner will be announced and recognized at the 2008 NCAA Women’s College World Series in Okalahoma City.
Milestone Watch: Senior shortstop Dana Shepherd is on the verge of becoming just the sixth player in UMBC history to record 200 career hits. She currently has 196. She also became just the eighth Retriever ever with 300 total bases with her home run against the GW on March 2, and she now has 305 total bases in her career.
Two-Way Threat: Sophomore Amanda Fefel has started the season hot at the plate and in the circle. She leads the Retrievers offensively with a .400 batting average, a .456 on-base percentage, 20 hits and 31 total bases. She has also posted a 3-1 record and a team-best 3.12 ERA with 25 strikeouts in 33.2 innings of work.
Softball Picked Third in Preseason Poll: The UMBC softball team was predicted to finish third in the America East Preseason Coaches’ Poll. The Retrievers received one first place vote and 35 overall points in a vote of the league’s head coaches. Boston University, the 2007 regular-season champion, is the preseason favorite, as the Terriers received 47 points, including five first-place votes. Coaches were not permitted to vote for their own teams.