Blue Hen Softball Team Opens Eight-Game Fall Schedule on Saturday; Heads To Penn State To Face Lock Haven, Nittany Lions
September 15, 2011
NEWARK, Del. – The University of Delaware softball team will open its 2011 fall season this Saturday by facing Lock Haven and host Penn State, kicking off its eight-game fall slate.
The Blue Hens will take on Lock Haven at 1 p.m. on Saturday in State College, Pa., followed by a contest with the host Nittany Lions at 3:15 p.m. The following weekend will be a busy one for Delaware, as the team will play four games in a two-day span. The Blue Hens will travel to Temple on Saturday, Sept. 24 to face the host Owls at 10 a.m. and Wagner at 12 noon. The next day Delaware will head to Villanova, taking on La Salle at 2 p.m and the Wildcats at 4 p.m.
The Blue Hens wrap up their fall schedule on Sunday, Oct. 2 by hosting Marist in a 12:30 p.m. doubleheader at the Delaware Softball Stadium.
Delaware, coming off a 21-34 season and a Colonial Athletic Association Tournament appearance during head coach Jaime Wohlbach’s first year at the helm, return all but two players from the 2011 squad and have added nine newcomers to the program as well.
The Blue Hens return a wealth of experience this season, led by senior pitcher/designated player Amanda Stacevicz who has earned second team All-CAA honors in each of the last two seasons. Stacevicz went 11-9 with a 3.27 ERA this spring, and ranked second on the team with 31 RBI, eight doubles and three home runs while serving as the squad’s cleanup hitter.
In addition to Stacevicz, Blue Hen pitchers Kathleen Conway and Hannah Rust also return to the circle this season. Conway won six games during her rookie year, tossing three shutouts and ranking fifth in the conference with 111 strikeouts. Rust was also a valuable member of the staff during her first season in Newark, starting 14 games for the Blue Hens.
The Blue Hen pitchers will have a familiar target behind the plate, as junior catcher Gina Knutson also returns after a sophomore season in which she was named to the all-conference second team. Knutson appeared in all 55 games this spring, leading the Blue Hens with 31 RBI and 14 stolen bases. She also drilled a team-high nine home runs, the second most in a UD single season and tied for fourth in the league.
Knutson will be pushed for playing time by sophomore Brittney Noons, who appeared in 44 games while starting 30 as a designated player and catcher. Noons batted .188 on the season with 15 hits, but increased her average to .333 in CAA contests.
The Delaware infield will be paced by sophomore second baseman Michelle McKinnon, who made an immediate impact as a freshman when she started all 55 games and led the Blue Hens with a .322 batting average. McKinnon, a second team All-CAA and CAA All-Rookie Team selection, was second on the squad with 46 hits and third with 24 runs scored, and she batted .351 in CAA games.
Also returning to the Blue Hen infield are junior first baseman Bertie Lake and sophomore shortstop Becky Ellis. Lake appeared in 51 games while starting 48 last season, batting .233 while tying for fourth on the team with six doubles. Ellis (above) saw action in 42 contests and started 35, posting three hits and three runs scored on the year.
The Delaware outfield is expected to be one of the team’s strengths, as the Blue Hens return a trio of talented starters. The group will be led by junior Lara Andrews, who turned in an impressive first season at UD when she was named the team’s Most Valuable Player. Andrews started every game in centerfield, leading the squad with 27 walks while ranking second with a .298 batting average, third with 42 hits, and tied for third with 19 RBI.
Also returning is junior Jenny Richards, who started every game in centerfield as a freshman before starting all 55 contests in leftfield this past season. Serving as the Blue Hens’ leadoff hitter, Richards led the squad and ranked second in the CAA with 13 doubles, and also was the team’s leader with 47 hits and 33 runs scored while batting .278 on the year.
The third returning outfielder is rightfielder Rachel Jones, who started 50 games for the second consecutive year while batting .234 on the season. A versatile player who has also played first base at Delaware, Jones finished last season third on the squad with seven doubles, fourth with 16 RBI, and sixth with 30 hits.
The other returner from the 2011 squad is senior Samantha Pettie, an outfielder who is also a valuable pinch runner. Pettie saw action in 44 contests while starting 19 last season, posting six hits and seven runs scored.
In addition to the 12 returning Blue Hens, Delaware also welcomes nine newcomers to the 2011-12 squad. Marisa Newman, a junior transfer who played one year under Wohlbach at Iona, will look for playing time in the infield while junior Chenxi Jiao, who transferred to UD from Highland (Kan.) Community College, will be a key addition to the Delaware pitching staff.
Sophomore Maggie Creciun, as well as freshmen Kaitlyn Breneman, Alicea Coy, Jess Epler, Jess Grisler, Brianna Jennings, and Mary O’Reilly, are also expected to compete for playing time as first-year members of the Blue Hens this season.
"I am looking forward to our fall schedule of competition,” said Wohlbach. “It has been exciting feeling the amount of passion this group brings to practice. The team has been working hard and I am eager to see how we perform against our opponents this fall."Back To Softball Home Softball Story Archive