PISCATAWAY, N.J. (March 12, 2014) – The Rutgers softball team continues the 2014 season at the Michelle Smith Spring Break Tournament from March 14-16 in Clearwater, Fla. The Scarlet Knights will take on six opponents over the weekend, including 2013 NCAA qualifier Central Connecticut State.
The Scarlet Knights open the tournament with a doubleheader on Friday, March 14, taking on Penn State (4:30 p.m.) and St. Joseph’s (6:45 p.m.). The following day, RU takes on Buffalo (4:30 p.m.) and Central Connecticut State (6:45 p.m.) before closing the tournament on Sunday, March 16 against Quinnipiac (11:15 a.m.) and UMass (1 p.m.).
RU (5-7) went 0-2 two weekends ago at the CSUN Invitational, falling to Portland State and host-school Cal-State Northridge in Northridge, Calif. The Scarlet Knights had their first four games at the tournament canceled due to inclement weather.
Rutgers owns a .286 batting average through its first three weekends, as two players – seniors Alexis Durando (Oakland, N.J.) and Loren Williams (Los Angeles, Calif.) – own averages of at least .400. Williams leads the team with a .455 batting average and .682 slugging percentage.
Junior left-hander Alyssa Landrith (Vacaville, Calif.) leads the team with a 2.33 ERA in seven appearances, tossing five complete games. She is averaging 1.1 strikeouts per inning.
Scouting Penn State
Penn State, RU’s future Big Ten rival, enters the contest at 5-11 overall after dropping two games at the James Madison Invitational (March 1-2) and having two canceled. The Nittany Lions look to snap a seven-game losing streak this weekend, as the squad seeks its first win since upsetting No. 21 LSU on Feb. 17 at the Tiger Invitational.
Shelby Miller leads the squad with a .391 batting average, while Karlie Habitz has knocked in a team-leading 16 runs this season. From the circle, Marlaina Laubach leads the Nittany Lions with a 4-4 record and 3.18 ERA. She has tossed 44.0 innings this season.
Scouting St. Joseph’s
St. Joseph’s enters its second consecutive week in Clearwater, Fla., after posting a 3-2 record at the USF Under Armour Challenge from March 7-9. The Red Hawks picked up wins against Maine (6-3), Western Michigan (7-6) and Providence (4-1) to move to 6-6 on the season.
Two Red Hawks boast .300-plus batting averages in Madeline Brunk (.333) and Nicole Palase (.306). Palase leads the team with nine RBIs and is tied for first with a pair of home runs with Ashley Alden. Alden – who is hitting .286 this season – played two seasons at RU before transferring to St. Joseph’s at the end of last season.
Liz Mendez has taken on the brunt of the starting pitching duties, going 3-3 in seven starts with a 3.42 ERA.
The Bulls are one of two teams RU will face this weekend that enters with a winning record, as Buffalo sits a 9-7 through 16 games this season. Buffalo has lost four games in a row and had four consecutive games canceled due to inclement weather. The squad’s last win came in its opener of the University of New Mexico Lobo Classic against North Dakota State, 3-2 (Feb. 28).
Buffalo is hitting .288 as a team and is led by Holly Luciano, who owns a .383 batting average. Luciano is second on the team with a .574 slugging percentage and 12 RBIs, as Sammi Gallardo leads the Bulls with four home runs and 13 RBIs this season.
Tori Speckman has been the Bulls’ most effective pitcher with a 6-4 record and 2.82 ERA. She has thrown in more than half – 62.0 – of the teams 104.0 innings this season.
Scouting Central Connecticut State
Central Connecticut State qualified for the NCAA Softball World Series last season and is 5-3 after starting the year on Feb. 28 at the USF Under Armour Invitational. The Blue Devils ride a three-game winning streak into the weekend, which includes a pair of wins against St. Bonaventure and an 8-0 win in five innings against Hampton.
Kat Malcom leads the team from the plate with a .385 batting average and 10 hits. Behind her is Alexis Debrosse, who is hitting .381 and has a team-leading eight RBIs in eight games.
The Central Connecticut State pitching staff has been lights out, holding the opposition to a .275 batting average while pitching to the tune of a 0.79 ERA. Laura Messina has impressed in six games started with a 5-1 record and 32.0 innings pitched. She averages 9.41 strikeouts per seven innings.
UMass remains in Clearwater, Fla., for the second-straight week looking to rebound from a 1-3 outing at the USF Under Armour Showcase from March 7-9. Quianna Patterson-Diaz is hitting .375 through nine games to lead the team, also leading with a .625 slugging percentage, two doubles and two triples.
Caroline Raymond (2-5) has tossed 43.0 of the team’s 56.0 innings this season and has thrown six complete games. Her 5.02 ERA leads the team.
Quinnipiac has lost 11 of its first 12 games to start the season, including dropping two-straight contests. The Bobcats’ lone win this season came on Feb. 9 against St. John’s, 5-3, head coach Jill Karowski’s first career victory for the program. Quinnipiac has scored just 24 runs in its first 12 games with teams batting .378 against the Bobcats.
In the circle, Quinnipiac boasts Katie Alfiere, who won the school’s first ever MAAC Pitcher of the Week award after pitching in four games for the Bobcats. Alfiere worked 8.2 innings during that span, allowing just seven hits and two earned runs to go along with three strikeouts. For Alfiere, it was her second MAAC Pitcher of the Week award.
Two players bat over .300 for Quinnipiac, with Sydney Robey leading the Bobcats with a .345 batting average. The sophomore infielder is also tied for the team lead in RBIs with six and has belted two home runs this season. Abby Johnson is currently batting .308 this year to join Robey above the .300 mark.
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