Tuesday, December 28, 2010

New Diamond Girls Website

This seems to be a comprehensive site covering all the DG teams.
Click on the Diamond Girls icon on the left hand side of this page to visit.

Time Lapse Snow!

This is very off topic, but here is the recent east coast blizzard in a 20 hour time lapse photography video taken in New Jersey.

Of course,this NEVER happens here!

Wednesday, December 22, 2010

2011 Could Be A Record Breaker

I'm going out on a limb on this cold holiday season night to predict that the Golden Griffins will set a school record for wins in a season in 2011. I've had this thought since their 2010 season came to an injury plagued end last May.

For the Griffs to set the school record, which was established by the 2008 team when they won their 39th game in the NCAA Tournament, everything will have to break their way. The 2011 team is deep, having lost only one player to graduation. In fact, they will have two more players on the roster this season (they played with only 15 in 2010). We may as well begin with that departed player, the great Michelle Fridey. Sophomore Stephanie Pfentner will be filling Michelle's spot this year, and while we can't expect her to put up "Fridey-like" numbers (yet), it should be noted that Stephanie had a great fall season and was hitting the ball all over the place (including a grand slam homer). It looks like Stephanie has adjusted her bat to the college game, and she's already solid defensively behind the plate. Marissa Miller will back her up, and get a chance to adjust to the new level.

But Stephanie Pfentner does not have to "replace" Michelle---that leadership and production will come from the upperclassmen. The Griffs have very talented and seasoned senior and junior classes. Eleven of them in all (I count Katie Medina as an upperclassman even though she's a redshirt sophomore). I want to put the spotlight here on junior Katie Lancellotti. Katie could very well turn out to be the school's all time power hitter with the numbers she has produced her first two seasons. I have a strong feeling though that she is going to explode her next two seasons. She's a strong, smart player now with experience. Recalling her Clarence days, she was a dominant athlete. And she is going to be surrounded by great hitters.

Seniors Lauren Hope and Emily Helbig played with ease this past fall. Both players could make serious bids at the .400 average mark. Lauren is going to run wild this season as she chases the MAAC stolen bases record. The girl is almost impossible to throw out. Watching her carefully, I noticed what a great slider she is. A lot of her thefts were close plays, but the tags were never made because she wasn't near the ball. She's an all around ball player too, and has a surprisingly good arm in the outfield. And she's a fierce competitor---she does not like losing. I recall one incident where she was called out on a third strike, without swinging, and she mumbled something in the direction of the umpire who swiftly jerked his head toward the batter's box as if to execute an ejection. But Lauren had already sprinted to the bench and he was looking at a blank spot! I think she is going to do everything in her power to end her career with a third title.

Emily Helbig once again owned MAAC pitchers in 2010. She hit .395 in MAAC games; but she did very well against all pitchers last season. This fall she was basically hitting extra base hits every time up. But for me watching her, she's such a calm influence in the field, where she is the best defensive player in the conference. The only Canisius (regular) player in history to go a whole season without committing an error. As a senior, I believe she will increase the confidence of the team. Backing her up will be another senior, Kerry Ulmer, who will have a chance to be the team's regular designated player. Kerry had a hot streak at the plate at one point last season and she will have the opportunity to replicate that.

Junior Lizzy Gatto is one heck of an all around player who, if she did not break her finger, would have had a .400 season in 2010. At the time she got hit by a Sarah Minice fastball, she was the hottest hitter in the MAAC outside of Teresa Healy. Lizzy can do it all, and she'll be chasing .400 again. The Griffs' outfield will be solid in 2011 with Lizzy, Lauren Hope and the tandem of Amanda Cannizzo and Lauren Falzone. Amanda is a tough, clutch player who proved it with her dramatic 2 rbi 7th inning game winner in the MAAC Tournament vs. Manhattan. Freshman Val Nappo is a wildcard. She was outstanding in fall ball, hitting everything in sight and hard. The girl does not strikeout. Literally, she did not strike out her senior season at Clarence. Coach Rappl may have no choice but to find her a spot in the already deep lineup. Sophomore Chloe Contreras may have trouble cracking the lineup this season, but she did produce when called upon in 2010 and will once again be used as a pinch runner.

The Griffs really are loaded offensively. Watch out for Katie Medina this season. She progressed dramatically within her first season of play. She has the best eye on the team, and an outstanding swing. Combine these elements with her athleticism and you have a dangerous player. Again, she will be surrounded by a talented lineup and has no problem taking a walk to let someone else drive her home. Junior Lauryn Chris will back her up at second, and is still IMO the best base runner on the team. She will be the Griffs' primary pinch runner again.

With all this offensive power, it almost seems unfair that Canisius has the best pitching duo in the conference. Both Griff hurlers made All-MAAC in 2010, and look to be even better this season. Caroline Main was unbeatable in conference play until she was injured in the MAAC Tournament. She seemed to be enjoying herself too as the season progressed and I'm sure she can't wait to get out there again. Amanda Baun had a fabulous freshman season, finishing second in the MAAC in ERA and setting school records for freshman wins and strikeouts. If the team scores as much as I believe they will, Caroline and Amanda will be pitching with leads much of the time. Jen Consaul will be afforded the time to develop properly.

Captain Paige Freiberger is the heart of the team this season, and after missing last season's MAAC Tournament she may have that little extra incentive going for her. It had to be a very disappointing end to her record breaking season. She'll get another chance. Paige is Ms. Clutch---how many games did she pull out of her hat last season? She won't have Michelle Fridey batting next to her this time, but as I have shown above she will have more. The other teams may try to pitch around her, but it won't do any good. I look for Paige to end her Canisius career in a blaze of glory...

Of course, all the pieces have to fall in place for the Golden Griffins to set the record this season. They must remain healthy. They must get the odd break here and there. They must win the games they ought to win. They must post the occasional upset. Above all, they must have the desire. They can acquire that desire from their championship experienced upperclassmen. And from their coach. Mike Rappl, the most successful Division 1 coach in Western New York (that's for all sports), knows how to acomplish the kind of season I believe this team can have. He has certainly assembled a talented squad. He's assembling a talented future squad as I write. It never ends for him; he's the one constant. He wants to raise the level of the program higher. This team can help him do it. The 2011 team I believe is talented enough to win the MAAC and more.

How's that for some winter rambling? Snow is everywhere, the schools are empty. Softball season is just around the corner!!
Merry Christmas!

Tuesday, December 14, 2010

Lauren Hope Tours The Bases

Snowy December nights make it difficult to write about softball so what better time to delve into the video archive.

This video is from the Griffs' game at Buffalo last April, and features the speed of Lauren Hope who runs around the bases to produce a run as she often does. She places a soft pop perfectly into left field, and watch how fast she gets to second base. Would have been a single for most players.

If you watch Lauren bat you'll notice before she steps up she has her eyes all over the field, ascertaining where she will place the ball. A couple years ago during a game against Youngstown State, I was sitting next to a YSU parent when Lauren came up to bat. The second baseman creeped in ever so slightly, and I said to the parent, "triple to right field". Next pitch Lauren went in to third standing up, and the parent moved away from me!

Tuesday, December 7, 2010

Local Players Hit The Road

Four local players are going out of town to continue their travel ball careers with very elite teams.

Caitlin Attfield, Meghan Cuda and Yasmin Harrell will be playing for the TC Tremors Elite, an outstanding team out of central New York which has the reputation of helping its players get noticed by college coaches. Chelsea Plimpton played for this team in her high school days.

Tori Nappo (pictured) is playing for the New Jersey Intensity Elite; in fact she already has played with the Intensity this past summer and fall. Tori has been chosen as a top national 2012 recruit by Spy Softball Magazine, so she has been noticed. We'll follow the progress of these elite local players of course.

Monday, December 6, 2010

Rumors And Facts

I've heard a rumor, and I know a few facts, but I've been too busy digging out to dig in.

Anyway, the weather is horrible at present, but that only means that softball season is around the corner. And after perusing the Griffs' 2011 schedule, I stick by my prediction that they will set the school record for wins. More on that later...now back to shoveling :(

Saturday, December 4, 2010

Griffs Release 2011 Schedule

Canisius College has released its official 2011 softball schedule.

Aside from the games I previously wrote about are these:
The Griffs will play in the ESPN Wide World Of Sports Invitational in Lake Buena Vista, FL on the weekend of February 25-27. Opponents are unknown at this time; apparently Canisius pulled out of the Hampton tournament.

The Griffs will be playing a non conference doubleheader at the University Of Detroit Mercy on April 5; on May 4 they will visit Robert Morris University for a pair of games. The remaining MAAC doubleheaders I did not previously mention are:
At Siena on April 23; at Rider on May 7.

I don't think the Griffs' schedule is as difficult as last season, but it is filled with challenges.
Season begins in 2 1/2 months!

Friday, December 3, 2010

St. Bona Affected By Different Weather

I hope Coach Threehouse of St. Bonaventure doesn't mind me posting his photo (link to his blog is in the blog list on the right hand side of this page), but I just had to.

While we had a massive lake effect storm the last two days (which has now passed), Olean was afflicted with flooding. Here you see St. Bona's beautiful McGraw-Jennings Field underwater---the whole field is submerged.
Hope everyone is safe and dry down there.

Thursday, December 2, 2010

Let It (Stop) Snow(ing)

I'm within the infamous narrow band of lake effect snow. If you are too, I hope you are safe and warm. Let's pray for the quick rescue of the people stranded on the New York State Thruway.