Sasin Headlines 2014 All-Little East Teams; Orton, Spinuzzi Honored

NORTH DARTMOUTH, Mass. — University of Massachusetts Dartmouth's Amy Sasin was named the Little East Conference Softball Coach of the Year this afternoon, when the conference office announced its 2014 major awards program and all-conference teams. Sophomore pitcher Shannon Orton (Swansea, Mass./Joseph Case) was selected to the first-team, while freshman second basemen Marissa Spinuzzi (Fair Lawn, N.J.) was voted to the second-team.

The eight conference coaches determined the major awards program and all-conference teams during an in-person meeting on Thursday, May 1 at Eastern Connecticut State University. Rhode Island College senior Stacy Pokora was elected as the Player of the Year, while Eastern Connecticut State University junior Erin Miller was chosen as the Pitcher of the Year. Plymouth State University freshman Masha Lange completed the 18th edition of the annual major awards program as the Rookie of the Year.

Sasin is the first softball coach in program history to be voted by her peers as the top coach in the conference circuit. She directed one of the youngest rosters among NCAA Division III members, fielding a team comprised of two seniors, a junior, six sophomores and nine freshmen.

In 2014, UMass Dartmouth posted an overall record of 11-21, including a 7-7 mark against Little East opponents. Sasin led her charges to the most conference wins in program history, putting an additional two victories between the previous standard that was set by the 2001 squad (5-8). The Corsairs qualified for the 2014 Little East Softball Championship tournament for the first time since 2006, earning the No. 4 seed. UMass Dartmouth was defeated by third-seeded Western Connecticut State University before being edged by No. 6 Rhode Island College. Under her guidance, the Corsairs placed two student-athletes on the All-Little East teams for the third time in program history.

Orton is just the second student-athlete in program history to earn All-Little East, first-team honors, joining former standout Amanda Leal (2006) on the top-squad. The Swansea, Mass. product is ranked among the Little East leaders in batters struck out (2nd, 110), strikeouts looking (2nd, 34), earned run average (3rd, 1.90), opposing batters average (3rd, .229), and innings pitched (4th, 144).

In 24 appearances in the pitching circle, Orton posted a 9-14 individual record, including a 7-6 mark against conference opponents. She threw the lion's share of innings for the Corsairs, completing 18 of her 24 starts. Orton limited her opponents to 39 earned runs, 22 extra base hits and 102 singles, while issuing 56 walks. The sophomore right-hander held the opposition to one or fewer runs 11 times on the season, while hurling three complete-game shutout victories. On April 19, the UMass Dartmouth ace yielded one earned run on five hits, while striking out seven in a 12-inning win at nationally-ranked Western Connecticut State University. Orton closed out the regular-season in dominating fashion with a three-hit shutout victory at Keene State.

Spinuzzi is just one of three rookies to garner All-Little East, second-team recognition this past spring. The resident of Fair Lawn, N.J. made an immediate impact in the Corsairs' lineup, starting all 32 games. Spinuzzi batted .343 (36-for-105) with a team-high 18 runs batted in. She led UMass Dartmouth with nine doubles, a triple, and 47 total bases to produce a .448 slugging percentage. The freshman second basemen hit safely in 20 appearances, including 13 multi-hit games. Spinuzzi registered three hits on three different occasions this past spring, most recently with a 3-for-4 appearance against Little East rival Southern Maine. She drove in a season-high three runs to power the Corsairs to a win over Knox College (Ill.) on March 20. Spinuzzi was also consistent at second base, posting a 94.7 fielding percentage with 58 assists.

2014 All-Little East Softball Teams 
First-Team
Catcher Erin Weber Sophomore Western Connecticut State University
Pitcher Erin Miller Junior Eastern Connecticut State University
Pitcher Shannon Orton Sophomore University of Massachusetts Dartmouth
First Base Sam Rossetti Junior Eastern Connecticut State University
Second Base Jessica Caturano Senior Western Connecticut State University
Shortstop Alyssa Hancock Sophomore Eastern Connecticut State University
Shortstop Katelyn Sykora Junior Rhode Island College
Third Base Nina Wojtkiewicz Junior Western Connecticut State University
Outfield Mattie Brett Senior Eastern Connecticut State University
Outfield Stephanie Johnson Senior Eastern Connecticut State University
Outfield Stacy Pokora Senior Rhode Island College
Des. Player Kylee Ruther Senior Western Connecticut State University
Utility Stefanie Stockwell Senior University of Southern Maine
Second-Team
Catcher Sam Hebert Senior Plymouth State University
Pitcher Nora Galvin Senior Plymouth State University
Pitcher Alle Sabith Sophomore Western Connecticut State University
First Base Julia Bocek Junior Western Connecticut State University
Second Base Marissa Spinuzzi Freshman University of Massachusetts Dartmouth
Shortstop Bekah Jackson Senior Plymouth State University
Third Base Jackie Digman Senior Plymouth State University
Outfield Kristina Bove Junior University of Massachusetts Boston
Outfield Kristen Duross Junior University of Southern Maine
Outfield Masha Lange Freshman Plymouth State University
Des. Player Samantha Crosman Freshman University of Southern Maine
Utility Kristina Gingell Senior Rhode Island College
Player of the Year
Stacy Pokora, Rhode Island College
Pitcher of the Year
Erin Miller, Eastern Connecticut State University
Rookie of the Year
Masha Lange, Plymouth State University
Coach of the Year
Amy Sasin, University of Massachusetts Dartmouth