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Bay Path concludes 2008 softball season with a winning record

LONGMEADOW Bay Path wrapped up their 2008 softball campaign with a 19-16 overall record. Under the direction of Head Coach Steve Smith and Assistant Coach Larry Nault the Wildcats had the most wins ever in a season. Helping lead the team this season were quad-captains Tianna Carr, Sarah Palmer, Amanda Rodriguez and Kristal Cormier. Another feat accomplished was having two players earning All-NAC first team spots. Senior centerfielder Carr (Beverly, Mass.) and sophomore shortstop Sarah Gates (North Granby, Conn.) were both honored by the North Atlantic Conference as first team members. Bay Path, who also won the 2006 NAC Sportsmanship Award, has not seen a first team member in the past seven years. The "Maroon and White" sluggers broke through with a remarkable season having numerous players rank among the top 10 in several categories in the conference statistical standings. Bay Path, who finished seventh with a 9-11 NAC record, actually had a better overall winning record than five of the conference members. Along with Carr two other Wildcats wrapped up their collegiate careers donning the crimson and white jerseys. Catcher Amanda Rodriguez (South Hadley) and outfielder Kristin Dzuiba (Springfield) each played four years for Bay Path. Dzuiba tallied a .761 fielding percentage for her career. Rodriguez had her best season thus far despite pushing through some injuries preventing her from playing in all 35 games. She finished second on the team in hitting with a .329 batting average along with a .418 slugging percentage and .402 on-base percentage. For her career, Rodriguez batted .278, slugged .364 with 49 hits, 41 runs, 35 RBI, four doubles, three homeruns, 151 put-outs and three assists. Defensively, as a catcher, she managed a stellar four-year .953 fielding percentage allowing only 10 errors in her 70 games played. In the NAC she was tied for third for batters caught stealing at eight for the year. The 2008 Wildcats pitching staff consisted of sophomores Kristal Cormier (Rochester, N.H.) and Jessica Nizinski (West Springfield). First year pitcher Nizinski had great break-out season with the Wildcats going 11-8 with a .579 winning percentage. She led all pitchers in the NAC for wins, third in appearances (19) and fifth in opponent's batting average (.276). She topped her team with a 3.72 ERA tossing four shut-outs for her 116.2 innings pitched. Nizinski struck out 44 batters and walked 40 on the year. Offensively, she was fourth on the team in hitting (.306) and third in conference play (.324). Bay Path finished the year scoring more runs (218) than their opponents (183). The Wildcats plated more runners with 165 team RBIs in comparison to their opponent's 153 RBI. They also more than doubled their free trips to base with 135 walks to only 66 walks given up by Cormier and Nizinski combined. Base running proved to be a big improvement this year; Bay Path stole 50 bases only allowing their opponent's 24 bases stolen while catching 13 runners. At the beginning of the 2008 campaign Coach Smith stated, "Each year our team goals are simple and direct as a program; finish with a winning record, make the conference tournament, find a winning and positive balance between the academic and athletic experience and have some fun." The Wildcats far exceeded their expectations for the year and left a brand for future teams try to replicate and surpass.

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