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Softball Looking for New Faces, New Field to Help Blaze Path to AMCC Championship

FROSTBURG, MD — An air of freshness and excitement surrounds the Frostburg State softball team as it opens its 2002 season with visions of capturing the Allegheny Mountain Collegiate Conference championship.

Seven players return from last year's 14-17 squad that advanced to the semifinals of the AMCC Tournament which was eventually canceled due to rain, and head coach Becky Keller welcomes eight newcomers to a squad that will play in a brand new complex set to open April 4 when the Bobcats host Pitt-Greensburg.

FSU will look to senior Krissy Jackson (Frostburg, Md./Beall) and sophomore Stephanie Zych (Slingerlands, N.Y./Guilderland) to guide a talented infield.

Jackson, the team’s starting centerfielder the last three seasons, makes the switch to catcher as the Bobcats look to take advantage of her athleticism and strong arm behind the plate. She hit .259 with a double, a triple and 11 RBIs last year and will be counted on to drive in runs in the heart of the order. Jackson may also see time at shortstop and in centerfield.

Zych, an All-AMCC honorable mention selection at second base last year, will split time between second base and shortstop. Zych enjoyed a fine debut season, as she hit .302 with five doubles and finished third on the team with 18 runs scored. She is likely to hit in the top third of the lineup.

Sophomores Lora Thomas (Bowie, Md./Bowie) and Amy Sarro (Severn, Md./Archbishop Spalding) will battle for the starting role at first base. Thomas hit .333 with a double and three RBIs in nine games last season, while Sarro started two contests.

Freshman Raelee Casazza (Miller Place, N.Y./Miller Place) will likely get the starting nod at second base while also seeing a lot of action as one of the team’s top pitchers. Casazza is a strong athlete with great quickness and athleticism who will be a threat at the plate.

Sophomore Richelle Foor (Everett, Pa./Everett), a talented transfer from Waynesburg College, will start at third base. Foor earned Presidents Athletic Conference Freshman of the Year honors two seasons ago after hitting .591 with seven doubles and 24 RBIs, but she missed last year after knee surgery. The hard-hitting Foor will bat in the top half of the order.

Freshmen Alana Mantovani (Montvale, N.J./Pascack Hills) and Jenn Meehan (Baltimore, Md./Catonsville) will battle for time at second and third, respectively. Both are solid contact hitters who will provide depth.

Freshman Angela Giufredda (Frederick, Md./Urbana) will see time behind the plate when Jackson moves out to the field. Giufredda is a solid hitter with great mechanics, and her versatility will give Keller several options defensively.

Freshman Jen Vance (Cumberland, Md./Fort Hill) and Casazza will split the starting duties in the circle this season. Vance, a hard-throwing righty with a strong change-up and solid arsenal of pitches, will also see time in centerfield and perhaps second base.

The Bobcat outfield will feature a mix of returners and newcomers. Sophomores Shannon McQuillan (Bowie, Md./Archbishop Spalding), Heather Zukus (Baltimore, Md./Kenwood) and Amber Blackmire (Hebron, Md./Mardela) will battle Vance, Giufredda and freshmen Kristy Sipes (Cumberland, Md./Fort Hill) and Melloney Daniels (Fort Washington, Md./Frederick Douglass) for time.

McQuillan is the likely starter in right field, where she saw action in 18 games last season. A much-improved hitter, she will be a strength in the lower half of the order as well as a defensive presence with her strong arm.

Blackmire and Zukus should battle in left field after gaining valuable experience as freshmen last season. Blackmire appeared in 12 games with three starts a year ago and scored three runs, while Zukus started all 15 games in which she played.

Giufredda and Vance will split the starting role in centerfield, while Sipes and Daniels will press for time with their strong work ethics.

Sipes is a hard-nosed contact hitter, while Daniels is one of the team’s fastest runners and may see action as a pinch runner.

"The players are working very well together, which is a huge strength for us," said fourth-year head coach Becky Keller. "We’ve got some very strong hitters from the top to the bottom of our lineup, and I definitely see us being a threat in the AMCC. We want to host the conference championship and win it on our new field."

The Bobcats will use a challenging non-conference schedule to prepare them for their AMCC slate. FSU will face a tough field at the Ferrum Tournament, including nationally ranked Roanoke, as well as Division II Shepherd (W.Va.), before heading into league play.

FSU is looking forward to the chance to compete in the AMCC Tournament, which has been rained out the last two seasons. The Bobcats advanced to last year’s semifinals before rain washed away their chance at the league crown.

With a new field and change in tournament format from single- to double-elimination, hopes are high for a successful season.

"Our out-of-conference games are designed to make us stronger for when we begin league play," said Keller. "The Ferrum Tournament will tell us a lot about our team. Overall, I think we’re going to surprise some people this season."

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