Thursday, February 23, 2012

Deja Vu?

Not much happening on the Golden Griffins front at the moment as much of the rest of the MAAC gets ready to open play this weekend. Canisius is in the midst of a three week layoff, much like last season. They have lost five games to weather already; I'd like to see them make those up, but not sure if that is possible. Keep your fingers crossed that next weekend's tournament at UMBC is blessed with good weather, because the Griffs really need to get those games in.

Saturday, February 18, 2012

Rained Out

The Griffs' holiday weekend in Virginia has been rained out.
They will next play the weekend of March 2 in Baltimore.

Sunday, February 12, 2012

Today's Game Canceled

It's only 30 in Greenville, NC this morning, so the Griffs' scheduled game against Drexel has been canceled, and will not be made up.

Saturday, February 11, 2012

Saturday Notes

A familiar sight - Katie Medina on base

It's strange watching these February games and racing out between them to shovel the driveway. (Yes, winter has returned here). You can see how the northern teams really aren't ready to play but have to play in order to get in game shape. And you can see the trend of fading later in the games, like St. Bonaventure who had a 4-2 lead in one of their games today after three innings and lost---21-4. So I don't put much stock in these super early games except as live tune-ups. In that sense, the Griffs were competitive today against two very good teams.

Katie Medina has gotten off to an incredible start this weekend. It wasn't until her third game that she didn't get on base. She hit .500 over the weekend, and walked five times. She drove in a big run against East Carolina. Lizzy Gatto too has reached base often, kept her stolen base streak alive (she hasn't been thrown out since 2010), and leads the team with five runs. She hit 3 for 5 today. Val Nappo played a great game against ECU, executing a perfect suicide squeeze that gave the Griffs the lead. It was so perfect, that the other team was just standing around wondering what was going on. She also executed a sharp double play while the Griffs were still preserving a lead. Lauryn Chris is hitting .333 as a designated player. I thought Caroline Main looked very sharp for four plus innings against a hard hitting team until one pitch went over the left field fence.

A word about the Griffs' catchers. With injuries to Stephanie Pfentner and Marissa Miller, Freshman Sonia Aguilar was "thrown into the fire" sooner than Coach Rappl had planned I'm sure. She battled gamely on, but she herself was down with a bad case of strep throat just before the trip began. I admire her for battling through that for the team. I am concerned about Stephanie's status, and am wondering if a red shirt is in her near future.

The Griffs hung in there today as they continued their earliest start ever. It's great seeing the team on the field again, but we won't see the real team for a couple weeks. The 2010 season started at about the same time of year, and the Griffs lost all five games on that trip, but it served them well as they would go 34-14 the rest of the way.

Tomorrow's game is in jeopardy because the forecast is for very cold temps, not rising above 36. Check back Sunday for an update.

Game 4 @East Carolina

ECU 6 Canisius 2
The Griffs had lots of chances later in the game, but simply could not convert them. Clearly the Griffs also miss Stephanie Pfentner, who is suffering through a back injury. Freshman Sonia Aguilar was very ill before the season began; but was forced into catching every game because Marissa Miller also has not recovered from her injury. However, I thought they competed well for a February day against great southern teams. Tomorrow morning they are scheduled to play Drexel again, but a look at the weather shows a forecast of 30 degrees at game time, so this could change.

*Update 6th inning*
Couple of base runners for the Griffs, but nothing on the board.

Another homer gives ECU a 5-2 lead.

*Update 5th inning*
Lizzy Gatto and Katie Medina singled, but could not get home, Griffs trail 4-2 after 5 innings.

2 out, 3 run homer by ECU gives the Pirates a 4-2 lead after 4 1/2 innings.

*Update 4th inning*
Griffs go down 1-2-3 again, but are up 2-1 after 4 innings of play.

Single by ECU, but the runner was stranded at first. Nice sliding catch by Lizzy Gatto in center. Griffs coming up.

*Update 3rd inning*
Griffs go down 1-2-3. Canisius 2 ECU 1

Single and stolen base for ECU in the top of the inning, but the runner was stranded. Griffs hold on to lead, and are coming up.

*Update 2nd inning*
Michelle DelPrince hit a bloop double to shallow left, but ended up stranded at third. 2-1 Griffs after 2 innings.

Great double play by Val Nappo to end the top of the 2nd, snaring a line drive and tossing the ball to 2nd base for the force. Griffs up 2-1 headed to the bottom of the inning.

*Update 1st inning*
That was a great bunt by Val. Griffs lead 2-1 after one inning.
Katie Medina drives home a run 1-1...
Suicide squeeze by Val Nappo, 2-1 Griffs!...

ECU takes a 1-0 lead in the top of the 1st. Caroline Main pitching for the Griffs.

This game has been bumped back to 2:30 ET.
Live video here:

No live chat, but I will update this post.

Game Three vs. Virginia

Friday, February 10, 2012

Griffs Split On Opening Day

Caroline Main tossed a 2 hitter

Drexel Box

The Golden Griffins split their first two games at the Pirate Classic in Greenville, NC Friday, beating Drexel 4-1, then losing to host East Carolina 12-4 in 5 innings.

I think the Main story today (sorry for the pun!) was something we'd all been wondering about. How would Caroline Main do? The answer came quickly. The senior pitcher was dominant in her first start of 2012, allowing only an unearned run, and a questionable one at that. The umpire actually scored that run, calling an illegal pitch in the third inning. And that only came after a passed ball had moved the scoring runner to third base. Caroline struck out eight batters, while walking only one. She allowed only a pair of singles. She was in complete control, from start to finish.

Caroline's teammates gave her an early lead in the first inning of this game, scoring twice. Lizzy Gatto kept her consecutive steals streak intact when she reached first base by getting hit by a pitch, and immediately swiping second. A Val Nappo single moved her to third base, and she then scored on a wild pitch. Katie Lancellotti sent Val home with a single, and the Griffs were up 2-0. Katie Lancellotti made it 3-1 with an RBI triple in the third inning, which scored Lizzy Gatto who had singled and was bunted to second base by Val Nappo. Pinch runner Erica Afanador scored on an error in the 6th inning to make it a 4-1 final score. Two hits apiece for Lance and Val Nappo. Of note is that Katie Medina was 0 for 0, meaning she walked all three at bats (best eye on the team). She walked once in the second game, along with getting a hit, so she reached base safely all five of her at bats today.

The second game of the day was where the Griffs showed all the winter rust; they were never really in synch it seemed. Jen Consaul started this game, and really struggled, giving up 12 runs on 12 hits to East Carolina. The Pirates ran wild -- stealing bases, taking extra bases that shouldn't have been available, slapping little bunts in infield gaps for singles, taking advantage of a couple of passed balls and errant throws. The Griffs fell behind quickly, 8-0, but did mount a comeback of sorts with four runs in the fifth inning. That was encouraging. But ECU got the run rule victory anyhow in the bottom of the inning. I guess you could call this a typical early season loss coming out of the winter at the home of a very good team, but the Griffs looked tired in this game. Lauryn Chris did hit 2 for 2 in this one.

They are at it again Saturday with a couple of tough games vs. Virginia and a rematch with East Carolina.

Game Two @East Carolina

ECU got the four runs back to win it 12-4 in 5 innings.

*Update 5th inning*
Another walk makes it 8-3, 1 out bases loaded. ECU bringing in a new pitcher...
Wild pitch makes it 8-4...
Productive inning for Canisius ends with the Griffs trailing ECU 8-4.

*Update Rain Delay*
The game is about to continue, Griffs have the bases loaded in the top of the 5th down 8-2 and 1 out. The field is being groomed again, play will resume soon...

*Update 5th inning*
Griffs scored to avoid run rule, still have the bases loaded...
Walk makes it 8-2...
Looks like a rain delay. Griffs have the bases loaded with one out...
The fielded is being groomed, I don't think it's raining hard. BTW, Katie Medina has gotten on base every at bat today...
Now they're covering the field (5:50), not sure what will happen next...

*Update 4th inning*
The Griffs have fallen behind 8-0 in the rain, and Amanda Baun is now pitching.

*Update 3rd inning*
Lauryn Chris got her first hit of the season, but the Griffs still trail 5-0 headed to the bottom of the third.
Lizzy Gatto made a great catch at the wall to keep the score 5-0 after 3 innings.

*Update 2nd inning*
Katie Lancellotti got her third hit of the day, but Robin Kennery missed a bunt, and she was thrown out easily at second. Also, Katie Medina got her 4th consecutive walk on the day. 1-0 ECU.
The Pirates score 4 runs on 5 hits to take a 5-0 lead after 2 innings.

*Update 1st Inning*
ECU takes a 1-0 lead after a couple singles.

*Update 4:30*
Jen Consaul will start this game for the Griffs.

Order live streaming video of the game here:

It's $10 for both Canisius-ECU games. The coverage is pretty good, with multiple cameras, and announcer.

No live chat this game, but I will update this post.

Game One vs. Drexel


Caroline Main -- 2 hitter, 8 strikeouts...Katie Lancellotti -- 2 hits, triple, 2 RBIs...Lizzy Gatto -- Single, stolen base, 2 runs...Val Nappo -- 2 for 2, run...more later

Opening Day!

Good luck Griffs in 2012!
The weather forecast in Greenville calls for partly sunny skies, and a high 0f 57.
Be back at noon ET.

Thursday, February 9, 2012

Upcoming Opponents---Pirate Classic

Drexel Dragons
Colonial Athletic Association
2011 Record: 15-28
All-Time vs. Canisius: 0-1
Last Meeting: 2003 (Canisius 8-3)

East Carolina Pirates

2011 Record: 41-22
All-Time vs. Canisius: 4-3
Last Meeting: 2001 (ECU 6-2)

Virginia Cavaliers
Atlantic Coast Conference
2011 Record: 24-31
All-Time vs. Canisius: 7-0
Last Meeting: 1991 (Virginia 8-0)

Weather Forecast: Little chance of rain all weekend

Wednesday, February 8, 2012

2012 Golden Griffins In The MAAC

There have been some significant changes in the Metro Atlantic Athletic Conference, but the champion of the last two seasons is the coaches' favorite on the eve of the 2012 softball season.

The Iona Gaels will attempt to join Canisius as the only MAAC school to win three consecutive softball championships. Returning for a final season is star pitcher Sarah Jackson, who lifted her team to a title last spring by winning twice on the final day of the MAAC Tournament. Also returning as a redshirt senior is Alyssa Maiese, the 2011 MAAC home run leader. This is basically the same Gaels team the Griffs have battled for the past two seasons. They will visit Canisius this season.

The 2011 regular season champs Fairfield Stags have lost two time MAAC Pitcher Of The Year Sarah Minice to graduation, but retain last year's impressive group of freshmen. They may have found their next ace too in Becca Trott, who pitched heroically in the MAAC Championship in place of a faltering Minice. They visit Canisius this season.

Local rival Niagara has said goodbye to perhaps their most talented senior class ever, including repeat MAAC Player Of The Year Teresa Healy, an irreplaceable player. However, they do have a talented freshman class in place, three of whom will make up their new outfield. Speed seems to be replacing power up in Niagara, and they also may have their best pitching staff in a while. The Griffs will visit Niagara this season.

Marist, who will again host the conference tournament this May, will field an impressive senior class. Coming off a season that saw them surge back into the top half of the conference, the Red Foxes will also feature a solid pair of starting pitchers. They lost top player Megan Lamoureux to injury in the home stretch last season, but she's back and healthy. Canisius will visit Marist this season.

A team to watch for in '12 are the Siena Saints. Junior shortstop Shannon Jones looks to replace Teresa Healy as the MAAC's top hitter. Double threat sophomore Jessika-Jo Sandrini brought new life to the Saints in '11. She is a great hitter, but look for an upgrade in her pitching performance this season. The Saints have made it their goal to qualify for MAAC's this year. They will visit Canisius in April.

No team lost more to graduation than the Manhattan Lady Jaspers. Gone are 8 players who drove the team to great success, leading the LJs to three consecutive tournament appearances. They will begin 2012 with an entirely new pitching staff, and could be looking at some rebuilding time. Sophomore Katie Bowen however is a dynamic player. The Griffs will visit Manhattan this season.

Rider was weak offensively in 2011, but surprise All-MAAC selection Rachael Matreale returns for a final season of pitching for the Broncs. The MAAC coaches hold Rachael in high regard, despite a losing record. She did beat the Griffs last season. Rider will visit Canisius this season.

St. Peter's still seems to be a long way off from returning to their contending days, and may have difficulty winning any MAAC games. Canisius will make a trip to Jersey City this season.

Canisius has a lot to prove this season after the rare occurrences of a losing record and missing the tournament cut in 2011. If the Griffs will be good enough to qualify for the conference tournament, they will be good enough to win it all. It's going to be a tough fight for them to get into the top four qualifiers. Their pitching will once again be the key; they should still rank at the top of the MAAC offensively and defensively. Last year, the Griffs suffered through a truncated pre-conference season, due to differing factors. Usually their heavy February-March schedule prepares them for MAAC play, but this was not the case in '11. They went long stretches without playing, or practicing outdoors. This season they begin very early with a challenging schedule. If all goes well, we could see them very warmed up for the MAAC challenge. The new season begins Friday, with full coverage right here!

Tuesday, February 7, 2012

Meghan Cuda Signs National Letter Of Intent

Finally have a photo of Lew-Port's Meghan Cuda signing her National Letter Of Intent to play softball at Canisius College, beginning in the fall.

Saturday, February 4, 2012

2012 Golden Griffins On The Diamond

The Golden Griffins were the best defensive team in the MAAC in 2011, and although they lost three key field players to graduation, there will likely be no drop off in performance.

Let's begin with the anchor of the Griffs' defense, senior shortstop Katie Lancellotti. Once again, Katie played every inning of every game last season. She led the conference (among regular players with over 100 chances) with a .993 fielding percentage, committing only one error along the way. Not much gets by her, and she often makes plays out of position. But most of all it's easy to see that her exceptional play lifts the confidence of the rest of the fielders.

Lance makes up one part of the best middle infield in the MAAC, because the conference's third ranked infielder is junior second baseman Katie Medina. Katie also herself committed only one error in '11, finishing with a .991 fielding percentage. She has speed, range, a quick mind and a great arm. She did miss 10 games due to injury, but was backed up ably by senior Lauryn Chris, who finished with a .913 FP. Freshman Erica Afanador is the shortstop of the future, but will not play the position this season barring injury. She may see some time at second base however.

The Griffs lost two All-MAAC performers at the corners due to graduation, but it looks like their replacements are ready and able to go. Sophomore Val Nappo spent her first season in the outfield, doing very well by committing no errors, but her natural position is first base. Outstanding at the position, and recognized nationally as a high school player, Val looked totally comfortable at first during the fall and should be an anchor there for the next three seasons.

The Griffs will start a freshman at the hot corner this season. Robin Kennery was not expected to play at third base, but Coach Rappl tried her there in the fall and she performed exceedingly well. Robin possesses a strong arm and very good speed, but it was her poise, a must at that position, that made her stand out. I'm very interested to see her in spring season play. Marissa Miller and even Sonia Aguilar will back her up, but I see her playing every game.

The Griffs' outfield looks to be solid with two seniors starting. All-MAAC centerfielder Lizzy Gatto enters her final season, and we can expect the same from her. Good range, speed and a rifle for an arm. Lauren Falzone will be in right field, where she has been a reliable performer for the past three seasons. Lauren was error free in 2011, and of course has great speed that allows her to get down the line quickly. It looks as if freshman Michelle DelPrince impressed enough in fall ball to get a chance to be the regular left fielder on the team. Michelle also has very good speed, and is a ball hawk who is able to think two steps ahead of the play. She is a fast learner; and I would expect to see her play progress quickly. I believe junior Chloe Contreras will also get some starts in left to show what she can do. Another fast player with a surprisingly good arm for her size.

Now we end up behind the plate, where the Griffs are solid, and this season deep. Junior Stephanie Pfentner is one of the top defensive catchers in the conference. She was second in the MAAC in pick offs, but those who watched closely (like me!) will have noticed that many of those throw outs were big inning ending, rally killing plays. She saved the Griffs a number of times with her arm, squelching rallies all by herself. She's going to be better this season, and should compete for All-MAAC status. Freshman Sonia Aguilar impressed me very much with her play behind the plate. She showed a lot of poise, and is very good at blocking pitches. There's a good chance here for Stephanie and Sonia to alternate at catcher/designated player, something coach has done recently with Michelle Fridey and Angela Turrey. Redshirt freshman Marissa Miller has yet to play since the fall of 2010.

The Griffs will once again be solid defensively---give them some pitching and the rest of the conference will have trouble eking out runs.

Up next: The 2012 season outlook.