FAIRFIELD, Conn.- The Sacred Heart University softball team is set to play five games in the next three days against Hartford, Gardner-Webb, Oakland, and Loyola Chicago.
Leading off: The Pioneers scored their highest-ever Northeast Conference preseason ranking after they were a unanimous selection to finish first in the league. Sacred Heart's 2019 roster is highlighted by pitcher Emily Orosco, who earned NEC Co-Pitcher of the Year and NFCA Third Team All-Region accolades a year ago as she tallied a team best ERA of 1.34 and tallied team leading 204 strikeouts . On offense, SHU returns senior Hailey Desrosiers who led the team in hits (53), home-runs (9), doubles (9) and triples (2) last season. Graduate student Fallon Bevino also returns for the Pioneers placing second on team in hits from last season as she tallied 51 on the year.
Scouting Hartford: This weekend will be the 27th and 28th meetings between the Hawks and Pioneers, with Sacred Heart leading the series, 14-12. Hartford returns 10 players from last season's team, which registered the most wins since 2013. Sophomore Danielle Rocheleau is the Hawks' top returner after receiving Second Team All-Conference and All-Rookie Team distinction. Rocheleau hit nine home runs last season to lead the America East and break the 26-year old program record. Hartford will also feature eight new faces on its opening day roster.
Scouting Gardner-Webb: Friday marks the first time the Pioneers have faced off against Gardner-Webb. The Bulldogs started the season 3-1 last weekend, with victories over Furman, George Washington and Georgetown. Kaylee Wacaster leads Gardner-Webb through its first games, batting .556 with 11 RBI.
Scouting Loyola Chicago: Saturday will be the first meeting between the Pioneers and Ramblers. Loyola has opened the season 5-0 after going undefeated at the Total Control Sports Invitational, where is outscored its opponents, 17-2 Sophomore Katie Polaski has been an offensive force for the Ramblers this year, batting .364 while slugging .818 with five RBI.
Scouting Oakland: The Pioneers will also be facing Oakland for the first time in program history beginning on Saturday. Oakland was picked to finish third in the Horizon League this season after advancing to the conference championship last year. The 17 returners are highlighted by reigning Horizon League Freshman of the Year and NFCA Third Team All-Region honoree Madison Jones, who led the conference in slugging percentage (.738), home runs (11) and. triples (5).
GAME ONE: Friday, Feb. 15, vs. Gardner-Webb (4 p.m.)
GAME TWO: Friday, Feb. 15, vs. Hartford (6 p.m.)
GAME THREE: Saturday, Feb. 16, vs. Oakland (10 a.m.)
GAME FOUR: Saturday, Feb. 16, vs. Loyola Chicago (4 p.m.)
GAME FIVE: Sunday, Feb 17, vs. Hartford(12 p.m.)