FORT MYERS, Fla. – The FGCU softball team will open the 2010 season at the USF Wilson-DeMarini Tournament at the Eddie C. Moore Complex in Clearwater, Fla. The Eagles will open the tournament on Friday (Feb. 12) against Canisius at 12:30 p.m. FGCU will also play East Carolina, Illinois State, Long Island University, and No. 13 Georgia Tech throughout the weekend.
The Eagles were selected fourth in the Atlantic Sun Preseason Coaches’ Poll and Courtney Platt (Greenville, Ohio) and Lauran Ziegler (Palm Bay, Fla.) were both named to the Preseason All-Conference Team. Along with Platt and Ziegler, FGCU returns starting center fielder Jessica Gary (Naples, Fla.) and starting pitcher Catherine McDaniel (Melbourne, Fla.).
The Blue and Green will need to get substantial contributions from a host of newcomers, including four freshmen that are expected to be in the starting lineup this weekend.
Tiffani Upchurch (Lake Wales, Fla.), cousin of former FGCU baseball standout Josh Upchurch, will likely be the starting shortstop for the Eagles. She was twice named to the FHSAA All-State Second Team while playing at Lake Wales High School. While at Lake Wales, Upchurch led the Highlanders to two state Final Fours, including a state championship three years ago and a state runner-up finish last season.
Brittany Baker (Summerfield, Fla.) is expected to be the starting catcher for FGCU. She was a four-time All-Area honoree while playing at Lake Weir High School. As a senior she was also named to the All-Conference team.
Mariah Fernandez (Cape Coral, Fla.) is the projected designated hitter for the Blue and Green. As a senior, she led North Fort Myers High School to the state Final Four. She led the Red Knights in nearly every offensive category last year, including batting average, on-base percentage, slugging percentage, hits, runs scored, triples, homeruns, walks, and stolen bases.
Erin Olson (Naples, Fla.) is expected to start at second base for the Eagles. She was a four-year letterwinner at Barron Collier High School, earning All-State and All-Conference honors during her career.
On Friday (Feb. 12), FGCU opens the tournament at 12:30 p.m. against Canisius, followed by a battle with East Carolina at 2:30 p.m. Saturday (Feb. 13), the Blue and Green take on Illinois State at 12:30 p.m. followed by a game against Long Island University at 5 p.m. The highlight of the tournament for FGCU comes on Sunday (Feb. 14) when the Eagles will clash with No. 13 Georgia Tech.