FORT MYERS, Fla. – The FGCU softball team will travel to Clearwater, Fla. for this weekend’s The Game tournament hosted by USF at the Eddie C. Moore Complex. The Eagles will face three schools currently ranked in the USA Today/NFCA top 25: No. 16 Ohio State, No. 18 Oklahoma State, and No. 21 Illinois. The Blue and Green will also take on Maryland and Northern Illinois during the tournament.
The Eagles bring an 11-15 record into the tournament after falling to Drake, 4-1, on Thursday night at the FGCU Softball Complex. The Blue and Green were only able to muster three hits against Brynne Dordel, two of which came from Hayley O’Mara (Naples, Fla.).
Courtney Platt (Greenville, Ohio) and Jessica Gary (Naples, Fla.) are each hitting .338 to lead the team. Platt also leads the Eagles with six home runs and 18 RBIs. Lauran Ziegler (Palm Bay, Fla.) has been effective in the leadoff hole, hitting .330 with 15 stolen bases and 22 runs scored, both team-highs.
In the circle, Catherine McDaniel (Melbourne, Fla.) has a team high five wins against eight losses with a 3.58 ERA. Kelci Breaux (Okeechobee, Fla.) is 3-4 with a 3.08 ERA and Stephanie Sullivan (Venice, Fla.) has a team-leading 2.85 ERA to go along with a 3-3 record.
Despite not receiving a single vote in the USA Today/NFCA preseason poll, Illinois has moved up to No. 21 in the latest poll on the strength of a 16-2 record. The Illini are hitting .333 as a team, with three regulars hitting .400 or higher. In the circle, Pepper Gay sports a 7-0 record with a 1.50 ERA.
Maryland brings a 12-9 record into the weekend, having defeated Columbia and Akron on Wednesday, winning each game 9-1. Alex Schultz leads the Terrapins with a .390 batting average and three home runs. Kendra Knight has been dominant in the circle, striking out 106 batters in 65.2 innings. Opponents are hitting just .155 off of Knight, who is currently 5-5 on the season.
The No. 18 Oklahoma State Cowgirls have had a great start to the season, boasting a 20-6 record. The team is led by junior shortstop Mariah Gearhart who has a .408 batting average, 31 hits, 10 RBI, and is 11-for-12 in stolen bases. Sophomore first baseman Julie Ward is leading the team in RBI with 35, doubles with 12, and home runs with seven, all while hitting .320. Junior infielder Alysia Hamilton is second on the team with 23 RBI. Senior pitcher Anna Whiddon and freshman pitcher Kat Espinosa have carried most of the pitching load with a 2.05 ERA and 1.60 ERA, respectively. Whiddon is also 12-3 on the season.
The Northern Illinois Huskies are 4-12 on the young season and are led by junior infielder Zoe Sinner, junior infielder/outfielder Andrea Colosimo, and sophomore pitcher Morgan Bittner. Sinner is leading the team with a .359 batting average and three home runs. She also has acquired the second-most RBI on the team with eight. Also leading the Huskies is Colosimo with a .289 batting average with a team-high 10 RBI. In the circle, Bittner has kept a 2.39 ERA despite a 2-6 record.
Ohio State has played a very challenging schedule this season, including eight games against nationally ranked opponents. The Buckeyes are 4-4 in those games, with three losses coming to No. 8 Alabama. Alicia Herron leads the team with a .404 batting average, with three other regulars all hitting .373 or better. Catcher Sam Marder leads the team with 10 home runs, 17 RBIs, and 16 runs scored. Marder, who is hitting .373, has drawn 18 walks while only striking out twice in 74 plate appearances.
The Eagles open the tournament on Friday with No. 21 Illinois (4 p.m.) and Maryland (6 p.m.). Saturday, the Blue and Green will play No. 18 Oklahoma State (10 a.m.) and Northern Illinois (12 noon). FGCU concludes the tournament on Sunday with an 11 a.m. matchup against No. 16 Ohio State.