Castro, Cukrov Tabbed Top Player, Pitcher to Highlight Softball Yearly Award Winners
Castro, a sophomore first baseman, made quite an impact during her first season at Albany. The transfer from Maryland Eastern Shore currently leads the conference and ranks fourth nationally hitting .468. Castro also has a league-best 13 home runs and 52 RBIs and would join UMBC’s Melanie Denischuck (2006) as the only players in league history to lead in hitting, homers and RBIs. A three-time Player of the Week this season, Castro also paces America East in runs scored (38), extra-base hits (29) and slugging percentage (.958), the fifth-best clip in the country.
Cukrov, a freshman hurler, became just the third rookie to earn Pitcher of the Year accolades. The right-hander racked up a league-best 24 wins, including 13 shutouts during the regular season, and compiled a 1.60 earned run average (second-best in the league) in a conference-high 218 1/3 innings. A four-time Pitcher of the Week as well as Rookie of the Week once, she has struck out a league-best 220 batters and held them to a .167 average.
McFarland, a freshman outfielder, is Albany’s third-ever Rookie of the Year. She anks second with 23 stolen bases in 29 attempts and is tied for fourth with 35 runs scored. A .310 hitter from the Great Danes’ leadoff spot, McFarland has 13 extra-base hits and driven in 24 runs as a rookie. The recipient of Rookie of the Week on April 23, McFarland has also been stellar in the outfield, converting all 52 of her chances.
Hall, a freshman catcher, is the first Retriever to take home Rookie of the Year honors. She ranks third among America East leaders batting .367 and leads the league with 15 doubles. Hall added eight homers and is second in the conference with a .627 slugging percentage to go with 28 RBIs. She was also stellar behind the plate, committing just two errors in 252 chances while throwing out 14 potential base stealers.
Rychcik picked up Coach of the Year honors for the fourth time in his eight seasons at Boston U. after leading the Terriers to a 37-14 regular-season record and their third straight America East regular-season title. Rychcik’s squad, which is led by a league-high six all-conference selections, is among the best pitching teams in country, ranking 19th with a 1.85 ERA. Boston U. currently ranks 18th in the NCAA Mid-Major Top 25.
Bryant led Stony Brook to a 35-15-1 regular-season mark and second place in the conference standings en route to earning Coach of the Year accolades for the second time. Picked to finish fifth in the preseason poll after placing sixth a year ago, the Seawolves have a 15-win improvement over last year’s 20-29 squad. Bryant’s team is well balanced, leading the league in hitting (.307), fielding percentage (.975) and ranking second in team ERA (2.32).
Albany’s Brittany MacFawn, a repeat selection, joins Cukrov as the first-team all-conference pitchers. Hall and Castro are accompanied by Boston University’s Emily Roesch (second base) and Brittany Clendenny (shortstop), along with UMBC’s Jessica Warner (third base) on the first team infield. The last two first-team outfield spots went to Boston U.’s Jayme Mask and Stony Brook’s Suzanne Karath as they joined McFarland. Hartford’s Jordan Haines is the first-team designated player while UMBC’s Katie Ferguson is the first-team utility player for the second straight year.
Boston U. hurlers Holli Floetker and Whitney Tuthill are the second-team pitchers. Joining them on the second team is catcher EmJ Fogel and first baseman Hilary Kane from Maine, second baseman Katie Wambold from Albany, shortstop Lauren Maloney from Stony Brook, third baseman Megan Volpano from Boston U. and outfielders Diane MacDowell from Albany, Jessica Phillips from Binghamton and Shayla Giosia from Stony Brook. UMBC’s Angela Yannone is the second-team designated player and Hartford’s Peyton Fisher is the second-team utility player rounding out the all-league selections.
Six freshmen that made an all-conference team were also all-rookie selections. Accompanying Cukrov, Giosia, Fisher, Fogel, Hall and McFarland on the team are Albany’s Alexa Toole, Binghamton’s Caitlin Friis, Boston U.’s Mandy Fernandez and Maine’s Jessica Burk.
Twenty-four All-Conference and All-Rookie honorees will compete for the 2012 America East Softball Championship, a double-elimination tournament, beginning on Thursday, May 10 at BU Softball Field on the campus of Boston University. Top-seeded Boston U. and fourth-seeded Maine will meet at 1 p.m. while No. 2 Stony Brook and No. 3 Albany will play at 3:30 p.m. The conference champion will be crowned on Saturday, May 12, and will receive an automatic berth into the NCAA Softball Championship. Visit Championship Central at AmericaEast.com for the full tournament schedule, links to live stats and much more.