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Softball Enjoys Record-Setting Season in 2004

FROSTBURG, MD - The Frostburg State softball team enjoyed a season of firsts in 2004. The Bobcats finished 26-14 overall and 11-1 in the Allegheny Mountain Collegiate Conference, setting school records for both overall and conference victories.

The Bobcats also claimed their first-ever regular-season conference title, hosted the AMCC Tournament for the first time and capped the year by earning a berth in the Eastern College Athletic Conference Tournament, the first post-season invitation in the program’s nine-year history. Along the way, FSU set or tied 30 school records.

Facing arguably the toughest schedule in school history, FSU began the year by winning three of five games at the Methodist Early Bird Tournament in Fayetteville, N.C.

The Bobcats suffered a narrow 2-1 loss to regional powerhouse Lynchburg in their season opener before falling to No. 12 Methodist 9-1, but the Red & Black rebounded with three straight wins on day two to claim the silver bracket.

The Bobcats extended their winning streak to five with a pair of victories to start the Ferrum Tournament but struggled in losses to regional powers Emory & Henry (7-0) and Ferrum (8-4) to fall to 5-4 heading into their Spring Break trip to Myrtle Beach.

FSU opened the week in style, blanking Wells 20-0 and 8-0 behind the strong pitching of senior Andria Cook (Cresaptown, Md./Allegany) and freshman Lori Potts (Purcellville, Va./Loudoun Valley).

Cook threw a perfect game in the opener, striking out seven in five innings, and Potts allowed just two hits and struck out a career-high 10 to complete the sweep.

After dropping two contests to NAIA opponent Shawnee State, the Bobcats rebounded with sweeps of Division II Felician (4-1 and 6-4) and Washington & Jefferson (6-4 and 7-6) to improve to 11-6 on the season.

"The Spring Break trip was a big key to our success this year for several reasons," Starke said. "We got a chance to play in great weather and saw various levels of competition, but more importantly, the players got know each other away from the field which helped immensely with our team chemistry."

After playing their first 17 games on the road, the Bobcats opened their home slate against Hartwick on a cold and rainy day. In game one, FSU scored three times in the sixth to overcome a 3-1 deficit and pull out a 4-3 victory, and in the nightcap, the Bobcats rallied from a 5-2 hole with a six-run fourth en route to an 8-6 win.

With its winning streak at six, FSU hit the road yet again to face ODAC opponent Bridgewater. In game one, the Bobcats jumped out to a 3-0 lead in the first before the Eagles stormed back to take a 7-3 win. Bridgewater continued its hot hitting in the nightcap and posted a 13-0 shutout.

Now sitting at 13-8, the Bobcats opened their AMCC schedule with back-to-back road doubleheaders against 2003 AMCC runner-up Penn State Altoona and 2003 conference champion Pitt-Bradford. Road-tested and ready, FSU came through with three key victories.

After committing four errors in a 5-3 opening loss to Penn State Altoona, the Bobcats showed their resolve and pounded out 13 hits in an 8-3 game-two victory. Junior Amanda Boswell (Marbury, Md./Lackey) sparked FSU in the nightcap, going 3-for-4 with three RBI and two runs scored.

The Bobcats then needed all three facets of their game - offense, defense and pitching – to sweep Pitt-Bradford. In game one, FSU pounded out a season-high 16 hits and Cook allowed just six hits and no earned runs in a 9-4 win.

Potts then gave up just four hits and struck out four in a thrilling 1-0 victory in game two. The teams battled through six scoreless innings before FSU broke through with two outs in the top of the seventh on a double by freshman Amanda Griswold (Rockville, Md./Magruder) and a single by senior Stephanie Zych (Slingerlands, N.Y./Guilderland).

Pitt-Bradford had runners on second and third with none out in the bottom of the seventh, but Potts induced two infield pop ups and ended the game with a strikeout.

FSU stayed hot, sweeping a much-improved Penn State Behrend squad 11-9 and 5-2 and posting 8-0 and 7-6 victories at La Roche to tie the school record of seven straight wins set in 2003.

The Bobcats also improved to 20-9 overall, tying the single-season school mark for victories set by the 1999 team.

After 10-1 and 5-4 losses to eventual NCAA Tournament participant McDaniel, FSU rebounded by sweeping Lake Erie 3-2 and 6-0 to clinch its first AMCC regular-season title and the right to host the AMCC Tournament.

The Bobcats capped their regular season with doubleheader sweeps of Pitt-Greensburg (forfeits) and Villa Julie (10-2 and 8-0) and entered the conference tournament with an impressive 24-11 mark.

The top-seeded Bobcats took care of business in the AMCC Tournament opener, dumping No. 4 Penn State Altoona 5-0. Potts allowed just three singles and struck out two to earn her school-record fifth shutout of the year.

That set up a showdown with defending tournament champion Pitt-Bradford in the winner’s bracket title game.

The game was scoreless through five innings before UPB plated a run with back-to-back two-out doubles in the sixth.

The Panthers then blew it open with five unearned runs in the seventh before FSU avoided the shutout with two runs in the bottom of the final frame for a 6-2 final.

The loss spoiled a strong effort by Cook, who allowed just one earned run and struck out four in her school-record 18th complete game of the year.

Sent to the loser’s bracket and needing to win three games on day two of the tournament to claim the title, FSU came out flat and fell behind Penn State Altoona 7-1 heading into the bottom of the third.

But, the Bobcats regrouped and put together one of the top comebacks in school history.

FSU cut its deficit to 7-4 with three runs in the third and then plated four more in the fourth to take an 8-7 advantage.

The Bobcats added three more runs in the fifth en route to an improbable 11-8 victory but still needed to defeat Pitt-Bradford twice to win the championship.

FSU looked to strike first, putting runners on first and second with none out in the second inning, but came up empty.

The Panthers scored two runs in the bottom of the third and then added two more runs in the sixth en route to a 4-0 win and their second straight league title.

"Pitt-Bradford simply played better than we did in the tournament," Starke said. "I was very proud of how we came back against Penn State Altoona, and that gave us a lot of confidence, but we didn’t hit and made some defensive miscues that cost us against Bradford."

Despite coming up short in their run for the AMCC title, the Bobcats were still rewarded for their strong season with the No. 6 seed in the Eastern College Athletic Conference Southern Region Championship.

The Bobcats traveled to No. 3 Misericordia in the first round and jumped out to a 2-0 lead in the third on a two-run double by sophomore Krystal Dixon (Westminster, Md./Westminster).

However, the Cougars, in the ECAC Tournament for the third time in four years, answered with two runs in the bottom of the inning and then took control with a four-run fifth en route to a 6-2 victory.

"That was a good learning experience for all of us," said Starke. "We played hard against a team with a lot of postseason experience but, like in the AMCC Tournament, we couldn’t come up with some clutch hits."

While the team reached new heights, several individuals were honored for their outstanding years.

Sophomore Trish Brown (Manchester, Md./North Carroll) was named the AMCC Co-Player of the Year after hitting .468, setting single-season school records with 51 hits and 85 total bases and tying single-season school records with six home runs and 35 RBI.

She finished the year ranked 25th in NCAA Division III in slugging percentage (.780) and 32nd in batting average.

Cook, Boswell and Potts joined Brown on the All-AMCC first team.

Cook finished 12-8 overall with a 2.59 earned run average and set school records for innings pitched (140.2), appearances (27), starts (23) and complete games (18). She tossed two shutouts, including the second perfect game in FSU history.

Boswell finished third on the team in batting average (.338) and was second in both runs (26) and on-base percentage (.427). She was also a perfect 7-for-7 in stolen bases.

Potts finished second on the team in batting average (.343), slugging percentage (.407), hits (37), RBI (20) and total bases (44), tied for second in doubles (7), was third in on-base percentage (.387) and ranked fifth in runs (18).

She was equally impressive in the pitching circle, going 14-6 with a 3.07 ERA and tossing 13 complete games, including her school-record five shutouts. Her 14 victories are also a single-season school record

Zych earned second-team All-AMCC honors for the second consecutive season. The only Bobcat to start all 40 games in 2004, Zych hit .287 with seven doubles and a career-high 18 RBI.

She was second on the team in walks (14), tied for second in doubles, was third in hits (33) and RBI and tied for third in runs (21).

Zych set a single-season school record for at-bats (115) and graduates as FSU’s career leader in games played (115), at-bats (365), runs (92), hits (116) and walks (48).

Dixon earned honorable mention honors as a designated player after hitting .267 with 24 hits, including six doubles and two triples. She posted a .378 slugging percentage and drove in 19 runs.

Not to be outdone with their performance on the field, the Bobcats also took care of business in the classroom, compiling a team cumulative grade point average of 3.19 for the spring semester.

Zych and sophomore Megan Burner (Oakland, Md./Southern Garrett) had perfect 4.0 GPAs, while four other players surpassed the 3.0 mark.

"This was certainly a fun and rewarding season," said Starke. "I was very proud of how the players worked extremely hard and well together, and their efforts paid off with the best season in school history.

"A lot of credit for our success has to go to Wes Landrum, our assistant coach, who did another remarkable job with our pitchers and catchers. He took two pitchers in their first year with our program and developed an excellent staff that gave us a chance to win nearly every time out."

While the Bobcats lose four seniors – Cook, Zych, Marsha Moats (Hagerstown, Md./South Hagerstown) and Lindsey Secrest (Hagerstown, Md./Williamsport) – they do return eight players, all of whom saw extensive action in 2004.

Starke expects a strong and deep recruiting class to help FSU make another run at the AMCC title and the league’s automatic bid to the NCAA Tournament next year.

"This year’s team set the bar high both athletically and academically for future years. We’ve got some unfinished business next season and we’re very excited about what lies ahead for FSU softball."

For further information on this release, contact:

Office of Sports Information
Frostburg State University
101 Braddock Road
Frostburg, MD  21532-2303

Telephone: 301-687-4371
Fax: 301-687-4780