Conference Play at Virginia Tech
STORRS, Conn. -- BIG EAST Conference play is on the horizon, as the University of Connecticut softball team travels to Virginia Tech
for its first league game of the 2001 season on Saturday, March 31 at noon in Blacksburg, Va.
This year, the BIG EAST adds more depth with two additions to the softball family - Virginia Tech and Syracuse. The Huskies finished
12-4 in BIG EAST competition last season and look to defend their preseason prediction by league coaches to finish second or better in
the conference in 2001.
Connecticut (8-13 overall) looks to rebound from eight combined losses from its southern spring break trip at the Florida State hosted
Lady Seminole Invitational (Tallahassee, Fla.) and Georgia Tech hosted 2001 Buzz Classic (Marietta, Ga.), on March 16-25. UConn
would go 3-8 over the two-week period with three consecutive wins against Princeton, Troy State and Cleveland State at the Buzz
Virginia Tech, a new member school to the BIG EAST in 2001, currently leads the conference with a 20-12 overall and 2-0 BIG EAST
record. The Hokies stole the top spot from No. 11 nationally- ranked Notre Dame, after amassing a 2-0 conference record with a
series sweep of Boston College last weekend.
Ironically, the last time Connecticut and VTech met was almost a year ago at the 2000 Buzz Classic, where the Huskies shut out the
Hokies, 1-0, in seven innings in both teams first game against each other in school history. They will become more familiar with each
other, now that the Hokies are members of the league and in the running for a berth in the postseason BIG EAST Tournament.
The Huskies will also play neighboring Radford University in a single non-league game on Sunday, April 1 at noon to complete their
weekend in Virginia.
PROBABLE STARTING LINEUP
1B #17 Abbie Link (Senior/RR/Chalfont, PA)
2B #3 Lisa Girolamo (Junior/RR/Ashby, MA)
3B #15 Mandy Simjian (Senior/RR/Wallingford, CT)
SS #11 Jessica Yanosy (Senior/RR/Milford, CT)
LF #20 Nicole Dubovik (Sophomore/LL/Coral Springs, FL)
CF #12 Sarah Sandford (Senior/LR/Carlsbad, NM)
RF #6 Elisa Brinkworth (Sophomore/RR/Amherst, NY)
DP #23 Megan Biddle (Senior/RR/Bear, DE)
C #24 Carrie Merritt (Junior/RR/Ocean City, NJ)
P #1 Barb Cook (Sophomore/LR/Conklin, NY)
HOME RUN QUEENS
Senior co-captain Mandy Simjian (Wallingford, CT) and senior Megan Biddle (Bear, DE) have been Connecticuts top hitters in its last
three spring tournaments. Simjian was named to the 2001 Buzz Classic All-Tournament Team after going 7-for-17 in five games,
including a perfect 4-for-4 outing versus Troy State, where she also brought in the game-winning run for the 5-4 victory. Simjian also
ripped in her second career home run against Maryland on March 24. Biddle, the Huskies designated player, is currently tied for
fifth in the BIG EAST Conference with three home runs.
COOK TO THE RESCUE
Sophomore pitcher Barb Cook (Conklin, NY) earned her first career save against Troy State in relief of sophomore Claire Hesson
(Kennebunkport, Maine) to secure the victory over the Lady Trojans on March 23. She went 2-0 at the 2001 Buzz Classic last
weekend with a nine-inning win against Princeton and a 7-2 win versus Cleveland State. The Huskies ace currently ranks fifth in the
BIG EAST Conference with 68.2 innings pitched in 14 appearances at the mound and is tied for fifth with seven complete games.
In its pre-BIG EAST Conference schedule, UConn nearly played all of Floridas Division I
softball schools in spring tournaments around the nation. The Huskies faced Florida, Florida
Atlantic, Florida International, Florida A&M and No. 16 Florida State, but went 0-6 against
the Sunshine States best teams.
THE WINTER BLUES
Sporadic snow storms through the Northeast region have put a hamper on home scheduled
contests and travel for the Huskies. UConns home opener versus interstate rival Central
Connecticut was cancelled on Wednesday, March 28, due to snowfall on the previous day and
unplayable field conditions. On its trip to Miami for the 2001 Golden Panther Invitational,
March 2-4, UConn was forced to stay two extra days in Florida due to cancelled airline flights
into Hartford, CT.
MORE BIG EAST STAT LEADERS
Sophomore lead-off hitter Nicole Dubovik (Coral Springs, FL) continues to position herself
among the best stolen base runners in the conference. She has totaled five in 21 games
played...Senior first base Abbie Link (Chalfont, PA) has received nine walks at-bat this
season to put her tied for fourth in that particular category. Last season, Link was one of
Connecticuts top sluggers with a .308 batting average in BIG EAST games and she will
celebrate her 22nd birthday against VTech.
FOLLOWING THE HUSKIES
UConn Softball scores after each game can be accessed through the SNET Husky Sports
Hotline by dialing 860-486-5050 from a touch tone phone. When prompted by the selection
menu, press *6 for the latest UConn Softball news. For a more detailed game recap, log on to
the Internet at
PLAYING THE NATIONS BEST
The 2001 season marks UConns second toughest schedule in school history. So far this year,
Connecticut has played second-ranked Arizona and No. 16 Florida State. A homestand with
No. 11 Notre Dame is just a week away on Saturday, April 7 at the UConn Softball Field in
Storrs, CT. In 2000, the Huskies finished 37-17 with a final RPI rating of 28 and placed
second behind the Fighting Irish in league play.
Connecticuts infield has recorded seven double plays to-date. The Huskies may be on course
to match or break the single season record they set in 2000, with a team record 23 double
2001 BIG EAST CONFERENCE
Connecticut currently stands eighth in the BIG EAST Conference standings through games of March 25.
School BIG EAST Overall
1. Virginia Tech 2-0 20-12
2. Notre Dame (12) 0-0 18-3
3. Villanova 0-0 12-2
4. Providence 0-0 11-5
5. Rutgers 0-0 10-8
6. Seton Hall 0-0 6-5
7. St. Johns 0-0 13-16
8. Connecticut 0-0 8-13
9. Syracuse 0-0 4-10
10. Pittsburgh 0-0 4-19
11. Boston College 0-2 13-11
BIG EAST AUTOMATIC BID
The winner of the BIG EAST Conference Tournament (May 10-12 in Villanova, PA) receives the leagues automatic bid to the NCAA
CONFERENCE TOP OF THE LINE
The BIG EAST Conference was rated the sixth best league out of 29 conferences in the country last season, according to the final RPI
rankings. Notre Dame held an RPI of 13, UConn, 28, Virginia Tech, 44, Rutgers, 46, Villanova, 52, Seton Hall, 60, Syracuse, 91,
Boston College, 92, Pittsburgh, 97 and St. Johns, 99, out of 243 Division I schools.