FROSTBURG, MD —
The Frostburg State softball team had two primary goals entering the 2003 season — win more games than it lost and earn a berth in the Allegheny Mountain Collegiate Conference Tournament.
The Bobcats have achieved both, posting a 13-10 regular-season record and a 7-5 mark in the AMCC which secured them the fourth and final spot in this weekend's AMCC Championship.
Now, they will look to make some noise as they take on top-seed and tourney host La Roche in the tournament's opening contest Friday at 10 am in Pittsburgh.
"We're certainly very happy to have accomplished our two main goals, and we're looking forward to playing in what should be an exciting tournament," said first-year head coach Chris Starke. "We feel we're capable of winning some games, but we also realize it'll take playing our best to do so."
La Roche (24-4-1, 11-1), which has won the last three tournament crowns, and Frostburg State, which posted its third winning record in the program's brief eight-year history, met just last Sunday in Frostburg.
The Redhawks swept the Bobcats, 5-2 and 8-0, to wrap up their fourth straight regular-season title. FSU hurt its chances with four errors that led to eight unearned runs. Six walks didn't help.
"In the opener, we were in a 1-1 ballgame in the fifth inning before helping them out with two walks and an error that led to a pair of unearned runs. In the nightcap, La Roche came out on fire and ended up hitting four home runs."
With both La Roche and Frostburg State boasting the top two batting averages and fielding percentages in the AMCC, the difference may just fall inside the pitching circle.
Redhawk senior Amy Kurtz, one of the front-runners for league Player of the Year honors, boasts a 15-1 record and a stellar 0.55 ERA. She held FSU to two runs on six hits and struck out six in last weekend's twinbill.
The Bobcats, who lost their top pitcher, freshman Katie Nelson, for the season to a leg injury a few weeks ago, will counter with sophomore Jen Vance, a product of nearby Fort Hill High School.
Vance is 5-4 with a 2.95 ERA this season and has turned up her play against AMCC opponents, sporting a 3-1 mark with a 1.70 ERA versus league foes.
"Kurtz is very tough and has definitely been a huge part of La Roche's run over the last few years. Losing Katie really hurts, but Jen's been throwing extremely well of late. She does an excellent job of getting ground balls, and it'll be up to our defense to make plays."
Offensively, La Roche is hitting a league-best .341, led by Nicole Flynn's .435 mark. Three other Redhawks rank in the top 10 in batting average in the most recent AMCC statistics.
Junior Richelle Foor (.421 batting average, 24 RBI) and freshman Ashley Martin (.413, 33 RBI, 11 2B, 4 HR) lead a potent FSU attack that tops the league in scoring (7.65 runs per game) and ranks second in batting average (.330).
Three more Bobcats are among the top 12 hitters in the conference.
No. 2 Penn State Altoona (19-9-1, 10-2) and No. 3 Pitt-Bradford (17-17, 8-4) will meet in Friday's second game starting at noon. Friday's third game will feature the losers of the opening two contests, and play will continue on Saturday.
"Pitching and defense win championships, and we've been preaching that all year. The team that does those things best this weekend will win it all."
For further information on this release, contact:
Office of Sports Information
Frostburg State University
101 Braddock Road
Frostburg, MD 21532-2303