FORT MYERS, Fla. – The FGCU softball team returns home from its first tournament of the season to host the Homewood Suites/Hilton Garden Inn FGCU Tournament, beginning on Friday at the newly renovated FGCU Softball Complex. Georgetown, Michigan State, Saint Louis, South Carolina and Villanova travel south to face the Eagles.
FGCU (2-3) opens its home schedule against the BIG EAST’S Georgetown at 6 p.m. and then plays Big Ten foe Michigan State at 8:15 p.m. The Eagles then face Saint Louis (6 p.m.) and the SEC’s South Carolina (8 p.m.) on Saturday before closing out the tournament with BIG EAST opponent Villanova at 11:15 a.m. on Sunday.
The Blue and Green opened their 2011 season at the USF Wilson-DeMarini Tournament with losses to N.C. State (8-2), No. 5 Florida (6-0) and USF (8-1), but picked up wins against Marshall (1-0) and Long Island (8-2).
FGCU owns a 178-29 (.859) record at the FGCU Softball Complex since it opened in 2004. The Eagles also boast a 41-6 record in tournaments that are hosted at their home field. FGCU will host two more tournaments during the season – the Moe’s Blue and Green Invite from February 25-27 and the Stevens Industries FGCU Tournament from March 4-6.
FGCU hitters totaled seven extra-base hits, including home runs from freshmen Kirsten Bembnowski (Palm Harbor, Fla./East Lake) and Brittney Garabedian (Miami, Fla./Gulliver Prep). Freshman outfielder Jessica Barnes (Winter Haven, Fla./Haines City) drove in a team-high three runs on four hits. Classmate Emily Lanier (St. Cloud, Fla./Harmony) had a team-high on-base percentage (.462), earning three walks and two hits in nine at bats.
Redshirt senior pitcher Catherine McDaniel (Melbourne, Fla./Florida Tech) went 1-1 on the weekend with a 2.05 ERA, striking out nine in 13.2 innings. McDaniel faced the strong offense of No. 5 Florida and only gave up six hits while notching five strikeouts in 6.2 innings. Sophomore Stephanie Sullivan (Venice, Fla./Venice) picked up a win in her first start of the season against Long Island, striking out six while only giving up one earned run.
The Eagles have never played South Carolina or Saint Louis, while they own a 2-0 advantage over Michigan State and Villanova, and a 1-0 record against Georgetown. FGCU last played Michigan State and Georgetown in 2009. The Eagles beat the Hoyas, 9-0, in five innings. FGCU downed Michigan State, 11-7, at FIU and 6-5 in nine innings at FGCU's tournament. Villanova lost to FGCU at its Spring Break Invitational last season, 9-0, in five innings and the FGCU beat Villanova again, 15-8, at the USF tournament.
Michigan State enters the event with a 3-2 mark, with both losses coming against Tennessee during the Stetson Lead-Off Classic. South Carolina also has a 3-2 record after dropping games to USC Upstate and Winthrop. Saint Louis began its season last weekend with a 3-2 mark at the Southeastern Louisiana Lion Classic. Both Georgetown and Villanova are making their 2011 debuts this weekend. Villanova was picked to finish seventh in the BIG EAST race this year, while the Hoyas ranked 13th.
Tickets for the Homewood Suites/Hilton Garden Inn FGCU Tournament can be purchased through the FGCU Ticket Office in Alico Arena either in person or by phone at (239) 590-7145. Tickets are also available at www.FGCUathletics.com/tickets. All Tournament passes, valid for all games during the tournament, will be $10 for adults and $5 for youth (ages 3-18).
With the start of the season comes plenty of special ticket offers and promotions for FGCU fans and students. Little leaguers who wear their jersey get in to all games for free the entire weekend for both baseball and softball with an adult ticket. FGCU faculty, staff and students all get in free throughout the season with their Eagle ID.
The ticket office is also running a Grand Slam special which includes four games for $12. Packages purchased for softball are good for any games through March 2.
FGCU will also be running the “Diamond Dollars” promotion throughout the entire season, which current students are eligible for. Students attending the game will be entered to win $100 if an FGCU player hits the SIP sign on the outfield wall in the air or hits a homerun over the sign. If the game finishes without a winner, the money rolls over to the next game continuing to increase the pot. Winners must have a valid FGCU student ID and be present to win.
Live stats, box scores and recaps for every FGCU contest as well as the other tournament games are available at www.FGCUAthletics.com. Live updates of FGCU’s games can also be followed on www.twitter.com/FGCUEagles.
Homewood Suites/Hilton Garden Inn FGCU TOURNAMENT Schedule
*Games played at the FGCU Softball Complex*
Friday, Feb. 18
Saint Louis vs. Villanova, 9:00 a.m.
Villanova vs. South Carolina, 11:15 a.m.
Michigan State vs. Saint Louis, 1:30 p.m.
South Carolina vs. Georgetown, 3:45 p.m.
FGCU vs. GEORGETOWN, 6:00 p.m.
FGCU vs. MICHIGAN STATE, 8:15 p.m.
Saturday, Feb. 19
Georgetown vs. Saint Louis, 9:00 a.m.
Michigan State vs. Georgetown, 11:15 a.m.
Villanova vs. Michigan State, 1:30 p.m.
South Carolina vs. Villanova, 3:45 p.m.
FGCU vs. SAINT LOUIS, 6:00 p.m.
FGCU vs. SOUTH CAROLINA, 8:15 p.m.
Sunday, Feb. 20
Saint Louis vs. Georgetown, 9:00 a.m.
FGCU vs. VILLANOVA, 11:15 a.m.
Michigan State vs. South Carolina, 1:30 p.m.