Softball Concludes Regular Season Against Delaware, Maine; Retrievers Look to Secure America East Championship Berth
Lauren Brummell is tied for the team lead with seven doubles.
BALTIMORE—The UMBC softball team (20-26, 9-9 AEC) hits the road again this week with hopes of claiming the final spot in the four-team America East Championships. The Retrievers play their final non-conference games against perennial foe Delaware on Wednesday with a doubleheader at 2 p.m. UMBC will then travel to Maine to take on the Black Bears in a three-game series that will likely determine the fourth tournament-bound team. Saturday’s doubleheader begins at 1 p.m. with the series finale on Sunday at 11 a.m.
In the America East: At 9-9, UMBC is in fifth place in the America East standings, one game behind this weekend’s opponent, Maine (10-8). The winner of the series between the Retrievers and Black Bears likely earns the fourth and final berth in the America East Championships. Boston University (15-3), Albany (13-5) and Stony Brook (11-7) have already punched their tickets for the double-elimination tournament, which will be hosted by the No. 1 seed May 8-10.
Last Time Out: The Retrievers are coming off a 2-1 series loss at America East rival Vermont over the weekend. The teams split a doubleheader on Saturday and the Catamounts took the rubber match on Sunday. Freshman pitcher Stephanie Weigman (Elkridge, Md./Archbishop Spalding) struck out eight batters in the 3-2 game one loss, while freshman left fielder Lauren Brummell (Hanover, Va./Hanover) paced the Retrievers’ offense with a 2-for-3 effort. In the nightcap, a 5-2 victory, senior pitcher Ashley Gray (Pasadena, Md./Northeast/Delaware State) led the Retrievers both at the plate and in the circle, as she went 3-for-4 with two doubles and three RBI and also and also struck out a season-high nine batters without allowing a walk. UMBC dropped the series finale, 5-2, despite Weigman’s brilliant relief effort in which she struck out five of the 10 batters she faced. In her last three appearances, Weigman has posted a miniscule 0.43 ERA and struck out 21 batters in 16.1 innings of work.
On the Blue Hens: Delaware is 21-22 overall and 4-14 in the Colonial Athletic Association, and the Blue Hens have lost eight of their last 11 games, including three in a row. Outfielder Katie Lee leads the team with a .339 batting average and a .444 on base percentage, while third baseman Michelle Grap is tops with six home runs and 29 RBI. The Blue Hens were picked to finish seventh in the Colonial Athletic Association in the CAA Preseason Poll.
UMBC vs. Delaware All-Time: The Retrievers hold a 16-13 series advantage over the Blue Hens. Delaware is UMBC’s fifth most-frequent opponent, as the teams have met nearly every season since 1991. Last year, the Retrievers swept a doubleheader from the Blue Hens in Baltimore. UMBC is 4-9 all-time in Newark, Del.
On the Black Bears: Maine has won six of its past eight games and is 11-36 on the season and 10-8 in America East play. After starting the year with 28 straight losses, the Black Bears have won 11 of 19 to put themselves in position to earn a playoff berth. Maine leads the America East in hitting in conference games with a .308 average. Second baseman Ashley Waters leads the America East in slugging percentage (.624), hits (55), home runs (10) and total bases (98) and ranks second in RBI (30) and fifth in batting average (.350). Four Black Bears are batting better than .350 in conference games, led by Waters at .403. The Black Bears were picked to finish sixth in the America East Preseason Poll.
UMBC vs. Maine All-Time: The Black Bears hold a 10-4 series advantage over the Retrievers dating to 2000. Maine took two of three from UMBC last season in Baltimore and has won all four America East series since the Retrievers joined the league in 2004. UMBC is 2-5 all-time in Orono, Maine, with both wins coming in 2006 – one in the regular season and one in the America East Championships, knocking the top seeded Black Bears out of the tournament.
Last season, Maine won the series opener, 3-1, in 13 innings. In an epic pitchers’ duel, the teams battled to a scoreless tie for 12 innings before Maine shortstop Kristen Calvetti hit a three-run homer off UMBC starter Ashley Gray in the top of the 13th. The Retrievers took the nightcap, 7-0, behind more stellar pitching from Amanda Fefel (Baltimore, Md./Catonsville). The Black Bears took the rubber match, 7-6.
The Good Shepherd: Senior second baseman Dana Shepherd (Columbia, Md./Oakland Mills) has been on a roll in conference play, leading the league in slugging percentage (.810), runs scored (21) and home runs (6) against America East foes. Shepherd also ranks second in total bases (47) and on-base percentage (.485) and third in batting average (.397) and hits (23). She has homered against all but one conference opponent – Vermont – and has reached base safely in all 18 games, with hits in all but three.
More America East Stats: In addition to Shepherd, three other Retrievers are hitting better than .325 in America East play –senior designated player Ashley Gray (.358), senior catcher Kali Shirk (.333) and sophomore first baseman Amanda Fefel (.328). Gray has reached base safely in all but one game with a hit in 14 of 18. Freshman pitcher Stephanie Weigman ranks third in ERA (1.87), fourth in batting average against (.211) and fifth in strikeouts (58) against conference opponents.
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 232 hits. Senior catcher Kali Shirk joined the 200-hit club on Wednesday with an infield hit against Binghamton and currently ranks seventh all-time with 203.
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 232 2005-Pres.
6. Amy Wolff 227 1994-97
7. Kali Shirk 203 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 two 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, 165 Stolen Bases – 2nd, 88
Extra-Base Hits – 2nd, 78 Stolen Base Percentage – 3rd, .943 (83-88)
Total Bases – 2nd, 371 Walks – 3rd, 72
Doubles – T-3rd, 44 Runs – 4th, 147
Home Runs – 4th, 27 At-Bats – 6th, 663
At-Bats – 4th, 721 Games Played – 7th, 205
RBI – 4th, 128 Games Started – 7th, 204
Games Played – 5th, 216 Total Bases – 9th, 275
Games Started – 5th, 216 Triples – T-9th, 6
Stolen Bases – 6th, 48
Triples – T-7th, 7
Shepherd is just one extra-base hit away from tying Lisa Boone (2000-03) for the school record, and she needs to score six runs to tie Deanna Vecchio (1999-2002) for the all-time lead.
Ouch: Shirk also is the Retrievers’ all-time leader in hit-by-pitch, as she has been plunked 17 times in her career, while Shepherd ranks third at 11.
Gunning ’Em Down: Shirk leads the America East in catching runners trying to steal this season, as she has gunned down 18 attempted base thieves.
Top Dawgs: A number of Retrievers rank among the statistical leaders in the America East Conference. Gray is tops with 38 RBI and Shepherd is first with 35 runs scored. Fefel ranks third in hits, fifth in RBI, sixth in total bases and ninth in slugging percentage; Gray is tied for second in home runs, third in slugging percentage, fourth in batting average and sixth in on-base percentage; Shepherd is tied for second in home runs, tied for fourth in total bases, sixth in slugging percentage and tied for eighth in RBI. In addition, Shirk is tied for third in steals. Among pitchers, Weigman ranks third in strikeouts, sixth in opponent batting average, tied for sixth wins and eighth in ERA, while Gray is 10th in strikeouts.