Feb. 7, 2002
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COLLEGE PARK, Md. -
The Maryland softball squad heads south to Tuscaloosa, Ala., to kick off the 2002 season at the Bama Bash from Feb. 8-10. The Terrapins join the Evansville Purple Aces and Samford Bulldogs as guests of the preseason-No. 13 Alabama Crimson Tide, who hosted the NCAA Region IV tournament a season ago. The weekend of softball action marks the first of 2002 for the Terps, Aces and Bulldogs, while Alabama got its feet wet with a season-opening series with defending world champion Arizona.
The Terrapins, who posted a 39-23 record in 2001 for the second-best mark in school history, open the tournament and 2002 University of Maryland spring sports season with their noon EST Friday match-up with Evansville. A meeting with the host-Crimson Tide rounds out the first day of action at 5 p.m. EST. After squaring off with Samford at noon EST on Saturday, the Terps will be seeded for the championship round, where each team has a chance to claim the 2002 Bama Bash title.
Those who cannot make the trip to Tuscaloosa this weekend can still be a part of the action by following the Terps live on the Internet. Locate www.umterps.com, the official online home of Maryland athletics, when it gets close to game time. The link in the "Live Coverage" box will take you to Alabama's website, where you can choose the game you want to follow. Complete game recaps and box scores will also be available on umterps.com shortly following each game.
Additionally, a live radio broadcast of the Terps' 5 p.m. EST game with Alabama can be accessed on the Internet. The Terps-Tide clash will be aired by 90.7 WUVA and can be heard by going to the radio station's website.
2002 Bama Bash Schedule
Friday, Feb. 8
Noon Maryland vs. Evansville
2:30 p.m. Samford vs. Evansville
5 p.m. Maryland vs. Alabama
7:30 p.m. Alabama vs. Samford
Saturday, Feb. 9
Noon Samford vs. Maryland
2:30 p.m. Alabama vs. Evansville
5 p.m. Seed #1 vs. Seed #4
7 p.m. Seed #2 vs. Seed #3
Sunday, Feb. 10
2 p.m. Championship
All times Eastern
Terps Make The Most Of Preseason PreparationSince preseason training camp opened on Jan. 21, head coach Gina LaMandre and the softball Terrapins have taken advantage of favorable warm weather in preparation for the new season. After fall and winter months full of individual skill sessions, the coaching staff has been working with the full squad to prepare for the live offensive and defensive situations they will face this weekend.
LaMandre has been impressed by her squad's improvement, despite the team's youth and an abbreviated fall season. With eight freshman aboard, the 2002 Terrapins may be young, but the coaching staff is pleased with the team speed and depth the newcomers bring to the squad. LaMandre notes an overall improvement in the Terps' patience at the plate and responses in live defensive situations.
"The kids are working hard. I am pleased with their enthusiasm, focus and intensity -- even when we were doing two-a-days," said LaMandre. "I feel good about where we are right now."
Terps At A GlanceA solid and well-rounded pitching staff, increased team speed and depth at every position are the ingredients that LaMandre is hoping to mix together for a successful season. The Terrapins lost three starting position players and one pitcher from a team that narrowly missed a NCAA tournament bid in 2001 and posted the second-most wins in program history, but an influx of new talent and a core of seasoned returners might have the Terps poised for a postseason run as 2002 rolls on.
2001 NFCA Mid-Atlantic All-Region honoree Amanda Bettker (St. Petersburg, Fla.) anchors what could be Maryland's most complete pitching staff to date. The senior ranked among ACC leaders in every pitching category last season and her marathon 0.58 ERA in 24.0 innings during the ACC Championships garnered all-tournament honors. Double-threat Monica Cyphert (Warren, Ohio) and rookie fireballer Jessica Aditays (Shrewbury, Mass.) round out the Terps' solid staff.
Two-time all-region selection Beth Radford (Dunkirk, Md.) and energetic sophomore Casey Leiter (Lake Stephens, Wash.) give the Terrapins a formidable one-two combination behind the plate.
Senior slugger Kiesha Pickeral (Hughesville, Md.), junior Jillian Callaway (Brandywine, Md.) and sophomore Jen Peel (St. Leonard, Md.) provide familiar faces around the horn, while newcomers Malissa Moczulski (Burlington, N.J.) and Nneka Cardoza (Brockton, Mass.) will factor in as well.
The outfield will look the most different from the Terps' 2001 squad, as senior Danielle Carpenter (Mt. Laurel, N.J.) is the only returning starter. Samantha Sweeney (Marlton, N.J.) returns, however, from a redshirt season, and freshmen Lauren Pollock (Severna Park, Md.), Crystal Tweedy (Dumfries, Va.) and Cardoza are more than capable of sliding into possible starting roles.
Scouting EvansvilleThe Purple Aces begin the 2002 season against the Terps in the Bama Bash on Friday after coming off a second place finish in the Missouri Valley Conference during 2001.
Jamie Davison, last year's MVC Rookie of the Year and Evansville's top hitter (.381) and RBI producer (39), will returns to the shortstop position this season. Along with Davison, six of last year's starters return to the Purple Aces' lineup.
Evansville head coach Gwen Lewis will start sophomore Samantha Doner behind the plate this season. Doner led the Aces in hitting this fall and will replace two-time MVC Player of the Year Jessica Huff. Evansville will start two freshmen in its pitching rotation, freshmen Katie Markle and Casey Clutch, along with junior Joni Woods.
The Terps own a 2-1 series advantage over the Purple Aces, having taken two wins at the Georgia Tech Buzz Classic in 1999.
Scouting AlabamaNo. 13 Alabama started the season with three losses against the defending national champion Arizona in Tucson last weekend, after beginning 2001 with a school record 27-0 start.
The SEC Coaches' Preseason Poll selected the Tide to place second in the Western Division behind LSU, who finished third overall in the 2001 Women's College World Series.
Alabama's biggest offensive threat, All-American sophomore first baseman Jackie McClain, smacked two home runs off 2001 national player of the year Jennie Finch last weekend.
The SEC's 2001 RBI leader (59) drove in three of Alabama's eight runs in the three game series against Arizona.
Senior All-America pitcher Shelley Laird (32-7 in 2001) is vying to become the SEC's all-time winningest pitcher this weekend. She is three victories away.
The Tide's outfield will have a new look after losing two players to graduation and moving McClain to first base.
The Terrapins split Fiesta Bowl and Speedline Invitational match-ups in 1999, the only two meetings between the two schools.
Scouting SamfordThis weekend's meeting between Samford and Maryland will be the first in school history.
The Bulldogs will return six starters from last year's 26-37 team, including sophomore pitcher Erin Landsburg, who had Samford's third lowest all-time ERA at 1.99 last season.
Head coach Mark Voisard expects a strong start out of his team after the Bulldogs went 7-2 in their final games last season and captured third place in the Trans America Athletic Conference tournament.