By Jennifer Calhoun and Thomas Shea
Even though the weather outside is frightful, spring sports at Fairfield are still going ahead as scheduled. This is the first half of our coverage of the teams that will be taking the field for the later months of the semester.
Fairfield baseball is looking to improve on a 2013 season that finished below the team’s expectations. The team is looking to improve on their 20-29 overall record and 11-13 MAAC record, this following their 2012 campaign which sent the team to the MAAC Tournament for the first time in almost a decade. In spite of their record, the team won eight of their final 10 games to end the season last year.
The Stags are predicted to finish sixth in the MAAC behind Canisius, who is predicted to capture the MAAC crown. The Stags also had one selection to the preseason All-MAAC team in Ryan Plourde ‘14, an outfielder.
Head Coach Bill Currier named his captains for the 2014 season in October, naming seniors Plourde, Rob LoPinto and Brian Murphy.
The team is going to look to these seniors for guidance, building off of a team that was young in the 2013 season. The Stags will spend a good portion of the beginning of their season south with the warmer weather. They will play three games in Jacksonville, Fla., six across Virginia, and three in Newark, Del. Their first home game is March 19 against NJIT.
Heading into the 2014 season, softball has already been well represented in preseason awards. Head Coach Julie Brzezinski was awarded preseason coach of the year. Her players Rae Ball ‘14 and Lauren Liseth ‘14 were awarded preseason pitcher and field player of the year, respectively. Rebecca Trott ‘14 and Kristen Filicia ‘14 were also named to the preseason All-MAAC Second Team.
Stags are looking to build on their strong 2013 season that featured a 29-21 overall record and a 12-4 MAAC record. Last season, the Stags earned a share of the MAAC regular season title, sharing with Siena. Fairfield will look to its seniors in hopes of not only repeating as regular season champions, but also bringing a MAAC Tournament Championship back to Fairfield.
Like their male counterparts, the Stags will spend the beginning of their 2014 season south. The Stags will play their softball in the southern states until they return on March 14 for a game against Columbia.
The men’s golf team can go into 2014 with some heightened expectations stemming from their successful 2013 season. The team finished third at the MAAC Golf Championships in Orlando, Fla. last season, setting a program record with a three-day total score of 884, just three strokes back of team champion Loyola.
On an individual level, 2013 MAAC Coach of the Year Len Roberto will get to see how Steve Burak ‘15 will continue to develop his game after a tremendous 2013 season. Burak shot a MAAC Championship 54-hole record 208 to take home the McLeod Trophy, which goes to the player with the best score after three days. He was the first individual winner of McLeod Trophy for Fairfield in 16 years. The first tournament for the men’s team comes on March 30, at the Towson Invitational.
As for the women’s team, they are looking to ride a little of the momentum they found in the fall when they finished second at the Quinnipiac Classic. Junior Emma Ritzmann shot a 76 on the final day of the event, the best round for any player during the event. There are no seniors on the team, which is lead by juniors Ritzmann, Katie Rockwell, and team captain Kate Heffernan. The women’s team will kick off their spring season on April 5 in Denton, Maryland.
After a fourth place finish at the MAAC Championships last spring, the men’s rowing team has continued to make strives to make a run at the 2014 MAAC Championship this spring.
The men’s novice four finished third in a semifinal race at Dad Vail last May, and sent a men’s eight man team to the Head of the Charles last October, which is one of the most prestigious races in the world and “is arguably the biggest one-weekend festival of rowing in the world and coaches all know the rowers all want to be part of the incredible scene,” said Fairfield’s Director of Rowing David Patterson to fairfieldstags.com.
Although Patterson wasn’t thrilled with a 34th place finish for the men’s eight in the race, he was happy to see the improvements the team and the individuals had made since the start of the year and in comparison to last year as well.
“The challenge for the men’s eight this year was to go out and give a solid account of themselves and a solid account of where the program is and how much stronger we are collectively than at this point last year,” Patterson said to fairfieldstags.com back in October.
The women’s team has seen some noticeable success over the past few months, including finishing second at the MAAC Championship and a gold medal in the novice four at Dad Vail. The team also added a pair of freshmen sisters, Ashley and Melissa Iannucci, who won a gold medal in the intermediate lightweight pair at the U.S. Rowing Club National Championships this past summer. Also, both the women’s eight and four performed well enough at the Head of the Charles to earn an automatic berth in the event next season as well.
Both teams start their spring schedule on April 5 at the Sacred Heart Invitational in Shelton, Conn.