Griffs Softball Gearing Up For MAAC Play
By: Vincent Christiano III
This Saturday, the Canisius softball program will take the field at the Demske Sports Complex for the first time in the 2022 season, kicking off league play against the Quinnipiac Bobcats.
After Tuesday’s scheduled home opener against the MAC’s University at Buffalo Bulls was postponed due to rain, this Saturday’s doubleheader will be the first time the Griffs will play a MAAC contest at home since last season’s championship game against the Manhattan Jaspers.
Canisius was picked to finish sixth in this year’s preseason coaches’ poll, the highest ranked team not to receive any first-place votes. The Marist Red Foxes were picked to win the conference, receiving four first-place votes and 98 points overall. Fairfield, Monmouth, Iona and Manhattan rounded out the top five, all of whom also received at least one first place vote.
Monmouth, who received two first place votes and 92 points to slot into third place, were last year’s regular season champions and began the MAAC playoffs in first place. Until the Jasper’s championship victory over the Griffs last season, the Hawks had won the previous two tournaments and appeared in five straight championship games. This will be Monmouth’s last chance to win a MAAC title for at least the foreseeable future as the school is moving from the MAAC to the CAA, or Colonial Athletic Association, on July 1.
After Canisius, there was a significant dropoff in the voting, as seventh-place Siena received 25 less points than Canisius at 57.
The preseason All-MAAC team featured 14 players but none from the Canisius Roster. Despite that, Golden Griffin players have already won four MAAC weekly awards; sophomores Gianna Fazzolari and Christie McGee-Ross both won Player of the Week in February in consecutive weeks. Fazzolari’s award, which was the first one announced by the MAAC this season, was joined by fellow sophomore Megan Giese, who won Pitcher of the Week for an outstanding 2022 debut. The very next award announcement featured both McGee-Ross and freshman Saige Alfaro, who received rookie of the week honors.
Fazzolari, Giese and McGee-Ross — who are all from the Western New York area — are determined to have the opportunity to once again host the MAAC championships and bring the championship trophy back home.
“We’re going to take back the MAAC.”
McGee-Ross emphasized the team’s embracement of the underdog mentality, even going so far as to say it was “rude” to rank the Griffs so low, having been the conference’s second seeded team last spring and returning a majority of the team’s starters. On top of that, the Golden Griffins begin the year with 11 freshmen on the roster, and head coach Kim Griffin thinks that youth and energy could be another factor that helps this team make a deep run this year.
The conference season kicks off Saturday as first pitch is scheduled at 2:30 p.m. against the Bobcats, and the second game of the doubleheader is slated for 4:30 p.m. The Griffs are back on Sunday as well, when they host the conference favorite Red Foxes first at 12 p.m. and again at 2 p.m.