Here is part two of our three part Gainesville Regional Q&A preview (you can find part one on Georgia Tech right here). Our new friend Rachel Lenzi, of The Buffalo News, was kind enough to answer our questions about the Canisius Golden Griffins ahead of this weekend’s NCAA Tournament.
Without any further ado, here are her answers:
Wisconsin fans, admittedly, don’t know very much about Canisius so can you give us a highlight or two from the season for the Griffs?
Canisius enters the NCAA Tournament on a 12-game winning streak, including a three-hit shutout by pitcher Megan Giese in the conference championship game Saturday, a 4-0 win against Siena. The Griffs took their lumps early in a nonconference schedule that included trips to Florida and the Carolinas, and included nonconference games against Ohio State, Syracuse, Purdue and USF.
Canisius enters the NCAA Tournament with two of the MAAC’s top-five hitters in Erin Hufford (.392) and Saige Alfaro (.380). Hufford also leads the MAAC with 29 stolen bases, and Christie McGee-Ross has 23.
Erin Hufford is one of seven Western New Yorkers who have led Canisius softball to the NCAA Tournament.— Rachel Lenzi (@rachelmlenzi) May 20, 2022
“To be able to show all of the other local girls, all the girls who play softball in Buffalo that this is possible, it means a lot for me to do that.”https://t.co/Dt0HFu2YxC
Pitching-wise, Megan Giese has taken on a bigger workload this season as the Griffs’ primary starter, and is second in the MAAC in strikeouts (177) and leads the conference in earned-run average (1.57).
Assuming that Giese gets the start against Florida, what other pitchers might see some action if she gets in trouble?
The Griffs’ pitching staff has depth, skill and experience. While Giese has made a smooth transition this season from relief to starting, she’ll face hitters from the Power Five conferences, and Canisius – not just Giese – will have to prepare for well-timed and well-placed hitting. If Giese gets in trouble, the Griffs will turn to Emily Nicosia or Alexis Churchill, seniors who have pitched in a combined 37 games this season, with Nicosia earning eight wins.
Who is one batter that will have to perform well for Canisius to pull off an upset in the Gainesville regional?
The Griffs don’t just need one batter to perform well – they need the top of the lineup to produce and produce early. Hufford, Alfaro and McGee-Ross are three of Canisius’ five hitters who have batted at least .300. Hufford and McGee-Ross are typically among Canisius’ three leadoff hitters.
They’re the players who set the proverbial table for cleanup hitter Gianna Fazzolari, and Hufford and McGee-Ross are also productive runners, combining for more than 50 stolen bases this season.
Part III, featuring regional favorite and host Florida, will be posted later on Friday.