QUEENS, N.Y. -- After winning the program's first-ever BIG EAST regular season title, the top-seeded St. John's softball team (26-17, 16-2 BIG EAST) will head to Rosemont, Illinois, to take on fourth-seeded Villanova (24-29, 9-12 BIG EAST) in the semifinals of the 2015 BIG EAST Championship. Leading Off
The two-day, single-elimination tournament will be held at The Ballpark at Rosemont, home of the National Pro Fastpitch (NPF) Chicago Bandits, located in Rosemont, Illinois.
For the Red Storm, this marks the second-consecutive year at the BIG EAST Tournament after making an appearance in the championship game against top-seeded DePaul last year, while Villanova will be making its first appearance since the 2010 season.
The Red Storm is 4-11 all-time at the BIG EAST Tournament and has only made it two the championship game twice (1990, 2014).
The game will be available live on FOX Sports 2 with Eric Collins (PxP) and Brooke Weisbrod (Color) on the call.
Live stats for the game will be available on RedStormSports.com and fans can always join in the conversation on Twitter (@StJohnsSoftball) by using #SJUSB.
St. John's currently leads the entire BIG EAST Conference with a RPI of 93.
After playing against three teams that are currently in the Top 25, and two more among the Top 50, the Red Storm heads into the BIG EAST Tournament with a strength of schedule of 105.
Named a top 25 candidate for the NFCA Freshman of the Year award, Krystal Puga is off to an impressive start to her rookie campaign. The first-baseman holds a .368 batting average with six doubles, 11 home runs and 33 RBI for a .711 slugging percentage and has successfully reached base in 35 of the 38 games she has played in.
Sophomore Brittany Garcia has been a steady force at the plate over the last 13 games for the Red Storm, posting up a .465 batting average with a pair of doubles, her first career triple, and three home runs for a .767 slugging percentage and a .477 on-base percentage.
Named the BIG EAST Pitcher of the Year, junior Tori Free leads the Red Storm pitching staff in conference play, holding a 0.90 ERA with a 7-1 record after throwing seven complete games, striking out 43 batters in 54.2 innings of work.
Senior Francesca Carrullo has also been a dominant force in the circle so far in conference play this season for the Red Storm, holding an 8-1 record with a 1.63 ERA after throwing a five-inning no-hitter against Creighton on Sunday, April 26.
SCOUTING REPORT: Villanova
With its win over St. John's last Sunday, Villanova was able to finish the regular season with a 24-29 overall record and a 9-12 BIG EAST mark to secure the fourth seed in the BIG EAST Tournament.
The Wildcats earned the spot after taking the tie-breaker over Butler thanks to a series victory over the Bulldogs earlier this year.
Villanova heads into the tournament with a RPI of 192 with a strength of schedule of 181, after going 0-3 against Top 50 RPI teams this year.
Leading the Villanova offense in conference action this season has been Brittany Husk who is batting .378 with eight doubles, a triple, a home run and five RBI while working five walks and going a perfect 6-for-6 on the bases for a .554 slugging percentage and .432 on-base percentage in BIG EAST play.
The Wildcats are led by the pitching duo of Brette Lawrence (11-7, 2.41 ERA) and Kate Poppe (12-19, 2.62 ERA) with Poppe leading the way with 244 strikeouts in 200.1 innings of work, holding opponents to a .220 batting average.
Villanova is led by Maria DiBernardi who is in her 31st season as head coach, leading the Wildcats to a 786-695-10 record during that time, making her the winningest coach in school history.
SERIES HISTORY: St. John's vs. Villanova
St. John's is 32-34 all-time when playing Villanova, dating back to a series that started in 1987.
The Red Storm has won in 12 of its last 15 meetings with Villanova, outscoring the Wildcats, 60-33, during that time.
St. John's holds a 2-1 all-time record when playing the Wildcats at a neutral-site location.
This past weekend, Villanova was able to take the final game of the regular season away from St. John's with a 3-0 victory, giving the Wildcats the fourth and final seed in the 2015 BIG EAST Tournament thanks to a Providence loss to Creighton on the same day.
Last season, the Red Storm swept the Wildcats to seal the second seed in the 2014 BIG EAST Tournament.
St. John's and Villanova have only met one other time in the BIG EAST Tournament, dating back to 1992 when the Wildcats took a 5-1 victory in a nine-inning affair with the Red Storm.
St. John's Playing In 16th BIG EAST Tournament Game
The 2015 BIG EAST Tournament will mark the ninth year that St. John's has qualified as the Red Storm makes its 16th-ever appearance.
Since 1990, the Red Storm has played in 15 BIG EAST Tournament games, posting up a 4-11 record during that time.
Among those 15 games include a pair of BIG EAST Championship game appearances in 1990 and 2014, although the Red Storm has never been able to take home the league crown.
For all the latest news on the St. John's softball team, log on to RedStormSports.com and follow the team (@StJohnsSoftball) on Twitter. You can join the conversation with the hashtag, #SJUSB. If you would like to be added to the St. John's softball mailing list, send an email to firstname.lastname@example.org with the subject line "Softball Mailing List."
The Last Meeting
May 3, 2015
Queens, N.Y. (Red Storm Field)
St. John's Falls To Villanova, 3-0, In Regular Season Finale
With the top seed in the 2015 BIG EAST Tournament already secured, the St. John's softball team (26-17, 16-2 BIG EAST) wrapped up the regular season on Sunday afternoon, suffering only its second conference loss of the season as it fell, 3-0, to Villanova (24-29, 9-12 BIG EAST).