Posted: 04/27/2012 | Last updated: April 27, 2012 at 11:26 AM
BETHLEHEM, Pa. – Lehigh closes out the regular season this weekend with four games at Army, in a match-up of the top two teams in the Patriot League standings. At 34-16 overall and 13-1 in the league, the Mountain Hawks lead the Black Knights by two games in the standings. Lehigh needs just two wins this weekend to clinch the regular season title and earn the top seed and home field advantage for the upcoming Patriot League Tournament.
The Mountain Hawks have won six straight games and are coming off a four-game sweep of Colgate in a series that began last Saturday and concluded on Wednesday. Lehigh won via the eight-run rule in three of the four games as the Mountain Hawks outscored the Raiders 32-5 in the series. Pitchers Emily Bausher and Becca Bliss both pitched shutouts in the series. Offensively, Lehigh recorded 37 hits in the four games. Junior Liz Lucas was the star offensively as she batted .778 (7-for-9) with seven hits and seven RBIs. Lucas hit a grand slam in Saturday’s first game to lift Lehigh to a 4-3 win, and has since reached base in her last ten plate appearances, including hits in her last seven official at-bats.
Bliss and Bausher have been stellar in the circle as Lehigh continues to lead the league in team ERA (1.81). Mountain Hawk pitchers have allowed a league-low 254 hits and 84 earned runs. Bausher has been named the league’s Rookie of the Week six times and has posted a 16-9 record. She is second in the league in strikeouts with 173, while Bliss owns 15 wins and has pitched seven shutouts.
Lehigh’s .430 team batting average against Colgate extended its league-lead in that category as the Mountain Hawks are now batting .319 with seven players batting over .300. The team features the Patriot League’s top two hitters in seniors Jen Colquhoun (.442 BA, 68 hits, 13 home runs, 46 RBIs) and Julie Fernandez (.441 BA, 63 hits, 40 RBIs). Fernandez now has 251 career hits and needs just seven to break the school and Patriot League career record held by Stephanie Digneo ’03.
Lucas has enjoyed another solid season offensively. She is fourth on the team in batting average (.361), tied for third in hits (52), second in home runs (4), second in doubles (13), and third in RBIs (32).
Army (33-15, 13-3 PL) has been hot lately and heads into the weekend on a 12-game winning streak, capped by a doubleheaders sweep at Yale on Wednesday. The Black Knights have swept league series against Holy Cross, Bucknell, and most recently, Lafayette, but dropped three of four games to Colgate.
Army is the league’s second-best hitting team statistically in registering a .296 batting average with 369 hits. The Black Knights are led by the trio of Alexi AuBuchon (.399 BA, 55 hits, 31 RBIs), Amanda Nguyen (.387 BA, 60 hits, 7 RBIs), and April Ortenzo (.342 BA, 54 hits, 15 RBIs). All three rank in the league’s top-ten in batting this season.
The Black Knights’ pitching staff is carried by freshman Morgan Lashley, who is tied for the nation’s lead with 27 wins after appearing in 45 of Army’s 48 games to date this season. She is coming off four consecutive shutouts of Lafayette last week and is the reigning Patriot League and ECAC Pitcher of the Week.
Lehigh won three of four against Army last season and leads the all-time series between the schools, 67-28.
The Mountain Hawks and Black Knights will play doubleheaders Saturday and Sunday at the Army softball complex with first pitch both days set for 1 p.m. Live stats and video will be available through Army.
The Patriot League Tournament begins May 10 on the home field of the highest seed.
Story by Antoine Williams ‘12