Jan. 6, 2013
CHICAGO - Six members of the Loyola University Chicago softball team have earned Preseason All-Horizon League honors from College Sports Madness. Four Ramblers were named to the College Sports Madness First Team All-Horizon League squad, and junior pitcher Brittany Gardner (Orland Park, Ill./Sandburg) picked up pitcher of the year accolades, while fellow pitcher Kristina Vizza (Naperville, Ill./Naperville Central) was tabbed freshman of the year.
Gardner, who was a Second Team All-Great Lakes Region pick and became just the fourth individual in Loyola history to be named Horizon League Pitcher of the Year, went 18-10 with a 2.69 ERA and 205 strikeouts in 169.1 innings in 2012. The lefthander tossed a pair of no-hitters a year ago, including one versus Green Bay in the Horizon League Championship.
Joining Gardner on the College Sports Madness Preseason All-Horizon League First Team was senior outfielder Brooke Andresen (Woodridge, Ill./Downers Grove South), and sophomores Jessica Balzano (Des Plaines, Ill./Elk Grove) and Annie Korth (Elburn, Ill./St. Charles North). One of the top hitters in Loyola softball history, Andresen led the Ramblers with a .325 batting average last spring and had five home runs, 11 doubles, and 24 RBI as she earned First Team All-Horizon League accolades for the third time in as many seasons.
Balzano and Korth both were selected to the Horizon League All-Newcomer Team last year and garnered Second Team All-League recognition. Balzano's .322 batting average ranked second on the team behind only Andresen (.325) and the second baseman ranked second on the squad with 14 stolen bases. Meanwhile, Korth hit .290 with four homers and 16 RBI a year ago, splitting her time behind the plate and right field.
Sophomore Amanda Ciran (St. Charles, Ill./St. Charles North) was selected to College Sports Madness' Preseason All-Horizon League Second Team following a freshman campaign in which her record didn't necessarily reflect how well she pitched, especially during the second half of the season. The righthander registered a 5-13 record with a 2.87 ERA as a rookie in 2012.
Vizza, a freshman southpaw, has yet to throw a pitch for the Ramblers but she was selected freshman of the year by College Sports Madness. As a senior at Naperville Centrral High School last spring, Vizza went 13-3 with a 1.01 ERA and 112 strikeouts in 117 innings.
College Sports Madness covers all aspects of college sports, from recruiting right up through the draft, allowing fans to follow their favorite teams with unique pages that bring together information on that school's sports teams.
Loyola posted a 26-23 overall record last season and reached the title game of the Horizon League Championship for the first time since 2004. Third-year head coach Missy Beseres welcomes back eight starters, as well as her top three pitchers from a year ago.
The Ramblers open the 2013 season at the Kickin' Chicken Classic in Conway, S.C., February 22-24.