Softball Looks to Clinch Playoff Bid with Three-Game Set at Hartford
ORONO, Maine -- The University of Maine softball team (15-27-1, 6-8-1 America East) will look to lock up a spot in the 2012 America East Tournament as they travel to battle Hartford (9-39, 3-12 AE) in a three-game set beginning with a doubleheader at noon on Saturday. The two teams will close out the regular season with a single game on Sunday, also beginning at noon. Maine needs just one win this weekend to clinch the fourth seed in the 2012 conference playoffs.
Maine is 4-1 in its last five contests and recently had a four game winning streak snapped when it dropped a 5-3 decision to Boston University in a midweek makeup game played on Tuesday. Prior to the loss, the Maine pitching staff had not allowed more than one run in six-straight games dating back to a 3-0 loss at Stony Brook on April 21.
Maine enters the weekend 6-4 in its last 10 meetings with Hartford but have dropped the last two games to the Hawks. Maine is 4-2 in its last six contests at Hartford including winning the last two meetings on the road.
EmJ Fogel (Vienna, Va.), the current America East Rookie of the Week, continues to pace the Maine offense as she leads the squad with a .328 mark. Fogel leads the team in hits (42), runs scored (18), doubles (7) and tied for second on the team with 13 RBI. Fogel is currently riding a six-game hit streak. Sophomore leftfielder Dagmar Ralphs (O'Fallon, Ill.) is chipping in a .297 average with 38 hits and 13 runs scored. Ralphs has driven in 13 runs and has six doubles on the season. Senior Jennifer Eberhardt (Glendale, Ariz.) is batting .270 overall with 10 runs scored and also has 13 RBI to go along with a pair of home runs. The senior shortstop's .364 average in conference play leads all Black Bears in league action. Junior Hilary Kane (Concord, N.H.) is hitting at .218 with 12 runs scored and leads the team with 15 RBI. Her three home runs are tied for the team-lead with sophomore Jean Stevens (Albany, Ore.). Freshman Jessica Burk (Warrenton, Va.) is chipping in a .261 average with 10 runs scored and nine RBI. Burk has hit safely in four-straight games and currently has a 10 game hitting streak going in conference only games.
Senior Ashley Kelley (Hermon, Maine) leads the Black Bear pitching staff with a 7-11 record to go along with a 2.85 ERA. Kelley has fanned 71 opposing hitters in 144.2 innings. Kelley is undefeated in her last four starts. Junior Beth Spoehr (Appleton, Wis.) is 5-8 on the year with a 4.46 ERA. Spoehr has three shutout victories on the year to go along with 40 strikeouts in 69.0 innings pitched. Sophomore Kylie Sparks (Kirkland, Wash.) picked up her third win of the season last Sunday. Sparks' ERA currently rests at 6.00 as she has fanned 29 hitters in 60.2 innings pitched to go along with one save.
The Hawks enter the weekend on a five game losing streak as they were swept in a doubleheader by Sacred Heart after dropping three-straight at Boston University. Freshman catcher Peyton Fisher leads the Hartford offense as she is hitting .276 with 14 runs scored and 12 RBI. Shannon Simpkins is batting .250 with 10 runs scored and four RBI while sophomore Amber Andrews is chipping in with a .248 average to go along with team highs in runs scored (26) and hits (36). The Hawks' power comes from Kate Wacyk who is hitting .193 and leads the team in home runs (3) and RBI (24).
Senior hurler Siera Sheehan leads the Hawks in the circle as she is 8-13 with a 4.14 ERA to go along with 70 strikeouts in 157.1 innings pitched. Ana Alberti is 1-7 on the year with a 7.11 ERA. Alberti has struck out 17 in 41.1 innings while Kaitlyn Meade is 0-12 with a 7.24 ERA to go along with 22 strikeouts in 78.1 innings pitched.