April 10, 2002
COLLEGE PARK, Md. -
Although the "grand opening" is scheduled for next season in conjunction with the completion of the university's Comcast Center, the Maryland softball squad (22-17, 0-2 ACC) meets the Towson Tigers (22-12, 2-1 CAA) in the first games to be played at the Terps' new state-of-the-art facility. As construction wound down early in the spring season, ill-timed March rains shifted the Terps schedule and prevented them from officially moving into their new home until today.
Playing a majority of the season so far in invitational tournaments at neutral sites, the Terps have posted a 22-17 record. The team fared well at the Georgia Tech Buzz Classic in Marietta, Ga., from March 22-24, in which they went 4-2. Defending their 2001 title at this year's George Mason Spring Clash, the team went 3-1 before rain shortened that event in Fairfax, Va., two weekends ago. Today, the Terrapins hope to rebound from an 0-4 slate last weekend at the Tar Heel Invitational in Chapel Hill, N.C.
Several honors have come the Terps' way thus far in 2002. After missing all of 2001 while recovering from elbow surgery, redshirt sophomore Samantha Sweeney (Marlton, N.J.) has put together a stellar season. She leads the Terrapins in several offensive categories and was named ACC Player of the Week for a standout performance at the season-opening Bama Bash. Sweeney was also named to the 2002 George Mason Spring Clash all-tournament team, as were sophomore Monica Cyphert (Warren, Ohio) and senior Beth Radford (Dunkirk, Md.).
Terps At A GlanceWith a mix of seasoned veterans, key role players and talented newcomers, the Terrapins have made positive strides this season in terms of maintaining their position as a conference, regional and national contender.
Senior Kiesha Pickeral (Hughesville, Md.) leads the Terp regulars in batting with a .312 average, good enough to rank in the top 10 among conference leaders. Her eight doubles pace the squad and rank fourth among ACC power hitters, while her team-leading .490 slugging percentage and three home runs set her among the conference elite as well.
Redshirt sophomore Samantha Sweeney has marked a tremendous comeback from her 2001 surgery with a .305 batting average and a team-leading 26 runs scored, 19 stolen bases and 18 walks. Sweeney ranks among ACC leaders in all three of those categories, including being listed third in the ACC in steals.
Maryland's all-time RBI leader, senior Beth Radford's 25 runs batted in paces the Terps and lists seventh among conference leaders. She is tied with teammate Pickeral with eight doubles, which also ties for fourth in the conference. Her .385 batting average with runners in scoring position leads the squad.
Sophomore double-threat Monica Cyphert has belted three homers to tie Pickeral for the Terp lead, but also leads Maryland's pitching staff with an 8-3 record and a .197 opponent batting average.
Senior fireballer Amanda Bettker (St. Petersburg, Fla.) has fought through some early-season injuries en route to a 9-10 record, but her 1.64 ERA leads the Terrapins and ranks sixth in the ACC. She also paces the Terp rotation with four shutouts, 115.1 innings pitched and 106 strikeouts, all good enough to make the ACC top 10.
Rookie hurler Jessica Aditays (Shrewsbury, Mass.) has come on strong in her freshman campaign. She owns a 2.01 ERA in 16 appearances, a 1.9 strikeout to walk ratio and will only improve with more experience.
Fellow freshman Malissa Moczulski (Burlington, N.J.) has become an everyday player for head coach Gina LaMandre, replacing four-year shortstop Jennifer Potzman. Moczulski is batting a respectable .279, and has proven to be a clutch player with a .364 average with runners in scoring position.
Scouting TowsonEntering today's doubleheader with a 22-12 record, the Towson Tigers become Maryland's first opponent in their new stadium. The Tigers have won seven of their last eight games, eight of 10, and 12 of their last 15. Most recently, the Tigers took two out of three from Colonial Athletic Association opponent Hofstra on April 6-7.
Towson is in its first year of competition in the CAA after participating for the rest of its history in the America East. George Mason, James Madison, Delaware, Drexel and Hofstra comprise the rest of the six-team CAA softball conference.
Head coach Lisa Costello is in her seventh season in the Tigers' dugout. Her career record stands at 165-172-1 through this season. Costello led Towson to a school-record 35-26-1 slate in 2001.
Common opponents between the Terps and Tigers include LaSalle, who Towson lost to, 5-6 and 0-2 on March 16, and Siena, who Towson defeated twice. The Terps own a 4-0 record against those opponents in 2002, having defeated the Explorers 3-1 and 11-2 on March 15 and the Saints on March 20 and 21.
The Tigers' balanced attack boasts four batters with averages above .300 and three pitchers that have seen significant innings. Junior Chris Navarro leads Towson at the plate with a .376 average, while senior Brooke Clyde paces the Tigers with three homers and 23 RBI. Junior Michelle Cappe boasts a team-leading 28 runs.
In the pitchers' circle, sophomores Beth Miller and Beth Wilcox have each won six games, as has freshman Jessica Wides. Miller leads the staff with a 0.77 ERA.
The Terrapins hold an 8-5 series advantage over the Tigers after taking three out of four meetings last season. The Terps won two games at the Terrapin Invitational in March and split an April doubleheader on the road.
Terps In Home OpenersThe Terrapins are 6-1 in home openers in their seven year history. The last time the Terrapins dropped an opening game at home was in their inaugural season, when the Terps lost both ends of a doubleheader to George Mason on March 7, 1995, and two more to Goldey Beacom on March 11. The Terps righted themselves to down Bowie State, 20-2 and 12-4, marking the first two home victories in program history on March 12 of that year.
Obviously, the Terps have never had to wait until April 10 to get on their home field, but the opening of the new state-of-the-art facility might be well worth the wait. The 1999 Terrapins were 17-14 in 1999 before opening at home on March 20, their previous late home date. Maryland finished the 1999 season with a 51-23 record, a No. 12 national ranking, and the school's first-ever berth to the NCAA tournament.
Field Of DreamsConstruction is now complete on the University of Maryland's new $3.6 million softball complex after ground was broken last summer. The facility stands as the latest improvement to a Maryland athletics program that already ranks among of Sports Illustrated For Women's Top 10 institutions in the nation for female athletes.
Amenities at the state-of-the-art facility include stadium seating for over 1,000 fans, underground dugouts with restrooms, two bullpen areas and four batting cages, light towers, an electronic scoreboard, a concessions area, a ticket booth, a press box and a natural Bermuda Grass outfield. Located adjacent to Maryland's future Comcast Center on the north side of campus, student-athletes will have access to locker room and weight training facilities, an indoor practice gymnasium, athletic department offices and the academic support and career development unit. Parents, fans and media will have ample parking when the Comcast lots are complete.
Since the softball program's inception in 1995, seven-year mentor LaMandre has guided the Terps to a 241-193-1 record. The three-time NFCA Mid-Atlantic coach of the year put her program on the national map first in 1997 with a share of the ACC tournament title, and even more so in 1999 when the team amassed a 51-23 record, a No. 12 national ranking and advancement to the NCAA regional final game. The 2001 Terrapins posted a 39-23 record.