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This Week in Fastpitch

Dates to Remember
February 22-24: Seventh annual NFCA Leadoff Classic (Columbus, Ga.)
February 27: Louisville Slugger/NFCA Division I Player of the Week award begins
March 1-3: NFCA/Schutt Sports Division II Leadoff Classic (Irving, Texas)
March 6: Louisville Slugger/NFCA Division II Player of the Week award begins
March 8-10: NFCA Junior College Leadoff Classic (LaGrange, Ga.)
March 13: First regular-season USA Today/NFCA Division II Top 25
March 27: Louisville Slugger/NFCA Division III Player of the Week award begins
April 2: First regular-season USA Today/NFCA Division III Top 25

For tournament dates and team schedules, check the NFCA Calendar.

NFCA LEADOFF CLASSIC WEEKEND: The seventh NFCA Leadoff Classic takes place Friday through Sunday at South Commons Complex and Stadium in Columbus, Ga. This year's 24-team field features 14 teams ranked in this weekÃŒs USA Today/NFCA Division I Top 25, including second-ranked and defending Leadoff Classic champion Stanford. Along with Stanford, a total of seven top 10 teams are competing in the Leadoff Classic -- No. 4 Oklahoma, No. 5 LSU, No. 6 Washington, No. 8 Arizona State, No. 9 Nebraska and No. 10 Michigan. Visit the NFCA web site for live updates of the Leadoff Classic beginning Friday at noon.

GRAF GOES FOR NFCA RECORD: Florida State head coach Jo Anne Graf needs only three more victories to become the NFCA Division I career wins leader. Graf currently has 1,122 victories, putting her two wins behind Judi Garman. The 17th-ranked Seminoles travel to Las Cruces, N.M., this weekend to compete in the Troy Cox Classic against host New Mexico State, Texas Tech and Dayton.

BEACH MUSIC: Arizona State pitcher Erica Beach has allowed only one earned run in 42 innings so far this season for a 0.17 earned run average. Beach opened the season with 39.2 consecutive innings without allowing an earned run before giving up an earned run Sunday in the Sun Devils' 3-1 victory over Illinois State in the championship game of the Louisville Slugger Classic Tournament in Tempe, Ariz.

SPEAKING OF ILLINOIS STATE...: Illinois State received votes in this weekÃŒs top 25, thanks to a strong showing at the Louisville Slugger Classic. The Redbirds posted their first-ever win over Arizona State and also defeated then-No. 6 Iowa. Jamie Bagnall was the hero of the win over Iowa, hitting a grand slam home run in the top of the seventh to spark the come-from-behind victory. Bagnall, a senior from Santa Ana, Calif., was rewarded with her first-ever Missouri Valley Conference Player of the Week award.

NEW TERRITORY FOR GEORGIA: Georgia's 15-0 start is the best-ever in school history, leading to the BulldogsÃŒ first-ever top 25 ranking. Georgia checked in at No. 24 in this weekÃŒs USA Today/NFCA Division I Top 25. Four of the wins came against teams that reached the 2001 NCAA Tournament -- Bethune-Cookman, then-No. 15 Florida State, Illinois State and Penn State. Georgia ended the 2001 season with 12 wins in its last 14 games, giving the Bulldogs a 27-2 mark over their last 29 games.

UCF -- "U CAN FASTPITCH": In its first year of fastpitch, Central Florida is off to a strong start, posting an 11-3 record and riding a nine-game winning streak. Golden Knight freshman centerfielder Jania Shinhoster wasted no time becoming the school's first-ever Atlantic Sun Conference Player of the Week, earning the award the first week of the season.

IRON EAGLE: Southern Indiana senior third baseman Molly Blackford looks to make her 159th consecutive start when the Eagles take the field Friday. In her first three years at Southern Indiana, Blackford has played 1,114.1 innings in the field out of 1,114.1.

BIG WEEK FOR SIUE'S CLAXTON: Southern Illinois-Edwardsville outfielder Karee Claxton hit .632 (12-for-19) at the Delta State University Tournament with three home runs and 13 runs batted in. She belted a grand slam and had six RBI in Division II No. 15 SIU-Edwardsville's 12-0 win over Lincoln Memorial. She also went 4-for-4 with a home run and five RBI in an 8-6 victory over No. 10 Alabama-Huntsville. SIU-Edwardsville posted a 5-0 record at the tournament.

MILESTONES: South Carolina head coach Joyce Compton recorded win No. 900 in the Gamecocks' 1-0 victory over Georgia Southern (Feb. 13).

EXTRA INNINGS: Each of the first two Big 12 Player of the Week awards have gone to Kansas players. Serena Settlemier became the second Jayhawk to win the award this season after Christi Musser won the first award of 2002 ... Kenya Peters hit her 30th career home run to become Southern Mississippi's career home run leader. Amy Berman held the previous record of 29 ... Wingate pitcher Jamie Whited tossed two no-hitters last week against St. Andrews and Pfeiffer ... Arkansas pitcher Heather Schlictman tossed her first career no-hitter and the third in Lady Razorback history in a 4-0 win over Boston College.