Four America East Games on Tap for Softball This Week; Retrievers Host Binghamton Wednesday Afternoon in Final Home Game of Season
Dana Shepherd is batting a league-best .467 against America East opponents.
BALTIMORE—Looking to secure a spot in the four-team America East Tournament, the UMBC softball team (18-24, 7-7 AEC) will play four games against conference rivals this week, beginning with the final home game on Wednesday, when the Retrievers host Binghamton (6-29, 1-13 AEC) at 2 p.m. at UMBC Softball Stadium. The Retrievers then hit the road for a three-game series at Vermont (11-22, 4-10 AEC) this weekend, beginning with a doubleheader on Saturday at 1 p.m. and concluding with a single game on Sunday at 12 p.m.
In the America East: At 7-7, UMBC is currently tied with Maine for fourth place in the America East standings, just one game behind third-place Stony Brook (8-6). Boston University (12-2) leads the league, followed by Albany (11-3) one game back in second place. Hartford (6-8) is just one game behind UMBC and Maine for the fourth and final playoff spot.
The Good Shepherd: Senior second baseman Dana Shepherd (Columbia, Md./Oakland Mills) has been on a roll in conference play, leading the league in batting average (.467), slugging percentage (.978), on-base percentage (.547), home runs (6), runs scored (17), hits (21) and total bases (44) and ranking second in RBI (15) against America East opponents. She has hit a home run against each league rival which the Retrievers have played so far this season, with two against Hartford, and she has reached base in each conference game with a hit in 13 of 14.
More America East Stats: In addition to Shepherd, three other Retrievers are hitting better than .340 in America East play – sophomore first baseman Amanda Fefel (.375), senior designated player Ashley Gray (.366) and senior catcher Kali Shirk (.341). Gray has hit a home run against four of five conference opponents and has reached base safely in all but one game with a hit in 12 of 14.
Last Time Out: UMBC was swept by Boston University in a three-game series over the weekend. Senior catcher Kali Shirk (North Wales, Pa./North Penn) accounted for the Retrievers’ lone run in a 7-1 loss in the opener with her second home run of the season. UMBC was doomed in the nightcap by a six-run Terrier sixth inning. The Retrievers rallied in the bottom of the inning, scoring three runs with two outs on five straight hits, but could get no closer in an 11-7 loss. Shirk, senior second baseman Dana Shepherd (Columbia, Md./Oakland Mills) and senior designated player Ashley Gray (Pasadena, Md./Northeast/Delaware State) combined to go 6-for-11 with five runs scored at the top of the Retrievers’ lineup. Shepherd hit a solo home run in UMBC’s 4-2 loss in the series finale. UMBC has lost five of its last six games.
On the Bearcats: Binghamton is 6-29 on the season and 1-13 in the America East. The Bearcats enter Wednesday’s match-up on a four-game losing streak. Outfielder Sandy Meadows ranks fourth in the America East with 14 stolen bases and pitcher Cyrilla Suker is seventh in earned run average (2.71) and strikeouts (83). Catcher Deannie Plemon leads the team with four home runs and 19 RBI. The Bearcats were picked to finish eighth in the conference preseason poll.
UMBC vs. Binghamton All-Time: UMBC is 14-6 all-time against Binghamton dating to 2002 and has won seven of the last nine meetings. Earlier this season, the Retrievers swept a doubleheader at Binghamton, winning the first game 14-3 in five innings and the second 6-1. Sophomore first baseman Amanda Fefel (Baltimore, Md./Catonsville) had five hits and scored five runs in the two games, while senior catcher Kali Shirk drove in six runs.
On the Catamounts: Vermont is currently seventh in the America East with an overall record of 11-22 and a conference mark of 4-10. The Catamounts will play a doubleheader against Albany on Wednesday before hosting the Retrievers this weekend. Outfielder Rachelle Eloschuk leads the league with 20 stolen bases and is ninth with a .333 batting average, while Aimee Kern ranks ninth in the conference in ERA (3.12) and sixth in strikeouts (85). Shortstop Kate Haber leads the Catamounts with a .439 slugging percentage and is tied for the team lead with 15 RBI. Vermont was picked to finish seventh in the conference preseason poll.
UMBC vs. Vermont All-Time: The Retrievers led the all-time series against the Catamounts, 8-5, dating to 2004, when UMBC joined the America East. After losing the first three games against Vermont, the Retrievers have won eight of the last 10, including all three last season by a combined score of 16-0.
Another Milestone for French: Head coach Joe French picked up his 450th career victory last Sunday with a 2-1 victory over Stony Brook. French has coached for 15 years at three different schools, winning 95 games in four seasons at Mansfield University, 119 games in four years at SUNY-Geneseo and 226 in seven years at UMBC, and he is the Retrievers’ all-time winningest coach.
What a Pair: Senior second baseman Dana Shepherd became just the sixth player in UMBC history to record 200 career hits when she clubbed a double in the first inning against Niagara on March 21, and she currently ranks fifth all-time with 230 hits. Senior catcher Kali Shirk needs just one more base knock to join Shepherd in the 200-hit club; she currently ranks seventh all-time with 199.
UMBC Career Hits
1. Kristie Pickeral 263 2002-05
2. Deanna Vecchio 258 1999-2002
3. Lisa Boone 249 2000-03
4. Carrie Lycett 237 1994-97
5. Dana Shepherd 230 2005-Pres.
6. Amy Wolff 227 1994-97
7. Kali Shirk 199 2005-Pres.
8. Reilly Ward 190 2004-07
9. Taryn McDonald 187 1996-99
10. Bonnie Nevin 164 1999-2002
Century Mark: Sophomore pitcher/first baseman Amanda Fefel needs just three hits to reach 100 in her career.
Making their Mark: Shepherd and Shirk also rank among UMBC’s all-time leaders in a number of other offensive categories, including:
Dana Shepherd Kali Shirk
Runs – 2nd, 161 Stolen Bases – 2nd, 84
Extra-Base Hits – 2nd, 77 Stolen Base Percentage – 3rd, .943 (83-88)
Total Bases – 2nd, 368 Walks – 3rd, 70
Doubles – 4th, 43 Runs – T-4th, 142
Home Runs – 4th, 27 At-Bats – T-6th, 650
At-Bats – 4th, 708 Games Played – 8th, 201
RBI – 4th, 128 Games Started – T-8th, 200
Games Played – 6th, 212 Total Bases – 9th, 268
Games Started – 6th, 212 Triples – T-9th, 6
Stolen Bases – T-6th, 44
Triples – T-7th, 7
Ouch: Shirk also is the Retrievers’ all-time leader in hit-by-pitch, as she has been plunked 17 times in her career.
Gunning ’Em Down: Shirk leads the America East in catching runners trying to steal this season, as she has gunned down 17 attempted base thieves.
Top Dawgs: A number of Retrievers rank among the statistical leaders in the America East Conference. Fefel leads the league with a .368 batting average, while Gray is tops with 34 RBI and Shepherd is first with 31 runs scored. Fefel also ranks second in hits, third in total bases, sixth in RBI, eighth in slugging percentage and 10th in on-base percentage; Gray is tied for second in home runs and ranks third in slugging percentage, fifth in batting average and sixth in on-base percentage; Shepherd is tied for second in home runs and ranks fourth in total bases, sixth in slugging percentage and seventh in RBI. In addition, Shirk is tied for sixth in steals and sophomore third baseman Emily Thompson (Niagara Falls, N.Y./Niagara Falls) is tied for ninth in doubles. Among pitchers, freshman Stephanie Weigman (Elkridge, Md./Archbishop Spalding) ranks fifth in strikeouts, sixth in opponent batting average and wins and 10th in ERA, while Fefel is 10th in strikeouts.