Softball Hosts League-Newcomer UMass Lowell

Softball Hosts League-Newcomer UMass Lowell

BALTIMORE – UMBC softball returns home for a weekend series against America East newcomer UMass Lowell, starting with a doubleheader on Friday, April 18 at the UMBC Softball Stadium. First pitch for Friday has been pushed back to 1:45 p.m. in game one and 4 p.m. in game two. Saturday's series finale, set for 11 a.m., marks Fan Appreciation Day and Strikeout Cancer Day at the UMBC Softball Stadium.

The National Fastpitch Coaches Association started the Strikeout Cancer initiatives over ten year ago, with NFCA member teams helping to raise tens of thousands of dollars to support the fight against cancer. In addition to fundraised dollars, the initiative has provided a platform to raise awareness for breast cancer as well as support for women's cancer research. The Retrievers will accept donations at Saturday's game, with all the proceeds going to the American Cancer Society.

Saturday also marks Fan Appreciation Day, where the first 150 fans will receive free mini bats upon arrival to the game. In addition there will be raffles, discounts on food, moon bounces and prizes available.

The Retrievers (24-16, 2-6 AEC) are coming off their first league series victory of the season, taking two-of-three from Maine over the weekend. Sophomore Danielle O'Neill (Lothian, Md./Southern) earned her first America East Player of the Week honor after reaching base in 10 of 13 plate appearances and posting a 1.375 slugging percentage. O'Neill is riding a team-best six-game hitting streak heading into the weekend and is one of two Retrievers batting over .300 on the season. Junior Taylor Hall (Cosby, Va./Cobsy) leads the America East with 11 doubles, 10 home runs and 38 runs batted in. The third-year catcher is the ninth toughest batter to strikeout in Division I and leads the team in on-base percentage (.483) and batting average (.395).

In the circle, a trio of freshmen makeup the Retrievers' starting rotation, led by a 14-7 record from Jessica Holte (Ashland, Va./Atlee). The rookie ranks third in the nation in walks per seven inning (0.64) and second in the America East in earned run average (2.07). Nicole Casagrand (Horsham, Pa./Hatboro-Horsham) and Kelly Lane (Albany, N.Y./Colonie Central) have combined for a 10-9 record, with three shutouts and eight complete games.

UMass Lowell (8-25, 1-7 AEC) will have played four games this week by the time it makes its way to Baltimore on Friday. The River Hawks are coming off a three-game series against America East foe Binghamton on Monday and Wednesday, in which it took one-of-three versus the Bearcats.

Sophomore Brianna Martin leads the squad with 33 hits and a .317 batting average, while also added 14 runs batted in. Freshman Emily O'Brien is the second River Hawk batting over .300 for the season (.304) and leads the team in extra-base hits with 11 doubles and one home run. Junior Abby Jamieson has driven in a team-best 18 runs on the season. In the circle, sophomore Marielle Handley has posted a team-best 4-12 overall record in her 23 appearances. She has a team-low 3.90 earned run average and has thrown 10 complete games.