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NFCA's "Featured Five" Games for April 11-14

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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#8 Florida State at #25 Notre Dame

Site: Melissa Cook Stadium, South Bend, Ind.

Date/Game Time: Sun., April 13, noon & 2 p.m. ET; Mon., April 14, 7 p.m. ET

Radio/TV Coverage: LIVE VIDEO (Game 1) | LIVE VIDEO (Game 2) | ESPNU (Game 3) 

Follow them on Twitter: @FSU_Softball, @NDsoftball

Live Stats: #8 Florida State at #25 Notre Dame (GM-1) | (GM-2) | (GM-3) 

Game Notes/Official Sites: Florida State Softball Official Site | Notre Dame Softball Official Site

All About #8 Florida State: The (38-5) Seminoles lost 4-2 to No. 6 Florida on Wednesday, but won 17 straight games before that. Junior Lacey Waldrop (25-3, 0.83 ERA, 203 strikeouts in 167.2 innings) and redshirt freshman Jessica Burroughs (13-1, 2.02 ERA, 78 strikeouts in 72.2 innings) form a formidable tandem in the circle, combining with two others to compile a stellar 1.27 team ERA. Junior shortstop Maddie O’Brien (.452 average, .944 slugging percentage, 14 doubles, 16 homers, 64 RBI) tops the offense, while senior outfielder Courtney Senas (.357 average, 10 doubles, four triples, right homers, 41 RBI), senior second baseman Tiffani Brown (.324 average, four doubles, three triples, 14 RBI) and junior Bailey Schinella (.314 average, seven doubles, three homers, 22 RBI) are other key lineup contributors.

All About #25 Notre Dame: The (24-8) Fighting Irish are unbeaten in their first three home games this season and fresh off a road sweep of North Carolina. Senior Laura Winter powers the pitching (15-4, 2.11 ERA, 158 strikeouts in 129.1 innings) and also contributes on offense (.321 average, 10 doubles, two homers, 14 RBI). Freshman Rachel Nasland (4-1, 2.36 ERA, two saves) and sophomore Allie Rhodes (5-3, 2.58 ERA, 39 strikeouts) also have shined in the circle. Freshman outfielder Karley Wester (.413, 43 hits, 28 runs, 18 RBI, 18 stolen bases) headlines the balanced Notre Dame offense, with support from four juniors: infielders Jenna Simon (.380 average, 13 stolen bases, 19 runs) and Katy Haus (.333 average, nine doubles, two homers, 26 RBI), outfielder Emilee Koerner (.362 average, 32 runs, 13 doubles, two triples, eight homers, 28 RBI) and catcher Cassidy Whidden (.353 average, four doubles, seven homers, 24 RBI). As a team, the Irish are batting .338.


Some Additional Major Division I Games This Weekend:

#4 Tennessee at #21 Texas A&M ESPNU (FRI. & SUN.) | TX A&M 12th Man TV (SAT.) | Tennessee Audio (GM-1) (GM-2) (GM-3) | TX A&M Audio (ALL THREE GAMES) | LIVE STATS (ALL THREE GAMES) – Fri., April 11 at 8 p.m. ET; Sat., April 12 at 5 p.m. ET; Sun., April 13 at 1 p.m. ET

#19 Oklahoma at #12 BaylorESPN (SAT.) | FOX Sports SW+ (FRI. & SUN.) | Baylor TV (PAY) (FRI.) (SUN.) | Oklahoma Audio (PAY) (ALL THREE GAMES) | Baylor Audio (PAY) (GM-1) (GM-2) (GM-3) | LIVE STATS (GM-1) (GM-2) (GM-3) – Fri., April 11 at 7:30 p.m. ET; Sat., April 12 at 5 p.m. ET; Sun., April 13 at 1 p.m. ET

#16 Missouri at #20 AuburnFOX SPORTS NET (SAT.) | Auburn TV (PAY) (GM-1) (GM-2) (GM-3) | LIVE STATS (GM-1) (GM-2) (GM-3) – Fri., April 11 at 7 p.m. ET; Sat., April 12 at 2 p.m. ET; Sun., April 13 at 2 p.m. ET

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#15 South Alabama at #18 Louisiana Lafayette

Site: Lamson Park, Lafayette, La.

Date/Game Time: Sat., April 12 at 3 & 5 p.m. ET (DH); Sun., April 13, 2 p.m. ET

Radio/TV Coverage: ESPN3 SAT. (GM-1) | ESPN3 SAT. (GM-2) | ULL Live Video (PAY) (ALL THREE GAMES) | ULL Audio (ALL THREE GAMES)

Follow them on Twitter: @SAJagsSftball, @RaginCajunSB

Live Stats: #15 South Alabama at #18 Louisiana Lafayette (ALL THREE GAMES)

Game Notes/Official Sites: South Alabama Softball Official Site | Louisiana Lafayette Softball Official Site

All About #15 South Alabama: A big opportunity awaits No. 15 South Alabama (31-6, 8-2 Sun Belt) as the Jaguars face-off against Louisiana Lafayette with the top spot in the league standings on the line. USA enters having dropped three of its last five contests, including a shutout loss to top five-ranked Alabama, a series defeat at Texas State and a 3-2 mid-week victory over Mississippi State (April 9). The Jags bring both the nation’s No. 1 pitching staff and top hurler by ERA into this weekend’s series as junior Farish Beard (NCAA’s No. 1 ERA at 0.62, 17-3 record, seven shutouts, 169 strikeouts, 113.2 IP) and senior Hannah Campbell (0.82 ERA-fifth in NCAA DI, 12-3 record, four shutouts, 132 strikeouts, 119.1 IP) have combined to post an amazing 0.99 ERA. The duo already owns wins this year over ranked teams (at the time of playing) LSU and Georgia with razor-thin defeats against rated Alabama (L 0-3), Baylor (L 0-1) and Northwestern (L 1-2).  That outstanding staff has helped offset an offense that rates just sixth out of eight teams in the Sun Belt at .259 while averaging a 4.7 run-per-game scoring clip. Overall, seven Jaguar players possess at least 10 RBIs, but sophomore Stephanie Pilkington (.356 avg., 25 runs, seven doubles, 19 RBIs) is the lone hitter currently over .300. Freshman infielder/catcher Chloe Rathburn (.278 avg., 12 extra-base hits, five HR’s) leads the RBI-producing contingent with 24.

All About #18 Louisiana Lafayette: The (28-6-1, 9-0 Sun Belt) Ragin’ Cajuns currently lead South Alabama by two games in the loss column in the standings heading into this weekend’s huge league set. Since suffering a 5-1 defeat against defending national champion Oklahoma in a series opener on March 14, ULL has been red-hot, running off 13 consecutive victories that included a pair of revenge wins over OU. Louisiana Lafayette owns the Sun Belt’s top scoring attack, guiding the pack in a majority of offensive categories including batting average (.310), runs scored (225), HR’s (55) and RBIs (208). On the flipside the pitching staff rates just fourth in the league in ERA at 3.33. Senior utility player Natalie Fernandez sits second in NCAA Division I (as of April 6) in batting average at a remarkable .518 while also leading the squad with 46 runs scored. Sophomore catcher Lexie Elkins (.374 avg., 10 HR’s, 41 RBIs), freshman infielder Haley Hayden (.341 avg., 12 HR’s team-best 42 RBIs) and senior outfielder Shelbi Redfearn (.281 avg., 11 HR’s, 30 RBIs) round out a trio of players that have registered at least 10 HR’s and 30+ RBIs in 2014. Juniors Christina Hamilton (13-1, 1.51 ERA, 110 K’s, 106.2 IP) and Jordan Wallace (13-2, 3.60 ERA, 120 K’s, 91.1 IP) have combined for the majority of the work from the circle.

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#23 Northwestern at #14 Minnesota

Site: Jane Sage Cowles Stadium, Minneapolis, Minn.

Dates/Game Times: Friday, April 11 at 7 p.m. ET; Sat., April 12 at 2 p.m. ET; Sun., April 13 at 2 p.m. ET

Radio/TV Coverage: Minnesota TV (PAY) (GM-1) (GM-2) (GM-3) | NU Audio (GM-1) (GM-2) (GM-3)

Follow them on Twitter: @NUSBCats, @GopherSoftball

Live Stats: #23 Northwestern at #14 Minnesota (GM-1) (GM-2) (GM-3)

Game Notes/Official Sites: Northwestern Preview/Notes | Northwestern Softball Official Site | Minnesota Softball Official Site

All About #23 Northwestern: The Wildcats (22-9 overall, 5-4 Big Ten), under the guidance of 13th-year head coach Kate Drohan, prepare to face-off against No. 14 Minnesota having won three of their last four match-ups, including two-of-three last weekend against Iowa in league action. NU currently sits fourth in the conference standings, trailing league-leading and fifth-ranked Michigan by four games and the Gophers by 2½. NU’s offense has been fairly prolific thus far, rating second in the Big Ten in batting average (.327), on-base percentage (.436), runs scored (214) and RBIs (185). That scoring proficiency been a real key to the team’s success as the pitching staff ranks just eighth out of 12 Big Ten teams in ERA at 3.71. Senior Emily Allard (IF/OF) leads the offense average-wise at .419 overall with team-highs of 33 runs scored and 19 stolen bases. In all eight different players have registered double-digit RBIs with senior infielder Marisa Bast (.322 avg., four HR’s) currently rating fourth in the league with 33 RBIs and contributions of 25 and 23 RBIs from sophomore infielder Andrea Filler (.356 avg., 12 extra-base hits) and junior outfielder/infielder Andrea DiPrima (.359 avg., seven doubles), respectively. The ‘Cats have utilized a pitching quartet during the 2014 campaign with sophomore Kristen Wood (11-4, 3.88 ERA, 130 K’s, 99.1 IP) and senior Sammy Albanese (5-4, 4.36 ERA, 32 K’s, 43.1 IP) having drawn the most time in the circle.

All About #14 Minnesota: Looking from a purely statistical standpoint, 14th-rated Minnesota (30-5, 8-2 - 2nd in the Big Ten) looks like almost an exact opposite of its weekend opponent No. 23 Northwestern as the Gophers possess the eighth-best staff ERA in all of NCAA Division I softball (as of April 6) and the top conference ERA, but just the sixth-best team batting average (.284) in the league. The Gopher offense is plenty dangerous, however, as it currently leads the Big Ten in HR’s (41) while ranking fourth in runs scored (201), RBIs (177) and total bases (436). UM enters play having won six of its last seven match-ups with the lone defeat coming at home during the second game of an April 6 doubleheader against Wisconsin, 2-1. UM can boast two of the league’s top five pitchers by ERA in senior Sara Moulton and freshman Sara Groenewegen (9-0 record, fifth in the Big Ten with a 2.18 ERA, 106 K’s, 64.1 IP – also hitting .314 with seven HR’s, 25 RBIs). Moulton heads the league in wins at 19-4 overall and strikeouts (181) while boasting the Big Ten’s second-lowest ERA (1.16) over 138.2 innings of work. At the plate junior Kaitlyn Richardson sits in the conference’s top three in batting average (.463), both slugging (.800) & on-base (.587) percentage and RBIs (37), while sophomore catcher Taylor LeMay (22 runs scored, 23 RBIs) rates third in HR’s (nine). Junior infielder Tyler Walker has added a stellar .400 average, a team-best 35 runs scored, 17 extra-base hits, including nine doubles, and 28 RBIs.

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#18 LIU Post at #11 Caldwell – DIVISION II

Site: Caldwell College Athletics Field, Caldwell, N.J.

Date/ Game Time: Sun., April 13 (DH) at Noon & 2 p.m. ET

Radio/TV Coverage: None 

Follow them on Twitter: @LIUPostPioneers, @CaldwellCougars

Live Stats: #18 LIU Post at #11 Caldwell (BOTH GAMES)

Official Sites: LIU Post Softball Official Site | Caldwell Softball Official Site

All About #18 LIU Post: The current leaders of the East Coast Conference at a perfect 10-0 in league play, No. 18 LIU Post (23-3) enters this weekend’s action riding an impressive 20-game winning streak. Under the guidance of head coach Jamie Apicella, who picked up his 600th career victory during a March 20 sweep of Le Moyne, the Pioneers can boast of NCAA Division II’s eighth-best pitching staff by ERA (as of April 6) while in possession of an ECC-leading offense that hits .338 while plating tallies at a 6.6 run-per-game clip. LIU Post possesses the top three pitchers in its league by ERA as junior Megan Salcido (2-1, 0.90 ERA, 20 K’s, 31 IP), two-time NFCA All-Region selection senior Liz Weber (ECC-leading 12 wins, 1.25 ERA, 41 K’s, 73 IP) and freshman Ashley Martin (9-0, 1.52 ERA, 39 K’s, 64.1 IP) have combined to register a miniscule 1.34 team mark. In all six different Pioneer players have tallied double-digit RBIs, guided by a trio of former NFCA All-Region selections in senior infielder Nicole Hagenah (.412 avg., 27 runs, 17 extra-base hits, five HR’s, 22 RBIs), junior catcher Aly Dzierzynski (.398 avg., 18 extra-base hits, seven HR’s, 28 RBIs) and senior outfielder Alexis Gonzalez (.395 avg., 25 runs, team0high eight HR’s & 31 RBIs.

All About #11 Caldwell: No. 11 Caldwell (21-3) currently sits atop both the NCAA Division II batting average rankings (as of April 6) and the CACC league standings with a 10-1 mark. The Cougars prep for the upcoming weekend having dropped two of their last four contests with the most recent defeat occurring in the second game of an April 9 doubleheader against Pace (L 4-13 in 6 inn.). CC is currently hitting at a ridiculous .391 clip and scoring just over 7.6 runs-per-game, while the Cougar pitching staff owns a 2.25 ERA and allows the opposition to hit at a .261 clip. Three Caldwell batters are currently batting at .480 or above (three of top five by average in the CACC) as junior shortstop Megan Fryday (.493 avg., seven doubles, 22 RBIs), sophomore utility player Brielle Reighn (.486 avg., 10 doubles, 22 RBIs) and junior catcher/first baseman Alyssa Calderon (.480 avg., team-leading 13 doubles & 32 RBIs) power the offensive attack. Sophomore Amber Padilla has drawn the most time in the circle, tossing 62 innings with a 7-2 record, a 2.03 ERA and 49 strikeouts. Freshman Sydney Ponto (8-1 record, 2.49 ERA, 36 K’s, 45 IP) and junior Hanna Walkinshaw (6-0, 1.84 ERA, 30 K’s, 38 IP) have combined to provide impressive pitching support.

 

Some Additional Major Division II Games This Weekend:

#RV Indianapolis at #6 UMSL Live Video (BOTH GAMES) | Live Stats (BOTH GAMES) – Sun., April 13 at 1 & 3 p.m. ET (Doubleheader)

#9 Humboldt State at #RV Sonoma State Live Video (ALL FOUR GAMES) | Live Stats (ALL FOUR GAMES) – Fri., April 11 at 4 & 6:30 p.m. ET (Doubleheader), Sat., April 12 at 2 & 4:30 p.m. ET (Doubleheader)

#22 Central Oklahoma at #5 Emporia State Live Stats (ALL FOUR GAMES) – Fri., April 11 at 5 & 7 p.m. ET (Doubleheader)

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#9 Coe at #8 Luther – DIVISION III

Site: Luther Softball Field, Decorah, Iowa

Date/Game Time: Sat., April 12, 3 & 5 p.m. ET

Radio/TV Coverage: LIVE VIDEO (both games) 

Follow them on Twitter: @CoeAthletics, @NorseSports

Live Stats: #9 Coe at #8 Luther 

Game Notes/Official Sites: Coe Softball Official Site | Luther Softball Official Site

All About #9 Coe: The (26-3) Kohawks have won 13 straight and 15 of their last 16, including doubleheader sweeps of Iowa Wesleyan and Simpson earlier this week. Seniors fuel the offense, with infielder/outfielder Nicole Gentile (.430 average, nine doubles, seven homers, 14 stolen bases) leading the way. Outfielder Danielle Schlotterbeck (.355 average, five doubles, three homers, 23 RBI) and catcher Abby Flannagan (seven doubles, four homers, 22 RBI) are the other veteran leaders, while freshman outfielder Brianna Gardner (.338 average, .533 on-base percentage, 10 stolen bases) has also been a key contributor. In the circle, senior Maddison Woodruff (15-1, 1.87 ERA, 11 complete games, 112 strikeouts in 91.1 innings) and sophomore Arran Weeces (9-1, 1.91 ERA, 99 strikeouts in 85 innings) have been nearly flawless, accounting for 24 of Coe’s 26 victories and 92 percent of the team’s strikeouts.

All About #8 Luther: The (17-6) Norse has won just three of their last seven, but two of the victories have been run-shortened affairs, and they captured seven straight games prior to that. Junior outfielders Kelsey Rose (.493 average, .536 on-base percentage, seven doubles, two homers, 27 RBI) and Hiliary Pennington (.475 average, two triples, 12 stolen bases) lead the lineup, while sophomore infielders Miranda McCay (.425 average, seven doubles, two homers, 24 RBI) and Carli Radil (.409 average, .742 slugging percentage, seven homers, 31 RBI) also have large roles on offense. Senior Becca Girvan (9-3, 2.39 ERA, 107 strikeouts) has been by far the workhorse in the circle, pitching 79 innings, while junior Erica Manske (2-0, 2.00 ERA) and freshmen Annie Versnik (3-1, 2.15 ERA), and Topanga Skiles (3-2, 2.96 ERA) have split the rest of the time.

 

Some Additional Major Division III Games This Weekend:

Mary Washington at #1 Salisbury LIVE STATSLIVE VIDEO – at Salisbury, Md. – Sat., April 12 at noon & 2 p.m. ET

#2 Montclair State at The College of New Jersey LIVE STATS – at Ewing, N.J. – Sat., April 12 at 1 & 2:30 p.m. ET

Concordia (Texas) at #3 Texas-Tyler LIVE STATSLIVE VIDEO – at Tyler, Texas – Fri., April 11 at 4 & 6 p.m. ET; Sat., April 12 at 2 p.m. ET