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This Week in Fastpitch

Leadoff Recap 
Over 4,500 fans passed through the gates at the 2004 NFCA Leadoff Classic in Columbus, Ga., making it one of the most successful Leadoff Classics ever. LSU defeated Florida State 4-3 to capture the title, after both the Tigers and Seminoles won extra-inning semifinal contests. 

For Those Who Weren’t There 
For the first time ever, a multi-field tournament provided Gametracker for most of the 71 games played at the Leadoff Classic. The online stats were a huge hit, as the NFCA Web site received nearly 700,000 hits over last weekend. Since the new site was launched in late January, it has received nearly 3,000,000 hits, as compared to 7,500,000 last year. 

22 Strikeouts! 
Louisiana-Lafayette’s Brooke Mitchell struck out 22 batters in a nine-inning, 1-0 win over Nevada. For her efforts, Mitchell was named the Sun Belt Conference’s pitcher of the week. 

All-Stars 
Lisa Fernandez and Jennie Finch played in a charity All-Star game this past week. The annual Pepsi Challenge features a slow-pitch game between stars of the American and National Leagues. 

Schmidt Sweeps Honors 
For the second consecutive week, a player swept both National Player of the Week awards. Schmidt went 4-0 to lead LSU to wins over four teams ranked in the top ten, Mississippi State’s Iyhia McMichael won both NFCA and USA Softball honors last week, and Tennessee’s Monica Abbott took USA Softball honors the week prior. The SEC has claimed all five National Player of the Week honors this season. 

Division II Leadoff Classic 
The 2004 NFCA/Schutt Sports Division II Leadoff Classic is set for this weekend at Southwest Park in Irving, Texas. Nineteen teams are scheduled to compete, including 2002 national champion St. Mary’s and Texas A&M-Kingsville, who played for the title last season. Kingsville won the 2003 Leadoff, but St. Mary’s went on to finish third at the Division II national tournament in Salem, Ore. 

Noteworthy 
Georgia Tech defeated Fresno State 9-1 at last week’s Leadoff Classic, marking the first time since 1989 that the Bulldogs had been run-ruled … Georgia set six tournament records at the Leadoff Classic, including Michelle Green’s perfect game – the first in the nine-year history of the tournament … With California and South Carolina dropping games at the Leadoff Classic, UCLA and Arizona are the two remaining unbeaten teams in Division I softball … Jamie Southern went 3-0 at the Leadoff Classic with a 0.00 ERA. The Fresno State star was named to the All-tournament team and was named the WAC Pitcher of the Week.