Feb. 4, 2013
WEST POINT, N.Y. - -
The 2013 college softball season is about to begin, and the Black Knights of Army were picked second in the Patriot League preseason softball poll as voted upon by coaches and sports information directors. Army trailed preseason favorite and defending champion Lehigh by two points in the balloting.
The Mountain Hawks earned 47 points with seven first-place votes to edge an Army team that earned 45 points and the remaining five first-place ballots. The league's head coaches and sports information directors were not allowed to vote for their own teams or players.
Colgate finished a distant third with 34 points followed by Lafayette (22), Bucknell (17) and Holy Cross (15). Last year Lehigh, Army, Colgate and Lafayette earned berths to the Patriot League Tournament where the Black Knights reached the championship finals for the first time since 2006.
Three Army players, senior Alex Reynolds, junior Amanda Nguyen and sophomore Morgan Lashley, were among an elite group of 12 named to the league's preseason all-league team. Lehigh claimed a team-high four players, along with sweeping the two major preseason awards in Player of the Year (Liz Lucas) and Pitcher of the Year (Rebecca Bliss).
In a breakdown of the players selected for the league's preseason squad, seven were seniors, three came from the junior class, along with a pair of sophomores. New coaches will take over the diamond this year at Colgate and Bucknell.
Army returns nine letterwinners and several key players from last year squad with second baseman Reynolds, outfielder Nguyen and pitcher Lashley all earning first-team all-star honors last spring.
Lashley compiled a plethora of accolades her rookie year, ranking at one point No. 1 in the nation in wins, while placing sixth in victories (33) at season's end and 14th in shutouts (11). The right-hander closed out her first collegiate season listed among Army's and the league's top pitchers in 2012.
The first student-athlete in league history to be named pitcher and rookie of the year in the same season, Lashley broke Army's single-season mark for strikeouts with 237 (ranked third in the league), along with setting school and league single-season marks for appearances (56), starts (51), games complete (37), innings (327) and wins (33).
Lashley and Nguyen were named to the 2012 National Fastpitch Coaches Association All-Northeast Second Team. Nguyen, a two-time Patriot league first-team selection as an outfielder, stroked a .365 batting average at the No. 2 spot in the batting order. She recorded a team-high 70 hits the past two seasons setting and tying the school single-season mark, along with ranking among the national leaders last year in sacrifice hits (0.29).
Reynolds, also a two-time first team league all-star, will share the team captaincy with junior shortstop April Ortenzo in providing leadership to a team dominated by the underclassmen. Reynolds has ranked among the league's top hitters, and currently lists seventh on the Black Knights' top 10 career chart in RBIs (92) and runs scored (83), while tied for ninth in home runs (11).
Head coach Michelle DePolo will look to the newcomers to help fill vacancies at catcher, first base, third base and center field after graduation claimed four seniors who were mainstays in Army's lineup throughout their careers.
The season begins Friday as Army opens play in the Plainsman Invitational Tournament hosted by Auburn University. The Black Knights take on Furman, Kent State, Austin Peay, East Tennessee State and the host Tigers.
Lehigh, 47 points (7 first-place votes)
Army, 45 points (5)
Colgate, 34 points
Lafayette, 22 points
Bucknell, 17 points
Holy Cross, 15 points
Army Preseason All-League
Alex Reynolds, 2B
Amanda Nguyen, OF
Morgan Lashley, P