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NFCA's "Featured Five" Games for April 4-6

LOUISVILLE, Ky. - Throughout the 2014 softball season, the NFCA has been featuring some of the sport's highest-profile contests in our "Featured Five" Games of the Week segment.

Each weekly installment is released on Thursday, providing live stat links, official web sites, 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 are attempting 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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#1 UCLA at #3 Oregon

Site: Howe Field, Eugene, Ore.

Dates/Game Times: Fri., April 4, 6 p.m. ET; Sat., April 5, 6 p.m. ET; Sun., April 6, 3 p.m. ET

Radio/TV Coverage: Pac-12 Network (ALL THREE GAMES)

Follow them on Twitter: @UCLASoftball, @OregonSB 

Live Stats: #1 UCLA at #3 Oregon (ALL THREE GAMES)

Game Notes/Official Sites: UCLA Game Notes/Preview | UCLA Softball Official Site | Oregon Game Notes/Preview | Oregon Softball Official Site

All About #1 UCLA: Entering this weekend’s series between the top two teams in the Pac-12 Conference standings, No. 1 UCLA (33-2, 8-1 second in the league) currently rides a six-game winning streak that has helped the Bruins maintain their hold on No. 1 in the USA Today/NFCA Division I softball poll for the second straight week. For the True Blue & Gold, pitching has played arguably the largest role in this season’s success as UCLA possesses the second-best staff ERA in all of NCAA Division I softball (tops in the Pac-12) at a miniscule 0.91. Junior pitcher/utility player Ally Carda guides the way from the circle at 19-1 overall with a 0.79 ERA (sixth in the NCAA) and 138 strikeouts over 123.2 frames, while senior pitcher/utility player Jessica Hall has contributed an 11-1 mark with a 0.92 ERA (ninth in the NCAA) and 98 K’s over 76.1 innings. At the plate UCLA rates just sixth in the Pac-12 in batting average at .325 but has plenty of firepower as five different players own at least 20 RBIs: Delaney Spaulding (.398 avg., team-best 36 runs, five HR’s, 27 RBIs), Carda (.394 avg., 34 runs, team-leading nine doubles, five HR’s, 28 RBIs), Mysha Sataraka (.354 avg., squad-high 10 HR’s and 34 RBIs), Stephany LaRosa (.347 avg., seven HR’s, 23 RBIs) and Brittany Moeai (.306 avg., 23 RBIs).

All About #3 Oregon: The (32-4, 6-0 first in the Pac-12) Ducks venture into their key series against No. 1 UCLA riding a five-game win streak, having emerged victorious in nine of their last 10 match-ups. Oregon is balanced across the board, entering this weekend in possession of both the Pac-12’s second-best team batting average (.339 – sixth in the NCAA) and staff ERA (1.52 – eighth in the NCAA). The offense is powered by senior infielder Courtney Ceo (team-best 31 runs scored, 10 steals, nine extra-base hits, 21 RBIs), the conference’s top hitter by average at a blistering .466 overall. Senior catcher Alexa Peterson (.371 avg., 14 extra-base hits, team-high 39 RBIs), senior utility player Kailee Cuico (.287 avg., squad-best eight HR’s, 29 RBIs) and sophomore catcher Janelle Lindvall (.319 avg., five HR’s, 21 RBIs) complete a list of four players with 20-plus RBIs. Sophomore Cheridan Hawkins, the reigning Louisville Slugger/NFCA Division I National Player of the Week (April 1), tops the UO pitching staff at 19-2 overall with a 0.98 ERA and 186 strikeouts over 129 innings, while junior right hander Karissa Hovinga has contributed a 9-1 mark with a 1.85 ERA and 55 K’s over 79.2 frames of effort.

 

Some Additional Major Division I Games This Weekend:

#2 Tennessee at #RV LSU Tennessee Audio (GM-1) (GM-2) (GM-3) | LIVE STATS (ALL THREE GAMES) – Fri., April 4 at 7 p.m. ET; Sat., April 5 at 7 p.m. ET; Sun., April 6 at 1 p.m. ET

 

#7 Arizona State at #RV CaliforniaPac-12 Network (ALL THREE GAMES) | LIVE STATS (ALL THREE GAMES) – Fri., April 4 at 6 p.m. ET; Sat., April 5 at 6 p.m. ET; Sun., April 6 at 2 p.m. ET

 

##24 Stanford at #10 ArizonaArizona Video via Pac-12 Network (ALL THREE  GAMES) | LIVE STATS (ALL THREE GAMES) – Fri., April 4 at 8 p.m. ET; Sat., April 5 at 8 p.m. ET; Sun., April 6 at 2 p.m. ET

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 #18 Texas A&M at #12 Kentucky

Site: John Cropp Stadium, Lexington, Kentucky

Date/Game Time: Fri., April 4, 6 p.m. ET; Sat., April 5, 6 p.m. ET; Sun., April 6, 1 p.m. ET

Radio/TV Coverage: Texas A&M Radio (all three games) | Kentucky Radio (PAY) all three games | LIVE VIDEO (Game 1) | FSN South TV (Game 2 & 3) | ESPN3 TV (Game 3)

Follow them on Twitter: @AggieSoftball, @UKsoftball

Live Stats: #18 Texas A&M at #12 Kentucky (GM-1) | (GM-2) | (GM-3) 

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

All About #18 Texas A&M: The (26-10) Aggies have won three of their last four games, with a 2-1 loss on Wednesday at Houston the lone blemish during that stretch. Senior outfielder Emily Albus had three infield hits and scored Texas A&M’s lone run of the ballgame on senior catcher/first baseman Nicole Morgan’s double in the top of the third.  For the season, Albus (.461 average, 28 runs, five doubles, 14 stolen bases) and Morgan (.381, 29 runs, six doubles, 10 homers, 41 RBI) have set the pace, while freshman pitcher/outfielder Abby Donnell (.342 average, plus a 4-2 record with a 2.40 ERA and five saves in 21 games in the circle) is a threat on both sides of the ball, and senior outfielder Cassie Tysarczyk (.340, four doubles, five homers, 27 RBI) is another key contributor. Sophomore Katie Marks (12-2, 54 strikeouts in 94.2 innings) and junior Rachel Fox (9-5, 54 strikeouts in 84.1 innings) have pitched the most, with their results in nearly every statistical category a mirror image.

All About #12 Kentucky: The (29-7) Wildcats are fresh off their 5-0 home victory Wednesday against in-state rival Louisville. Sophomore right-hander Kelsey Nunley (13-3, 1.82 ERA, 95 strikeouts in 115.2 innings) threw seven scoreless innings and had five strikeouts in the three-hit shutout, retiring the final 13 batters she faced, while fellow sophomore Nikki Sagermann contributed three hits and three RBI in the triumph. Senior outfielder Emily Gaines tops the team in hitting, compiling a .421 average while collecting five doubles, three homers and 21 RBI. Fellow seniors, outfielder Sylver Samuel (.372, three doubles, triple, nine stolen bases in 10 attempts) and two-way threat Lauren Cumbess (.333, eight doubles, five homers, 19 RBI in addition to 8-0 record with 1.60 ERA and nearly 7-to-1 strikeout-walk ratio), plus junior catcher Griffin Joiner (.350, seven doubles, eight homers, 25 RBI), are among the team’s best weapons.

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 #19 Auburn at #6 Florida

Site: Katie Seashole Pressly Stadium, Gainesville, Fla.

Dates/Game Times: Friday, April 4 at 6 p.m. ET; Sat., April 5 at 5 p.m. ET; Sun., April 6 at 1 p.m. ET

Radio/TV Coverage: ESPNU (SAT.) | GATORVISION TV - PAY (FRI. & SUN.) | Florida Radio (ALL THREE GAMES) | Auburn Radio – PAY (GM-1) (GM-2) (GM-3)

Follow them on Twitter: @AuburnTigersSB, @GatorZoneSBall

Live Stats: #19 Auburn at #6 Florida (GM-1) (GM-2) (GM-3)

Game Notes/Official Sites: Auburn Preview/Notes | Auburn Softball Official Site | Florida Preview/Notes | Florida Softball Official Site

All About #19 Auburn: The (31-6-1) Tigers come into the Southeastern Conference matchup having won two of three games at Kentucky — which was ranked 10th at the time — and 13 of their 14 games prior to that. Freshman utility player Kasey Cooper (.449 average, six doubles, 11 homers, 55 RBI, .813 slugging percentage) drives the offense, while junior outfielder Branndi Melero (.440, eight doubles, nine homers, 56 RBI), sophomore infielder Emily Carosone (.418, eight doubles, four homers, 25 RBI) and junior outfielder/first baseman Morgan Estell (.381, 14 doubles, 27 RBI) also contribute greatly. The sophomore tandem of Lexi Davis (16-5 with three saves and 109 strikeouts in 132 innings) and Marcy Harper (14-1 with 98 strikeouts in 88 innings) have been fixtures in the circle, combining for 30 of Auburn’s 31 wins and all but six of the team’s strikeouts in 220 of 235 possible innings. Florida leads the overall series 32-18 and claimed the last meeting between the two schools, 2-0, last March at Auburn.

All About #6 Florida: A brutal stretch against top 10 teams Alabama, Tennessee and Florida State has helped conspire to send the Gators (31-8, 5-7 Southeastern Conference) into a bit of a tailspin as UF has dropped six of its last eight games overall and four straight venturing into the series against No. 19 Auburn. Florida currently rates ninth in the SEC in overall team batting average (.297), 12th out of 13 teams counting just league games only (.226), but has still managed the third-highest run total in the league over its 39 contests with 260 tallies. Sophomore second baseman Kelsey Stewart (.410 average, eight doubles, four triples, four homers, 23 steals, 37 RBI) has reached base in every game and scored a team-best 41 runs. Junior outfielder Briana Little (.320 avg., seven RBI) and freshman outfielder Justine McLean (.315 avg., 28 runs scored, 10 stolen bases) are both hitting better than .300, while junior first baseman/pitcher Lauren Haeger (.295 avg., .580 slugging percentage) owns a team-best 10 homers to go along with 35 RBI. Senior Hannah Rogers (14-6. 2.01 ERA, 85 strikeouts in 104.2 innings), freshman Delanie Gourley (11-1, 2.40 ERA, 102 strikeouts in 87.2 innings) and Haeger (6-1, 2.03 ERA, 47 strikeouts in 58.2 innings) have combined for the sixth-best ERA in the league at 2.23.

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 #12 North Georgia at #4 Armstrong Atlantic – DIVISION II

Site: Armstrong Softball Field, Savannah, Ga.

Date/ Game Time: Sat., April 5 (DH) at 1 & 3 p.m. ET

Radio/TV Coverage: Armstrong Video (BOTH GAMES)

Follow them on Twitter: @UNGSoftball, @ArmstrongPirate

Live Stats: #12 North Georgia at #4 Armstrong Atlantic (BOTH GAMES)

Official Sites: North Georgia Softball Official Site | Armstrong Atlantic Softball Official Site

All About #12 North Georgia: North Georgia enters this weekend’s pivotal Peach Belt Conference doubleheader at 32-8 overall and riding a seven-game winning streak dating back to the squad’s only road loss of the 2014 campaign suffered in a 5-1 defeat at South Carolina Aiken (March 23). UNG currently tops the PBC standings at 12-2, one game ahead of Armstrong Atlantic (11-3). The Nighthawks rank just sixth in the league in batting average at .282, scoring at a 4.6 run-per-game clip, but make up for that with the conference top pitching staff by ERA at 1.82 (2.2 RPG).  North Georgia boasts two of the top four hurlers by wins in the PBC as senior Victoria Sink (17 wins - tied for 1st) and sophomore Courtney Poole (15 wins - tied for 3rd) have combined to register all 32 of UNG’s triumphs. Sink is 17-1 thus far in 2014 with the second-best ERA in the league at 1.76 and 88 strikeouts over 123.1 innings, while Poole is 15-7 with a 1.86 ERA and 109 K’s over 150.1 IP. Former NFCA Division II All-American and junior outfielder Kim McMillan (.339 avg.) leads the offensive attack with 28 runs scored, seven HR’s and 40 RBIs. Junior shortstop Tiffanie Burns (11 extra base hits, six HR’s, 22 RBIs) and freshman catcher/third baseman Jessica Finch (.353 avg., seven doubles, three HR’s, 22 RBIs) round out a trio with 20 or more RBIs.

All About #4 Armstrong Atlantic: After opening Peach Belt Conference play with a perfect 9-0 record, the Pirates have hit a rough patch of late, having lost three of their last five league games to fall a game behind this weekend’s opponent North Georgia in the standings. Perhaps nothing illustrates the up-and-down nature of softball better than looking at AASU’s recent doubleheader at GRU Augusta (March 30). After dropping the opener 4-1, Armstrong Atlantic immediately responded in game two by bashing a league record eight HR’s during a 20-0 (5 inn.) romp over the Jaguars. The Pirates currently boast the league’s top offense, hitting at a .318 clip as a team while scoring 6.4 runs-per-game, and the third best pitching staff by ERA at 2.42. Junior pitcher/infielder Lacye Walker tops the league in batting average at a stellar .472 with 25 runs scored, 21 extra-base hits, including 10 HR’s, and a team-high 40 RBIs. Junior infielder Alexis Mercer (.435 avg., team-best 39 runs and 12 doubles, nine steals, 36 RBIs) leads the conference with a staggering 16 HR’s. Sophomore first/third baseman Hannah Reppert (.304 avg., 10 HR’s 30 RBIs) tied an NCAA Division II single-game record with four HR’s during the rout of GRU Augusta. In the circle junior right hander Ollivia McLemore has been the go-to choice for the Pirates, currently tied with UNG’s Sink for the PBC lead with 17 wins to go along with a 1.85 ERA and 89 strikeouts over 124.2 innings.

 

Some Additional Major Division II Games This Weekend:

#20 UC San Diego vs. #2 Cal Baptist at Tournament of Champions NO LIVE STATS OR VIDEO – Fri., April 4 at 8:45 p.m. ET

 

#15 Cal State Monterey Bay vs. #2 Cal Baptist at Tournament of Champions NO LIVE STATS OR VIDEO – Sat., April 5 at 4:15 p.m. ET

 

#8 Humboldt State vs. #RV Western Oregon at Tournament of Champions LIVE STATS | NO LIVE VIDEO – Fri., April 4 at 6:45 p.m. ET

 

#8 Humboldt State vs. #RV Central Washington at Tournament of Champions LIVE STATS | NO LIVE VIDEO – Sat., April 5 at 11:45 a.m. ET

 

#9 Alabama-Huntsville at #17 Valdosta State NO LIVE STATS OR VIDEO – Sat., April 5 (DH) at 1 & 3 p.m. ET; Sun., April 6 at 1 p.m. ET

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 #RV Lynchburg at #7 Virginia Wesleyan – DIVISION III

Site: Marlins Field, Norfolk, Va.

Date/Game Time: Sun., April 6, 1 & 3:30 p.m. ET

Follow them on Twitter: @LCHornets, @VWCAthletics

Live Stats: #RV Lynchburg at #7 Virginia Wesleyan 

Game Notes/Official Sites: Lynchburg Softball Official Site | Virginia Wesleyan Softball Official Site

All About #RV Lynchburg: The (15-7) Hornets are just 3-3 over their last six games and started a stretch of four Old Dominion Athletic Conference doubleheaders in five days on Wednesday with a split with Eastern Mennonite. Sunday’s final twinbill figures to be the most challenging, against a national-ranked foe with just one loss in its first eight conference games. Senior second baseman Melanie Tenney leads a potent offense (.362 as a group) with a .550 average and team-best 29 runs, plus seven doubles, four home runs and 25 runs batted in, while freshman infielder Kayla St. John is hitting .433 with eight doubles, a homer and 17 RBI. Sophomore third baseman/catcher Danielle Powell is the top power threat, with a team-leading five homers and 33 RBI to go with her .867 slugging percentage and .630 on-base average. The junior trio of Amber Ingram (8-2, six complete games in 10 starts), Hope Johnson (4-3, one save) and Elizabeth Floretti (3-2) all have winning records in the circle, but have allowed 91 runs in 138.2 innings, contributing to a 3.84 team earned-run average. Freshman Katie Maddox has struck out eight batters in just 5.2 innings of relief.

All About #7 Virginia Wesleyan: The (20-4) Marlins lost two games Wednesday at #2 Salisbury to snap a four-game win streak as they started their own busy stretch of three doubleheaders in five days. Virginia Wesleyan was no-hit by the Sea Gulls’ unbeaten ace Rachel Johnson (11 strikeouts) in the opening game, an 8-0, six-inning affair, and lost a pitchers’ duel, 1-0 in eight innings, in the nightcap. Before Sunday’s showdown, the Marlins host Randolph twice on Saturday for their annual Strike Out Cancer Day. Junior Kristina Karagiorgis (10-3, 1.07 ERA, 70 strikeouts in 72 innings) has done her usual solid job and more in the circle after an injury sidelined senior MacKenzie Creech (9-0). Sophomore Mary Shipp has collected four saves and 13 strikeouts in 18 innings, while senior Lindsey Inzana, a major contributor on offense, has pitched in two games. On offense, the Marlins boast a .351 average, led by sophomores Taylor Galvin (.391, five doubles), Kayla Dost (.375, three doubles, three homers, 19 RBI) and Kayla Malkos (.390, 23 stolen bases, 22 runs scored), plus seniors Tori Higginbotham (.384, three doubles, four triples, team-best four homers, 19 RBI) and Inzana (.371, eight doubles, 13 walks drawn, 19 RBI).

 

Some Additional Major Division III Games This Weekend:

Williams at #1 Tufts LIVE STATSLIVE VIDEO – at Medford, Mass. – Sat., April 5 at Noon & 2 p.m. ET

York (Pa.) at #2 Salisbury LIVE STATSLIVE VIDEO – at Salisbury, Md. – Sat., April 5 at 1 & 3 p.m. ET

#3 Montclair State at Rutgers-Camden LIVE STATS – at Rutgers, N.J. – Sat., April 5 at 1 & 2:30 p.m. ET