CLEARWATER, Fla. –The sun shined and the warmth was welcomed as 20 teams from 10 different states competed on the first day of the 2019 NFCA Division II Leadoff Classic at the Eddie C. Moore Complex.
Under near perfect conditions five programs – No. 22 Valdosta State, Hillsdale, Tampa, Florida Tech, and Eckerd – picked up two wins apiece. The Blazers and Chargers each knocked off a pair of nationally-ranked opponents, while the Spartans recorded a pair of 6-0 shutouts.
Valdosta State, who also did not allow a run on Friday, started off with a bang scoring a day-one best 11 runs in a 11-0 triumph over No. 18 Palm Beach Atlantic in five innings. The Blazers improved to 6-0 on the season, downing No. 2 Southern Arkansas, 3-0. Hurlers Caylie Van Auken and Kasie Johnson each allowed four hits and combined to strike out 22 and issue no walks.
Hillsdale kicked off its 2019 campaign with a pair of upsets over No. 20 Lenoir-Rhyne, 2-1, and No. 8 West Chester, 8-5. The Chargers clubbed 23 hits, including 15 in the victory over the Golden Rams.
Tampa’s duo of returning NFCA All-American Makaleigh Dooley and Corynn Miner tossed two and three-hit shutouts, fanning 12 and seven batters, respectively. Tampa pitchers have not allowed a run in their first 28 innings of the season.
As with Tampa, Florida Tech and Eckerd also grabbed two wins. The Panthers defeated Lee, 7-2, and behind a Melanie Murphy shutout and Xiarysse Emerenciana, solo homer, blanked West Florida, 1-0.
Eckerd scored five runs in each outing to top California (Pa.), 5-0 and Wayne State University, 5-1. Triton hurler Nikole Van Gennep fanned a career-high batters in the opener and also helped herself out with a three-run homer in the fourth. Hannah Perkins allowed a run on five hits over five innings to earn the game-two win. Van Gennep capped off the game with two shutout innings.
Several squads split on the day with Harding and West Florida upsetting top-five opponents No. 3 North Georgia and No. 5 Saint Leo, respectively. The NightHawks and Lions also finished 1-1, along with Lee, Wayne State, Molloy, West Georgia, Palm Beach Atlantic and Azusa Pacific.
Day two gets started at 10 a.m. and will feature all 20 teams playing two contests apiece.