BALTIMORE – UMBC softball battles for seeding in the upcoming America East Championships when it closes its regular-season slate in a three-game series against Albany. Action opens with a doubleheader on Friday, May 2, but due to weather, first pitch has been pushed back to 2:30 p.m. at the UMBC Softball Stadium. The Retrievers were celebrate Senior Day on Saturday, May 3 in the series finale scheduled for noon.
The Retrievers (31-17) are in the midst of posting their sixth 30-win season under head coach Joe French, who on Sunday earned his 600th career softball victory. UMBC clinched its first America East Championship berth since 2011 with a three-game sweep against Hartford in conference action on Sunday and Monday and currently sits in fourth place.
The Retrievers' young pitching staff has combined for a 2.87 earned run average on the year, has thrown eight shutouts and is the only staff in the America East to post a perfect game and a no-hitter on the season. Freshman Jessica Holte (Ashland, Va./Atlee) tossed the Retrievers' latest gem, throwing five hitless innings in a 10-0 victory against the Hawks on Monday. Holte is tied for the most wins by a Retrievers' freshman pitcher in program history and is tied for third on UMBC's single-season wins list (18). She also ranks in the top-10 in a single-season at UMBC in complete games (21), innings pitched (174.1) and appearances (30). Classmate Nicole Casagrand (Horsham, Pa./Hatboro-Horsham) is coming off a 2-0 week in the circle with a 1.00 ERA. Rookie Kelly Lane (Albany, N.Y./Colonie Central) threw the Retrievers' first-ever perfect game earlier this season and has posted a 7-6 record for the black and gold.
UMBC's offense leads the league in hits (356), RBI (239), doubles (65) and home runs (44). Junior catcher Taylor Hall (Cosby, Va./Cosby) and sophomore utility player Danielle O'Neill (Lothian, Md./Southern) sit atop of the conference in hits and have combined for 23 of the team's 44 home runs. Hall is the league-leader in runs batted in (50), doubles (13) and round trippers (13), while O'Neill has a conference-most 32 walks and 42 runs scored.
Albany (26-10, 11-3 AEC) has won six straight games heading into the weekend and is second in the league standings heading into the weekend. The Great Danes lead the league in earned run average, behind a conference-leading 1.63 ERA from senior Brittany MacFawn. MacFawn is the reigning America East Co-Pitcher of the Week after throwing a no-hitter against UMass Lowell last week.
Catcher Elizabeth Snow led the Great Danes offensively last week, en route to earning Rookie of the Week recognition. She leads the team in slugging percentage (.596) behind a team-best 13 doubles and five home runs. Sophomore short stop Maggie Cocks is hitting at a .389 clip from the dish and leads the squad with 27 runs batted in.