LEWISBURG, Pa. - Bucknell softball will pick up its early-season schedule at the UMBC Dawg Pound Classic in Baltimore on Saturday, with contests slated for 10 a.m. against Seton Hall and 12 p.m. against the host Retrievers. The Bison are coming off a 2-2 performance at last week's George Mason Invitational and hope to build on momentum as they head into their spring break stretch. Live stats for both games at UMBC will be available at UMBCRetrievers.com.
The Bison's weekend schedule has been abbreviated due to rain expected in the Baltimore area. Games against Drexel and Saint Francis (Pa.) have been canceled.
ABOUT THE BISON
Bucknell split both its doubleheaders a week ago, defeating George Mason and Marist but taking both its losses to Cornell. The last time the Bison posted two wins in their first four games of a season was in 2005 when they opened with a 3-2 record.
Bridget Gates (Milford, Conn./Our Lady of Mercy Lauralton Hall) was named the Patriot League Rookie of the Week on Monday. The freshman pitcher finished the George Mason Invitational with a 2-0 record and an impressive 0.00 ERA. Gates allowed just eight hits, three walks and struck out four in 12.0 innings of work. She also earned a shutout in the 11-0, five-inning victory over Marist.
Sherry Finkel (Morgantown, W. Va./University) is leading the Bison in batting average after the first weekend of play. The senior is hitting .500 (6-12) with two doubles and a home run that put Bucknell up 8-0 in the fourth inning against Marist. She is the only Bison to record at least one hit in all four games.
Mary Horton (Plantation, Fla./St. Thomas Aquinas) also made a splash in her Bucknell debut. The freshman hit .455 (5-11) with a pair of doubles and two RBI.
Bucknell earned a come-from-behind win in its season opener vs. George Mason last Saturday. The Bison trailed 3-0 after five innings, but posted two runs in the sixth and another four in the seventh to pull out the 6-3 victory. The late-inning push was capped off with a three-run homer from Mary Pavlovich (Johnstown, Pa./Richland), the fourth of her career.
The late production against George Mason proved to be a preview of things to come. Bucknell also recorded five of its six runs in the last two innings against Cornell. In their first four games, the Bison have totaled seven runs in the first three innings and 18 runs in the fourth inning or later.
Bucknell made the most of its offense against Marist on Sunday. The Bison finished the shortened game against the Red Foxes with 11 runs off 11 hits and 11 RBI.
With a double in the Bison's first game against Cornell, Pavlovich improved her career total to 28. The senior now ranks eighth all-time at Bucknell, just one double behind Meredith Gill (2000-03) for seventh and two behind Kristen Sandel (1995-98) and Jenna Demetriades (1999-2002) for fifth.
ABOUT THE RETRIEVERS
UMBC enters the week with a 9-1 record. The Retrievers lost their season-opener 3-1 to USC Upstate and have failed to drop a contest since. Most recently, they took on Delaware on the road, sweeping the home team, 6-5 in 10 innings and 4-2 in five frames, and giving head coach Joe French his 500th career victory. UMBC will face George Washington in a doubleheader on Thursday before hosting its second home tournament this spring.
The Retrievers are led by juniors Lauren Brummell and Stephanie Weigman this season. Brummell, an All-America East Second Team selection, is hitting .419 (13-31) with two doubles, two triples and two home runs through the first 10 games. Weigman is 4-1 in the pitchers' circle with a 1.94 ERA and shutout so far this spring. Freshman pitcher Heather Brown has also reached four wins at 4-0 with a 2.10 ERA.
UMBC finished the 2009 season fourth in the conference at 34-21 overall and 12-8 in the America East. Amanda Fefel joined Brummell as an all-conference selection, earning first-team accolades.
Bucknell trails in the all-time series with UMBC, 8-4. The two teams met last season with the Retrievers winning both games of a double-header, 9-1 in six innings and 6-3. Alison Ford (Suisun City, Calif./Fairfield) hit 2-for-6 with a home run and two RBI in that series.
ABOUT THE PIRATES
Seton Hall is 3-9 this season after losing both games in a doubleheader against Towson on Wednesday. The Pirates' wins came against Boston (12-7), Howard (10-6) and Mercer (6-2) and were sandwiched around a 16-0 loss in five innings to nationally ranked Georgia Tech.
Leading the Pirates at the plate is Brittany Hammer. The freshman infielder is hitting .462 (12-26) with a pair of doubles. Nalin Bennett is also batting .389 (14-36) with a team-high seven runs and is 5-for-6 in stolen bases. In the pitchers' circle, Katie Stilwell is 1-4 with a 4.36 ERA, while teammate Ashley Forsyth is 2-3 with a 6.27 ERA. The duo has allowed a combined seven home runs, 15 doubles and four triples.
The Pirates have been successful on the base paths, having nabbed 15 stolen bases in 18 attempts. They have struggled to get players across home plate, however, as they have totaled just 41 runs compared to 91 for their opponents. - Seton Hall finished the 2009 campaign 24-31-1 overall and 10-14 in the BIG EAST. The Pirates earned the final berth in the BIG EAST Championships last year with the eighth seed only to be knocked out by top-ranked DePaul, 1-0, in the first round.
Bucknell has never earned a win against the Pirates and finds itself on the losing end of a 7-0 record since the series began in 1981. The Bison and Pirates last played in 2006 with Seton Hall winning 16-6 in six innings. The Pirates led by just two runs until the fifth inning when they erupted for a total of 14 runs in the final two frames. The Bison scored all six of their runs in the fifth and sixth.
UP NEXT Following the four-game tournament in Baltimore, the Bison will head to Los Angeles, Calif. Bucknell will face off against Harvard in a single game on Tuesday, March 16. The squad will then participate in the Loyola Marymount Showcase with Utah Valley, Loyola Marymount and North Dakota. All games in Los Angeles will be played at Loyola Marymount's Smith Field.