Opening Day is Here - Softball at Patriot Tournament

PHILADELPHIA – Opening day is finally here and the Penn softball team is off to Virginia for the Patriot Tournament hosted by George Mason University. The three day tournament will pit the Quakers against four different teams starting with cross-town rival Saint Joseph’s on Friday afternoon.

The young team, just four are not underclassmen, are excited to take to the field for its first time this season. The Quakers finished 2008, 26-20 overall and 10-10 in the Ivy League. 2008 Ivy League Rookie of the Year and first-team All-Ivy, Jessie Lupardus will return to the pitching staff for Penn – This season's pitching staff is the strongest in Penn history and one of the deepest in the conference this year. Lupardus is joined by classmates Alisha Prystowsky and Taylor Tieman, who also received Ivy recognition last season. Prystowsky has a stellar freshmen season as catcher and at the plate. Receiving first-team honors, she set Penn freshmen records for hits (44), runs (29) and RBI (28) and finished the season with a batting average of .328. Tieman received honorable mention honor as she started all of Penn 46 games and set the Penn freshmen records for homeruns (6) and walks (19).

Senior Emily Denstedt and junior Keiko Uraguchi are the final Quakers returning with Ivy nods on their record. Denstedt was honored with first-team All-Ivy in 2007, while Uraguchi was a two-time honorable mention All-Ivy at centerfield (2007-08). Denstedt and Uraguchi with the addition of Anna Puglisi and Susan Miller are Penn’s four upperclassmen on the roster. Pugalisi will be relied on for her guidance as captain and her experience as she played in all but one of the Red and Blue’s game last season in the outfield. Miller, who saw significant time in 2008, will be relied on for her batting presence – she recorded 19 hits, including a grand slam against La Salle as her first collegiate home run.

Sophomores Diana Ark, Bridget McDugall, Tory Satagaj, Hilary Sheridan and Kelsey Wolfe complete the list ofreturners to the Penn roster. All saw considerable amount of time on the diamond in 2008,in particular Wolfe, who started 43 of the Quakers’ games at first base and should provide experience to that position in 2009.

The team will welcome six newcomers to the team. Jamie Boccanfuso, Cailyn Hennessy, Meg Krasne, Chelsea Ott, Sarah Patrick and Justine Payne will be Penn’s freshmen class.Buccanfuso and Hennessy are teammates from high school, the Peddie School in New Jersey.

The Quakers first opponent this weekendwill be the Saint Joseph’s Hawks Friday at 4 p.m. The Hawks are already four games into the season, posting a 2-2 record, in addition to several exhibition games. Despite the close proximity of the two teams the Quakers and Hawks have not met on the diamond since March 18, 2005 when Penn won, 4-1. The two teams will change that this year as Friday’s game will be the first of three contests – they will play each other on March 18 at Saint Joseph’s for a doubleheader.

The weekend will continue for the Quakers with Akron (5-4) on Saturday at 2 p.m., followed by ivy foe Cornell and tournament host George Mason on Sunday. Penn’s match with Cornell will not count towards the Ivy season, but serve as a useful measure for the Quaker’s to see where their league competition is at. The Big Red finished 2008 16-4 in the conference, ranked second in the south division – just one spot higher then Penn.

Live Stats will be available for all games at GoMason.com and recaps following the games will be available at PennAthletics.com

Tournament Schedule for Penn

Friday – Penn vs. Saint Joseph’s at 4:30 p.m.

Saturday – Penn vs. Akron at 2:00 p.m.

Sunday – Penn vs. Cornellat 11:15 a.m.

Penn vs. George Masonat 3: 45 p.m.