Feb 6, 2014, 3:26 PM EDT
Today is the start of Softball Season! The Blue Hens of Delaware throws their first official pitch today in Hawaii (9:00 pm EST), while James Madison, Towson, and UNCW will swing their bats tomorrow (Friday, Feb. 7) for the first game of the season. College of Charleston, the newest member of the conference, will open their season on Saturday, Feb. 8.
Drexel and Hofstra will wait a week to open the 2014 season as they will kickoff their schedules next weekend with their respective tournaments.
On Monday, the league announced the preseason predicted order of finish and Hofstra was selected to win the 2014 CAA Softball title once again by a vote of the conference head coaches. The complete poll is located on CAASports.com.
The Pride returns 11 letter winners, including a pair of fifth-year seniors and All-CAA honorees in Rachel Senatore and Becca Bigler, from a 2013 squad that set a program record for wins (46-13). Hofstra captured the CAA Championship and advanced to the NCAA Regional finals. As the team’s starting shortstop, Bigler hit 12 home runs and drove in 41 runs from a premium defensive position to earn All-CAA second team accolades. Senatore is coming off a red-shirt season for an injury, but was a force as the leadoff hitter in 2012 for the Pride batting .364. Hofstra also welcomes back All-CAA first team member Erin Trippi, who moved from the team’s primary DP to the starting catcher in 2012. Second-team All-CAA honoree senior Tori Rocha returns at second base (.285).
Head coach Mickey Dean and the Dukes welcome back nine letter winners and four starters from a 42-17 team that earned the league’s first NCAA at-large bid a year ago. James Madison will rely on four returning starters, including senior shortstop Caitlin Sandy (.313) and sophomore catcher Erica Field (.328). Sophomore Hannah Hayes (.256) is also back in the infield along with junior Heather Kiefer (14-8, 1.65 ERA) in the circle. The Dukes will also count on the return of Jailyn Ford, the 2013 CAA Rookie of the Year and an All-CAA first team member, in both the circle and at utility. Ford is the top returning player for the Dukes after recording a .373 batting average and posting a 24-6 record and a 1.61 ERA in the circle.
The Cougars, who will be led by new head coach Linda Kalafatis, return 19 letter winners and eight starters from their 37-20 team. Three all-conference first-team honorees return to play their first season in the CAA, including junior pitcher Hope Klicker, who led Charleston with a 20-11 record and a 2.25 ERA. Senior third baseman Kelsey Hodgson led the team at the plate with a .325 batting average. Sophomore utility Chandler Frisbie earned both first-team and all-rookie honors in the Southern Conference (.298).
Delaware is coming off one of its top seasons in program history with 35 wins (35-22), second most in UD history. Head coach Jaime Wohlbach welcomes back 10 letter winners that helped set UD single season records for 236 runs scored, 427 hits and 72 doubles a year ago. UD will be led by junior rightfielder Jessica Grisler, who set a program single-season record 39 runs scored and hit a team-best .365. Sophomores Shelby Jones and Lisa Stacevicz, CAA All-Rookie honorees a year ago, will also be a threat for the Blue Hens.
Head coach Lisa Costello and the Tigers welcome back 13 letter winners and six starters from last year’s 30-28-1 squad. Senior third baseman and second-team all-conference member Delanie Dunham will provide the leadership for the Tigers. She led Towson a year ago at the plate with a .311 batting average . The Tigers will also count on junior infielder Hailey Balk who hit .297 just behind Dunham.
Head coach Kristy Norton returns for her second year at the helm of the Seahawks, returning 14 letter winners and seven starters. UNCW welcomes back starting senior outfielder Morgan Ayers hit .306 for the Seahawks with a team-best 33 runs scored. Senior KC Shue will return behind the plate after playing in 51 contests a year ago and tallying a team-high 32 RBI, while hitting .282.
The Drexel squad will be guided by second year head coach Miranda Ervin. Senior pitcher/outfielder Shelby Taylor (.269) will return to lead the Dragons. Sophomore pitcher Tara Konopka, who saw 24 starts in the circle for Drexel as a rookie a year ago, also returns looking to split time with Taylor. Senior Comfort Ahonkhai was a strong contributor at the plate last season (23 H, 10 RBI, .209) and will return to assist in the outfield.
The CAA Softball Championship is scheduled for May 7-9 at the site of the regular-season champion. Complete championship information will be updated on CAASports.com as details become available.
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