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NFCA's "Featured Five" Games for Weekend of Feb. 28-March 2

LOUISVILLE, Ky. - Throughout the 2014 softball season, those of us at the NFCA will 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, NCAA Division III and the NJCAA.

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 different 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.

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#1 Florida vs. #4 Oregon

Site: Diamond 9 Citrus Classic (Official Tournament Site), Orlando, Fla.

Date/ Game Time: Fri., Feb. 28, 3:30 p.m. ET

Radio/TV Coverage: ESPN3 TV Broadcast | Florida Radio

Follow them on Twitter: @GatorZoneSBall, @OregonSB

Live Stats: #1 Florida vs. #4 Oregon

Game Notes/Official Sites: Florida Game Notes | Florida Softball Official Site | Oregon Game Notes | Oregon Softball Official Site

All About #1 Florida: The top-ranked Gators venture to the Diamond 9 Citrus Classic having won all 16 of their contests to begin the 2014 campaign. Most recently over Feb. 21-22, UF rolled through four games against Troy and Indiana at its Lipton Invitational in Gainesville, Fla., by a combined count of 26-3. Florida is batting .337 as a squad with 46 extra-base hits, including 21 HR’s, has swiped 32-of-37 bases and has outscored the opposition by a commanding 131-22 total. Freshman outfielder Justine McLean (.412 avg.) heads the squad in batting average, while sophomore catcher Aubree Munro (.395 avg., two HR’s, 13 RBIs), sophomore second baseman Kelsey Stewart (.393 avg., three HR’s, 18 RBIs), junior pitcher/first baseman Lauren Haeger (.360 avg., five HR’s, 18 RBIs), sophomore first baseman Taylor Schwarz (.340 avg., three HR’s, 13 RBIs), sophomore outfielder Kirsti Merritt (.289 avg., three doubles, 14 RBIs) and senior second baseman Stephanie Tofft (.262 avg., two HR’s, 17 RBIs) make up a six-player contingent with double-digit RBIs. In the circle senior All-American Hannah Rogers guides the way at 6-0 with a 1.08 ERA and 36 K’s over 39 innings, while Haeger (5-0, 1.03 ERA, 35 K’s, 34 IP) and freshman Delanie Gourley (5-0, 2.17 ERA, 31 K’s, 29 IP) have been terrific in support, combining as a staff to limit foes to a miniscule .148 batting mark.

All About #4 Oregon: Fourth-ranked Oregon enters the Diamond 9 Citrus Classic in Orlando, Fla., on a 14-game winning streak since dropping its season opener via a surprising 6-4 loss to Cal Poly. Last weekend, the Ducks swept through the prestigious Mary Nutter Collegiate Classic in Cathedral City, Calif., at 5-0, registering close wins over top 25 teams LSU (4-1) and Notre Dame (2-0 in 9 inn.). UO is hitting .343 as a squad, limiting the opposition to just a .193 batting average and has outscored its foes by a 107-30 clip. Senior infielder Courtney Ceo currently guides the offense with a .543 batting average to go along with 13 runs scored, six extra-base hits, a team-high eight stolen bases and 14 RBIs, while senior catcher Alexa Peterson has added a .439 mark with 11 tallies, four doubles, two HR’s and 12 RBIs. From the circle sophomore lefty Cheridan Hawkins (7-1, 1.45 ERA, 77 K’s, 53 IP) and junior right-hander Karissa Hovinga (6-0, 1.54 ERA, 22 K’s, 36.1 IP) have combined for 13 of Oregon’s 14 total victories.

 

Some Additional Major Division I Games This Weekend:

#3 Arizona State vs. #19 Minnesota LIVE STATS / LIVE VIDEO – Sun., March 2 at 2:15 p.m. ET

#4 Oregon vs. #25 AuburnESPN3 TV BROADCAST / LIVE STATS / AUBURN RADIO – Fri., Feb. 28 at 11 a.m. ET

#5 UCLA vs. #6 MichiganLIVE STATS / UCLA RADIO – Fri., Feb. 28 at 7:30 p.m. ET

#9 Florida State at #11 AlabamaLIVE STATS (GM-1) / LIVE VIDEO (GM-1) / LIVE STATS (GM-2) / LIVE VIDEO (GM-2) – GM-1 on Sat., March 1 at 2:30 p.m. ET, GM-2 on Sun., March 2 at 2:30 p.m. ET

#12 Baylor vs. #24 Louisiana LafayetteLIVE STATS / ULL AUDIO – Fri., Feb. 28 at 6 p.m. ET

#16 Nebraska vs. #20 OklahomaLIVE STATS (BOTH GAMES) / LIVE VIDEO (BOTH GAMES) / NEBRASKA AUDIO (BOTH GAMES) – Sat., March 1 at 3 & 5 p.m. ET

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#12 Baylor vs. #14 South Alabama

Site: Mississippi Gulf Coast Softball Classic (Official Tournament Site), Gulfport Sports Complex, Gulfport, Miss.

Date/ Game Time: Sat., March 1, 9 p.m. ET

Radio/TV Coverage: Baylor Live Audio | South Alabama Live Audio

Follow them on Twitter: @BaylorSoftball, @SAJagsSftball

Live Stats: #12 Baylor vs. #14 South Alabama 

Game Notes/Official Sites: Baylor Game Notes | Baylor Softball Official Site | South Alabama Game Notes | South Alabama Softball Official Site

All About #12 Baylor: The No. 12-ranked Bears head into the tournament at 12-3, after collecting wins over six ranked teams in the USA Today/NFCA Division I Top 25 Poll. Baylor defeated No. 17 Missouri in consecutive games, winning 2-1 at the Getterman Classic, then 3-2 at the Mary Nutter. The Bears are 6-2 in games against ranked opponents, including victories over No. 15 Stanford (7-1), and receiving votes schools California (13-0), University of Alabama Birmingham (4-2) and Northwestern (4-0).  Two of their three losses have been to ranked teams: No. 7 Washington (7-4) and receiving votes Cal State-Fullerton (6-1). Junior outfielder Kaitlyn Thumann (.417 average, two doubles, two homers), senior catcher Clare Hosack (.385, four doubles, three homers, team-high 16 RBI), redshirt sophomore outfielder Linsey Hays (.367, three homers, nine RBI) and sophomore outfielder Sarah Smith (.350, eight RBI, .480 on-base percentage) are all batting .350 or better for the Bears. Senior Whitney Canion (7-2, 1.10 ERA, 65 strikeouts in 57.1 innings) heads a three-pitcher staff, that also includes sophomore Heather Stearns (5-1, 1.62 ERA with 23 strikeouts in 26 innings) and senior reliever Liz Paul (16 strikeouts in 18.2 innings).

All About #14 South Alabama: The No. 14 Jaguars have already faced five teams ranked in the USA Today/NFCA Division I Top 25 Poll, going 4-1. South Alabama (11-1) has defeated the University of Alabama Birmingham twice, opening its season with an 8-0 five-inning win and prevailing 2-1 in 11 innings more recently. With the cancellation of Wednesday’s game with Nicholls State due to weather, the Jaguars will be playing their first games since beating No. 18 Georgia 3-2 on Sunday at the Citrus Classic. Their lone loss was 2-1 to Northwestern, which is receiving votes in the Top 25 poll. Junior outfielder Blair Johnson leads the team in hitting, with a .429 average (15-for-35), two homers and team-high 13 RBI in 12 games, while sophomore outfielder Stephanie Pilkington is batting .385 with five doubles and two triples. Junior catcher Alex Breeden, meanwhile, has clubbed a team-best three homers. Junior Farish Beard (6-1, 0.24 ERA with 54 strikeouts in 29.1 innings) and senior Hannah Campbell (3-0, 0.89 ERA with 46 strikeouts in 39.1 innings) have pitched the majority of the innings for South Alabama.

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#22 Dixie State at #3 Cal Baptist – DIVISION II

Site: John C. Funk Softball Stadium, Riverside, Calif.

Date/ Game Time: Sat., March 1, 3 & 5 p.m. ET - Doubleheader

Radio/TV Coverage: Live Video (Cal Baptist)

Follow them on Twitter: @DixieStateSB, @CBULancers

Live Stats: #22 Dixie State at #3 Cal Baptist (Both Games)

Official Sites: Dixie State Softball Official Site | Cal Baptist Softball Official Site

All About #22 Dixie State: Dixie State has opened the new season at 12-3 overall, entering this weekend’s action riding a two-game winning streak following a Feb. 23 sweep of Hawai’i Pacific (10-6, 10-2 in 5 inn.). The Red Storm are currently hitting .383 as a team and crossing the plate at an 8.06 run-per-game clip as DSU and CB venture into Saturday’s doubleheader in possession of the top two scoring offenses in the PacWest Conference. Junior catcher Marla Reiter (.457 avg., 14 runs, three HR’s, 18 RBIs), junior outfielder Courtney Sherwin (.439 avg., 16 runs, three HR’s, 14 RBIs) and junior third baseman/first baseman Sheila Gelter (.425 avg., 11 runs, five doubles, 14 RBIs) are the team’s leading RBI producers. Three pitchers possess at least three wins from the circle, led by junior Michelle Duncan (5-1, 1.54 ERA, 20 K’s, 27.1 IP) and junior Aryn Feickert (4-1, 2.66 ERA, 20 K’s, 29 IP).

All About #3 Cal Baptist: Having started 2014 not even on the national radar as far as rankings go, Cal Baptist has taken matters into its own hands, starting the campaign at 17-4 to roar from the land of the not ranked all the way to No. 3 in the latest NFCA Division II softball poll (Feb. 26). The Lancers are currently hitting at a .332 clip over 21 match-ups with an incredible 66 extra-base hits, including 26 HR’s, and are outscoring the opposition by a 146-83 count. Freshman shortstop Krista Mann (.433 avg., 18 runs, five doubles, six HR’s, 22 RBIs), senior outfielder Marshean August (.431 avg., 31 runs, six doubles, seven HR’s, 22 RBIs) and junior catcher/outfielder Savannah Miller (.403 avg., 18 runs, six doubles, two HR’s, 17 RBIs) guide the offensive assault that scores at a 6.95 run-per-game clip. In the circle sophomore pitcher/first baseman Belinda Renne owns an 11-2 record with a 2.45 ERA and 47 K’s over 80 innings of work, while sophomore pitcher Kayla Hatch has added a 6-2 mark with a 4.36 ERA and 15 strikeouts over 51.1 frames.

 

Some Additional Major Division II Games This Weekend:

#6 Armstrong Atlantic vs. #RV Wingate – NO LIVE STATS – Sun., March 2 at 4 p.m. ET

#11 North Georgia vs. #RV Wingate – NO LIVE STATS – Sat., March 1 at Noon ET

#RV Cal State Monterey Bay at #13 UC San DiegoLIVE STATS (ALL FOUR GAMES) – Fri., Feb. 28 at 4 & 6 p.m. ET/Sat., March 1 at 2 & 4 p.m. ET

#RV Palm Beach Atlantic at #18 Florida TechLIVE STATS (ALSO POSSIBLE VIDEO) – Sat, March 1 at 1 & 3 p.m. ET

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#10 Trine at #21 Coe – DIVISION III

Site: Dot Richardson Spring Games, NTC Complex, Clermont, Fla.

Date/Game Time: Sun., March 2, 3 p.m. ET

Follow them on Twitter: @TrineUniversity, @CoeSoftball

Official Sites: Trine Softball Official Site | Coe Softball Official Site

All About #10 Trine: The No. 10-ranked Thunder received eight of nine first-place votes in the Michigan Intercollegiate Athletic Association (MIAA) preseason poll and are the heavy favorites to win their third straight league title and earn an eight-straight trip to the NCAA Regionals, following a 38-5 campaign last season. Trine returns six all-conference players from 2013, including NFCA Division III All-American Carly Searles, who earned NFCA All-Central Region honors with fellow juniors Amy Newell and Rachel Harris. Senior shortstop Haleigh Daniels, sophomore outfielder Kaitlyn Clark and junior pitcher Bree Fuller are the other All-MIAA performers that are back. The Thunder have six players back that batted .300 or higher last season, including Searles (.464 with three homers, 36 RBI and 40 steals). Fuller, meanwhile, compiled a 15-1 record with a 1.48 ERA and 136 strikeouts in 104 innings, while also garnering Capital One Academic All-American honors. Outfielders Leah Hall, a junior, and Jillian Craig, a senior, also return. The team lost pitchers Andi Gasco (18-3, 1.61 ERA, 121 strikeouts in 126.1 innings, plus .444 average, 14 doubles, team-high 19 homers and 63 RBI) and Ashton Morgan (two appearances), catcher Sarah Belote (.370 average, four doubles, two triples, 14 homers, 50 RBI), first baseman Lauren Harris (.368 average, 10 doubles, nine homers and 36 RBI) to graduation.

All About #21 Coe: The No. 21-ranked Kohawks, just five years removed from their 2009 NCAA runner-up finish, return reigning Iowa Intercollegiate Athletic Conference (IIAC) Pitcher of the Year Maddison Woodruff, who went 17-2 with a 2.06 ERA and 142 strikeouts in 115.1 innings last season, for her senior season. Her batterymate and fellow senior, All-IIAC First Team catcher Abby Flannagan (.450 average with 17 doubles, 10 homers and 60 RBI), is also back, as is fellow first teamer Emily Grell (.333 average, five doubles, six homers, 31 RBI), a sophomore infielder. Coe finished fourth at its NCAA Regional, falling 4-1 to Augustana (Ill.) to close their 34-8 campaign, after sharing the IIAA championship with Central College. The Kohawks lost four of their top five hitters from 2013, including Callie Morningstar (.417 average, 13 doubles, four triples, three homers, 36 RBI), Morgan Louck (.407 average, 10 doubles, four homers, 41 RBI), Brianna Hull (.394 average, 14 doubles, four triples, five homers, 27 RBI) and Anna Corkery (.351 average, five doubles, two homers, 25 RBI).

 

Some Additional Major Division III Games This Weekend:

#3 Salisbury vs. #RV KeanLIVE STATS - Sat., March 1 at 1 p.m. ET

#13 Augustana vs. RV Capital – Fri., Feb. 28 at 9 a.m. ET

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#1 Wallace State-Hanceville (NJCAA-1) vs. #13 Des Moines Area (NJCAA-2) – NFCA JC LEADOFF CLASSIC FEATURED GAME

Site: NFCA JC Leadoff Classic (Official Tournament Site) at South Commons Complex, Columbus, Ga.

Date/ Game Time: Sat., March 1, 12:30 p.m. ET

Radio/TV Coverage: None

Follow the schools on Twitter: @Wallace State, @DMACCNews

Live Stats: None

Official Sites: Wallace State-Hanceville Softball Official Site | Des Moines Area Softball Official Site

All About #1 Wallace State-Hanceville: The defending 2013 NJCAA-1 National Champions have been playing 2014 games since February 1, so Wallace State-Hanceville enters this weekend’s NFCA JC Leadoff Classic with perhaps as many as 20 games under its belt. Current stats weren’t available, but in looking at last season, WSHCC lost five of its top seven hitters and a pair of hurlers who combined for 52 total wins. The cupboard isn’t bare, however, as head coach Jayne Clem returns sophomore second baseman/shortstop Madeline Lee (2013 stats - .388 avg., 15 doubles, nine HR’s, 42 runs scored, 37 RBIs), sophomore catcher/third baseman Kori Benson (2013 stats - .352 avg., 44 runs scored, 12 doubles, team-leading 23 HR’s, 69 RBIs) and sophomore pitcher/second baseman Kelsey King (2013 stats – 2-1 record, 2.83 ERA, 13 strikeouts in 29.2 innings).

All About #13 Des Moines Area: Des Moines Area has started off the 2014 campaign at 2-0 overall with wins on February 14 over Southeast (Neb.) and William Penn J.V. at the Rosemont Tourney. Head coach Bob Ligouri brings back some impressive offensive talent off 2013’s Region XI tournament participants in sophomore infielder Katlin Briley (2013 stats - .432 avg., seven extra-base hits, 39 runs scored, 10 steals, 24 RBIs), sophomore outfielder Allie Fitzgerald (2013 stats - .393 avg., 31 runs, 9 HR’s, 39 RBIs) and sophomore pitcher/utility player Kaylee Buch (2013 stats - .388 avg., 20 runs, seven doubles, four HR’s, 26 RBIs). DMACC lost its top two pitchers from last season, but does return sophomore Aly Netty (2013 stats – 4-1 overall record, 4.69 ERA, 45 strikeouts in 37.1 innings).

 

Some Additional Major Games at the NFCA JC Leadoff This Weekend:

#11 Lake Land (NJCAA-1) vs. #19 Florence Darlington Tech (NJCAA-2) – Fri., Feb. 28 at 7:30 p.m. ET

#19 Georgia Perimeter (NJCAA-1) vs. #5 Kirkwood (NJCAA-2) – Fri., Feb. 28 at 5 p.m. ET

#7 Heartland (NJCAA-2) vs. #18 CCBC Catonsville (NJCAA-2) – Fri., Feb. 28 at 5 p.m. ET