Softball Gears Up For America East Tournament
Softball Gears Up For America East Tournament
ALBANY, N.Y. – The University at Albany softball team earned the second seed in the America East Tournament, traversing a trying regular season with a 29-10 overall record, and a 14-3 record in-conference. Like many teams in the northeast, UAlbany had to withstand an unusually high number of games postponed or outright cancelled due to inclement weather. Of the 50 games originally on UAlbany’s schedule, the Danes only played 39.
“We’ve lost so many games this year,” said head coach Chris Cannata. “I think we’ve actually played 10 or 12 fewer than we usually do. But it can be a benefit, in that we may be a little fresher entering the tournament.
Stony Brook is the top overall seed in the tournament, and as such has been awarded hosting duties for the weekend. Stony Brook accumulated a regular season record of 32-16 and a conference record of 15-2. UAlbany opened regular season play at Stony Brook in late March, winning one of three games.
Binghamton is the three-seed, with a conference record of 10-7, and an overall record of 21-23. UAlbany was originally slated to open its home schedule against Binghamton, before inclement weather pushed the series back a few days and eliminated one game in the three game set. UAlbany won both games against Binghamton.
UMBC is the fourth and final seed in the tournament, amassing a 31-20 overall record and an 8-9 conference record. UAlbany has played the Retrievers most recently, traveling to Baltimore for the final three games of the regular season. UAlbany swept UMBC in the three-game series.
“At this point in the season, all the teams we will see are good, and really anyone can win,” said Cannata. “Everyone is different than when we played them before, and hopefully we’re a little different too.”
UAlbany is slated to open the tournament against Binghamton on Thursday at 3:30 p.m., immediately after Stony Brook plays UMBC in the tournament’s first game.
“Binghamton is aggressive on the base paths, and puts a lot of pressure on opposing defenses to play sharply,” said Cannata. “But we’re playing better defensively than we were earlier in the season. We still need to communicate a little better on the field, but we have improved.”
“Ultimately, we need to keep doing what we’ve been doing,” Cannata continued. “We want to keep our hitters in rhythm, and keep everyone sharp. We want to keep our composure, and focus on us, not the other teams.”
Offensively, the Danes have started hitting with more consistency and with more power. Shortstop Maggie Cocks led the conference in the regular season with a .415 batting average, and catcher Elizabeth Snow led league lead with 14 doubles. The bottom of the UAlbany order has started contributing in a big way as well, getting timely hits and scoring some runs.
“Offensively I think we’re in a good place throughout the lineup,” said Cannata. “When the hitters at the bottom of the order can get on base like they have been so our big hitters at the top and in the middle can have the opportunity to drive them in, that’s a big help.”
UAlbany has scored early in many of its games this season, a trend Coach Cannata hopes continues through tournament play.
“Hopefully we can continue to score early. I think we play better when we have a lead, and getting runs on the board gets everyone comfortable.”
The Danes will look, in part, to senior pitcher Brittany MacFawn, during the tournament for veteran leadership. But MacFawn isn’t the only one on the roster who has postseason experience. The senior class has made the tournament each year they have played, so there are a lot of athletes on the roster who have been in this spot before, and who know what it takes to succeed at this level.
“Brittany leads by example more than she does vocally,” said Cannata. “She’s a game pitcher, pitching well in big games and in big spots. And that’s not just this year, she’s been doing it since she was a freshman. She gets us out of jams when we need her to. But a lot of the players have been here before, so hopefully that means nothing is new for them at this point. And hopefully they can show the new players what it takes to play successfully come tournament time.”
UAlbany led all America East teams in batting average, at .294, and ERA, at 2.51. Additionally, UAlbany leads the conference in on base percentage (.375), doubles (67), batters struck out (234), hits allowed (236), and runs allowed (114). UAlbany is second in the conference in slugging percentage (.447), runs scored (219), and stolen bases.
The America East Tournament is played with double-elimination rules. The results of tomorrow’s games will determine the schedule for Friday’s games.