Softball Minute: League Play Opens This Weekend

Kate Poppe, Villanova

Kate Poppe, Villanova

March 19, 2014

BIG EAST Openers
After another handful of midweek, non-league tilts, BIG EAST play begins Saturday with all eight teams pairing off. League newcomers Butler and Creighton will face each other in Indianapolis, Ind., while longtime rivals Georgetown and Villanova will battle in Pennsylvania. St. John’s will travel to Chicago to face preseason favorite DePaul, while Seton Hall will host Providence. All teams will play doubleheaders on Saturday followed by a single-game showdown on Sunday.

If That’s Any Indication
If non-league play is any indication of success in BIG EAST play, conference preseason favorite DePaul and runner-up Creighton are on the right track. The Blue Demons, who are receiving votes in the USA Today/NFCA  Coaches Poll,  lead all league teams with a 16-6 record (.727), with the Bluejays not far behind at 15-10 (.600) as winners of 11 of their last 12. One nonconference surprise so far has been Providence, which was picked to finish tied for third in the BIG EAST. The Friars have endured multiple tournament cancellations so far due to weather and are in search of their first win of the season, showing a 0-12 record.

National Leaders
The NCAA released its second installment of statistical rankings of the season on Sunday with a number of BIG EAST teams and players ranking among the best in Division I softball.  League teams that rank among the top 25 of all Division I teams statistically include:
Butler – 20th in fielding percentage (.975)
DePaul – 25th in triples per game (0.32)
Villanova – 25th in double plays per game (0.45)
Individuals which rank among the national statistical leaders include:
Kaitlin Fitzgerald, St. John’s – ninth in sacrifice flies (3.0)
Becca Changstrom, Creighton – 11th in shutouts (5.0) and 17th in saves (2.)
Kirsten Verdun, DePaul – 17th in saves (2.0), 18th in strikeouts (121), 23rd in strikeouts per seven innings (9.1)
Kate Poppe, Villanova – 21st in hits allowed per seven innings (3.76)
Grace Appelbe, Georgetown – 25th in sacrifice hits per game (0.31)