3/1/2013 | Clearwater, Fla. | Attendance: 72
3/1/2013 | Clearwater, Fla. | Attendance: 59
3/2/2013 | Clearwater, Fla. | Attendance: 82
3/2/2013 | Clearwater, Fla. | Attendance: 77
3/3/2013 | Clearwater, Fla. | Attendance: 64
FORT MYERS, Fla. – FGCU (8-4) will hit the road and head north for its second road trip of the 2013 season. The Eagles will descend on Clearwater, Fla. for the USF Under Amour Invitational that will run from Friday, March 1 through Sunday, March 3 at the Eddie C. Moore Complex.
FGCU is one of seventeen teams to participate in the invitational over the course of the weekend, but will only face off against Western Michigan, Loyola Chicago, Kent State, Providence and Maine.
The Green and Blue will make their 10th trip to Clearwater for a tournament in the five years that FGCU has been among the Division I ranks. The invitational will mark the first games in the Eagles 2013 season that will be played at a neutral site, an area in which FGCU finished 12-11 during the 2012 campaign.
The invitational will be the start of a 12 game road trip for FGCU as it heads out west to California for seven games, March 6 through March 10, after playing five games in Clearwater before returning home to the FGCU Softball Complex on March 13.
The Green and Blue had a strong showing at the LaQuinta Inn at the Airport Spring Break Invitational which was hosted from Feb. 22 through Feb. 24 as the Eagles went 4-1 with victories over Big Ten member Michigan State and BIG EAST member Villanova. FGCU is currently on a four-game win streak that is the longest such streak in the 2013 season.
On Tuesday, Feb. 27, FGCU was receiving one vote in Week Three of the ESPN.com/USA Softball Collegiate Top 25 poll which places them at No. 38 in the country. The vote marks the fifth time that an Eagle team has earned at least one vote in the ESPN.com/USA Softball Collegiate national poll. The last time the Green and Blue made the list was March 31, 2009 when the Eagles collected 11 votes and were 37-5 in their second season among the Division I ranks.
Junior catcher Chelsea Zgrabik (Venice, Fla./Venice HS) and junior outfielder Jessica Barnes (Winter Haven, Fla./Haines City HS) are both hitting the ball well over the four-game win streak for the Eagles as the pair combined for three homeruns, 12 RBI and 23 total bases at the FGCU Softball Complex during the spring break invitational.
The Rest of the Field
Western Michigan (3-8) will make the trip to Clearwater with already having played 11 games in 2013 behind strong performances from sophomore pitcher Mackenzie Shepeck who was named Co-Mid-American Conference West Division Pitcher of the week on Feb. 26 for her performance the week before at the Holiday Inn Hilltopper Classic. The Broncos were selected to finish third in the Mid-American Conference West Division in 2013, along with receiving one first place vote in the preseason poll after finishing 28-25 in the 2012 season.
Loyola Chicago (1-2) looks to continue success it found last season when the Ramblers reached the Horizon League Championship for the first time since 2004. The league’s coaches believe Loyola can find success in 2013 as they were picked to win the Horizon League in the annual preseason poll. The Ramblers will rely heavily on lefthander Brittany Gardner, who was the 2012 Horizon League Pitcher of the Year, along with being named to the All-Great Lakes Region second team.
Kent State (2-6) will be the second of two Mid-American Conference teams that FGCU will take on while in Clearwater with the first being Western Michigan. Kent State was tabbed to finish third in the East Division of the MAC in the preseason coaches’ poll, while also picking up one first place vote in the process. The Golden Flashes are coming off a 27-30 campaign in 2012 and look to improve behind their three returning pitchers, two of which, Emma Johnson and Dani Ramos, made the MAC All-Freshman Team last season.
Providence (2-3) enters the invitational looking to improve upon a 2012 season in which it finished 17-36 (7-14 BIG EAST). The Friars were selected to finish 10th in the BIG EAST in the league’s preseason poll heading into 2013. Providence will look to reach the BIG EAST Championship for the third time in the past four years with the help of 13 returners, including three seniors.
Maine (1-3) is the fifth and final team that FGCU will face at the USF Under Armour Invitational, with the Black Bears having been selected to finish fifth in the American East Conference in the 2013 preseason poll. Maine will look to improve after a 17-30-1 record last season in head coach Lynn Coutts’ first season at the helm of the program. The Black Bears will be the second American East team to face FGCU this season as preseason favorite Albany took on the Eagles in Fort Myers on Feb. 23 with FGCU having won 6-0.
FGCU will kick off the USF Under Armour Invitational on Friday, March 1 against Western Michigan and Loyola Chicago, with the first game set to begin at 3:45 p.m. For information on the USF Under Armour Invitational, including game times, participating teams and ticket information, visit the Tournament Central page.
In-game Twitter updates (@FGCU_Softball), results and a recap from the day’s action will be available at www.FGCUATHLETICS.com.
USF Under Amour Invitational Schedule|
Friday, March 1
3:45 p.m. – Western Michigan vs. FGCU (Field 1)
6:00 p.m. – Loyola Chicago vs. FGCU (Field 1)
Saturday, March 2
12:15 p.m. – Kent State vs. FGCU (Field 3)
5:00 p.m. – FGCU vs. Providence (Field 1)
Sunday, March 3
11:30 a.m. – FGCU vs. Maine (Field 9)