Defending PL Champion Army Opens League Play

Kasey McCravey

Kasey McCravey

March 20, 2014

WEST POINT, N.Y. - Army's softball team begins defense of its Patriot League Tournament title this weekend as the Black Knights look to kick off conference play on a positive note when they head to Pennsylvania to take on host Bucknell in a three-game series. Saturday's doubleheader is slated for 12 p.m. and 2 p.m. with Sunday's game at noon.

The Black Knights were picked third in the league's preseason poll and the Bison were fifth.

Army heads into the weekend 8-13 and the Bison are 7-12. Army, coming off an eight-game slate at the Rebel Spring Games, faced similar opponents in Florida with Bucknell. Both teams defeated Howard and St. Peter's, along with a loss to Creighton, but the Bison took a pair of games from Siena while the Black Knights fell in their lone game to the Saints.

Sophomore third-baseman Kasey McCravey, a Patriot League first-team selection last year and on this year's preseason list, has a hot bat leading the team in several categories. She is batting .444 with 28 hits to include five doubles and four home runs, along with 23 runs batted in compiling a .746 slugging percentage. She has scored 10 runs drawing duty in all 21 games.

McCravey drove in 13 of her runs at the Rebel Spring Games including five each in wins over Howard, 12-2 (6), and St. Peter's, 12-2 (5). Over the eight games, she batted .423 (11-for-26) and ripped three home runs along with a triple compiling a slugging percentage of .846.

Freshman Alee Rashenskas, the reigning Patriot League Rookie of the Week, batted .407 in Florida (11-for-27), scored six runs and drove in five. Freshman Caroline Smithbatted .400 (6-for-15) and pitched well in Florida hurling Army to all three wins compiling a 2.00 ERA in 21 innings.

Savanna Aversa hit .350 (7-for-20) and Amanda Nguyen(also on the league's preseason list) batted .345 (10-for-29) with seven runs scored in rounding out Army's offensive leaders in Florida.

In the overall statistics, Nguyen ranks second on the team with a .338 batting average and is first in runs scored (15), second in hits (23) along with five RBI. Rashenskas is next batting .309 with 21 hits, 14 runs scored and 10 RBI. Senior co-captain April Ortenzois second on the team in RBI (13) and among the leaders in runs scored with nine. Five of her 17 hits went for extra bases (three doubles, two triples) batting .279.

Freshman right-hander Kristen West owns a team-best 2.50 ERA in 13 appearances with two starts this year in 36.1 innings pitched compiling a 1-3 mark. Smith hurled Army to a majority of its wins compiling a 5-4 record in 47 innings with a 4.17 ERA, and sophomore Braetana Roypaces the team in strikeouts (16) while issuing just nine walks over 42.2 innings pitched.

Army and Bucknell met five times last year with the Black Knights claiming four of the games. During the regular-season series, the Black Knights posted a 3-1 mark behind 2-0, 5-4 and 1-0 (11) wins before dropping a 4-0 decision in the final game of the series.

The Black Knights and Bison drew each other in the opening round of the league tournament with second-seeded Army defeating No. 3 Bucknell, 3-2.

The Bison (7-12) are led by junior all-league players Cydnee Sanders and Kristen Zahn. Sanders, a first-team selection last year, is batting .444 with a team high 28 hits and 15 runs scored. Zahn, a second-team pick in 2013, is batting .390 with 23 hits and a team-high 18 runs batted in. Freshman second baseman Jacee Almond, hitting .304, has driven in 11 runs and scored 13 with senior third baseman Mallory Lyons batting .333 with 13 runs scored.

Sophomore pitcher Dana Neilson paces Bucknell with a 4-5 record compiling a 3.38 ERA appearing in 16 of 19 game and involved in all four shutouts, with two solo efforts, along with 60 strikeouts in 60.0 innings pitched. The Bison show a team ERA of 3.30.

The Black Knights make their home debut next Tuesday taking on Rider in a doubleheader at the Army Softball Complex followed by preseason favorite and newest member of the Patriot League, Boston University, March 28 and 29.

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