Monday, March 30, 2015

Weekend Roundup

  • The NPF announced an agreement with CBSSports to televise sixteen regular season games, as well as the draft this week and the entire postseason series.
  • Chicago Bandits pitcher Sara Moulton will pitch in the Netherlands for the next two months, until the start of the NPF season.
  • LSU legend & current South Alabama assistant coach Rachele Fico was honored during the Jaguars’ visit to Tiger Park with a banner in her honor.
  • Michigan head coach Carol Hutchins earned her 1,400th career win.
  • Kansas head coach Megan Smith earned her 300th career win.
  • Maddie Stein of Kansas set the program’s all-time RBI record with her 141st career run driven home.
  • Former Nebraska player & current assistant coach Lori Sippel will be inducted into the school’s Athletics Hall of Fame as part of the inaugural class.
  • Lindsay Crowdus of Memphis set the program’s all-time triples record with the 10th of her career.
  • Georgia State’s Callie Alford set the school’s career home run record with the 34th of her career.
  • North Carolina State’s Emily Weiman set the Wolfpack’s career wins record with her 91st.
  • Marshall head coach Shonda Stanton earned her 500th career win.
  • In news from Division 2, Augustana head coach Gretta Melsted earned her 400th career victory.
  • Congratulations to this week's members of the No-No Express- 
    • Kelly Heinz, Virginia Tech (5.0 IP, 6 SO, vs. Longwood)
    • Erin Gabriel, Tennessee (5.0 IP, 5 SO, vs. ETSU, PERFECT GAME)
    • Alexis Silkwood, Mississippi State (6.0 IP, 8 SO, vs. Southern Miss)
    • Randi Rupp, Texas State (7.0 IP, 11 SO, vs. ULM)
    • Chelsea Ponce, UC-Riverside (7.0 IP, 5 SO, vs. Bethune-Cookman)
    • Shelby Turnier, UCF [2] (7.0 IP, 14 SO, vs. East Carolina) (7.0 IP, 12 SO, vs. UConn)
    • Chelsea Ross, Northern Iowa (6.0 IP, 8 SO, vs. Southern Illinois)
    • Kristen Rumley, Dartmouth (6.0 IP, 9 SO, vs. Columbia)
    • Micaela Bouvier, Northwestern State (7.0 IP, 2 SO, vs. Lamar)
    • Kayla English, Dayton (5.0 IP, 4 SO, vs. Rhode Island, PERFECT GAME)


VIDEO OF THE WEEK: In conjunction with her jersey retirement ceremony, Baylor Bears legend Whitney Canion Reichenstein threw out the ceremonial first pitch to former teammate (and current BU assistant coach) Clare Hosack. And, like the man says in the video, "she's still got it".

Jersey retired ✔️Big 12 Sportsman of the Year ring presentation ✔️Ceremonial 1st Pitch ⛽️✔️#SicEm Whitney Canion
Posted by Baylor Softball on Saturday, March 28, 2015

  • Lindsey Greeson, USC-Upstate - The seldom-used senior utility player showed out in a big way; seeing time at two of the three outfield positions and pinch-hitting, Greeson got just three hits, but all three ended up over the outfield fence. With her first three career roundtrippers under her belt now, Greeson is going to make it tough for Chris  Hawkins to keep her out of the lineup and not ride that hot hand in it's final season.
  • Lexie Elkins, UL-Lafayette - The junior Cajun catcher seems to get better and better as time goes on, if that's possible. The backstop continued her incredible season with five home runs over the weekend, including multi-home-run efforts in both games of a doubleheader on Saturday. She drove in eight runs to match.
  • Geri Ann Glasco, Oregon - The UGA transfer has both hit and pitched since she got to Eugene this season, but this weekend may have been her finest yet on the offensive side of the ball. She's hitting .382 on the year with six home runs, three of which came on Sunday against fellow-ranked Pac 12 foe Washington. Though she earned her first loss of the season to the  Huskies, the ex-Bulldog did pick up win #6 in a 2-hit, 10-strikeout performance in a midweek series against Utah Valley.
  • Karla Claudio, South Florida - Claudio put together a particularly incredible Saturday on the offensive side of the ball, parking three home runs over the fence and registering nine RBI on the day. She went 0-2 in a loss on Sunday, but after all is said, done, and counted, a .333 batting average and that trio of roundtrippers add up pretty nicely.
  • Erin Burner, St. John's - Burner was already one of my sleeper picks for the NPF, and she's only improved her draft stock with her performance over the weekend. The senior backstop knocked a home run over the fence in three straight games, stretching from a midweek tilt against LIU-Brooklyn on Wednesday to the streak's end in game three of the weekend series against Butler. With the trio of roundtrippers, Burner also doubled her season's home run total; she now has six on the year. She hit .667 in this week's games, and should garner serious consideration for a Player of the Week nod, an honor that couldn't come at a better time for an NPF "bubble" player.
  • Shelby Turnier, UCF - The only hurler to make this week's list, the two no-hitters listed above speak for themselves all on their own. It's well-documented how high I am on the Knights this year, and Turnier is a big part of that. She continued her dominant year by posting a 2-0 record over the weekend with two saves and a 0.00 ERA, giving up only one unearned run in nineteen innings of work.
PLAYERS OF THE WEEK: Lexie Elkins, Louisiana-Lafayette; Erin Burner, St. John's; Shelby Turnier, UCF

A few weeks back, I had the opportunity to talk to North Dakota State co-head coach Darren Mueller. Among the many subjects we discussed were his team's seemingly-automatic annual postseason appearances and the 2015 squad's chances of making it to the big dance.

One comment that coach Mueller made particularly stuck out to me. "Right now, we're not playing the best softball we are capable of," he said. If that's still the case for the 25-6 Bison, even Power 5 teams better watch out for Mueller's squad. A run-rule victory over Iowa in the season-opening tournament and an upset win over then-#17 Washington at the end of February go down as the squad's most impressive victories thus-far, though that list could also include wins over B1G teams Purdue, Indiana, and Illinois and an extra-innings victory over DePaul.

Krista Menke is the team's bonafide superstar, leading the way from the circle, and she has a good chance of playing ball past college.

Mueller believes in testing his team, with series' against Nebraska, Minnesota, and a three-game set against South Alabama in Mobile still to come. The postseason promises to be fun, in addition - in 2014, the Bison easily took home the Summit League crown despite a tournament-opening loss and in the Regional round, they recorded an upset of Auburn before taking a ten-inning loss to Minnesota and a tough-luck 1-0 defeat at the revenge-hungry hands of the Tigers of Auburn to send them back to Fargo.

The Bison are practically mainstays on the national postseason scene, and last year's  tough-luck elimination and a Super regionals appearance in 2009 illustrate that that's not going to change any time soon.

If you're into the softball version of Bracketology, don't overlook NDSU when picking your winners. They're a force to be reckoned with on a national stage.

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