April 19, 2013
WEST POINT, N.Y. -
It is a critical Patriot League weekend for the Army softball team with a playoff berth hanging in the balance when the Black Knights host Bucknell in a pivotal four-game series. In fifth place in the league standings, Army will be looking to take three games from Bison in order to reclaim the fourth spot.
Live stats for the games will be available via GameTracker by logging onto Army's official athletics website (www.goARMYsports.com). In-game Twitter updates will also be offered through the official Twitter handle (@Army_WSoftball). In addition, there will be live audio coverage available through Knight Vision, the Black Knights' subscription-based multimedia platform.
Last weekend, the Black Knights (21-19, 5-7 PL) took one game from league-leading and defending Patriot League champion Lehigh (9-3) to slip into fifth place. Bucknell (14-25, 6-6 PL) jumped into the fourth spot vacated by Army after taking all four games from Lafayette (2-10) for the first league sweep of the season.
Picked second in the preseason poll, Army is in charge of its own destiny and needs a strong showing against Bucknell this weekend and Lafayette next weekend in order to clinch a bid to the Patriot League Tournament for the fourth straight year.
The Black Knights have played the top three teams in the league in Lehigh, Colgate (7-5) and Holy Cross (7-5). Though Lehigh dominated the series (3-1), Army split its four games with Colgate and Holy Cross, who are tied for second place. Bucknell took just one game from both the Mountain Hawks and Raiders and closes out its league schedule on the road next weekend against the Crusaders.
Army ranks among the league's leaders in several categories. The Black Knights list first in batting (.282) and fielding percentage (.973), and are third in pitching (3.06 ERA). Nationally, Army lists 16th in double plays per game (0.46), 22nd in fielding percentage, 89th in batting average and 90th in stolen bases per game (1.14).
Individually, Army has a plethora of players listed among the league's leaders. Amanda Nguyen is first in hits (55) and stolen bases (23), tied for second with teammate Kasey McCravey in runs scored (33) and fifth in batting average (.372). McCravey also lists fourth in hits (45) and is 11th in batting (.326). Alex Reynolds is second in hits (47), third in doubles (11) and RBI (26) and eighth in batting (.359), and April Ortenzo is fourth in RBI (25).
RHP Morgan Lashley is the league's leader in wins (17), innings pitched (180.0) and strikeouts (129), and lists fourth in ERA (2.68). Lashley ranks 53rd nationally in strikeouts and Nguyen is 33rd in stolen bases (0.57).
Army is coming off 3-2 nine inning non-league midweek win over Iona keyed by pinch hitter Rae Ann Payleitner's "walk off" single as the Black Knights posted their third extra-inning decision to include a pair of league wins over Colgate (4-3 in 13 innings) and Holy Cross (3-1 in 10 innings).
BUCKNELL is coming off a 5-4 midweek loss to St. Francis (Pa.) that snapped its season-long five-game win streak. The Bison are batting .234 with two players hitting over .300 in Cydnee Sanders (.321) and Kristen Zahn (.313). Pitcher Amanda Fazio shows a 3.10 ERA along with 82 strikeouts.
Army holds a 46-30 lead in the Bucknell series following a series sweep last year of the host Bison. The Black Knights posted a 3-1 mark in Bucknell's last visit to West Point in 2011.
The outcome of the Holy Cross-Lehigh series in Bethlehem, Pa., this weekend and the Colgate-Lehigh series in Hamilton, N.Y., next weekend could have an impact on the standings (which could also open the door for Army) as the Raiders and Crusaders are just two games behind the Mountain Hawks.