FGCU Ready for First-Ever NCAA Softball Championship at Gainesville Regional
Friday, May 18, 2012 | by Justin Glover (@Jglove3)
Photo by ASun Photos
Photo by ASun Photos
FGCU (38-22)
#6 Florida (46-12)
5/18/2012 | Gainesville, Fla. | Attendance: 1345
Win: MORGAN (23-6) 7.051124
Loss: Rogers (27-7) 7.062229
LANIER (FGCU) 312101
Haeger (UF) 302100

FORT MYERS, Fla. – After winning its first-ever Atlantic Sun Tournament Championship last weekend, the FGCU softball team heads to Katie Seashole Pressly Stadium to take on fifth-seeded Florida in the Gainesville Regional at the NCAA Softball Championship on Friday, May 18 at 6 p.m. in Gainesville, Fla.

The Eagles and Gators will be facing each other for the second time this season after the then-No. 2 Florida defeated FGCU, 5-0, back on Feb. 12 at the USF tournament in Tampa, Fla. USF and UCF are also common opponents for the Eagles as the Green and Blue fell to UCF, 2-1, on Feb. 25 and lost to USF, 4-2, in the season opener for both teams.

A total of nine teams off of FGCU’s 2012 regular season schedule earned a spot in the field of 64. The Eagles are 4-7 against those nine teams and faced six of them in the first month of the season (February). The youthful Eagles grew from a tough early season schedule and enter the NCAA tournament with wins in 16 of their last 18 games. 

FGCU earned the A-Sun’s automatic bid into the field of 64 after earning the tournament’s No. 1 seed and going a perfect 3-0 in the championship with victories over fifth-seeded Jacksonville (8-4), sixth-seeded Stetson (2-0) and second-seeded Kennesaw State (8-0, 6th inn.). In their first season of eligibility, the Green and Blue are heading into the NCAA regional on a six-game winning streak.

The Eagles have three players hitting over .300, led by sophomore Chelsea Zgrabik’s (Venice, Fla./Venice HS) .340 average on 54 hits, 10 doubles, 13 home runs 53 RBI and  a .660 slugging percentage, which ranks 87th in the nation.  Sophomore Jessica Barnes (Winter Haven, Fla./Haines City) is second on the team with a .331 average on 50 hits, eight doubles, seven home runs, 46 runs scored and 29 RBI, while classmate Emily Lanier (St. Cloud, Fla./Harmony HS)  is third on the team with a .309 mark on 43 hits, 16 runs, 11 doubles, five home runs, 26 RBI and .471 on base percentage.

In the circle, A-Sun Tournament MVP and Pitcher of the Year freshman Shelby Morgan (High Springs, Fla./Santa Fe HS) has had a solid season with a team-leading 22-6 record, including nine shutouts, which is the fifth best season total in FGCU history. Morgan leads the team with a 1.38 ERA, which ranks 23rd in the nation, and has 139 strikeouts on the year.  Sophomore Amanda Josie (Estero, Fla./Estero HS) has had a breakout sophomore campaign, sitting second on the team with a 10-5 record and a 2.16 ERA in 123.1 innings. The Green and Blue’s team ERA is 1.98, which ranks 29th in the country.   

The Gators (46-11) are coming off a tough loss in the SEC Tournament final losing, 8-1, against Alabama. Florida is 21-16 in NCAA Regional play, including 12-2 the past three seasons, having advanced to an unprecedented four-consecutive Women’s College World Series, including appearances in the WCWS Championship Series in both 2009 and 2011. Florida is led by Michelle Moultrie, who is batting .376 on 64 hits, four triples, six doubles, 10 home runs and 29 RBI. In the circle, Hannah Rodgers sports a 27-6 record with eight shutouts and a 1.25 ERA.

The first game of the regional will feature USF (45-11) against UCF (39-17) at 3:30 p.m. The Bulls are led by senior Janine Richardson, who is hitting .303 with seven home runs and 27 RBI. In the circle, Sara Nevins leads the team with a 26-5 record and a 1.06 ERA. The Knights are led by Natalie Land, who is hitting .314 on 50 hits, five triples, six home runs and 23 RBI. In the circle, Mackenzie Audas holds a 19-7 record with nine shutouts and a 1.09 ERA.  

The Gainesville Regional will feature four of the top 25 best ERA pitchers in the country with South Florida’s Nevins leading the way with a 1.07 ERA, ranked fourth in the nation. Audas (UCF) is eighth with a 1.21 ERA, while Rodgers (Florida) is 12th at 1.25 and Morgan is 23rd with a 1.38 ERA.

All session passes are $25 for adults and $10 for children 12 & under, seniors (55+) and non-UF college students with proof of college ID. Single game tickets cost $10 for an adult ticket and $5 for children 12 & under, seniors (55+) and non-UF college students with proof of college ID. For fans picking up tickets on game day, the purchaser’s picture ID is required to pick up tickets. For more information, please call the Ticket Office at 352-375-4683, ext. 6800. Live stats are available on www.NCAASports.com with live video for the Gainesville Regional available for free at www.GatorZone.com.

Fans will have the chance to keep up with all the action thanks to live audio as Tom James will provide the play-by-play commentary during the weekend.   Live video, live audio, live stats, in-game Twitter updates (@FGCUSoftball), box scores and recaps will be available at www.FGCUAthletics.com.

Friday, May 18
Game 1: USF vs. UCF, 3:30 p.m.
Game 2: Florida vs. FGCU, 6:00 p.m.

Saturday, May 19
Game 3: Winner Game 1 vs. Winner Game 2, 1:00 p.m.
Game 4: Loser Game 1 vs. Loser Game 2, 3:30 p.m.
Game 5: Loser Game 3 vs. Winner Game 4, 6:00 p.m.

Sunday, May 20
Game 6: Winner Game 3 vs. Winner Game 5, 1:00 p.m.
Game 7: Winner Game 3 vs. Winner Game 5, if necessary, 3:30 p.m.