FGCU Softball Begins 2012 Season at USF Tournament
Friday, February 10, 2012 | by Justin Glover (@Jglove3)
FGCU (0-1)
South Florida 2012 (2-0)
2/10/2012 | Tampa, Fla. | Attendance: 623
South Florida 2012000040X441
Win: S.Nevins (1-0) 2.262204
Loss: PUGH (0-1) 4.133231
LANIER (FGCU) 212201
KUJAWA (FGCU) 402000
G.Kafalas (USFSB12) 411100
S.Medina (USFSB12) 301100
K.Salvarola (USFSB12) 201100
A.Nowell (USFSB12) 311000

FORT MYERS, Fla. – For the fifth-consecutive season, the FGCU softball team kicks off the 2012 campaign by heading to Tampa, Fla., for the USF tournament Feb. 10-12 at the newly renovated USF Softball Stadium on the campus of the University of South Florida.

The Eagles begin the USF-Fairfield Inn & Suites Tampa North Tournament with match-ups against tournament host USF and No. 2 Florida Friday evening at 4 p.m. and 8:30 p.m., respectively. The Eagles follow with contests against Long Island and Maine at 9:15 a.m. and 11:30 a.m. on Saturday morning, and close the five-game opening weekend with a clash against Illinois State on Sunday at 11:15 a.m.

“It’s time for softball again as we play four games in less than 24 hours,” said tenth-year head coach David Deiros. “We begin play with the tournament host USF and No. 2 Florida on Friday, so our team will be put in a competitive situation right away. We expect to be challenged this weekend and how they handle that level of competition will benefit our team for the rest of the season.”

FGCU owns a 9-9 record under head coach David Deiros on the opening day of the season. The Eagles enter the 2012 season with 382 program victories, and will be looking to eclipse the 400-win mark this season.

Predicted to finish third in the 2012 Atlantic Sun Conference preseason coaches’ poll, FGCU finished 31-25 and placed third in the A-Sun with a 14-6 conference record in 2011.

Last year at the season-opening USF Wilson DeMarini Tournament, the Eagles finished 2-3 with wins over Marshall (W, 1-0) and Long Island (W, 8-2). The Green and Blue will rematch with USF and No. 2 Florida on Friday, after falling 6-0 to the Gators and 8-1 to the Bulls last season. Florida is coming off one of its most successful seasons ever, following a fourth-straight trip to the Women’s College World Series in 2011, including a spot in the Championship Series two of the last three seasons. USF was predicted to finish fifth in the preseason BIG EAST poll after finishing fourth in the conference last season with a 33-21 record (13-5 in Big East).

Saturday’s games feature contests against Long Island and Maine. The Eagles defeated Long Island, 8-2, in the finale of last year’s USF tournament and will face the Maine Black Bears for the first time in school history.

Sunday’s battle against Illinois State is the third meeting between the two teams as the all-time series is 1-1 with the RedBirds winning the last game in 2010, 7-5.

Since joining Division I, FGCU has finished in the top three spots in the A-Sun conference in each of their four seasons, including winning the league in 2008. The Eagles lost three starters to graduation, but welcome a class of nine newcomers including five freshmen. Altogether, the squad features 12 underclassmen on its 20-player roster.

The Eagles return numerous starters including junior Mariah Fernández (Cape Coral, Fla./North Fort Myers), who batted .251 with three homers, 29 RBI and 21 runs scored last season Three returners were named to the 2011 A-Sun All-Freshmen team a season ago, in sophomores Tori Williams (Dunnellon, Fla./Dunnellon HS), Kirsten Bembnowski (Palm Harbor, Fla./East Lake HS) and Emily Lanier (St. Cloud, Fla./Harmony HS). Williams had the second best batting average on the team at .275 and led the team with 12 stolen bases in 2011. Bembnowski and Lanier combined for 66 hits, seven homers and 38 RBI a season ago.

Sophomore second basemen Brittney Garabedian (Miami, Fla./Gulliver Prep HS) started every game and led the team with 10 home runs in 2011. Senior pitcher Morgan Campen (Rougemont, N.C./Northern HS) returns to the circle as the top pitcher after making 14 appearances last season.

FGCU’s game against USF will be aired for free through the Bulls Cast platform at the USF website. Live stats, in-game Twitter updates (@FGCUEagles), results and recaps will be available at www.FGCUAthletics.com.

USF-Fairfield Inn & Suites Tampa North Tournament Games

Friday, February 10

FGCU vs. USF, 4 p.m.
FGCU vs. No. 2 Florida, 8:30 p.m.

Saturday, February 11

FGCU vs. Long Island, 9:15 a.m.
FGCU vs. Maine, 11:30 a.m.

Sunday, February 12

FGCU vs. Illinois State, 11:15 a.m.