Looking ahead to
The Delaware State University Hornets will open the season on Saturday against two talented teams, both of whom enjoyed winning seasons last year and show up this year with stand-out returning players.
The Hornets, of course, are picked to win their second straight Mid-Eastern Athletic Conference (MEAC) Northern Division championship with many newcomers listed among their outstanding balance of East Coast players and a growing contingent of West Coast players.
Saturday's, February 23, game times are...
9 a.m. Delaware State Hornets vs. Monmouth University Hawks
1 p.m. Delaware State Hornets vs. Fairleigh Dickinson University Knights
Venue: NSU Spartan Clash Tournament on the Norfolk State University softball field on the south side of the campus (700 Park Avenue, Norfolk, VA).
A Sunday (2/24) doubleheader amongst these same teams also will conclude the tournament.
Here's a brief look at who the Hornets will meet on the field...
The Monmouth Hawks are projected to finished fourth in the Northeast Conference coaches poll.
The Hawks are regrouping from a 24-20 season. Last year, Monmouth boasted league-leading statistics with a .440 slugging percentage and 37 home runs.
The Hawks return reigning NEC Player of the Year junior Kaitie Schumacher. who accumulated a .391 batting average (.421 BA in conference), tallied nine home runs (five in NEC play), and 34 RBIs (16 in conference play).
Returning senior Christine Scherr led the team with 10 home runs, 52 hits, and 32 runs. Sophomore Vanessa Cardoza racked up 23 RBIs, 37 hits and 74 assists returns for Monmouth at third base.
Seniors Lauren Sulick and Jordan Barnett return to the mound for Monmouth. Sulick posted a 2.76 ERA in 119.1 innings pitched over 27 appearances, compiling a 13-8 record. Barnett pitched 75.1 innings in 22 appearances
Fairleigh Dickinson Knights
The Fairleigh Dickinson Knights are projected to finish 11th n the 2013 Northeast Conference Preseason Coaches' Poll.
The Knights ended the 2012 campaign with an overall record of 30-20. The Knights ranked high on the NEC leaderboard in several categories, including first in batting average, hits, RBI and doubles, while being one of five NEC teams to finish above .500 overall. The Knights recorded the fourth-highest number of overall wins in the conference.
Sophomore pitcher Megan Reiner set five program records as a freshman last season, including wins (18), strikeouts (170) and batting average against (.171). She led FDU in all major pitching categories, ranked fourth in the NEC with a 2.00 ERA and pitched eight complete conference games with one shutout.
Reiner's pitching success will complement the strong senior leadership of Mikayla Fernandez, Maire Shaughnessy and Liz Woidt and sophomore Cindy Zamudio, who maintained the highest batting average of returning players and struck out just four times in 164 at bats last season.