FORT MYERS, Fla. – One day after capturing their first-ever Atlantic Sun Conference Championship, the FGCU softball team (37-22, 14-4 A-Sun) learned of its regional destination Sunday during its watch party at the Beef O’ Brady’s Restaurant in Estero, Fla. FGCU will face fifth-seeded Florida on Friday in the Gainesville Regional at 6 p.m.
Also in the field for the four-team double elimination Gainesville region are USF (45-11) and UCF (39-17), who meet Friday as well at 3:30 p.m.
The Eagles and Florida will be facing each other for the second time this season after the then-No. 2 Gators defeated FGCU, 5-0, back on Feb. 12 at the USF tournament in Tampa, Fla. USF and UCF are also common opponents for the Eagles. The Green and Blue fell to UCF, 2-1, on Feb. 25 and lost to USF, 4-2, in the season opener for both teams.
A total of nine teams off of FGCU’s 2012 regular season schedule earned a spot in the field of 64. The Eagles are 4-7 against those nine teams and faced six of them in the first month of the season (February). The youthful Eagles grew from a tough early season schedule and enter the NCAA tournament with wins in 16 of their last 18 games.
Top-seeded FGCU earned the A-Sun’s automatic bid into the field of 64 after going a perfect 3-0 in the championship with victories over fifth-seeded Jacksonville (8-4), sixth-seeded Stetson (2-0) and second-seeded Kennesaw State (8-0, 6th inn.). The Green and Blue are heading into their first-ever NCAA regional on a six-game winning streak.
A-Sun tournament MVP and Conference Pitcher of the Year freshman Shelby Morgan (High Springs, Fla./Santa Fe HS) threw two shutouts against Stetson and in the championship game against Kennesaw State. Morgan finished the tourney 2-0 with a 1.45 ERA and 12 strikeouts.
Sophomore Chelsea Zgrabik (Venice, Fla./Venice HS), an A-Sun All-Tournament team selection, went 5-for-11 with two home runs, 6 RBI and a walk-off grand slam against Jacksonville in the A-Sun tournament. Zgrabik also ended the title game with a walk-off single to left field to clinch the championship against Kennesaw State. Joining Zgrabik on the All-Tournament team was sophomore Jessica Barnes (Winter Haven, Fla./Haines City HS) and junior Mariah Fernandez (Cape Coral, Fla./North Fort Myers HS). Barnes had four hits, including a 3-for-3 game with five RBI in the final against the Owls. Fernandez had a solo home run against Jacksonville in game one and had a clutch three-run double to help defeat Stetson in the winner’s bracket final.
Fans are encouraged to stay tuned to www.FGCUAthletics.com for updates on the Gainesville Regional and the 2012 NCAA Softball Championship. Ticket information will be available on Monday.
Friday, May 18
Game 1: USF vs. UCF, 3:30 p.m.
Game 2: Florida vs. FGCU, 6:00 p.m.
Saturday, May 19
Game 3: Winner Game 1 vs. Winner Game 2, 1:00 p.m.
Game 4: Loser Game 1 vs. Loser Game 2, 3:30 p.m.
Game 5: Loser Game 3 vs. Winner Game 4, 6:00 p.m.
Sunday, May 20
Game 6: Winner Game 3 vs. Winner Game 5, 1:00 p.m.
Game 7: Winner Game 3 vs. Winner Game 5, if necessary, 3:30 p.m.