FORT MYERS, Fla. – The FGCU softball team begins an eight-game conference homestand, beginning on Thursday as it hosts USC Upstate before welcoming ETSU on Saturday. The first pitch on Thursday is set for 5 p.m., while the Saturday match up begins at 2 p.m.
FGCU stands at 21-21 on the season including a 4-2 mark in the A-Sun. USC Upstate is 32-7 and 4-4 in conference, while ETSU is 13-21 overall and 2-6 in the league. ETSU plays a doubleheader at Stetson on Thursday before traveling to Fort Myers.
The Blue and Green own an all-time winning record against ETSU, taking all six games, while the Spartans hold a 4-2 edge over the Eagles with the most recent losses coming at home in Spartanburg, S.C. in 2010. Last season, USC Upstate swept the Eagles, 3-0 and 11-0 (5 inn.) before FGCU won the series at ETSU, 5-4 and 11-7.
In the 10-inning shutout against Kennesaw State on Sunday, redshirt senior Catherine McDaniel (Melbourne, Fla./Florida Tech) surrendered just four hits, while striking out eight. Her performance is nothing new as McDaniel currently leads the team with a 1.51 ERA in 125.1 innings of work, striking out a team-best 78 batters for a 10-9 record.
Senior Courtney Platt (Naples, Fla./Gulf Coast) backs up McDaniel’s performances, riding a six-game hitting streak. The senior continues to lead the team at the plate with her .387 average and 41 hits, while leading the A-Sun in walks (41), doubles (13) and on-base percentage (.574). Platt needs four more doubles to become the career leader in FGCU history and is already first with 159 walks.
Sophomore Mariah Fernández (Cape Coral, Fla./North Fort Myers) has a team-leading 19 RBI, while freshman Brittney Garabedian (Miami, Fla./Gulliver Prep) owns a team-best eight home runs, tying for third in the conference.
The Spartans opened the season 28-3 and vaulted into the Top 25 rankings, but have since posted a 4-4 mark conference play. Pitching is USC Upstate’s strong suit, with the team posting a 1.46 ERA. Ace Morgan Childers holds a 1.30 ERA and a 24-3 record, striking out 283 batters and walking just 33 in 161.2 innings of work. Hannah Alexander has been excellent as well, with a 9-3 record and a 1.59 ERA. Offensively, Janna Lewis leads the team with a .408 average, while six other Spartans own a .300 or above clip.
The Bucs are currently on a four-game conference losing streak, dropping a pair to UNF on Saturday. Katie Henderson leads the Bucs with a .351 average and Jackie Baird has a team-best 24 RBI. Jessica Duncan and Shelby Morris each have six wins in the circle to pace the pitching staff.
Saturday’s games against ETSU will be “Think Pink” games to support the Susan G. Komen Foundation. Along with ceremonial first pitches from three current players’ mothers, who are survivors of breast cancer, FGCU athletics will sell pink t-shirts with proceeds going to the foundation.
Tickets for the game 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 here. FGCU students, faculty and staff get in free of charge with an Eagle ID. Kids 12 and under get in free.
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 Twitter (@FGCUEagles).