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NFCA's "Featured Five" Games for Weekend of March 6-9

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 and NCAA Division III.

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 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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#5 Michigan vs. #7 Arizona

Site: Judi Garman Classic (Judi Garman Classic Website) at Anderson Family Field, Fullerton, Calif.

Date/Game Time: Fri., March 7, 6 p.m. ET

Radio/TV Coverage: Michigan Radio Broadcast | Live Video

Follow them on Twitter: @UMichSoftball, @UA_Softball

Live Stats: #5 Michigan vs. #7 Arizona

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

All About #5 Michigan: The (14-3) Wolverines wrap up their West Coast trip with their ninth straight appearance in the Judi Garman Classic at Cal State-Fullerton’s Anderson Family Field. Michigan has been struggling to get on the field lately, with four of their last seven scheduled games canceled due to weather. They split two games earlier this week with No. 4 UCLA, losing 4-1 in eight innings on Tuesday before winning 9-4 on Wednesday.  Sophomore shortstop Sierra Romero leads the offense with a .542 average (26-for-48), two doubles and a team-high four homers, while freshman infielder Abby Ramirez (21-for-51) and senior infielder Taylor Hasselbach (7-for-17) are both batting .412. Sophomore outfielder Sierra Lawrence (.350) and senior outfielder Nicole Sappingfield (.345) are also above .340 at the plate. Junior Haylie Wagner (1.10 ERA, eight runs allowed and 43 strikeouts in 44.2 innings) is 9-0 in the circle, while freshman Megan Betsa (5-1, 1.25 ERA, 53 strikeouts in 39.1 innings) is holding opposing hitters to an .147 average.

All About #7 Arizona: The (20-1) Wildcats are riding a 10-game win streak, including three lopsided wins to close out play at the prestigious Mary Nutter Classic two weeks ago. Earlier this week, they lost senior center fielder Alex Lavine for the rest of the season after she tore the ACL in her left knee during the first game of a home doubleheader sweep of Ball State. Lavine ranks fourth on the team in average at .459 in 37 at-bats, with a double and six RBI. Sisters Kelsey and Courtney Rodriguez head the lineup with .523 and .467 averages, respectively. Senior outfielder Courtney has as many hits (21) as games, while sophomore catcher/utility player Kelsey is the team leader in doubles (nine), total bases (38), slugging percentage (.864) and on-base percentage (.596). Junior shortstop Kelley Fox has a team-best nine homers and shares the team lead in RBI (32) with junior catcher Chelsea Goodacre. Sophomore Nancy Bowling (5-0, 1.09 ERA, 42 strikeouts in 32 innings) is one of four unbeaten pitchers on the Wildcats’ staff along with freshman Michelle Floyd (4-0, 0.41 ERA) and seniors Shelby Babcock (4-0, 1.59 ERA, 25 strikeouts in 22 innings) and Kenzie Fowler (3-0, 0.95 ERA, nine hits allowed in 22 innings). Fellow senior Estela Pinon, meanwhile, is 4-1 with a miniscule 0.29 ERA.


Some Additional Major Division I Games This Weekend:

#5 Michigan vs. #10 Arizona State LIVE STATS – Thurs., March 6 at 6 p.m. ET

#5 Michigan vs. #6 WashingtonLIVE STATS – Thurs., March 6 at 8:30 p.m. ET

#6 Washington vs. #16 NebraskaLIVE STATS – Sat., March 8 at 8:30 p.m. ET

#8 Kentucky at #RV Mississippi State LIVE VIDEO (ALL THREE GAMES) / LIVE STATS (GM-1) / LIVE STATS (GM-2) / LIVE STATS (GM-3) – Fri., March 7 at 7 p.m. ET; Sat., March 8 at 4 p.m. ET & Sun., March 9 at 2 p.m. ET

#10 Arizona State vs. #16 NebraskaLIVE STATS – Fri., March 7 at 3:30 p.m. ET

#24 LSU at #RV AuburnLIVE VIDEO (GM-1) / LIVE VIDEO (GM-2) / LIVE VIDEO (GM-3) / LIVE STATS (GM-1) / LIVE STATS (GM-2) / LIVE STATS (GM-3) – Fri., March 7 at 7 p.m. ET; Sat., March 8 at 2 p.m. ET & Sun., March 9 at 2 p.m. ET

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#15 Missouri at #13 Texas A&M

Site: Aggie Softball Complex, College Station, Texas

Dates/Game Times: Friday, March 7 at 8 p.m. ET, Sat., March 8 at 5 p.m. ET & Sun., March 9 at 1 p.m. ET

Radio/TV Coverage: Missouri Radio Broadcast | Texas A&M Radio Broadcast | Live Video

Follow them on Twitter: @MizzouSoftball, @AggieSoftball

Live Stats: #15 Missouri at #13 Texas A&M (All Three Games)

Game Notes/Official Sites: Missouri Game Notes | Missouri Softball Official Site | Texas A&M Softball Official Site

All About #15 Missouri: The (12-3) Tigers come into their Southeastern Conference opener having won their last five games and seven of their last eight. Missouri roared unbeaten through the Citrus Classic in Kissimmee, Fla., last weekend, scoring wins over Bradley, Syracuse, Illinois State, Radford and Ohio State. Sophomore outfielder Taylor Gadbois went 10-for-18 (.556) at the event and collected five steals on five attempts, while fellow sophomore Emily Crane hit .550 (11-for-20) with three steals and freshman Casey Stangel (two starts, two relief appearances) picked up four wins in the circle. Gadbois, Crane and sophomore shortstop Sami Fagan have amassed 63 hits so far this season at the top of the Tigers’ lineup. Missouri, last year’s SEC Championship runner-up, has beaten three teams in the USA Today/NFCA Division I Top 25 Poll this season — UAB (8-1 on Feb. 14), Arizona (2-0 on Feb. 20) and San Diego State (11-2 in five innings on Feb. 21) — and is 3-2 overall against ranked teams.

All About #13 Texas A&M: The (17-4) Aggies have won six straight and eight of their last nine games. They went undefeated last weekend in their own Texas A&M Invitational, beating both Wisconsin and UConn twice. Senior catcher Nicole Morgan (.466 average, team-best seven homers, 27 RBI and .931 slugging percentage) heads a potent offense that includes senior outfielder Emily Albus (.452, three doubles, team-high 33 hits and nine steals), senior infielder Taran Tyler (.381, 19 runs scored, two doubles, two homers), freshman infielder/outfielder April Ryan (.370, six doubles, three homers, 22 RBI) and senior third baseman Amber Garza (.361, four doubles, five homers, 17 RBI). In the circle, sophomore Katie Marks (8-0, 1.57 ERA, 30 strikeouts in 53.2 innings) and junior Rachel Fox (5-3, 2.17 ERA, 28 strikeouts in 48.1 innings) have seen the bulk of the work, while freshman Abby Donnell (3-0, 2.43 ERA) has also seen significant time. The Aggies also played Top 25 teams Arizona (4-2 loss on Feb. 20) and San Diego State (2-1 win on Feb. 20) earlier this season, and went 1-1 against its two other ranked squads — California (10-6 win on Feb. 21) and Nebraska (3-2 loss on Feb. 21).

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#20 Tulsa at #19 Oklahoma

Event/Site: Courtyard Marriott Tournament (Event Site) | OU Softball Complex, Norman, Okla.

Date/ Game Time: Sat., March 8, 2:30 p.m. ET

Radio/TV Coverage: SoonerSports.TV (Pay)

Follow them on Twitter: @TulsaSoftball, @OU_Softball

Live Stats: #20 Tulsa at #19 Oklahoma

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

All About #20 Tulsa: The No. 20-ranked Golden Hurricane are off to a terrific start to the 2014 campaign at 16-2 overall and owning wins over nationally-ranked foes Louisville (4-0) and Texas A&M (5-2). Tulsa enters this weekend’s action at the Courtyard Marriott Tournament in Norman, Okla., on a four-game winning streak since suffering a 2-1 defeat at Georgia Tech back on Feb. 22. Senior infielder Jill Barrett guides an offensive attack that’s hitting at a .309 clip by leading the squad with an impressive .484 batting average to go along with 15 runs scored, three doubles, a triple, two HR’s and nine RBIs. Senior outfielder Cierra Hughes (.372 avg., three doubles, 12 RBIs), freshman pitcher Jill Roye (.351 avg., three doubles, 13 RBIs) and junior catcher Erica Sampson (.347 avg., 12 runs, two doubles, team-best 15 RBIs) have served as the Golden Hurricanes’ major RBI producers. From the circle Tulsa truly utilizes a pitching “staff” as a trio of hurlers have each tossed at least 34 innings and combined for a stellar 0.90 ERA thus far in 2014. Senior Aimee Creger leads the way with a 7-0 mark (1.08 ERA, 87 K’s) over a team-high 52 innings of work, while junior Bailey Erwin (5-0, 0.72 ERA, 26 K’s, 38.2 IP) and sophomore Caitlin Sill (4-2, 0.82, 22 K’s, 34 IP) have combined to toss approximately 73 frames.

All About #19 Oklahoma: The defending national champions enter this weekend’s home-hosted event fresh off doing some damage to the OU record book over Feb. 28-March 1. At its Spring Preview Tournament, the Sooners shattered the school record for runs in a single game and equaled its previous mark for single-game hits (24) during a 35-1 (5 inn.) thrashing of Arkansas-Pine Bluff. On an individual level junior NFCA All-American Shelby Pendley established a single-game record for RBIs with 10 as part of a 4-for-4 effort against UA-PB. Fellow junior NFCA All-American infielder Lauren Chamberlain added her own historical note to the weekend’s Crimson & Cream-tinted highlights by blasting her 62nd career HR (in a 10-0 5 inn. win against Arkansas-Pine Bluff) to break both the Oklahoma and Big 12 Conference’s career HR records. OU enters the Courtyard Marriott Tournament fresh off a mid-week thumping of Louisiana Tech (11-3 in 6 inn.) that improved its record to 14-6. After suffering through a slow start to the 2014 campaign at 5-4, the Sooners have now won nine of their last 11 games with the lone defeats over that stretch coming against nationally-ranked teams UCLA (2-3) and Nebraska (2-7).

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#4 Texas Woman’s at #24 Angelo State – DIVISION II

Site: ASU Softball Complex, San Angelo, Texas

Date/ Game Time: Fri., March 7 at 7 p.m. ET; Sat. March 8 at 2 & 4 p.m. ET

Radio/TV Coverage: Live Video (All Three Games - ASU)

Follow them on Twitter: @TWUPioneers, @AngeloSports

Live Stats: #4 Texas Woman’s at #24 Angelo State (GM-1) | #4 Texas Woman’s at #24 Angelo State (GM-2) | #4 Texas Woman’s at #24 Angelo State (GM-3)

Official Sites: Texas Woman’s Softball Official Site | Angelo State Softball Official Site

All About #4 Texas Woman’s: Fourth-ranked Texas Woman’s, the defending Lone Star Conference champion, has picked up right where it left off from the 2013 campaign as new head coach Genny Stidham’s Pioneers are 17-3 and enter this weekend’s action against No. 24 Angelo State on a season-long 10-game winning streak. Most recently, TWU swept a three-game set (Feb. 28-March 1) from Texas A&M-Kingsville, outscoring the Javelinas by a combined 34-4. TWU is hitting .359 as a team and scoring at a 7.3 run-per-game clip, while also limiting the opposition to a .200 batting mark and just 2.4 runs-per-contest. The offensive attack is effectively an embarrassment of riches as junior infielder Kendra Sancet guides the way in most major offensive categories, heading the Pioneers in batting average (.462), HR’s (eight), RBIs (31), total bases (60) and slugging percentage (.923). Senior utility player and 2013 NFCA All-South Region selection Katie Hines has contributed 22 RBIs while batting .323 with 11 extra-base hits. Freshman utility player Alyssa Galaz has added a .333 average, three HR’s and 19 RBIs to round out TWU’s top RBI producers. The listing of that power-hitting trio doesn’t even take into account former two-time NFCA Golden Shoe award winner (nation’s top base stealer) Bailey Vrazel, who is currently 16-for-16 on steals and hitting at a .414 clip. Senior pitcher Brandie Lander has proven the top choice from the circle, owning a perfect 13-0 record with a 1.25 ERA and 63 strikeouts over 83.2 innings.

All About #24 Angelo State: Entering this weekend, No. 24 Angelo State, under the direction of head coach Travis Scott, is currently 17-7 overall and on a five-game winning streak of its own after sweeping a three-game series from Texas A&M-International (March 4-5). The Rambelles offense is statistically even better than its counterpart from TWU, owning a .361 team batting average while scoring runs at an average of 8.4 per game. The biggest difference between the two teams comes in the circle, however, as ASU is allowing opponents to bat at a .288 clip while scoring a little over four runs-per-contest. Leading the powerful offensive assault are 2013 NFCA All-American outfielder Morgan Spearman (.535 avg., 32 runs, 10 doubles, five HR’s, 28 RBIs) sophomore infielder Darian Dunn (.453 avg., 27 runs, team-leading 10 HR’s and 45 RBIs) and 2013 NFCA All-American Micherie Koria (.441 avg., five doubles, 14 RBIs). Dunn was chosen as the Louisville Slugger/NFCA National Player of the Week back on Feb. 19 after hitting .588 with three HR’s and 16 RBIs over a five-game stretch. Freshman hurler Kenedy Urbany has drawn the most time in the circle at 70.1 Innings, registering a 9-1 record with a 3.28 ERA and 39 K’s. Senior right hander Sandra Serna has added a 6-4 mark with a 3.29 ERA and 40 K’s over 55.1 frames.

 

Some Additional Major Division II Games This Weekend:

#3 Cal Baptist at #22 Dixie State LIVE STATS (ALL FOUR GAMES) – Fri., March 7 at 6 & 8 p.m. ET; Sat., March 8 at 3 & 5 p.m. ET

#6 Armstrong vs. #RV Palm Beach Atlantic – NO LIVE STATS – Sat., March 8 at 6 p.m. ET

#18 Valdosta State at #RV North Alabama – NO LIVE STATS – Sat., March 8 at 2 & 4 p.m. ET; Sun., March 9 at 2 p.m. ET

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Lynchburg at #3 Salisbury – DIVISION III

Site: SU Softball Field, Salisbury, Md.

Date/Game Time: Sun., March 9, noon & 2:30 p.m. ET

Radio/TV Coverage: Live Video

Follow them on Twitter: @LCHornets, @SUSeagulls

Live Stats: Lynchburg at #3 Salisbury (Both Games)

Official Sites: Lynchburg Softball Official Site | Salisbury Softball Official Site

All About Lynchburg: After dropping their first game, the (5-1) Hornets have won five straight at Aubrey Moon Field and will take to the road for the first time this season for a revised schedule of games at Salisbury University. Weather cancelled the Sea Gull Classic planned for the Henry S. Parker Complex, but Lynchburg will still get six games — they just now will be contested at the SU Softball Field on campus. Sunday’s doubleheader with Salisbury will close out the weekend trip.  Senior second baseman Melanie Tenney (.526 average, three doubles, seven RBI, .842 slugging percentage) leads a potent offense that includes sophomore third baseman/right fielder Danielle Powell (.426 average, two homers, 11 RBI, .762 slugging percentage), junior outfielder Jessi Hall (.353 average, eight stolen bases, five walks) and sophomore first baseman Skyler Seals (.500 average, seven RBI). The pitching staff is led by juniors Amber Ingram (3-0, 2.45 ERA, 16 strikeouts in 20 innings) and Hope Johnson (2-1, 1.34 ERA, 15 strikeouts in 15.2 innings).

All About #3 Salisbury: The (4-0) Sea Gulls are the only team in the NFCA Division III Top 25 Poll to have played so far this season and have started strong, compiling a 4-0 record. The pitching trio of junior Rachel Johnson (2-0, 0.00 ERA, 23 strikeouts), senior Kathryn Larson (2-0, 0.57 ERA, 14 strikeouts) and freshman Ashley Lesniewski (one flawless inning) have allowed just one earned run and 12 hits between them over the season’s first 25 innings. Sophomore utility player Paige Knussman tops the offense with a .545 batting average (6-for-11) and a .615 on-base percentage, while fellow sophomore infielder Kim Dorsey (.462 average) is the team leader in homers (three), RBI (eight) and slugging percentage (1.231). Senior infielder Harley Hill (6-for-15) and junior outfielder Angela Malgieri (4-for-10) are both hitting .400 and have teamed with junior infielder Rebecca Hoey (.333) to collect eight of the team’s 14 extra-base hits. Senior infielder Virginia Walther (.750) and sophomore utility player Alexis Peay (.500) have both excelled in reserve roles.

 

Some Additional Major Division III Games This Weekend:

Mary Hardin-Baylor at #6 East Texas BaptistLIVE STATSLIVE VIDEO - Fri., March 7 at 7 p.m. ET & Sat. March 8 at 2 & 4 p.m. ET

#2 Montclair State vs. Illinois Wesleyan at Rebel Spring Games in Auburndale, Fla. – Sun. March 9 at 10 a.m. ET TOURNAMENT WEBSITE

#2 Montclair State vs. Mitchell College at Rebel Spring Games in Auburndale, Fla. – Sun. March 9 at 2 p.m. ET TOURNAMENT WEBSITE

#4 Cortland State vs. Waynesburg at Rebel Spring Games in Auburndale, Fla. – Sun. March 9 at 10 a.m. LIVE STATSTOURNAMENT WEBSITE 

#4 Cortland State vs. Marietta at Rebel Spring Games in Auburndale, Fla. – Sun. March 9 at noon. LIVE STATS TOURNAMENT WEBSITE