LaQuinta Inn at the Airport Tournament to Begin Friday
Thursday, February 14, 2013 | by Andrew Piper (@ADPiper7)
FGCU (1-1) hosts the LaQuinta Inn at the Airport Tournament Feb. 15-17. (Photo by Dennis Snyder)
FGCU (1-1) hosts the LaQuinta Inn at the Airport Tournament Feb. 15-17. (Photo by Dennis Snyder)
Wichita State ()
2/15/2013 | Fort Myers, Fla. | Attendance: 1109
Wichita State1100000231
Win: OWEN (1-1) 6.032253
Loss: Anderson (1-2) 2.284400
BARNES (FGCU) 504300
McCracken (WSU) 301100
Bond (WSU) 201000
Greenlee (WSU) 301100

FORT MYERS, Fla. – FGCU (1-1) will play host to the LaQuinta Inn at the Airport Tournament from Friday, February 15 through Sunday, February 17 at the FGCU Softball Complex. The other tournament participants include Alabama, Appalachian State, Georgia Southern, Southern Illinois and Wichita State.

The highly-anticipated matchup of the weekend is set for Friday, February 15 at 8:15 p.m. when host FGCU takes the field against 2012 SEC and National Champion No. 1 Alabama. The game is expected to set an attendance record for the FGCU Softball Complex with extra seating being brought in to seat the sold out crowd of 1,000-plus.

The Green and Blue are two games into the 2013 season as they began their 56 game regular season slate in Miami, Fla. by splitting a doubleheader with FIU on February 13. FGCU started off strong as they mercy ruled the Golden Panthers on their home field 10-0 in five innings in game one and game two was a pitching duel that FIU won 3-2 in eight innings.

FGCU will play a total of five games over the course of the three day tournament which will be the first half of a 10 game homestand for the Eagles that will span 10 days through the completion of the LaQuinta Inn at the Airport Spring Break Invitational that will run from Feb. 22 through Feb. 24.

FGCU Preview

The Green and Blue are coming off a 2012 season that ranks as one of the best in program history as the Green and Blue picked up Atlantic Sun regular season and tournament championships on their way to their first NCAA Tournament appearance in Division I. The Eagles were selected to the Gainesville Regional site for the tournament to take on No. 5 Florida and defeated the Gators 2-1 in the tournament opener to give FGCU its first ever NCAA Division I Tournament victory.

FGCU sophomore Shelby Morgan (High Springs, Fla./Santa Fe HS), was named the 2012 A-Sun Pitcher of the Year after recording 23 wins and a 1.55 ERA in 203.1 innings pitched. Morgan has collected numerous preseason accolades heading into 2013 that includes A-Sun Preseason Pitcher of the Year and A-Sun Preseason All-Conference first team honors, along with being named College Sports Madness A-Sun Preseason Pitcher of the Year.

The Rest of the Field

The Alabama Crimson Tide enter the season after a 2012 campaign in which they captured 60 wins and the program’s first national championship. Returning for Alabama is junior pitcher and Naples native Jackie Traina who went 42-3 last season with a 1.87 ERA and was named an NFCA All-American for the second straight season. The Tide enter 2013 with a No. 1 preseason ranking and tabbed to win the SEC this season. Fellow Naples native Ryan Iamurri is also returning home for the Tide with Traina, the two have been teammates since age six.

Appalachian State comes to Fort Myers after being picked to finish fourth in the 2013 Southern Conference preseason coaches’ poll. The Apps are led by senior Allie Cashion who was picked as SoCon preseason player of the year and preseason first team all-conference along with support from Sarah Warnock who was named SoCon freshman of the year in 2012.

Georgia Southern is one of the three teams that will play in the FGCU tournament that also reached the 2012 NCAA Tournament. The 2012 Southern Conference champions are pegged to repeat in the conference in 2013 after receiving seven of the nine first places votes in the poll of the league’s head coaches. The Eagles of Georgia Southern also have a strong force inside the pitching circle as junior hurler Sarah Purvis was named SoCon Preseason Pitcher of the Year after having won the award in 2012 while also being named SoCon Tournament Most Outstanding Player.

2013 Missouri Valley Conference Preseason co-favorite Southern Illinois will come to the FGCU Softball Complex after compiling a 3-2 record at the Dot Richardson Invitational in Clearwater, Fla. Feb. 8-10. The Salukis placed four on the 2013 Preseason All-Conference team, which was the more than any other MVC team including preseason co-favorite Illinois State who were just one win away from making the Super Regionals in 2012.

Wichita State rounds out the six-team field for the LaQuinta Inn at the Airport Tournament with second year head coach Kristi Bredbenner looking to move up the conference ladder after being picked eighth in the 2013 Missouri Valley Conference Preseason Poll. The Shockers will have several early tests before getting into MVC play as they will play host to 2012 national runner-up Oklahoma for their home opener along with facing 2012 national champion Alabama during day two of the LaQuinta Inn at the Airport Tournament on Saturday, Feb. 16.

The FGCU/LaQuinta Inn at the Airport Tournament will get underway at 9 a.m. on Friday, Feb. 15 with Southern Illinois taking on Appalachian State. The tournament will come to a close on Sunday, Feb. 17 with a total of 15 games to be played during the course of the weekend. All-day passes are still available for Saturday and Sunday with tickets costing $6 for adults and $3 for children ages 3 to 12.

For information on the LaQuinta Inn at the Airport Tournament, including game times and participating teams visit the Tournament Central page. To purchase tickets for Saturday and Sunday of the LaQuinta Inn at the Airport Tournament, visit the FGCU Ticket Office Monday-Friday from 9:00 a.m.-5:00 p.m. or call 239-590-7145 for more information.

LaQuinta Inn at the Airport Tournament Schedule
Friday, Feb. 15
9:00 AM        Appalachian State vs Southern Illinois
11:15 AM       Southern Illinois vs Georgia Southern
1:30 PM        Alabama vs Appalachian State
3:45 PM        Georgia Southern vs Wichita State
6:00 PM          Wichita State vs FGCU
8:15 PM          FGCU vs Alabama

Saturday, Feb. 16
9:00 AM        Georgia Southern vs Southern Illinois
11:15 AM       Alabama vs Wichita State
1:30 PM          Appalachian State vs FGCU
3:45 PM        Alabama vs Georgia Southern
6:00 PM          FGCU vs Southern Illinois
8:15 PM        Wichita State vs Appalachian State 

Sunday, Feb. 17
9:00 AM        Southern Illinois vs Alabama
11:15 AM       Appalachian State vs Wichita State
1:30 PM          FGCU vs Georgia Southern