Army Heads To PL Tournament With High Hopes

Head coach Michelle DePolo

Head coach Michelle DePolo

May 8, 2013

WEST POINT, N.Y. - The Army softball team will participate in the Patriot League Tournament for the fourth straight year and 20th time in the program history on Thursday, May 9, at 2:30 p.m. when the second-seeded Black Knights (31-23, 12-8 PL) take on third-seeded Bucknell (20-28, 11-9 PL) at Kaufman Field in Bethlehem, Pa. Host and top-seeded Lehigh (35-14-1, 17-3 PL) and No. 4 Colgate (16-30, 9-11 PL) meet in Thursday's opening game at 12 p.m.

The three-day double-elimination tournament continues Friday, May 10, and concludes Saturday, May 11. On Friday, the winners from the two opening rounds meet in Game 3 starting at 11 a.m., followed by Game 4 between the losers of Thursday's games meeting in an elimination game at 1:30 p.m. The final game (Game 5) on Friday is at 4 p.m. is between the winner of Game 4 versus the loser of Game 3 to decide who advances to Saturday's championship round.

The tournament concludes Saturday with the two remaining teams (winner of Game 3 vs. the winner of Game 5) vying for the league's with the first game is at 12 p.m. with the second scheduled for 2 p.m. (if necessary).

At stake is a bid to the NCAA Regional Tournament, and Army is in the hunt for its fifth crown and first since 2002. The last time the Black Knights won the title was at Kaufman Field where they defeated top-seeded Lehigh, 2-1, in the championship game after rallying with two outs in their final at bat.

Last year the Black Knights reached the championship round for the first time since 2006 before bowing to Lehigh, 2-0, and this year's team is looking to make a repeat visit and vie for the title.

Audio streamed broadcasts of the softball tournament will be available via Knight Vision, Army's official multimedia platform with Heath Trabue providing the play-by-play. Fans can sign up for the subscription-based service by logging onto Army's official athletics website (www.goARMYsports.com).

Live stats for the Black Knights' games will be offered via GameTracker on Army's official athletics website with Twitter updates also provided through Army's handle (@Army_WSoftball).

Army heads into the tournament with five All-Patriot League selections to include three first-team picks in second baseman Alex Reynolds, outfielder Amanda Nguyen and third baseman Kasey McCravey, along with second-team honorees in pitcher Morgan Lashley and outfielder Christian McKone. Reynolds and Nguyen have been first-team selections three straight years with Lashley earning her second citation as a pitcher.

Nguyen, Reynolds, McCravey and McKone have been Army's offensive leaders batting over .300 this season and accounting for 252 of 442 hits, 145 of 222 runs scored and 89 of 185 RBI.

Nguyen, who is batting .375, leads the way at the plate and on the base paths where she set Patriot League marks this spring for stolen bases, both season (36) and career (82). Her 76 hits broke her own single-season school mark and are two shy of the league record. Nguyen also broke her own single-season school record for runs scored (43), and her 120 career mark is five away from becoming Army's all-time leader.

Reynolds, batting .363, is Army's single-season (45) and all-time leader (133) in runs batted in. She also lists fourth all-time in doubles (41) runs scored (111), hits (211) and home runs (15). The senior captain leads the team in doubles (15), RBI (41), total bases (92), on-base (.410) percentage and slugging percentage (.514), and is tied with McCravey for first in home runs (four).

McCravey is second on the team in runs scored (41), RBI (33), doubles (11), total bases (82), walks (17) and slugging percentage (.446), and lists third in hits (59). McKone, tied with McCravey for third in batting averages (.321), leads Army in walks (20) and triples (two), is second in stolen bases (12), third in runs scored (33) and on-base percentage (.396), and fourth in hits (52).

Lashley, the league's Pitcher and Rookie of the Year in 2012, continues to dominate the circle. She leads the league for the second straight year in wins (25), strikeouts (177), innings pitched (250.0), appearances (38) and games started (35). She has been ranked nationally the past two years in wins and strikeouts and currently lists 15th in victories and 68th in strikeouts.

Though only a sophomore, the right-handed pitcher has 58 career wins and is just three shy of taking over as Army's leader and is also second in strikeouts with 414. Army and Bucknell are squaring off for the 11th time in the tournament with the Black Knights leading 6-4. The most recent league pairing was in 2010 in elimination game when the Bison handed top-seeded Army a 2-1 setback at West Point and went on to capture the title. In the 1990s, the teams met seven times with Army posting a 5-2 mark and the Bison going 2-1 in the next decade.

In the inaugural year of the tournament, Army came up through the losers' bracket to defeat the Bison twice, 1-0 and 6-5 (9), to capture the title. Army took three of the four-game series from Bucknell this year, sweeping the Bison the first day, 2-0 and 5-4, and splitting the second day, 1-0 (11) and 0-4, to pull ahead 49-31 in a series that began when both joined the Patriot League in 1991.

Army outhit the Bison 28-19 in this year's series, but both scored eight runs. Army posted a 1.31 ERA and the Bison showed a 0.93 ERA. Lashley pitched Army to both shutouts hurling 22of 32 innings along with 17 strikeouts in limiting Bucknell to a miniscule .090 batting average.

The Bison had four players on the All-Patriot League Team with shortstop Cydnee Sanders named to the first unit along with three on the second unit, DP Erin Cox, OF Kristen Zahn and pitcher Amanda Fazio. Zahn, Sanders and Cox pace Bucknell's offense batting .341, .321 and .274, respectively. Cox is the leader in home runs (four) and RBI (18). In the circle, Fazio shows a 2.75 ERA along with 106 strikeouts.

Army is 6-6 vs. the tournament field. The Black Knights took three games from Bucknell during the regular season, two from Colgate, and one from Lehigh. The Mountain Hawks walked off with all four Patriot League major individual awards with Morgan Decker named Player and Rookie of the Year, Rebecca Bliss was Pitcher of the Year and Fran Troyan repeated as Coach of the Year. Lehigh claimed seven all-star certificates with six named to the first team. Colgate had two players selected with catcher Mariel Schlaefer and outfielder Alan Dyson named to the first unit.

In the Army-Colgate regular-season series, the Black Knights swept the Raiders 4-3 (13) and 5-3 the first day. Colgate took both games the second day, 3-2 and 7-2, to split the series, which they lead 57-59.

In the Army-Lehigh series, the Mountain Hawks edged the Black Knights in the first three games, 6-5, 2-0 and 3-2, with the Black Knights nipping them 5-4 in the fourth game. Marina Northup drove in the tying and go-ahead runs with a single in the top of the seventh, and Lashley stranded a pair of runners in the bottom half in that come-from-behind victory.

Lehigh has won 12 Patriot League titles, to include last year's crown, and Army has four, Colgate three and Bucknell two. The Black Knights won back-to-back titles in 1991 and 1992 the first two years, while an automatic NCAA bid went with the winner in 2000 and 2002.

In the preseason poll, Lehigh was picked first, Army was second, Colgate third and Bucknell fifth.

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