2013 #CAAChamps Softball Preview
The 2013 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 Friday, May 10.
The double-elimination tournament gets underway as top-seeded Hofstra (40-11, 18-2 CAA) faces fourth-seeded Towson (29-26-1, 11-10 CAA) at 2 p.m., followed by second-seeded James Madison (39-13, 18-3 CAA) meeting third-seeded Delaware (35-20, 12-9 CAA) at 5 p.m. The opening-round winners will meet at Noon on Thursday 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 if necessary.
Hofstra has won nine of the 11 previous CAA softball titles and will be looking capture number 10 as the host and top seed of this year's tournament. The Pride bring an impressive 20-2 home record to the tournament. Hofstra is led by senior pitcher Olivia Galati, who is 34-10 with a nation’s best 352 strikeouts and 29 walks. Along with strikeouts, Galati also leads the nation in shutouts with 18 this season and is second with 34 victories on the year, falling just one behind Hawaii’s Kaia Parnaby (35). She enters the tournament with a league-second-best ERA of 1.46 in 287 innings of work, and tossed all 20 complete games for the Pride in conference play to earn an 18-2 record in the circle. At the plate, Hofstra is led by freshman first baseman Caryn Bailey’s .386 batting average and 59 hits. Senior catcher Erin Trippi leads the team with 44 RBI and senior outfielder Tessa Ziemba is the team’s biggest power threat with 12 home runs.
James Madison makes its second straight appearance at the tournament as the second-seed and its first appearance under the direction of new head coach Mickey Dean. The Dukes earned the CAA title in 2009 and look to add a second title to their resume. JMU is led by sophomore Sarah Mooney, who leads the league at the plate batting .414 to go along with a conference best 63 RBI and a team best 65 hits, 15 homers and a .758 slugging percentage. The Dukes also rely on freshman Jailyn Ford as she has split time in the circle and at first base. The rookie posted a 21-4 record as a pitcher for the Dukes in 157 innings of work and struck out 189 batters. At the plate, Ford is second on the team with a .392 batting average, 43 RBI and 13 home runs. Jasmine Butler (.358), Caitlin Sandy (.347), Erica Field (.339) and Morgan Heath (.308) are also strong contributors for the Dukes at the plate this season.
Delaware is making its third straight appearance at the CAA Championship. The Blue Hens are led by sophomore rightfielder Jessica Grisler, who is batting .374 this season with team highs of 68 hits and 39 runs scored. Junior Michelle McKinnon, who returned to the lineup just this past weekend following a foot injury, is hitting .325 on the year, while freshman shortstop Lisa Stacevicz and senior third baseman Lara Andrews are tied for the team lead with 28 RBI. Senior righthander Chenxi Jiao paces the Delaware pitching staff with a 13-7 record and a 2.21 ERA after 136.0 innings of work.
Towson returns to the tournament field after missing the cut in 2012. The Tigers are making their ninth appearance in the CAA Championship under the direction of Lisa Costello. Towson is led offensively by junior third baseman Delanie Dunham as she enters the postseason with a team-best .327 batting average. The junior also leads the team with 41 RBI, 55 hits, 34 runs scored, and ties the team high with six home runs on the year. Dunham is third in the league stealing 19 of 20 bases for the Tigers this spring. The Tigers held a 12-game win streak before seeing it snapped by top-seeded Hofstra to close out the regular season. The Tigers are led by Katie Lingmai in the circle as she recorded a 17-14 overall record in 201.2 innings pitched. The senior tallied a 2.95 ERA, while fanning 192 batters during the regular season.
All games throughout the championship will be video-streamed live on CAA.TV for FREE. The streams will also be simulcast on a combination of CSNWashington.com, CSNBaltimore.com and CSNPhilly.com. Live stats will also be available on CAASports.com on CAA Softball Championship Central.