Grizzly softball opens Friday in Pueblo
ASC opens against No. 13 Minnesota State Friday
PUEBLO, Colo. – First pitch of the 2012 Adams State softball season is less than 24 hours away as the Grizzlies will take the field for their season-opener Friday morning at 10 a.m. against 13th-ranked Minnesota State as part of the Northern Sun Intercollegiate Conference (NSIC)/Rocky Mountain Athletic Conference (RMAC) Crossover hosted by Colorado State-Pueblo.
The Grizzlies are slated to play four games in three days, one game on Friday and on Sunday and a twofer on Saturday.
Adams State has been picked to finish fifth in the RMAC this season while receiving two first place votes. Last spring, the Grizzlies posted marks of 31-26 overall and 19-19 in the RMAC, advancing to the if-necessary game of the RMAC tournament against Regis, and fell just one win shy of advancing to the NCAA tournament.
Two Grizzlies were tabbed to the preseason All-RMAC team, including repeat Preseason Player of the Year Katelyn Lovato (Northglenn, Colo.). She was joined by senior Rebecca Lindquist (Fort Collins, Colo.).
Lovato was named the RMAC Player of the Year in 2011 after smacking an ASC record 100 hits and hitting a NCAA Division fourth best .488. She was also named an Easton Sports, Inc. NAIA/NCAA Division II/NCAA Division III All-American, First Team National Fastpitch Coaches’ Association and First Team Daktronics, Inc., All-American.
Lindquist, also a 1st Team All-RMAC honoree in 2011, led the conference with 61 RBIs and had 93 hits, including a league record 26 doubles, 51 runs scored and a .425 batting average. Her efforts landed her as an Honorable Mention Daktronics, Inc. All-American.
ASC’s biggest test of opening weekend looks to be Minnesota State. Ranked 13th in the National Fastpitch Coaches’ Association (NFCA) Preseason Poll, the Mavericks were picked for second in the NSIC and received four first place votes, behind only Division II’s 8th-ranked Augustana (S.D.).
Minnesota State put up a 54-16 overall record last season and advanced to the NCAA Divison II Finals in Salem, Va. Leading the Mavericks is returning 1st Team All-NSIC selection Lindsey Erickson. A sophomore designated player, Erickson had 88 hits last season, including 20 doubles, seven home runs and a triple. She hit .413 during her freshman campaign and drove in 42 runs.
The Grizzlies met up against Minnesota State at last year’s NSIC/RMAC Crossover in Rochester, Minn., where the Mavericks scored an 8-0 win in five innings.
Saturday, another pair of top five NSIC foes awaits ASC in the form of Winona State and Concordia-St. Paul, at 10 a.m. and 2 p.m., respectively.
Winona State was picked third in the NSIC preseason poll, receiving one vote for first after a 37-13 mark in 2011. Leading the Warriors are returning 1st Team All-NSIC picks Molly Link and Kelly Crudo.
Link, a senior first baseman, was both the NSIC Player of the Year and Newcomer of the Year in 2011. She hit .428, scored 62 runs and drove in 53. Her 12 home runs led the Mavericks, and she also tallied 21 doubles among her 77 hits during the season. Crudo, a senior catcher/outfielder for the Mavericks, hit .398 with 49 RBI and 3 runs scored as a junior.
ASC was set to face the Warriors last season but the game was cancelled by weather.
A 31-21 season in 2011 has led to a tie for fifth in the NSIC preseason poll for Concordia-St. Paul, which owns a 1-1 record so far this season and is the only of the Grizzlies’ weekend opponents to have played yet this season.
A pair of 2nd Team All-NSIC honorees return for the Golden Bears this spring, seniors Callie Brennan and Katie Anderson. Brennan hit .390 last season, smacking 53 hits and tallying 40 RBI. Anderson had 65 hits for the Golden Bears, including eight doubles, five homers and two triples, and sent 22 runs across the plate.
Concordia-St. Paul topped Adams State in five innings, 15-6, last season.
The Grizzlies will conclude the weekend Sunday at Noon against Black Hills State (S.D.), which will play this season as an associate member of the RMAC and not be eligible for the conference tournament.
Picked for 14th in the RMAC preseason poll after a 10-27 year in the Dakota Athletics Conference (DAC) last season, the Yellow Jackets will return their lone all-conference player from 2011 in sophomore third baseman Kelsie Chambers.
Chambers was honored as the DAC Freshman of the Year last season and also earned the league gold glove award for her defensive prowess on the hot corner. At the plate, Chambers hit .394 with 11 home runs and drove in 33.
Grizzly fans can get updates throughout the weekend of action by visiting the NSIC/RMAC Crossover Central web page, and can follow live stats of Adams State’s Saturday afternoon contest against Concordia-St. Paul at 2 p.m., as well as Sunday’s Noon match-up with Black Hills State.