2012 Softball Championship Preview
The 2012 CAA Softball Championship will begin Wednesday at Hofstra
University in Hempstead, N.Y., with four teams battling for the
conference title and an automatic berth to the NCAA Tournament. The championship will run through May 11.
The double-elimination tournament gets underway as top-seeded Hofstra (25-13, 19-0 CAA) faces fourth-seeded Delaware (15-39-1, 8-12 CAA) at 2 p.m., followed by second-seeded James Madison (29-24, 15-5 CAA) meeting third-seeded Georgia State (36-16, 13-7 CAA) at 5 p.m. The opening-round winners will meet at Noon on Thrusday for a spot in the championship game, followed by an elimination game between the two first-round losers at 2:30 p.m. At 5 p.m. on Thursday, the winner of the elimination game will face the loser from the winner's bracket contest. The conference championship is set for Noon on Friday, with a second game to follow at 2 p.m. if necessary.
Hofstra has won eight of the 10 previous CAA softball titles and will be looking capture number nine as the host and top seed of this year's tournament. The Pride brings an impressive 19-2 record at home to the tournament. Hofstra is led by junior pitcher Olivia Galati, who is 27-5 with 296 strikeouts and 20 walks. Galati enters the tournament leading the nation in ERA (0.95) and shutouts (15). She finished the regular season with a perfect 16-0 record in CAA play. The junior hurler also excels at the plate batting .370, which is tied for the league-high. Also at the plate, junior outfielder Rachael Senatore is batting .367 and teammate Tessa Ziemba brings a .354 hitting average to the tourament to go along with team highs of 11 home runs and 43 RBI.
James Madison returns to the championship field after missing the cut in 2011. The Dukes earned the CAA title in 2009 and look to add a second title to their resume. The Dukes are led by senior shortstop Ashley Burnham, who is hitting .342 to go along with team highs of 40 RBI, 11 home runs, 14 doubles and 37 runs scored. Freshman outfielder Morgan Heath leads the team at the plate with a .370 batting average and in hits (64) while starting in all 53 outings this season for JMU. In the circle, JMU is led by Heather Kiefer, who has tabbed a 1.71 ERA in 131.1 innings of work. She enters the tournament with a 13-5 record, including five shutouts.
Georgia State has not missed a CAA Softball Championship since joining in 2006 and looks to defend its title. This year will be only the second in those seven appearances that GSU will enter as the third seed, the last time coming back in 2007. Last season, the Panthers started as the two seedand recorded their first CAA championship and only the second NCAA tournament selection in program history. The Panthers are led offensively by rookies Lauren Coleman (.313), Ashley Christy (.313), Callie Alford (.289) and junior Whitney Philips (.289). Alford leads the team in hits (43), RBI (41), doubles (11) and home runs (7). In the circle, the Panthers own a 2.13 combined ERA, led by Kaitlyn Medlam's 14-4 record. Medlam has produced a 2.01 ERA, given up just 73 hits and leads the team fanning 98 batters in 104.1 innings of work. McCall Langford (10-5, 1.85 ERA) and Alana Thomas (11-6, 2.29 ERA) have also helped the Panthers in the circle.
Delaware is making its second straight appearance at the CAA Championship. The Blue Hens are led offensively by freshman third baseman Jessica Grisler, who is batting .299 on the season with 50 hits, 23 runs scored and nine doubles. Sophomore second baseman Michelle McKinnon is hitting .292 with 49 hits and 20 runs scored. Junior righthander Chenxi Jiao has won eight games while compiling a 3.31 earned run average in the circle for the Blue Hens.Log on to CAASports.com throughout the tournament for live stats and game recaps.
All games throughout the championship can be heard live on the internet on WRHU (FREE, but requires log-in) .