SHUPirates.com Athlete of the Week (April 23, 2013)
Maria DeLuca, Softball
Even the casual mid-April snow storm that greeted the Pirates when they arrived in Syracuse for a crucial three-game BIG EAST set did little to cool down junior Maria DeLuca (Cedar Grove, N.J.) at the plate over the weekend as the Pirates’ second baseman continued to add to what has been by far her best offensive season in blue and white, helping SHU take 2-of-3 from the Orange.
In the opener, DeLuca reached base three times and came around to score twice. Her effort was highlighted by a two-run bomb that cleared the centerfield fence in the top of the sixth, providing the final two runs in a 4-1 win. During the night cap, the junior infielder contributed to what was one of the most prolific expositions of offense in program history by going 2-for-5, driving in a run and scoring another.
The Pirates ended up collecting a school-record total of 19 hits in game two, a 16-15 victory that also established a new school mark for runs scored in a conference game.
After finishing 3-for-5 in a Tuesday doubleheader against Hofstra, DeLuca completed the week a combined 7-of-15 (.467) with three RBIs and three runs scored. In recognition of her performance, she was named to the BIG EAST Weekly Honor Roll for the first time in her career.
A starter in 39 of the squad’s 40 games to this point in the season, the Cedar Grove native is firmly entrenched in the middle of the SHU order and with good reason. She has been one of Pirates’ most well-rounded players in her third season, ranking among the top-three on the team in nine offensive statistical categories.
DeLuca is tied for the team-lead with six doubles and is either in sole possession of or tied for second on the squad in batting average (.339), hits (40), home runs (4), runs batted-in (24), total bases (58), on-base percentage (.402) and slugging percentage (.492). Her 22 runs scored are third-most to this point in the year.
Aside from ranking among the team leaders, 2013 has marked a huge leap forward at the plate for DeLuca as an individual. Her season tallies in doubles, home runs, RBIs and total bases have already surpassed her previous career totals entering the year and she stands just six hits shy of matching her cumulative output from her freshman and sophomore campaigns.
She has also remained a defensive stalwart in the field, locking down and occasionally flashing the leather from her pivotal middle-infield position. The sure-handed junior has committed only five errors and boasts the third-highest fielding percentage (.961) among qualifying position players on the team.
This is the first time in 2013 that DeLuca has been tabbed as SHUPirates.com Athlete of the Week.