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1999 Team Overview

Friday, January 29, 1999

It's getting to be that time of the year.

For the first time in six years, the Canisius College softball team last season failed to win the Metro Atlantic Athletic Conference championship. The Griffs "struggled" to a 22-18 record and played the most grueling schedule in school history. This year's club is out to recapture the league title despite facing another slate full of nationally competitive programs.

Ten letterwinners return to Mike Rappl's (410-172-2 in 19 years)  roster plus an array of freshman that has the Griffs veteran coach  optimistic about his club's chances come conference tournament time. In addition he can count on a veteran pitching staff that has experience against top-level talent.

"We should be stronger this year, because we have more depth in the pitching department," said the Griffs mentor, a 1977 Canisius College graduate. "Erin (Crowley) is back for her senior year, and Sarah (Skorupa) has gained a lot of confidence and pitched very well in the fall. We also have two freshman, Gen Garcia and Veronica Maher (Gatorade New York State High School Player of the Year), who can help us immediately."

Crowley went 13-4 last year with a 1.26 ERA and only 13 walks in 105 innings of work. She went undefeated in conference play with three of her losses coming against South Carolina, Arizona and Florida. Included were a pair of two hit shutouts over Marist and Siena.

Rappl also has plenty of firepower among his eight regulars in spite of losing Sue Raiport, who hit .366, and one of the school's all-time great sluggers in Jen Silata. Joy Judski, a .388 hitter as a junior who missed the MAAC tourney due to a broken leg, leads the way at first base with catcher Jesse Rosenhahn (.364 with six homers) and third baseman Tracy Horvath (.328) also expected to contribute.

"Joy and Jesse (both seniors) are strong leaders," added Rappl, "plus I think we have increased our depth across the board."

New to the roster will be the Dodd twins (Amy and Charlene) out of Conklin, NY, the aformentioned Garcia and Maher on the mound and outfielder Jill Iacona. Freshman Diana Calandra, who was expected to bat lead-off, withdrew from school in January. Amy Dodd, a high school all-American at shortstop, will be part of Rappl's revamped outfield, which also includes Iacona and Jackie Fusco (.264). That unit will back up an experienced and defensive-minded infield.

Judski, the slugger, will be at first, with junior Raquel Alvarez at second and sophomores Lynn Stoczynski (SS) and Horvath (3B) on the left side of the infield. The Canisius fan base, which has grown proportionate to the team's level of play, will see another year of
exciting ball on the Demske turf.

"The game has changed so much in the past few years," noted the 45 year-old Rappl. "No team has any weak spots in the batting order any more, and the pitching has improved so that teams have more depth and faster pitchers. Fans who come to watch us for the first time are impressed with the quality of play, skill level of the game and find it enjoyable to watch."

The Griffs failure to win the MAAC last season did not signify a drop-off in the Canisius program, but rather signaled an improvement of play around the conference. The days of undefeated and one-loss seasons are over and now that the MAAC has an automatic bid into the NCAA Tournament the quest for the title will become even more competitive.

"The MAAC has been getting stronger each year gaining in RPI ratings," added Rappl. "More quality players are coming into the league and at any time any team can beat another MAAC team."

Canisius begins its season with a month of road games. The Griffs open the campaign February 26 at East Carolina's Pirate Classic. During the first month of the season, Canisius will play against the likes of Kentucky, Ohio State, Pittsburgh, Northwestern and UNC-Charlotte before coming back to Buffalo for the home opener, March 31 versus St. Francis, Pa.

John Maddock
Assistant Director of Athletics
for Promotions and Publicity
Phone: (716) 888-2977