ORONO, Maine -- The University of Maine softball team (8-8) opens America East league play when it travels to take on Hartford (4-11) beginning with doubleheader action at 1 PM on Saturday, March 22 and concluding with a single game on Sunday, March 23 at noon.
Maine enters the series after closing off its two-week Florida trip winning two of its last three. The Black Bears are 2-3 in their last five conference openers with their last league opening victory coming in 2001, a 4-1 victory over UMBC. Maine and Hartford have played close over the past four years as the series is tied 5-5 in the last 10 meetings. Maine went 1-2 against the Hawks last season, picking up the middle game of a three game set by a score of 4-0. Hannah Hill (Fryeburg, Maine) tossed the complete game shutout while EmJ Fogel (Vienna, Va.) added three hits.
Maine's offense is led by freshman Shelby Obert (Skowhegan, Maine) who is hitting .393 with 11 hits, six runs scored, five RBI and a pair of doubles. Junior right fielder Jessica Burk (Warrenton, Va.) is batting .349 with 15 hits and a team-high seven runs scored. Burk has driven in four runs and has one home run. EmJ Fogel (Vienna, Va.) is chipping in a .333 averaged and is matched for the team-lead in hits at 15 with Burk. Fogel has scored five runs with five RBI and three doubles. Freshman Samantha Ralphs (Lebanon, Ill.) is batting .300 with 12 hits and three stolen bases.
Hannah Hill leads Maine in the circle with a 3-1 mark. Hill has a 2.66 ERA and leads the team with 22 strikeouts, averaging 5.31 strikeouts per game. Fellow senior Kylie Sparks (Kirkland, Wash.) enters the weekend at 3-2 with a 2.91 ERA and 18 strikeouts. Sparks, who has tossed 33.2 innings, is averaging 3.74 strikeouts per game.
The Hawks enter the weekend 4-11 overall after picking up a doubleheader sweep over Rhode Island on Thursday, snapping a seven game losing skid. Genevieve Morneau-va is hitting .444 to lead the Hawks but has only appeared in seven games. Morneau-va is 8-for-18 on the year with a pair of runs. Sawyer Fried is hitting .342 in 15 games with a team-high 11 runs scored. Fried, who leads the team with a pair of home runs, is tied with four others for the team-lead in hits (13). Chelsey Mooney leads the team with nine RBI while hitting .325 with 13 hits, three runs scored and a team-high six doubles.
Zuzana Kudernatschova is 1-4 in the circle with a team-low 4.06 ERA. Kudernatschova has 23 strikeouts in 31.0 innings while giving up 39 hits and 28 runs, 18 earned. Lexi Wilkerson is 2-3 on the year with a 5.19 ERA. Wilkerson, who has fanned seven in 27.0 innings, has given up 41 hits and 21 runs.