BROOKLYN, N.Y. — Looking to carry over momentum from a nine-win improvement in 2017 (18-12, 8-10 SKY) and a four-game win streak to end the season, the St. Joseph's College (Brooklyn) softball team heads to Washington D.C. and Virginia Beach to open 2018. The Bears will battle Gallaudet in the nation's capital for a doubleheader on Thursday (Mar. 8), followed by SUNY Potsdam (Fri.) and first-time opponents Hunter (Fri.), Keuka (Sat.), and Allegheny (Sat.) at the Virginia Beach Blast.
Thursday, Mar. 8 at 1 & 3 p.m.
- SJC took a major step forward last season as they narrowly missed the playoffs finishing seventh in the Skyline Conference. Losing just three to graduation, they return 12 players from a year ago including three of their four All-Skyline selections. The Bears won consecutive contests on five separate occasions, including a season-high of four straight twice sweeping CUNYAC opponents York (Apr. 12) and Lehman (Apr. 15) in two doubleheaders then doing the same over Skyline foes Old Westbury (Apr. 29) and Yeshiva (Apr. 30) to close out the season.
- The Bison are 0-3 on the young season as they dropped both contests in their opening doubleheader against Catholic (Feb. 24) in one-sided fashion (9-0, 10-2). They followed by losing to Wesley 8-4 (Feb. 27), while the second game of the doubleheader was called off due to darkness. A year ago Gallaudet finished at 16-23-1 which was a six-win improvement over 2016.
Keys to the Contest
- The Bears return 12 players including 2017 All-Skyline First-Team infielder Paige Csikortos (Rocky Point, N.Y./Rocky Point) as well as 2017 All-Skyline Second-Teamers Amber Wainwright (Taunton, Mass./Taunton) and Victoria Mahoney (Allenwood, N.J./Saint John Vianney). Wainwright finished 2017 with a .448 average that tied for first on the team while leading the squad in RBI (32) and tying for the team lead in doubles (eight). Csikortos wasn't far behind boasting a .345 average (third on Bears), 15 RBI (fourth), 10 extra-base hits (t-second), and 11 stolen bases (t-first). Mahoney shined in the circle, compiling an 11-6 record backed by a 1.62 ERA and 99 strikeouts (7.64 K/7).
- Thus far, the Bison have been led at the plate by senior Genesis Rodriguez and her team-highs in batting average (.429) and OBP. Junior Jacklyn Zacarias has been solid as well going 3-for-9 in three games and leading all hitters in RBI (3), doubles (two), and slugging (.556). In the circle freshman Hannah Carter has been a bright spot with a 3.50 ERA in four innings pitched.
- St. Joseph's is 2-1 all-time against Gallaudet and picked up their first loss in the series last year in the second half of a doubleheader, 11-6 (Mar. 2).
Virginia Beach Blast
SUNY Potsdam (Mar. 9 at noon), Hunter (Mar. 9 at 2 p.m.), Keuka (Mar. 10 at noon), Allegheny (Mar. 10 at 2 p.m.)
- Potsdam opens 2018 against SJC and will seek to bounce back from a down 2017 season that saw them finish with a 9-24 record and suffer a stretch of 12-straight SUNYAC losses. Junior Brooke Falsion is their top returning hitter, as she led the Bears in batting (.367) and stolen bases (14) while ranking second in hits (33), extra-base hits (eight), slugging (.489), and OBP (.412). Their top pitcher, sophomore Megan Fish, returns for 2018; she tallied a 3.49 ERA, 4-7, and 35 strikeouts as a rookie. St. Joseph's lost their only previous meeting with Potsdam back in 2012, 3-2 (Mar. 15).
- Hunter enjoyed a successful 2017 finishing at 15-16 but 10-2 within the CUNYAC. The Hawks open the new season at the Beach Blast taking on SJC in their second game. Last season they were runners-up in the CUNYAC Tournament, falling to Staten Island in the championship game. This year they return four regular players that hit at least .300 in 2017: sophomore Jamie Durso (.339), senior Stefanie Abolt (.337), sophomore Caroline Bibula (.315), and sophomore Brittany Salvador (.311). Bibula was also their top pitcher as a rookie, going 6-5 with a 4.88 ERA.
- The Wolves had immense success a year ago compiling a 27-11 overall record and a whopping 23-1 mark within the NEAC. Despite the eye-popping record, Keuka fell in the conference championship to Penn State-Berks. Sophomore standout Jessie Hammers had an outstanding rookie season in which she led the team in batting (.556), hits (52), triples (five), stolen bases (32), OBP (.579), and slugging (.680). Senior Katelyn Warren returns as well (.380/33 RBI in 2017) making the Wolves' lineup a nightmare for opposing pitchers. Pitching-wise sophomore Colleen Mooney will look to follow up a freshman campaign that saw her post a 1.77 ERA, 17-4 record, and 99 strikeouts.
- Allegheny concluded 2017 with a 10-24 record including a stretch of nine-straight losses, while they finished at 5-11 within the NCAC. The Gators return two .300 hitters of their own in senior Jessica Zavolta (.322) and junior Jessica Valerina (.321). The pair combined for 55 hits, 18 RBI, and nine doubles last season and will be relied upon to keep the lineup afloat. In the circle, junior Kayla Mahen projects to be the ace as she put up a 3.18 ERA and a 6-9 record a year ago.