Terps Softball Begins Play in Georgia for Season Opener

Feb. 16, 2006

Stateboro, Ga. - The University of Maryland softball team travels to Statesboro, Ga. this weekend for the Georgia Southern Invitational, the first of four kickoff tournaments for the year. The Terrapins will face Louisville, Charleston Southern, Troy University and Georgia Southern in the tournament. The season opening game is a 2 p.m. contest against Louisville on Friday, followed by a 4 p.m. matchup against Charleston Southern.

Noting the Terrapins

Last season, the Terrapins finished 28-21 overall and fourth in the Atlantic Coast Conference with a 5-9 record. The squad was led by junior Lindsay Klein (.333 BA, 32 RBI and 12 doubles), second base starter Keri Lounge (32 RBI and four HR), and senior catcher Nikki Smith (.276 BA).

This season's combined rotation of Crystal Crews, Elyse Lucas, Abbey Welch and Meredith Nelles will undoubtedly be a force in 2006. The rotation balances tried and true winners with some promising new faces. In ten starts, Lucas posted a 5-4 record and a team-best 1.34 ERA, helping the Terps to a second-best ERA in the ACC (1.70 ERA) last season. Senior Crews notched 103.1 innings pitched in 2005, with a 6-8 record and a 1.64 ERA. The deep pitching staff also includes junior Welch who had a team-high of three saves last year and fanned 55 batters.

Integral to the defensive effort this season are outfielders Natalie Grossman, Jenny Belak and Meghan Booth. Belak had a .962 fielding percentage and seven stolen bases while Grossman and Booth registered impressive seasons. For the infield, Whitney Reigel, Rachel Greyson, Medley McGuire will also be relied on for defensive and offensive play after strong performances in the off season.

The Terps were picked to finish seventh in the Atlantic Coast Conference, as determined by a preseason vote of the league's head coaches. Florida State was tabbed the preseason favorite, followed by Georgia Tech and Virginia Tech.

New faces ... New places

Maryland starts the 2006 season invigorated with 11 returning letterwinners, six new freshmen and a new coaching staff. Amanda D'Attilio, Kara Kahler, Meredith Nelles, Erica Strudler, Lindsey Ubrun, Devon Williams are the Terps' freshmen class this season.

Maryland welcomes three new coaches to the Terrapin staff. Former Bethune-Cookman head coach Laura Watten and assistant Alissa Smith joined the Terp coaching staff in the fall of 2005. Watten led Bethune-Cookman to five MEAC conference titles in her eight-year career. Rounding out the trio as pitching coach is Meghan Cornett, a former assistant coach and standout player with the University of South Carolina.

The captains for the 2006 Maryland softball team were recently chosen: senior catcher Nikki Smith, junior Lindsay Klein, second base starter Keri Lounge and sophomore Whitney Reigel.

Scouting Louisville

Louisville enters the Georgia Southern Invitational with a 3-0 record after winning the Florida State Early Bird Tournament last weekend. The Cardinals won their opening matchups with games against Nicholls State 9-0, Florida State 12-3 and against Samford 3-1 for the tournament title.

Louisville was selected fourth in the 2006 Big East preseason poll after finishing first last year in the Conference-USA league.

Leading the Cardinals is junior outfielder Candi Hicks (.875 BA, seven runs, four RBI) who was 4-for-4 in stolen bases at the Early Bird Tournament. As a team, U of L is currently batting .346 with a 0.78 ERA. The Cardinals finished last season with a .314 team batting average, a 43-20 overall record and 11-8 on neutral sites.

Head Coach Sandy Pearsall is in her 7th season with the Cardinals.

The Terps have never faced Louisville in play action prior to this tournament.

A Look at Charleston Southern

In their first six games of the season, the Lady Bucs post a 2-3-1 record. On Wednesday, Charleston Southern won two straight over South Carolina State with scores of 11-2 and 8-4. The Bucs are led by sophomore Jill Shondel who has a .400 BA and four hits to date.

Last season, the Bucs finished with a .252 team BA, a 6.16 ERA and a 19-43 record.

This is the first matchup between Maryland and Charleston Southern in softball action. The Terps play the Lady Bucs Friday at 4:00 p.m.

Scouting Troy

The Terrapins post an even 3-3 overall career record with the Troy State Trojans. Maryland has dropped the last two contests, 3-8 and 2-6, in 2004 and 2005, respectively.

The Trojans enter the GSU tournament with a 3-1 record. Troy won a 9-0 contest over Alabama A&M in the inaugural Trojan Classic on February 9 in which junior Laine Harcourt pitched a perfect game. It was the first of Harcourt's career.

Troy was selected second in the Sun Belt Conference behind No. 18 ranked Louisiana-Lafayette this season.

The Terps will face the Trojans on Saturday at 10 a.m.

A Look at Georgia Southern

Tournament host Georgia Southern registers a 3-2 overall record with the Terps. In the last game between the two teams in 2000, the Terps fell in an eight-inning, 6-7, loss. In 1999, the Terps were victorious over Georgia Southern with a 5-3 win.

Most recently, the Eagles were swept by the Florida State Seminoles on Feb. 14 with 3-2 and 11-2 game scores. The Eagles are 1-5 coming into the tournament. In the first game, sophomore Tiffany McDonald struck out a career-high 11 batters.

Save the Date - Maryland Home Opener

Maryland's first home matchup in the Terrapin Softball Complex is a doubleheader against Morgan State on Wednesday, March 22. The Terps hope to continue their streak of 11 consecutive home opener victories in College Park.