CLEARWATER, Fla. – Sixteen NCAA Division I programs opened their 2023 seasons at the NFCA Division I Leadoff Classic at the Eddie C. Moore Complex. Of those program, No. 21 Auburn, Indiana, No. 20 Kentucky, No. 8 Northwestern and No. 13 Tennessee won their first two contests of the season.
You can watch all the action live through the GameChanger app. An NFCA Official Sponsor, GameChanger is livestreaming every tournament game, and two fields (1 & 3) features expanded coverage with announcers and additional camera angles.. Viewers can watch on their phone, tablet or via web browser for free. Additionally, fans can watch archived games and check out box scores and statistics of their favorite teams.
Links can be found t on the NFCA’s Tournament Central page or directly through the GameChanger app.
Tiger pitchers did not allow a run and surrendered just five hits as they twirled shutouts against St. John’s (6-0) and Fordham (9-0 6 inn.). Against the Red Storm, Annabelle Widra tossed a two-hit shutout with 10 strikeouts and no walks, while Maddie Penta and Shelby Lowe combined on three-hit blanking of the Rams. Penta went the first five, allowing three hits with 11 strikeouts and one walk. Lowe fanned all three batters she faced in the sixth. The game ended on Aspyn Godin’s grand slam.
Brianna Copeland tossed her first career no-hitter against Prairie View A&M to cap off the Hoosiers’ undefeated day. Copeland struck out 10 and did not walk a batter in a 5-1 victory. In their opener against Pitt, the Hoosiers broke a 3-3 deadlock with a 14-run bottom of third and cruised toa 17-5 win over Pitt.
UK scored 22 runs and needed only 10 total innings in wins over St. John’s and Louisville. They launched five home runs, two by Erin Coffel, in their season-opening, 14-4, victory over the Red Storm. The Wildcats followed with an 8-0 triumph over their in-state foes, highlighted bey Stephanie Schoonover two-hit shutout and Karissa Hamilton’s homer and four RBI.
A pair of late-inning rallies lifted Northwestern to victories over South Alabama (8-5) and No. 8 Texas (10-9). In their opener, the Wildcats erased a 5-4 deficit with a four-run top-of-seventh to defeat the Jaguars 8-5. In a battle of top-10 programs, Northwestern rallied again, pushing across three runs in the bottom of the sixth for the one-run victory. A Kelsey Nader two-run single evened the game and the Cats forged ahead on wild pitch.
The Lady Vols exploded for 30 runs, toppling Howard 21-1 in five inning and Illinois, 9-2. UT’s Zaida Puni homered twice and drove in eight runs against the Bison. After three scoreless innings and falling behind 2-0 in the fourth, UT scored nine unanswered runs, including a five-sixth, to knock off the Illini.
Also picking up victories on day one were Howard, Illinois, Louisville, Missouri, Pitt and Texas. The Illini, Cardinals and Longhorns all won their openers, while the Bison, Tigers and Panthers rebounded to even their records at 1-1. Texas and Illinois registered big wins over Mizzou (10-1) and Southern (14-2), respectively with the Tigers trumping Fordham, 13-3. Howard toppled Southern, 10-6, Louisville needed eight innings to defeat South Alabama 4-2, and Pitt blanked Prairie View A&M, 5-0.
In the contest between Illinois and Southern, it marked the first time sisters Tyra Perry IIinois and Brittney Williams faced off as opposing head coaches.
Action continues Feb. 11, with the first two games of the day - Prairie View A&M vs. Fordham & No. 21 Auburn vs. Pittsburgh slated for 11:00 a.m.
Celebrating 40 years in 2023, the NFCA is the professional organization for fastpitch softball coaches. Known for its highly-regarded coaches polls and All-America awards, the NFCA also educates and supports softball coaches on a variety of different levels: from podcasts to awards, to in-person events and National Convention.