There's a new air of confidence surrounding the 2004 version of Towson University softball.
More home runs are flying out of the park and there is speed throughout the lineup.
All of which prompts one major question: Is this a Tigers team that could finally wipe out a frustrating Hofstra jinx in league tournament play?
Towson has finished second to the Pride four of the past five years in America East and Colonial Athletic Association finals, a fact the Tigers' leading hitter, Katie Mum- bauer, has grown tired of living with.
"Hofstra has always been on top and they've taken advantage of some breaks to get there," said Mumbauer, who is hitting .319 with 25 RBIs. "I believe this is the year we can beat them because we've been pretty much free of injuries, have a super defense, and improved hitting throughout the lineup."
"This team has been pointing toward winning the CAA tournament since fall ball," said Towson coach Lisa Costello, who is about to win 30 games (29-21) for a sixth straight season. "I like our new attitude of expecting to win and expecting to beat Hofstra in the CAA tournament."
Mumbauer, a junior from Bethlehem, Pa., has been the team's starting shortstop and leadoff hitter for three seasons.
She has a career .331 batting average, holds the school career stolen-base record with 52 in 55 attempts, and leads the team this season in nine offensive categories and is tied for the lead in a 10th with four triples. In addition to batting average, Mumbauer sets the pace in home runs (nine), runs scored (40), hits (52), slugging percentage (.577), walks (28), on-base average (.418), doubles (15) and total bases (94).
The Tigers will tune up today for an important three-game CAA series against Delaware this weekend, entertaining natural rival Maryland in a doubleheader. The CAA tournament is May 13-16.
There were numerous memorable moments for UMES in its improbable 21-20 baseball victory over visiting Coppin State last week.
Butch Mills ended it with a bases-empty homer that completed a five-run ninth-inning rally. It was the second home run of the day for Mills and a school-record fifth homer of the afternoon for the Hawks.
The game surprisingly lasted only 3 1/2 hours in spite of 41 runs being scored on 42 hits.
Hawks third baseman Rob Benak hit for the cycle, completing the feat with a game-tying three-run homer in the ninth to make it 20-20. Left fielder Anthony Jackson slammed his first career home run. Designated hitter/pitcher Leon Tilghman hit the fifth home run for UMES.
"It was like a football game out there," said UMES coach Bobby Rodriguez.
The Hawks are now 3-41-1 overall and 1-17 in the Mid-Eastern Athletic Conference. Coppin is 14-30 and 8-10.
Glascoe, Carter honored
Coppin State freshman catcher Christen Glascoe (.336, 12 doubles) has been selected the MEAC softball Rookie of the Year and Coppin senior center fielder Elisha Carter (five home runs, 23 RBIs) has been chosen to the All-MEAC second team.
Junior Johns Hopkins center fielder Paul Winterling leads the team in home runs (seven) and RBIs (35), and has stolen a team-high 24 bases in 25 attempts. One day after the Blue Jays were voted the No. 1 Division III team in the nation with a 33-0 record, they had their winning streak stopped by Montclair State, 4-3, Tuesday on the road. Yesterday, the Blue Jays posted an 8-4 home win over visiting Dickinson, becoming the first Centennial Conference team to go unbeaten (18-0) through the regular season.
Freshman left-hander Dustin Pease improved to 6-2 for Mount St. Mary's on Saturday, throwing a five-hitter in a 4-0 victory over Wagner. It was the first collegiate career shutout for Pease, who has a 2.34 earned run average for the Mount (20-14, 6-8 in Northeast).