With the start of 2014, Seton Hill University (SHU) enters the beginning of new seasons for spring sports and reveals a continuation of certain former fall sports teams. From football to track and field, SHU is home to 19 sports teams all competing in the Pennsylvania State Athletic Conference (PSAC).
Recapping the fall sports transitioning into the spring include men and women’s basketball, both of which currently stand fifth in the PSAC.With a better record than last year at this current time in the season, the Griffins men’s basketball team holds a safe 12-6 record (4-4 in-conference). The team is led by senior center Malachi Leonard from York, Pa., averaging a double double per game with 18.8 points and 10.0 rebounds. He also has earned three PSAC West Men’s Basketball Athlete of the Week awards so far this season.
Keeping up with the men’s success is the Griffin’s women basketball team with an 11-7 record (3-5 in-conference). Senior point guard Paige Alviani from Hopewell, Pa. leads the team averaging 16.1 points per game and 3.4 assists.
With three open events completed, the men and women track and field teams have gotten their feet wet into the season. The Griffins have already racked up 29 PSAC indoor champion qualifying performances, 10 SHU records and 1 NCAA provincial qualifying mark. After strong showings in the Tiffin Open, WVU Invitational and Spire North Coast Indoor Open, the Griffins have proved their dominance.
Leading performer in the Tiffin, Ohio Open was sophomore Nicole Malara from Mount Pleasant, Pa. who finished first in the pentathlon. Alongside with a stellar performance in the WVU Open was senior Griffin Taylor Hockman from Martinsburg, Pa. who improved his NCAA long jump provincial mark to second currently in Division II at 7.32m (24’6 ¾) and was also named PSAC Men’s Field Athlete of the Week. Also, Junior Megan Cala from Export, Pa. was named the PSAC Women’s Track Athlete of the Week after her great performance in the WVU open.
The next meet for the Griffins track and field team is Jan. 31 at Bucknell University.
After suffering back-to-back team losses, the Griffins wrestling team continues to fight this season with a current record of 3-10 (0-5 in-conference). Senior wrestlers AJ Fisher from Vilas, N.J. and Stephen Smith from Union Bridge, Md. lead the young Griffins team. SHU wrestling continues their season against Wheeling Jesuit University Feb. 1 at home.
Two more sports that deserve recognition are the Griffins women tennis and equestrian teams.
The tennis team holds a current 1-2 record led by junior Megan Hudak from Export, Pa. who has yet to lose a match so far this season in singles and doubles. Senior Taylor Jansen leads the women’s equestrian team from Baltimore, Md. and juniors Laekyn Sanders from Summerhill, Pa. and Julianna Caffery from Rockville Centre, N.Y., have showcased great performances so far this season. Both the Griffins tennis and equestrian teams look to continue their seasons as the weather warms up. The Griffins next tennis match is Feb. 22, against Mercyhurst College and equestrians next showcase at the WVU Show Field Feb. 23.
The teams that begin and finish their seasons in the spring include the Griffin women’s softball, men’s baseball and men and women lacrosse teams.
The Griffins softball team looks to bounce back this year after a disappointing 13-21 record last season. With 11 freshman players added to this year’s roster, SHU softball looks for a young spark.
“I’m nervous about entering my first season and excited at the same time. I can’t wait for our season to start now that practices have started, practice has helped calm my nerves,” said freshman outfielder Danelle Locke from Fayetteville, Pa.
With their first game not until March 10 against Central Intercollegiate Athletic Association’s Fayetteville State University at the broncos home field, the Griffins have chosen to enter the Shaw Softball Challenge, a three-day competitive tournament from Feb. 21 to Feb. 23 in Raleigh, N.C. where 30+ teams from different Division II NCAA Conferences look to compete.
“The whole team is excited and ready to get out of Sullivan gym and onto the field. We had a coaching change last semester, and we’ve had a lot of injuries, but we also have a couple of great coaches, a big freshman class that’s ready to go, and our returners who will lead the way. Entering the PSAC is definitely a big change, so one of our big goals as a new team in the conference is to make a statement,” said senior infielder Stefanie Wiegand of Pittsburgh, Pa.
Arguably SHU’s most winning team consists of the Griffins baseball team who has won just over 300 games under head coach Marc Marizzaldi and his coaching staff. When asked if it feels nerve-racking to enter each season with such high expectations because of previous success, Marizzaldi simply answered, “The only pressure that I feel as a head coach is the pressure I put on myself.”
The Griffins baseball team gets a chance to experience action early with a double header against Conference Carolinas Barton College Feb. 22 to Feb. 23 in Wilson, N.C.
“I cannot really tell you how I feel. I know that once we start playing, it will be an honor to play on such a highly ranked team. After hearing all of the talk by the upperclassmen, once we start playing games everyone works as hard as they can, their best play comes out and we win,” said freshman first baseman/outfielder MP Buckley of Pittsburgh, Pa.
After finishing short of their goal last season in the West Virginia Intercollegiate Athletic Conference (WVIAC) Division II Atlantic Regional Playoffs against PSAC’s Shippensburg University, the Griffins’ one goal is clear.
“A special goal we have had in the four years that I’ve been here is to make it to Cary, North Carolina, where the Division II World Series is held. That would be my ultimate goal for the team this year, along with just playing the best baseball we can day in and day out,” said senior pitcher Alex Haines from Greensburg, Pa.
Lastly, the Griffins men and women lacrosse teams wait their season opener at home on Feb. 27 where the men’s lacrosse team plays Eastern College Athletic Conference’s Ohio Valley University while the women’s lacrosse team versus Notre Dame College.
“I am ambivalent with this season approaching because we have worked so hard in the off season to become the best of our capability, that we don’t want to throw it away in May,” said freshman midfielder Marshall Case from Vestal, N.Y.
This will be lacrosse’s first year in a new conference, PSAC, where both teams plan to excel. After losing in the Division II NCAA South Region Semifinal against Limestone College this past season, the Griffins look forward to improving this year.
“I feel that the team has grown into an actual family. All of our hard work and dedication has allowed us to grow together into one unit. I do not think that my last season is going to be nerve racking because I know I have my teammates beside me the entire way,” said senior defenseman Nick Elliot from Butler, Pa.
As for the women’s lacrosse season, entering this year is like a fresh start after the fatal accident the past year.
“We have a lot of motivation this year and we are determined to have a successful season. As a team, we are excited to be placed into a new conference this season. My goal for our team this year is to have a positive attitude going into every game and practice,” said senior attacker Morgan Cain from Fairmont, W.Va.