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NFCA's "Featured Five" Games for Weekend of Feb. 14-16

LOUISVILLE, Ky. - Throughout the 2014 softball season, those of us at the NFCA hope to feature some of the sport's highest profile contests in our "Featured Five" Games of the Week segment.

Each weekly installment will be released on Thursday, providing live stat links, game notes, returnee info, Twitter accounts and any available broadcast links in hopes of becoming another source for fans to visit during the season for information on some of collegiate softball's best games.

As the year continues, we will attempt to expand our focus to include match-ups throughout as many divisions as possible. This week's featured games come from NCAA Division I, NCAA Division II and the NAIA.

We may not be able to highlight every division or big game each week, but our hope is to provide a spotlight for as many teams and games as possible throughout 2014.

Make sure you follow the NFCA on social media through Twitter (@NFCAorg) and on Facebook (NFCA) and let us know what you think of our new "Featured Five" segment.




#7 Kentucky at #15 Texas

Site: Texas Classic, Red & Charline McCombs Field, Austin, Texas

Date/ Game Time: Fri., Feb. 14, 5 p.m. ET

Radio/TV Coverage: Texas Live Audio / Longhorn Network TV (Carter Blackburn & Cat Osterman)

Follow them on Twitter: @UKsoftball, @TexasSoftball

Live Stats: #7 Kentucky at #15 Texas

Game Notes/Official Sites: Kentucky Game Preview | Kentucky Softball Official Site | Texas Game Notes | Texas Softball Official Site

All About #7 Kentucky: The seventh-ranked Wildcats are off to the first 5-0 start in program history and are in the top 10 of the USA Today/National Fastpitch Coaches Association Top 25 poll for the first time after defeating defending national champion Oklahoma (which was ranked No. 2 at the time), 5-4, in 10 innings last Friday. Last week’s No. 12 ranking had been the team’s previous best. The team’s other four wins as part of a 15-game road trip to start the season were against Santa Clara, Long Beach State, Loyola Marymount and George Washington. Junior catcher Griffin Joiner, the Louisville Slugger/NFCA Division I National Player of the Week and Southeastern Conference Player of the Week has been a force on offense after going 10-of-15 (.667) with two doubles, three home runs and nine runs batted in, to compile a 1.400 slugging percentage and .684 on-base percentage. Overall, Kentucky has scored 31 runs and collected 48 hits, 12 doubles and seven homers. The Wildcats’ four pitchers have been similarly effective, allowing five runs (and just one to a team not named Oklahoma) in the team’s first five games, while posting three shutouts and collecting 39 strikeouts.

All About #15 Texas: The No. 15 Longhorns are 4-3 after dropping their home opener to the University of Texas at San Antonio, 4-2, on Wednesday night at Red & Charline McCombs Field to snap a seven-game win streak in home debuts. NFCA Third Team All-America shortstop Taylor Thom, one of the players recently named to the Top 50 “Watch List” for the 2014 USA Softball Collegiate Player of the Year award, has hit in all seven games for the Longhorns, compiling a .478 average (11 hits, one homer and six RBI), while collecting seven walks (.600 on-base percentage) and swiping six bases. Sophomores Erin Shireman and Lindsay Stephens have three homers apiece in the early going. It’s a been a bit of a slow start, though, for the pitching staff, which has allowed more walks (36) than strikeouts (31) over the season’s first 48 innings. Texas head coach Connie Clark notched her 700th career victory with a 7-3 win over then-No. 13 Louisiana Lafayette last Saturday.



#4 Alabama at #24 Arizona

Site: Hillenbrand Invitational at Hillenbrand Stadium, Tucson, Ariz.

Date/ Game Time: Sat., Feb. 15, 8 p.m. ET & Sun., Feb. 16, 1 p.m. ET

Radio/TV Coverage: Alabama Radio Broadcast | Live Video

Follow them on Twitter: @AlabamaSB, @UA_Softball

Live Stats: #4 Alabama at #24 Arizona (Both Games)

Game Notes/Official Sites: Alabama Game Notes | Alabama Softball Official Site | Arizona Game Notes | Arizona Softball Official Site

All About #4 Alabama: The fourth-ranked Crimson Tide wasted no time making their presence felt in 2014, sweeping through last weekend’s Troy Subway Invite with a perfect 5-0 record while outscoring its opponents, 48-3. Alabama was led offensively by the combo of junior infielder Danae Hays (.444 avg., three HR’s, nine RBIs) and sophomore outfielder Haylie McCleney (.571 (two doubles, one triple, one HR, five steals, eight RBIs), while in the circle junior Leslie Jury (2-0, 0.00 ERA, two complete games, 15 strikeouts in 12 innings), senior Jackie Traina (2-0, 0.64 ERA, 19 strikeouts in 11 innings) and freshman Sydney Littlejohn (1-0, 1.00 ERA, 10 K’s in seven frames) combined for five triumphs, a Southeastern Conference-leading 0.47 ERA and 44 strikeouts over 30 innings of effort. ‘Bama batted .360 as a team, blasted six HR’s and was a perfect 14-for-14 on stolen bases.

All About #24 Arizona: Following an extremely rare absence, Arizona returned to the USA Today/NFCA Division I poll this week at No. 24 after its three-game home sweep of Southern Miss over Feb. 7-9. The Wildcats hit .514 as a team, registered a .568 on-base percentage and won each in the trio of match-ups against the Golden Eagles via the run-rule, powering past USM by scores of 9-0 (5 inn.), 14-2 (5 inn.) and 12-0 (5 inn.). On Sunday, senior pitchers Estela Piñon (three innings) and Kenzie Fowler (two innings) combined to throw the program’s 88th no-hitter in UA’s 12-0 victory. Junior shortstop Kellie Fox had an impressive weekend offensively, batting .556 with a double, a triple, a HR and 10 RBIs, while sophomore outfielder Courtney Rodriguez hit at a team-best .857 (6-for-7) with two doubles and a pair of RBIs. Since beginning the event back in 1994, the Wildcats have hosted the Hillenbrand Invitational 16 times and posted a record of 84-3 (.966). UA has gone undefeated in the tournament in each of the last three seasons, with its last loss coming on March 7, 2009 to Creighton, 6-0. Alabama will be the first ranked to team to compete in the event (other than Arizona) since 24th-ranked Virginia Tech in 2008 and first top-10 team since fifth-ranked Oklahoma participated in 2001.



#11 Oklahoma vs. #3 Washington

Site: Littlewood Classic Tournament, Farrington Stadium, Tempe, Ariz.

Date/ Game Time: Sun., Feb. 15, 1:15 p.m. ET

Radio/TV Coverage: Washington Live Audio

Follow them on Twitter: @OU_Softball, @UWSoftball

Live Stats: #11 Oklahoma vs. #3 Washington

Game Notes/Official Sites: Oklahoma Game Notes | Oklahoma Softball Official Site | Washington Game Notes | Washington Softball Official Site

All About #11 Oklahoma: The defending national champion Sooners enter the Littlewood Classic just 3-2 on the season, but have won their last three games. The first two wins were run-shortened contests — 10-1 over Santa Clara and 11-1 over Loyola Marymount — while the other was a 2-1 triumph over Pittsburgh. Oklahoma managed just one hit against Pittsburgh, a two-run home run by sophomore Leslie Miller in the fourth, but fellow sophomore Kelsey Stevens struck out 10 and limited the Panthers to just four hits in the win. The Sooners turned a 5-4-3 triple play to get out of a two-on jam in the fourth inning of their triumph over Loyola Marymount, while Stevens was the beneficiary of a seven-run Oklahoma fourth to score her first win as a Sooner. Against Santa Clara, junior Georgia Casey had three hits, including her third homer in three games, while also allowing one hit over 3.1 innings to record the victory. In the Sooners’ season-opening loss to Kentucky (5-4 in 10 innings), junior Lauren Chamberlain matched school and Big 12 records with her 61st career homer. Oklahoma dropped to 11th in this week’s USA Today/NFCA Top 25 poll after starting the season ranked second.

All About #3 Washington: The third-ranked Huskies have been rolling from the word go this season, outscoring their opponents 39-8 en route to a 5-0 record and the championship of the UNLV Sportco Kick-Off Classic in Las Vegas. Washington opened with a 7-4 win over then-No. 18 Baylor and also collected victories over San Diego (3-0), Arkansas (6-1), host UNLV (7-1) and the University of California at Davis (16-2). The Huskies have been led on offense by junior Kylee Lahners, whose .400 average and 1.067 slugging percentage, with a team and Pac-12 best three homers and 13 RBI, helped her earn USA Softball Collegiate Player of the Week honors. Senior Bryana Walker (2-0) struck out 12 UNLV batters in a 7-1 triumph last Saturday, while fellow senior Kaitlin Inglesby also has two wins, including a 3-0 shutout of San Diego last Friday. Junior Kasey Stanchek recorded Washington’s other win, going all five innings of a run-shortened affair with UC Davis.


Some Additional Major Division I Games This Weekend:

#11 Oklahoma at #5 Arizona State  – LIVE STATSLIVE VIDEO – Fri., Feb. 14 at 8 p.m. ET

#6 Michigan at #20 Louisiana Lafayette – NO LIVE STAT/VIDEO LINKS – Fri. Feb. 14 at 5:30 p.m. ET & Sat., Feb. 15 at 3 p.m. ET (TWO GAMES)

#2 Florida vs. #22 Minnesota – LIVE STATS – LIVE AUDIO / LIVE BLOG (MINNESOTA) – Sun., Feb. 16 at Noon ET

#14 Missouri at #16 Baylor – LIVE STATS – LIVE VIDEO / LIVE AUDIO – Sun., Feb. 16 at Noon ET



#1 Central Oklahoma vs. #18 Univ. of Missouri-St. Louis - DIVISION II

Site: Arkansas-Monticello 8-State Classic in Bentonville, Ark.

Date/ Game Time: Sat., Feb. 15, 4:30 p.m. ET

Radio/TV Coverage: None

Follow them on Twitter: @UCOSoftball, @UMSLSoftball

Live Stats: None

Game Notes: Central Oklahoma Preview/Notes | Central Oklahoma Softball Official Site | UMSL Game Preview | UMSL Softball Official Site

All About #1 Central Oklahoma: The top-ranked and defending national champion Bronchos got off to a tough start over Feb. 7-9, posting a 2-3 overall record at the Desert Stinger Classic in Las Vegas, Nev. During their stay at the event, UCO suffered a pair of one-run defeats to No. 8 West Texas A&M (4-5) and No. 22 Augustana SD (6-7) and dropped a 7-2 decision to St. Mary’s (TX) before rebounding for consecutive wins over the University of Mary (7-3) and Minot State (3-2). Senior pitcher Kalynn Schrock registered a 1-2 mark from the circle with a 3.82 ERA and 17 strikeouts over 18.1 innings, while senior hurler Amanda McClelland was 1-1 with a 2.84 ERA and six K’s over 12.1 frames. Central Oklahoma hit .319 as a team with 10 extra base hits, but allowed the opposition to hit at a .307 clip, blast seven HR’s and outscore the Bronchos, 24-22. Sophomore second baseman Ally Dziadula (.375 avg., two doubles, a HR, five RBIs), sophomore utility player Ashton Smith (.286 avg., one HR, five RBIs) and sophomore outfielder Brooke Zukerman (.278 avg., four extra base hits, four RBIs) topped the RBI producers for UCO.

All About #18 UMSL: The No. 18 Tritons will be beginning their 2014 campaign this weekend at the Arkansas-Monticello 8-State Classic with contests scheduled against Southern Nazarene, Fort Hays State, Northwestern Oklahoma State, No. 1 UCO, Emporia State and Central Missouri. Under the direction of fourth-year head coach Brian Levin, the Tritons return eight starters in the field along with their top two pitchers, including sophomore 2013 NFCA Third Team All-American Hannah Perryman – the 2013 GLVC Pitcher of the Year. As a freshman, she led NCAA Division II in strikeouts with 352, while her 12.2 strikeouts per seven innings also topped the national rankings. Perryman finished the year 24-6 with a 1.55 ERA. Catcher Madison Zbaraschuk, a 2013 NFCA Second Team All-Midwest Region choice, also returns after leading the squad last year in batting average (.371), HR’s (12) and RBIs (54). Last season UMSL won its first-ever Great Lakes Valley Conference tournament title and earned its third bid to the NCAA Midwest Regional.


Some Additional Major Division II Games This Weekend:

#5 Armstrong Atlantic vs. #RV Saint LeoLIVE STATS (BOTH GAMES) – LIVE VIDEO (GAME TWO ONLY) - Sat., Feb. 15 at 2:30 p.m. ET & Sun., Feb. 16 at 10:30 a.m. ET

#8 West Texas A&M vs. #RV Colorado MesaLIVE STATSLIVE VIDEO – Sat., Feb. 15 at 4 p.m. ET

#14 Texas Woman’s vs. #RV St. Edward’sLIVE STATSLIVE VIDEO – Sun., Feb. 16 at 4:45 p.m. ET

#17 Angelo State vs. #RV Colorado MesaLIVE STATS – Fri., Feb. 14 at Noon ET



#8 Cal State San Marcos at #1 Concordia (Calif.) - NAIA

Site: Irvine, Calif.

Date/ Game Time: Sat., Feb. 15, 3 & 5 p.m. ET - DOUBLEHEADER

Radio/TV Coverage: (Potential) Live Video (Both Games)

Follow them on Twitter: @CUISoftball, @CSUSMCougars

Live Stats: #1 Concordia (CA) vs. #8 Cal State San Marcos Game 1, #1 Concordia (CA) vs. #8 Cal State San Marcos Game 2

Official Sites: Concordia (CA) Softball Official Site | Cal State San Marcos Softball Official Site

All About #1 Concordia (CA): Defending NAIA national champion and top-rated Concordia (Calif.) has opened the new campaign at 5-1 overall following a doubleheader split against Southern Oregon and DH sweeps over Claremont-Mudd Scripps and La Sierra. The Eagles are batting .374 as a squad with eight doubles, two triples and eight HR’s while scoring at an 8.3 run-per-game clip. Guiding the offensive attack are senior first baseman and 2012 NFCA Cal JC All-American Annette Merjano, who is batting .500 (8-for-16) with a HR and a team-leading eight RBIs, and 2013 NFCA NAIA Second Team All-American senior shortstop Jenna Jorgenson (.474 avg., four extra base hits, seven RBIs). Junior right-handed pitcher Brittani McGue has been the top choice in the circle, registering a 4-0 mark with a save, a 1.44 ERA and 17 strikeouts over 24.1 innings.

All About #8 Cal State San Marcos: The No. 8 Cougars have gotten off to a blistering start to 2014, posting a 10-0 overall record which included a perfect run of five victories over NCAA Division II opposition at the Mizuno Best of the West Invitational (Feb. 1-2). Cal State San Marcos is currently batting at a .364 clip as a team, has outscored its 10 opponents by a combined total of 76-13, owns 23 extra base hits and 15 steals in 17 attempts while in possession of a .441 on-base percentage. Senior infielder Mallory Campbell is among those leading the way offensively with a .522 batting average (12-for-23), with four RBIs, while junior Brenna Parker (.269 avg., three HR’s, 12 RBIs) and sophomore outfielder Caylyn Rodriguez (.364 avg., 10 RBIs) lead the squad in RBIs. Junior pitcher Katie Wilkinson has been a force from the circle, owning a perfect 6-0 record and a 0.60 ERA over a team-high 35 frames of effort, while sophomore Hayley Davis has added a 3-0 mark with a 2.55 ERA over 11 innings.


Some Additional Major NAIA Games This Weekend:

#3 Oklahoma City University (Okla.) vs. #9 Belhaven (Miss.) – Sat., Feb. 15 at 10 a.m. ET

#11 Lindsey Wilson (Ky.) vs. #14 Freed Hardeman (Tenn.) – Fri., Feb. 14 at 1 p.m. ET

#13 College of Idaho vs. St. Martin’s (#12 in NFCA Division II rankings) – Sun., Feb. 16 at 4 p.m. ET