NEC Champion Pioneers Make NCAA Tournament Debut Friday
May 13, 2009
A Season of Firsts... The Sacred Heart softball team captured its first Northeast Conference championship in 2009 in its first appearence in Division I postseason play. The Pioneers earned the NEC’s automatic bid and will make its first appearence in the big dance, the NCAA Tournament. Sacred Heart competes in the Amherst regional with Washington, UMass, and Cornell.
The Perfect Finish... The Pioneers not only won the NEC title in their first trip to the postseason but finished the championship with a perfect 3-0 record. Sacred Heart blasted three home runs in its 4-2 opening round victory over Robert Morris. The Pioneers followed that up cruising past Monmouth 4-1. SHU finished its cinderella run with a 4-0 blanking of Long Island, the program’s first victory over the Blackbirds, behind Jen Russell’s four-hit shutout.
12 Straight W’s... The Pioneers roll into the NCAA Tournament with a 12 game winning streak, the longest run in the program’s Division I era. Sacred Heart sat at 13-26 and 7-7 in the NEC before rattling off 12 straight and exploding through the Northeast Conference championship. Pitcher Jen Russell has been the catalyst behind the Pioneers run, winning her last 10 decisions.
Pioneer Ace & MVP... There is no doubt that sophomore pitcher has been the most dominant and consistent player in a Pioneer uniform all season. The first team All-NEC selection was dominate in the postseason pitching three complete games and allowing just two earned runs, including a four-hit shutout in the championship contest. Russell leads the NEC with a 1.49 ERA and holds opposing hitters to a .205 batting average.
Power Surge... Sacred Heart showed its power launching four long balls in last weeks NEC tournament. The Pioneers homered three times against Robert Morris, the final blast was from junior Adrian Fitzsimon who broke a 2-2 tie in the seventh with a shot to dead center field. Taylor Froelich notched a home run in each of the Pioneers first two games of the tournament.
Froelich Leads the Way... Leadoff hitter and center fielder Taylor Froelich provides the spark and plenty of pop at the top of the order. Froelich leads the Pioneers in numerous offensive categories including batting average (.341), runs (31), home runs (8), doubles (12), slugging percentage (.573), and on base percentage (.391). The California native can also utilize her speed going a perfect five for five in steal attempts in 2009.
Harvey’s Hit Streak... Senior Betsy Harvey enters the NCAA tournament with a nine game hitting streak. The second baseman is 12 for her last 20 with seven runs scored and five RBI. She scored the Pioneers first run of the NEC tournament with a solo homer against Robert Morris.
Lee Lights Up the NEC... First baseman Courtney Lee is hitting an impressive .410 against NEC pitching. She has also displayed her speed in conference action notching three triples and five stolen bases. The California native also boasts a .541 slugging percentage and a .438 on base percentage in NEC contests.
Vicente’s Glove... Sacred Heart third baseman Jasmin Vicente has had a defensively superb season leading the conference with a .978 fielding percentage, committing just two errors all season. Perhaps more impressive is her error free perfect 1.000 percentage in NEC play.
Coaches of the Year... After 21 seasons at the helm of the Pioneers softball program Co-Head Coaches Elizabeth “Bippy” Lucke and Pam London were honored as the NEC Coaches of the Year. The duo picked up its 400th win earlier this season against rival Quinnipiac.
Scoring First... In the Pioneers first 48 games this season the team that scores first as had a decisive advantage. Sacred Heart is 20-8 when pushing across the first run and 5-18 when they concede the first score. Closing the Door... SHU has displayed its ability to finish games with a lead in 2009. The Pioneers are 23-1 when leading after six innings of play and have six one-run victories on the year.
Senior Salute... The Pioneers class of 2009 has four seniors: Betsy Harvey, Amanda Bradley, Jessica Perez, and Sarah Stack. In their tenure Sacred Heart’s conference record has improved every season leading to the programs breeakthrough championship in 2009.
Amherst Regional Opponents
#3 Washington Huskies (41-10) - Pac-10
Leading Hitter: Ashley Charters .455 AVG, 7 HR, 33 SB
Leading Pitcher: Danielle Lawrie 32-6, 0.76 ERA, 18 SHO
Cornell Big Red (42-11) - Ivy League
Leading Hitter: Ashley Garvey .411 AVG, 10 HR, 62 RBI
Leading Pitcher: Elizabeth Dalrymple 19-3, 1.18 ERA, 167 K
UMass MinuteWomen (38-8) - Atlantic 10
Leading Hitter: Carly Normandin .426 AVG, 10 HR, .761 SLG%
Leading Pitcher: Brandice Balschmi 31-4, 0.93 ERA, 20 SHO