April 27, 2012
WEST POINT, N.Y. -
Army's softball team has an important Patriot League series this weekend when it takes on defending champion and conference leader Lehigh for the regular-season title. The Black Knights need to take three of four games to win their second title in three years, while the Mountains can clinch it with two wins to earn hosting duties.
Saturday's and Sunday's doubleheaders at the Army Softball Complex are scheduled both days for 1 p.m. Live video streamed broadcasts of the entire series will also be offered online (www.goARMYsports.com) via ITT Exelis Knight Vision, Army's subscription-based multimedia platform. Live stats for each game will be available via GameTracker by logging onto Army's official athletics website and navigating to the softball schedule page. In-game Twitter updates will also be offered throughout the weekend via Army's official Twitter handle (@ArmyAthletics).
The Black Knights (33-15) enter the fray in second place in the league standings with a 13-3 conference mark after posting their third conference sweep in last weekend's series blanking of Lafayette. Army stretched its home win streak to 14 straight, which is tied for fourth place in the country with Nebraska.
Army heads into the weekend two games behind the Mountain Hawks (15-1), who are coming off a series sweep of Colgate that included a pair of mercy wins the final day. The Black Knights' lone league losses were to Colgate the first weekend in April. Since then, Army has strung together a 12-game win streak that tied the school season mark of 33 wins in Wednesday's non-league sweep of Yale, 8-6, 2-1.
It is the fourth time Army posted a 30-win season and second time in three years. The Black Knights are looking to make school history by breaking the school mark for wins and in league play, which is currently 15 set twice, the last time in 2010.
Army and Lehigh are the top two teams in the Patriot League with the Mountain Hawks listed first in batting (.319) and pitching (1.81) followed by the Black Knights at .294 and 2.85, respectively. Army freshman pitcher Morgan Lashley, whose 29 wins set school and Patriot League single-season records, ranks tied for first nationally. She also lists 10th in shutouts (10) and 93rd in ERA (2.12). In league play, Lashley has compiled a 1.46 ERA for a 13-2 mark and has allowed just 20 earned runs over 96.0 innings in the circle. The RHP leads the league in wins, strikeouts (194), shutouts and appearances (47).
Army is ranked 43rd nationally in batting average, 46th in win percentage and 79th in stolen bases. Army senior co-captain Alexis AuBuchon, who lists among its all-time offensive leaders, is 60th in the nation batting .399 while stroking a .490 average in league games with 20 of her team-high 36 RBI. Sophomore Amanda Nguyen is 86th in batting (.387) and 12th in sacrifice hits per game (0.3) with April Ortenzo ranked 29th in doubles per game (0.3). Army head coach Michelle DePolo, who has led the Black Knights to 30-win campaigns twice, enters the weekend with 94 wins.
The Mountain Hawks (34-16, 15-1) swept Colgate in their last league outing with Lehigh's lone conference loss to Holy Cross. The Mountain Hawks are also among the nation's leaders, listing 16th in triples per game, 26th in batting average and 25th in ERA. Jennifer Colquhoun is eighth in batting and Julie Fernandez ranks first in doubles per game (0.4). Fernandez enters the weekend with 251 career hits, six shy of the Lehigh and Patriot League record of 257.
Lehigh dominates the series with Army leading 67-28 after taking three of four games last year, but the Mountain Hawks' last visit to West Point resulted in the Black Knights coming away with three wins in the five games played in 2010. Army and Lehigh split the four-game series with the topseed Black Knights defeating Lehigh, 4-1, in an elimination game in the Patriot League Tournament.
Army, Lehigh and Colgate (9-7) have clinched tournament with final fourth spot to be determined this weekend between Lafayette (5-11) and Bucknell (3-13) when they meet in Easton, Pa., for their series.
In addition to closing out the series Sunday, it will be the final home game for seniors Alexis AuBuchon, Rachael Duval, Reanna Johnson and Clara Navarro. This group has been part of one of the most successful periods in the history of the program at West Point. They helped the Black Knights compile 115 victories with 94 recorded the past three years, to include two of the four 30-win campaigns in school history. Army has earned a post-season tournament berth the last three years, to include winning the regular-season title in 2010 and serving that year as host of the tournament for the first time in program history.
The Patriot League Tournament will be played May 10-12 with the winner earning the league's automatic bid to the NCAA Tournament. Lehigh captured its 11th title last year.