Coach counting on Matesa for strong senior season
2011 was an incredibly disappointing year for St. Louis, as they did not advance to the Atlantic 10 Tournament for just the second time since joining the conference in 2006. St. Louis could finish anywhere from 4th to 7th this year and they even have an outside shot at finishing 3rd. The St. Louis Billikens return to the Atlantic 10 softball conference for the 2012 year while they finished 11-9 in A10 play last year and 29-24 for the entire season.
The strength for the Billikens lies squarely in the circle, as they return three quality arms from last year. Kelcie Matesa has been a workhorse for the Billikens throughout her career and Coach Christy Connoyer is going to be counting on her for a strong senior season. Matesa throws with some heat and she throws a real heavy ball in the circle. Matesa had a solid 2011 season going 11-9 with a 2.69 ERA and 139 SO in 133 IP.
Hannah Huebbe is the Billikens’ other senior ace and her style complements Matesa’s quite nicely. Huebbe relies primarily on her drop and change and she really keep hitters off balance in the box. Huebbe had her best season yet at St. Louis in 2011, going 14-7 with a 2.55 ERA and 121 SO in 134.2 IP. Matesa and Huebbe will be the Billikens solid one-two punch again in the circle, though sophomore Julian Austin figures to add key innings as well. Coach Connoyer has the luxury of playing around with her staff to provide opponents with different looks.
Behind the plate, the Billikens will look to Aly Brand and Liz Jones once again. Brand saw the majority of the action last year and she hit .259 with 37 hits, 3 HR, and 31 RBI. Brand should see a lot of the work, but Jones is very capable back there as well. Jones hit .308 with 4 hits last year in limited action. If she continues to hit that way she should see even more action in 2012.
The Billikens schedule has pockets of difficult and easy games and the Billikens should surpass last season’s win total. St. Louis needs to start out strong and come out of the first four weekends of play with a winning record, as they will have an extremely difficult weekend in Louisville on March 10-11, as they will face Michigan, Louisville, and Illinois State all NCAA participants in 2011.
After that brutal weekend the Billikens will head home and enter into conference play. After last season, when they missed the A10 Tournament by just a half game, they will need to come to the field ready to play and they cannot afford any off days. St. Louis will have to get it done on the road, as they will only have 8 conference games at home in the regular season.
If they can make the Atlantic 10 Tournament, they will get the benefit of playing at home.