FORT MYERS, Fla. – Just a week after being selected fourth in the Atlantic Sun Conference preseason coaches’ poll, the FGCU softball team heads to Clearwater, Fla. for the USF Wilson DeMarini Tournament beginning on Friday afternoon to open the 2011 season.
Originally scheduled to take place in Tampa, Fla., the tournament has been moved to the Eddie C. Moore Complex in Clearwater. The FGCU game times have been impacted with the relocation as the Eagles face N.C. State at 4 p.m. and No. 5 Florida at 8 p.m. to open their schedule. On Saturday, FGCU plays Marshall at 12:30 p.m. and host USF at 3 p.m. before closing out the tournament against Long Island at 10 a.m. on Sunday.
“I think it’s an exciting time for our team; we are heading to a very competitive tournament,” said ninth-year head coach David Deiros. “We always like to put our team into adverse conditions and see how they handle that level of competition. Our team is not going to shy away from any one. We went to Division I to play the biggest names in the country and that is what we always strive to do.”
Last year, the Eagles finished the season with a 24-28 (12-8 A-Sun) record. Since joining Division I, FGCU has finished in the top three spots in the conference in each of their three seasons, including winning the league in 2008. The Eagles lost three starters, but welcome a class of eight newcomers including seven freshmen and one junior college transfer and new assistant coach Alycia Bachkora. All together, the squad features 15 underclassmen on its 20-player roster.
Led by senior outfielder Courtney Platt (Naples, Fla./Gulf Coast), who earned a spot on the preseason All-Conference team, FGCU returns four key starters. Platt posted a .311 average in 2010 and finished with 31 RBI on 42 hits. She notched a team-high 40 walks, 12 doubles and nine home runs. Redshirt senior Catherine McDaniel (Melbourne, Fla./Florida Tech) returns to the circle as the top pitcher and has a 2.49 career ERA, which is good for fourth in the FGCU record book.
Joining the list of starters, sophomore Mariah Fernández (Cape Coral, Fla./North Fort Myers), who was named to the 2010 A-Sun All-Freshmen Team, looks to continue the success of her rookie campaign into this season. Fernández had a .260 average and started all 52 games. The Cape Coral native slammed six home runs, good for third on the team, and a team-high 32 RBI on 31 hits.
Freshman Jessica Barnes (Winter Haven, Fla./Haines City) is expected to have an impact on the starting lineup as well. She is a four-time All-Area first team selection and was an All-State honoree after posting a .487 average with 24 RBI on 37 hits her senior season. Barnes led Haines City High School to a 19-5 record and a trip to the regional semifinals.
The Eagles welcome back 2008 All-Freshmen selection pitcher Morgan Campen (Rougemont, N.C./Northern HS) and redshirt sophomore Lindsey Green (Bowling Green, Ky./Greenwood) from redshirt seasons. Campen posted a 16-3 record with a 2.54 ERA and had 111 strikeouts in 137.2 innings pitched in her freshman season. Green recorded a .218 average in 2009 and finished with 16 RBI on 17 hits while starting 25 of 35 games played.
After its season-opening road stint, FGCU returns to the newly renovated FGCU Softball Complex to host the Homewood Suites/Hilton Garden Inn FGCU Tournament from February 18-20. Georgetown, Michigan State, Saint Louis, South Carolina and Villanova travel south to participate.
FLORIDA USF WILSON DeMARINI TOURNAMENT GAMES *Games played at the Eddie C. Moore Complex: Clearwater, Fla.* Friday, February 11 FGCU vs. N.C. State, 4 p.m. - Field 9
FGCU vs. Florida, 8 p.m. - Field 9
Saturday February 12
FGCU vs. Marshall, 12:30 p.m. - Field 8
FGCU vs. USF, 3:00 p.m. - Field 8
Sunday February 13
FGCU vs. Long Island, 10 a.m. - Field 9