May 7, 2008
COLLEGE PARK, Md. - The University of Maryland plays host to the Atlantic Coast Conference Softball Championship Thursday after having a successful regular season in terms of records and milestones. Maryland faces second-seeded Virginia Tech in the first round at 12:30 p.m. Thursday.
The Terps have recorded the third-most wins in school history, the most since 2001 and have increased their total number of wins in each of head coach Laura Watten's three seasons. In Watten's first year, the Terps had four more victories (32) than the previous season, moving to 33 last year and so far have 35 this season. Watten is 101-74 in her three seasons and is the fastest Maryland coach to 100 victories.
Senior Jenny Belak has rewritten the record books in her final season at College Park. She has started every game played at Maryland (218) and, in her sophomore season, had one of the best hitting seasons ever at Maryland with 70 hits and a .359 batting average, which rank first and second in the single-season record book, respectively.
On April 30 at Towson, Belak became the all-time hits leader at Maryland, breaking Kelly Shipman's nine-year old record of 212. Belak has 217 hits going into the ACC Championship. Belak has broken three other career records this season, including stolen bases (59), triples (12) and at-bats (748).
Part of the success this season for the Terps can be attributed to two transfers Watten brought in for the 2007 season. This season, in their second and final seasons at Maryland, Brittany Bessho and Sarde Stewart have made a huge impact in the middle of the lineup for the Terps.
After appearing for Tennessee in the Women's College World Series in 2005, Bessho came into her own this season for the Terps, batting .321 with six home runs and 31 RBI and will go down in the record books as one of the best career hitters in Terp history with an average of .310. Her 13 doubles this season are the fifth most in a single-season and her home run and RBI totals are career highs.
Stewart followed Watten from Bethune-Cookman and has set career highs in batting average (.345), home runs (10), RBIs (47) and runs scored (31). Stewart's RBI total is the second-most in a single season at Maryland and her 10 homers are third-most in a single-season. Stewart's slugging percentage (.640) and on-base percentage (.429) have been top five in the ACC all season long.
Virginia Tech comes into the game with a record of 41-15 on the season. Senior Angela Tincher leads the Hokies' pitching staff with a 30-6 record and a 0.56 ERA with 532 strikeouts, the ninth-most in a single season in NCAA history. Tech's bats are led by Charisse Mariconda, who is batting .389 with three home runs and 36 RBIs.
Every game of the ACC Championship will be broadcast live on ACCSelect.com. The tourney begins at 10 a.m. when third-seeded Florida State plays Boston College, the sixth seed. Regular-season champion North Carolina plays Virginia at 3 p.m. and fourth seed Georgia Tech faces fifth-seeded NC State at 5:30 p.m.