Sunday, January 31, 2010

History Of The Diamond Girls

I found this old (1997) website that presents the history of the storied Diamond Girls softball organization. If you look in the players section, you'll find some who went on to play, and play well, with the Griffs.

The Diamond Girls Softball team was started in 1990 as a group of 12 year olds from the West Seneca Girls Softball League and were named the Raiders the first year after their 18 year old team, who Bob Rosenhahn and Tim Poynton had coached for a number of years. The Raiders finished in 3rd place in the Niagara Frontier Girls Fastpitch 14-u travel league that year. Being the first local youth team to switch to shorts as their uniform in the WNY area, the girls were hesitant to slide in them. In the first half of the year, they would put sweat pants on when they went to bat, by the middle of the season they abandoned the sweats and got used to playing and sliding in shorts. The team finished with a 15-10 record...
Former Players
2010 Diamond Girls Site

It's 2 Degrees!!

But Softball season starts in a few days! Just remember this night when you think it's cold at the Demske in April!

Here I was (below) sitting all by myself thinking it was cold last year at the home opener against Youngstown State. I was waiting for the rain to stop and everybody else left. I went home, and missed Mallory Aldred's no-hitter!! I'll remember this night next time.

Friday, January 29, 2010

Angela Tincher Joins Syracuse As Pitching Coach

Former NCAA Player Of The Year Angela Tincher was recently hired by Syracuse as a pitching coach. Angela had a storied collegiate career pitching 14 no hitters (one against the Griffs in an NCAA Tournament game), 2 perfect games and is the third most prolific strikeout pitcher in NCAA history. Perhaps she is best known for no hitting the 2008 USA Olympic team which had rejected her. This past year she played for Leo Palace in the Japan League and the Akron Racers of the NPF.

Angela and the Orange will be at the Demske Sports Complex for a doubleheader on May4.

Wednesday, January 27, 2010

Canisius vs. Florida Will Be Broadcast Live On Radio

The Griffs' game against nationally ranked Florida on February 14 will be broadcast live out of Gainesville, FL, and will be streamed here:

I'll post the link again before game time.

Monday, January 25, 2010

Canisius vs. South Florida Will Be Streamed Live

The Griffs' second game of the season vs. South Florida on February 12 will be available as a live stream off the South Florida website. I'll post the link before game day; there is a fee as well.

Here is the USF Series website with information on all the games.

Sunday, January 24, 2010

Will Amanda Cannizzo Pitch This Season?

With the Golden Griffins down to 2 pitchers for 2010 (Brittany Wood will not play this season) is Coach Rappl planning on using sophomore outfielder Amanda Cannizzo as a third pitcher? Amanda did pitch, and pitched well, with Sweet Home High and the Amherst Lightning Gold. An outstanding all around athlete, she does have the ability.

From 2006:
Sweet Home 4, West Seneca West 2

Sophomore Amanda Cannizzo pitched seven innings, giving up five hits and striking out seven to lead host Sweet Home past West Seneca West in ECIC Division I softball action.

Saturday, January 23, 2010

Coach Rappl To Be Inducted Into Canisius Hall Of Fame Sunday

Head Coach Mike Rappl will be inducted into the Canisius Sports Hall Of Fame January 24 during the Men's Basketball game at the Koessler Center.

Coach Rappl will be the first active Canisius coach ever to be enshrined. In this fan's opinion, he has the most successful college sports program in Western New York Division 1 history. His accomplishments include: 12 MAAC Championships; 11 NCAA National Tournament appearances; 5 NCAA National Tournament victories; a career record of 717-401 (281-85 in the MAAC); in 20 years his team has reached the MAAC Championship game 16 times and has been the only MAAC team to win the Championship coming out of the loser's bracket (3 times).

Congratulations Coach on an honor well deserved!

Thursday, January 21, 2010

2010 Golden Griffins In The MAAC

A fan's perspective on how the 2010 Canisius Softball team measures up concludes with a look at the Griffs' chances in the Metro Atlantic Athletic Conference.

On May 13-15, Canisius College will host the MAAC Championship at the Demske Sports Complex. Will the Golden Griffins be one of the participating teams?

The 2009 Griffs won the MAAC Championship, but they nearly missed qualifying for the tournament (the top 4 teams qualify). As it turned out, their regular season MAAC schedule was more challenging for them than the tournament. There's no question that the Griffs would enjoy a tremendous advantage playing the tournament on their home field, where they have dominated MAAC opponents, but they must get there first.

One advantage Canisius has over their rivals every year is 30 year Head Coach Mike Rappl. Unquestionably the best coach in MAAC Softball history, in all his years his teams have missed qualifying for the tournament only once. This year he has a young pitching staff (sophomore Caroline Main and freshman Amanda Baun), and only one senior (Michelle Fridey). Coach will be challenged this year, but history has shown that he knows how to get his team prepared for conference play. He also knows how to exploit his team's strengths. It's interesting to note that for 2010 he has scheduled what may be the Griffs' most difficult season of games. On the first weekend of play, the Griffs will meet the number 2 team in the nation in 2009 (Florida), a national top 20 team (Georgia Tech), a Florida Gulf Coast team that won 47 games last year, and 3 very good mid major teams. And that's just the first weekend! A couple games with nationally prominent DePaul come later in February. Having a look at the schedules of the other MAAC schools, I could not find similar challenges. Coach Rappl stated last year that the 2009 schedule was the toughest ever, and the result? The Griffs breezed through the MAAC Championship. He just needs to get the team in and they will be difficult to beat.

However, there will be some serious competition for those 4 qualifying spots. Fairfield pitching star Sarah Minice is in her junior year, and is going to be difficult to beat. The Stags may not have much offense, but they may only need a run or 2.

Niagara lost Felicia Coffey to graduation, but retain their power and have added WNY Player Of The Year Alexis Wayne to the lineup. Teresa Healy will be dangerous entering her junior year. Sophomore Julie DiMatteo leads the pitching staff, after her there is very little experience.

Manhattan has a host of good young players, including the great hitter Kristina Walraven, but they lost their Coach last summer. Meaghan Asselta was named 2009 MAAC Coach Of The Year, and then departed. It remains to be seen what effect this will have on the players she left behind.

Marist lost out on the tiebreakers in 2009 and did not qualify for the tournament. Interim Coach Joe Ausanio was given the job full time, and he's a good one. One thing I noticed about him is he sure likes to get under umpires skins, but he also motivates his players well. If the Red Foxes improve in the circle, they will be dangerous.

Rider was in the race until their last doubleheader (vs. Niagara). They will have an experienced team this season, with 4 seniors and 4 juniors. The Broncs beat the Griffs once last season and did so with power. Their taste of success may serve to motivate them in 2010.

Siena, Iona (who replaced 6 freshmen), and St. Peter's don't seem to me to be much of a threat to qualify this year, but one never knows. No one expected Manhattan to finish first in the MAAC (regular season) last year.

The Griffs' inexperience in the circle (49 innings of collegiate experience) is a big question mark. Mary Ann Hopkins has been brought on as a pitching coach to help out. If they can perform as best as could be expected, Coach Rappl's experience will carry the day and give the Griffs a spot May 13 on the comfort of their own field.

The season begins in 3 weeks!

Tuesday, January 19, 2010

Griffs Begin Practicing Today

The 2010 spring softball season begins in earnest today!
The Griffs open defense of their MAAC title on February 12 in Clearwater, Florida.

Sunday, January 17, 2010

2010 Golden Griffins In The Circle

A fan's perspective on how the 2010 Canisius Softball team measures up continues with a look at the Griffs' pitching.

The Golden Griffins, as of this writing, will play the 2010 season with 2 pitchers. Freshman Brittany Wood will not play this season due to personal reasons. The Griffs lost 2 stalwarts to graduation (Mallory Aldred and Juliette Bowers) and begin anew this season, so forget about last year's statistics.

Sophomore Caroline Main pitched 49 innings in 2009, making 6 starts. She had her struggles, but also showed promise as in her 11 inning win at St. Mary's. She did not see much action once the Griffs entered MAAC play, but she did have a nice close out inning vs. Marist in a very important game, retiring all 3 batters she faced in securing a victory. Caroline mostly pitched very well in fall ball, throwing a couple shutouts and showing very good control. She was a dominant pitcher at Stevenson High in Seaside,CA, pitching 20 shutouts, 7 no hitters, and 2 perfect games. She once went 48 consecutive innings without allowing a run. So you see the potential Caroline has to become dominant in the MAAC. The Griffs will need her to complete her collegiate adjustment quickly to remain competitive. the ball is in her hand for as long as she wants it.

Freshman Amanda Baun is going to see a lot of time in the circle her debut year. She too was an outstanding high school player for King High in Riverside, CA. She was a 3 time all-league player. Her last 3 seasons saw her produce ERAs of 0.86, 1.22, and 0.84. She played travel ball for a very good team, the So Cal Crunch. Amanda was very impressive in fall ball, including a 1 hit shutout against Niagara. She was very poised, and as strong in the seventh inning as in the first. Twice she came out of the gate by striking out the side. She will be facing some very good opponents early on this season, but the experience with all the innings she'll pitch will prove valuable to her growth.

A lot depends this season on how the Griffs' pitchers perform, but more on how much support they get behind them.
Next: The 2010 Golden Griffins In The MAAC.

Friday, January 15, 2010

2010 Golden Griffins On The Diamond

A fan's perspective on how the 2010 Canisius Softball team measures up continues with a look at the Griffs on defense.

The 2009 team was very good defensively, finishing 2nd in the MAAC in fielding percentage and fewest errors per game. I believe the 2010 team will be as strong, if not stronger.

Junior First baseman Emily Helbig committed no errors last season, and may be the best defensive player in the MAAC. She gets to the difficult throws, has a long stretch, and is very aware on the field. Backup first baseman Kerry Ulmer also had 0 errors in 2009, and is very good at the position.

Lauryn Chris will be the starter this season at second base. She got 19 starts her freshman season and had 16 assists. She did commit 4 errors, but 2 of them came in 1 inning against Syracuse. She has great speed and a good arm.

Sophomore Katie Lancellotti returns at shortstop, where she was second on the team in assists (66). She did commit 10 errors on 159 chances, but Katie has great range and gets to balls that others can not.

Sophomore Paige Freiberger moved over to third base from second after the graduation of 4 year starter Cameron Norton. I chronicled her adjustment during the fall season---she was great. She made a lot of difficult plays, showed a strong arm, and seems to be having no problem making the switch.

Red Shirt freshman Katie Medina will probably serve as a utility infielder. Katie is very athletic, and saw a lot of time at second and some at short during the fall season.

Senior catcher Michelle Fridey was stellar behind the plate in '09, finishing with a .987 fielding percentage and throwing out 10 runners attempting to steal out of 19. She committed only 2 errors last season.

Freshman Stephanie Pfentner should see considerable time behind the plate this season, and I expect her to make the adjustment to college softball quickly. She has good size and a strong arm. The other freshman catcher, Taylor Klun, is of the same mold as Stephanie. She may not get regular playing time until next season however.

The Griffs will have an excellent outfield in 2010. Sophomore Lauren Hope can reach most any fly ball with her great speed, and she was error free in 2009. She will probably spend most her time in left field.

Sophomore Lizzy Gatto will be in center field again. She has very good speed, great range, and a great arm. One gets the impression that Lizzy is in charge of the outfield.

Sophomore Lauren Falzone will be in right field mostly. Lauren is an outstanding fielder, with a great eye for the ball, very good speed and arm. She made a couple of fabulous plays this fall, including robbing a batter of a homer by reaching over the fence. She'll throw any lazy runners out at first base too. She led the outfielders in assists in 2009 (6), and that was with only 18 starts.

Sophomore Amanda Cannizzo should see considerable action, she has the ability to play all the fields.

Freshman Chloe Contreras of course has great speed. She also has a strong and accurate arm. She saw action in the fall in right and center field.

The 2010 Golden Griffins should be very strong at every position defensively, which would be of great assistance to the young pitching staff.
Next: The 2010 Golden Griffins In The Circle.

Center Fielder Lizzy Gatto

Sunday, January 10, 2010

2010 Golden Griffins At The Plate

With the season a month away, it's time to begin a series of Canisius Softball previews. Keep in mind these are from a fan's perspective.

As a team, the Griffs hit for a .261 batting average in 2009 and have lost their top 2 hitters to graduation. The Griffs did not have a .300 hitter last year.

Offensive hopes for 2010 begin with junior Lauren Hope. Although still productive in 2009, her batting average dropped from her freshman season. The Griffs need her back over .300 to be successful this season. I think she has the potential to be a near .400 hitter, and believe she will rebound strongly this year. With her speed and base stealing ability it's important for her to be on base as often as possible.

Lizzy Gatto will be coming off a strong freshman season, in which she hit .273 with 7 doubles, 3 triples and a homer. There's no reason Lizzy shouldn't be a .300 hitter, perhaps much more, the rest of her career. She's a difference maker.

Watch out for Katie Lancellotti, who led the team in homers last year with 6 and in RBIs with 28. As she enters her sophomore season, I think we'll see her average go higher. She struck out 28 times in 2009---I don't think that number will be as high this time around. She is a terrific hitter.

Michelle Fridey will be counted upon to drive in runs, such as she did in 2008 when she had 46 RBIs. Last year her production slipped, but she still had 8 extra base hits. I look for her to close out her college career on a strong note.

I'm intrigued with Lauryn Chris who should be a full time starter her sophomore season. She started 19 games in 2009, and flirted with .300 for a while. Watching her in fall ball I noticed a stronger swing. She was a .400 hitter in high school and is good with her bat and has great speed. She may need a full season to fully adjust to college softball (or not) before becoming a very good hitter.

Junior Emily Helbig is a clutch hitter who is at her best during MAAC play. In 2009 she hit for a .344 average in MAAC games; for all the games she hit .258. I'm not sure why she dominates MAAC pitchers, but hopefully it won't change. Emily seemed to me to have gained a step or 2 this fall. And she still has to potential to be a home run hitter.

The one player I am predicting will have a great season is junior Paige Freiberger. Her batting average improved dramatically last season, and her on base percentage was second on the team. She has a great eye at the plate (20 walks), and seems to be good at getting hit by pitches! This fall she was hitting the ball all over the place, including with power. Against Buffalo, she towered a pitch over the centerfield fence. Last season for a time she was easily the best hitter on the team before cooling off a bit. She will be a very important player on this year's team.

I was impressed this fall when Lauren Falzone came up with the bases loaded against Niagara and smashed a triple over the centerfielder's head. Lauren started 18 games her freshman season and hit .246. She was a terrific high school player---she may surprise at the plate this season.

Those are your starting players---how about the rest? Amanda Cannizzo should see plenty of action her sophomore season. She batted .218 last season, but had a very nice streak going in March. Junior Kerry Ulmer hit .222 in limited action including a 2 out 7th inning game tying single in San Jose.

Now for the unknown---the freshmen.
I would count on Stephanie Pfentner seeing plenty of action splitting catching duties with Michelle Fridey (when Michelle moves to designated player). Stephanie is going to hit some long balls this season, I truly believe that. When she connects, the ball travels long and high. True she has never faced college pitching, but I think she'll adjust, maybe with some growing pains. She is a talented athlete.

Chloe Contreras will surely be used as the primary pinch runner this season but should get some swings in as well. She starts her career with a reputation for getting on base, and then running around them!

Redshirt freshman Katie Medina saw plenty of action this fall. She's a great athlete, and should get time at second base, and perhaps designated player.

Taylor Klun did not play all that much this fall---her time may not come until Michelle Fridey graduates after this season. She'll have to try to show what she can do when she gets in there. But she's a very good hitter, and we'll be hearing from her.

The wild card in the batting order is pitcher Brittany Wood. Brittany has always been the best hitter on every team she's played on. Coach Rappl gave her a number of at bats this fall. Believe me, she can hit. We may see her get in the batter's box occasionally.

To be successful this season, the Griffs must improve their offense. They have 3 young pitchers and need to take some pressure off of them. I believe we will be seeing them running a lot this year. Of course all-time Canisius base stealing queen Lauren Hope leads the way, but the Griffs have others with speed and running ability. Canisius easily led the MAAC in 2009 with 70 stolen bases---look for more. Lauryn Chris is fast and a great base runner. Lizzy Gatto was 7 for 7 in SBs. Lauren Falzone 8 for 10. Michelle Fridey 6 for 6. Amanda Cannizzo 4 for 6. Chloe Contreras brings great speed as a pinch runner. Coach Rappl enjoys using the speed game---look for him to maximize it.

If most or all of the Griffs hit to their potential, another MAAC title is a very likely possibility.

Next: the 2010 Golden Griffins On The Diamond.

Sunday, January 3, 2010

New Season

Hard To believe with the snow up to our hips, but the new season gets underway next month! It all begins on February 12 in Clearwater, Florida---coming soon I will take a detailed look at the 2010 Golden Griffins. Please also keep an eye on the MAAC and Buffalo Bulls blogs (links in the blog roll) as we get closer to opening day.