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NFCA's "Featured Five" Games for April 18-20

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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Texas at #16 Oklahoma – RED RIVER SHOWDOWN

Site: Marita Hynes Stadium, Norman, Okla.

Date/Game Time: Thu., April 17, 9 p.m. ET; Fri., April 18, 7:30 p.m. ET; Sat., April 19, 7:30 p.m. ET

Radio/TV Coverage: ESPN2 (Game 1) | Fox Sports Oklahoma (Game 2) | Fox Sports Regional (Game 3) | Oklahoma Audio (PAY) (all three games) 

Follow them on Twitter: @TexasSoftball, @OU_Softball

Live Stats: Texas at #16 Oklahoma (GM-1) | (GM-2) | (GM-3) 

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

All About Texas: The (6-1 Big 12, 26-16 overall) Longhorns come into the Red River Showdown series as the second-place team in the Big 12. Two-time reigning Big 12 Player of the Week Taylor Thom (.398 average, five doubles, four triples, eight homers, 38 RBI, 22 steals), a senior All-America shortstop, has been among one of the hottest hitters in the country recently. She has raised her average 41 points, from .357 to .398, over the last seven games. Other threats in the Texas lineup include senior outfielder Brejae Washington (.464 average, four doubles, three triples, 13 RBI, 29 steals) and sophomore utility players Lindsey Stevens (.410 average, nine doubles, four triples, 13 homers, 53 RBI) and Stephanie Ceo (.386 average, five doubles, three triples, two homers, 18 RBI). In the circle, freshman Tiarra Davis (13-7, 2.13 ERA, 139 strikeouts in 131.1 innings) has set the pace, while junior Gabby Smith (11-4, 3.19 ERA, 66 strikeouts), sophomore Holly Kern (six games) and freshman Lauren Slatten (four starts) have also contributed.

All About #16 Oklahoma: The (9-1 Big 12, 32-9 overall) Sooners are playing the team behind them in the conference standings for the third straight weekend as they near a third straight Big 12 crown. Oklahoma has fared well in those matchups, going a combined 5-1 in league play against Baylor and Kansas. Oklahoma is 15-3 in its last 18 games, despite not having the services of junior All-America infielder Lauren Chamberlain (.316 average, three doubles, six homers, .567 on-base percentage), who hasn’t played since injuring her back on March 13. Chamberlain homered to provide the winning margin in her last game action, an 1-0 victory over Tulsa on March 9. Offensive weapons that have shouldered a heavier burden in her absence include sophomore outfielder Kady Self (.429 average, three doubles, six homers) and junior infielders Shelby Pendley (.424 average, 14 doubles, 12 homers, 46 RBI) and Georgia Casey (.358 average, 12 doubles, three triples, seven homers, 30 RBI). Sophomore Kelsey Stevens (23-6, 2.02 ERA, 15 complete games, five shutouts, 155 strikeouts in 163 innings) has pitched the lion’s share of the Sooners’ innings, while fellow sophomores Leslie Miller (5-0, 3.40 ERA) and Taylor Dewbery (2-0, 3.94 ERA), Pendley (three saves, 0.86 ERA in 10 games) and her fellow juniors Georgia Casey (2-2, 4.62 ERA) and Maggie Ham (three games) have also seen action.

 

Some Additional Major Division I Games This Weekend:

#RV California at #1 Oregon PAC-12 NETWORK (THURS. & FRI.) | OREGON PAC-12 NETWORK VIDEO (SAT.) – Thurs., April 17 at 7 p.m. ET; Fri., April 18 at 7 p.m. ET; Sat., April 19 at 3 p.m. ET 

#RV Mississippi State at #4 TennesseeTennessee Video (FRI.) (SAT.) (SUN.) | MSU Audio (ALL THREE GAMES) | Live Stats (GM-1) (GM-2) (GM-3) – Fri., April 18 at 6 p.m. ET; Sat., April 19 at 2 p.m. ET; Sun., April 20 at 1:30 p.m. ET 

#5 Florida at #21 Texas A&MESPNU (FRI.) (SAT.) | TX A&M 12th Man TV (PAY) (SUN.) | Florida Audio (ALL THREE GAMES) | Texas A&M Audio (ALL THREE GAMES) | Live Stats (ALL THREE GAMES) – Fri., April 18 at 8 p.m. ET; Sat., April 19 at 6 p.m. ET; Sun., April 20 at 1 p.m. ET

#6 Arizona State at #11 WashingtonPAC-12 NETWORK (THURS. & FRI.) – Thurs., April 17 at 7 p.m. ET; Fri., April 18 at 7 p.m. ET; Sat., April 19 at 2 p.m. ET

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#12 Minnesota at #3 Michigan

Site: Wilpon Complex, Ann Arbor, Mich.

Date/Game Time: Fri., April 18, 6 p.m. ET; Sat., April 19, 7 p.m. ET; Sun., April 20, 1 p.m. ET

Radio/TV Coverage: LIVE VIDEO (Game 1) | Big Ten Network (Game 2) | Big Ten Network (Game 2)  

Follow them on Twitter: @GopherSoftball, @UMichSoftball

Live Stats: #12 Minnesota at #3 Michigan (GM-1) | (GM-2) | (GM-3) 

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

All About #12 Minnesota: The (32-6) Gophers come into this battle for the Big Ten Conference regular-season title ranked second in the standings at 10-3 and are 10-2 in road games. Unbeaten freshman pitcher Sara Groenewegen (11-0, two saves, 2.35 ERA, 126 strikeouts and 31 walks over 77.1 innings) is also the team’s third-leading hitter with a .306 average, seven doubles, eight homers, 20 walks and 29 RBI. Senior Sara Moulton (19-5, 1.68 ERA, 13 complete games, 188 strikeouts and 27 walks over 145.2 innings) has been similarly solid in the circle, while sophomore Nikki Anderson (2-1, 0.93 ERA, 38 strikeouts in 20 innings) has impressed in limited action. Junior utility player Kaitlyn Richardson (.451 average, 31 runs, 14 doubles, seven homers, 39 RBI, 33 walks) tops the lineup and a fellow junior,  infielder Tyler Walker (.415 average, 40 runs, 11 doubles, five triples, six homers, 35 RBI, 14 steals), completes a strong 1-2 punch at the plate.

All About #3 Michigan: The (34-6) Wolverines are a perfect 12-0 in Big Ten play and 9-0 at home. They have won 20 straight games. Four players — sophomore shortstop Sierra Romero, senior outfielders Nicole Sappingfield and Lyndsay Doyle and senior infielder Taylor Hasselbach — are hitting over .400 in an offense that is batting .364 collectively.  Unbeaten junior Haylie Wagner (19-0, 0.95 ERA, 12 complete games, 87 strikeouts in 110.2 innings) anchors a solid pitching staff that includes fellow junior Sara Driesenga (5-3, 2.09 ERA, 48 strikeouts in 67 innings) and freshman Megan Betsa (10-3, 1.84 ERA, 93 strikeouts in 72.1 innings).

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#15 UC San Diego at #8 Humboldt State – DIVISION II

Site: Lumberjack Field, Arcata, Calif.

Dates/Game Times: Fri, April 18 at 4 & 6 p.m. ET (DH); Sat., April 19 at 2 & 4 p.m. ET (DH)

Radio/TV Coverage: Humboldt St. TV (ALL FOUR GAMES) | Humboldt St. Audio (ALL FOUR GAMES)

Follow them on Twitter: @UCSDTritons, @HSUJacks1

Live Stats: #15 UC San Diego at #8 Humboldt State (ALL FOUR GAMES)

Game Notes/Official Sites: UC San Diego Preview/Notes | UC San Diego Softball Official Site | Humboldt State Preview/Notes | Humboldt State Softball Official Site

All About #15 UC San Diego: Currently dead-locked with Cal State Monterey Bay atop the California Collegiate Athletic Association standings at 19-5, 15th-ranked UC San Diego (30-9) ventures into a vital series against No. 8 Humboldt State (21-7, third place in the CCAA) coming off a split in a four-game set last weekend at San Francisco State. The Tritons currently possess the league’s top batting average at .342, while plating 5.8 runs-per-game, and the second-rated pitching staff by ERA at 2.48. Sophomore outfielder Callie Grant rates fourth in the CCAA at .429 overall with 10 RBIs and 12 of UCSD’s 67 total stolen bases. Senior catcher/first baseman Caitlin Brown (.364 avg., 29 runs, 11 doubles, three HR’s, team-best 33 RBIs), sophomore catcher Katie Saunders (.387 avg., seven doubles, three HR’s, 27 RBIs) and sophomore second baseman/shortstop McKenna Clewett (.391 avg., six doubles, 23 RBIs) top the RBI production list. Sophomore left hander Alexis Edwards leads the CCAA in ERA (1.37) and is tied for third in wins (17-4 record) while having struck out 58 and twirled 10 complete games over 122.1 innings.

All About #8 Humboldt State: Since suffering through a three-game losing skid back in mid-March, No. 8 Humboldt State (37-11, 21-7 CCAA) has rebounded to win 13 of its last 15 contests, including a bracket title at the Tournament of Champions in Turlock, Calif. Despite owning just the fifth-best batting average in the league at .317, power is truly the name of the game for HSU as the Jacks boast a league-best 61 HR’s to rate ninth in all of NCAA Division II in big flies-per-game at 1.30. Humboldt State’s offense has registered the most total tallies (265) in the CCAA, albeit over a league-high 48 total contests for a 5.5 run-per-game average. In all, four HSU players have blasted at least nine HR’s:  junior outfielder and NFCA All-Region choice Dani Randall (.379 avg., 39 runs, 12 HR’s, 38 RBIs), redshirt sophomore third baseman Julie Pena (.291 avg., seven doubles, 11 HR’s, 40 RBIs), freshman infielder Tiffany Hollingsworth (team-best .400 avg., 48 runs scored, 19 doubles and 42 RBIs to go along with nine HR’s) and senior outfielder Tonya Walker (.311 avg., 43 runs, 10 doubles, nine HR’s, 27 RBIs). Sophomore hurler Katie Obbema (tied for third in the CCAA with 17 wins, 17-7 record, 2.55 ERA, 93 K’s, 167.2) has drawn the most work from the circle for the fourth-best pitching staff by ERA in the league (2.55), while fellow sophomore Liz Perez has added a 12-4 record, a 1.77 ERA (fourth in the CCAA) and 83 K’s in 102.2 frames.

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#12 Minnesota State Mankato at #17 Augustana (SD) – DIVISION II

Site: Bowden Field, Sioux Falls, S.D.

Date/ Game Time: Sat., April 19 (DH) at 1 & 3 p.m. ET

Radio/TV Coverage: None 

Follow them on Twitter: @MinnStSoftball, @AugieSoftball

Live Stats: #12 Minnesota State Mankato at #17 Augustana (SD) (BOTH GAMES)

Official Sites: Minnesota State Mankato Softball Official Site | Augustana (SD) Softball Official Site

All About #12 Minnesota State Mankato: Having roared into the latest NFCA Division II national poll at No. 12, after previously receiving votes, and won 22 consecutive games, Minnesota State Mankato (32-8, 16-2 Northern Sun Intercollegiate Conference) entered this week on a roll. Unfortunately for MSU, a Tues., April 15, trip to No. 25 Winona State stemmed some of that forward momentum as WSU swept a doubleheader, handing the Mavericks their first two NSIC defeats of 2014 (2-1 in 8 inn., 10-2 in 5 inn.). Despite the losses, Minnesota State Mankato maintains a two-game lead in the loss column over this weekend’s doubleheader opponent from Augustana (SD) (33-8, 16-4 NSIC). The Mavs currently lead the league in runs scored (274), runs scored per game (6.9), hits (387), RBIs (248) and total bases (568) while trailing only Augustana in HRs (33) and rating third in team batting average (.344). From a pitching standpoint, MSU sits second in opposing batting average (.243) and fourth in team ERA at 2.62. The Mavericks can boast the top two hitters in the league by average in senior infielder/NFCA All-Region choice Samantha Holien (.457 avg., team-best 46 runs, 11 doubles, seven HR’s, 34 RBIs) and senior catcher/infielder and NFCA All-American Lindsay Erickson (.453 avg., 37 runs, eight doubles, squad-high 10 HR’s & 47 RBIs) while 10 different MSU players possess double-digit RBIs. Redshirt freshman Coley Ries (15-3 record, 142 K’s 112 IP) leads the NSIC with a 1.75 ERA, while junior pitcher/infielder Brittany Lauterbach has contributed a 15-5 mark, a 3.03 ERA , six solo shutouts and 109 strikeouts over 131.2 frames.

All About #17 Augustana (SD): No. 17 Augustana (SD) (33-8, 16-4 NSIC) ventures into this weekend riding a five-game winning streak with three shutout victories over its last four match-ups. The Vikings currently boast the top pitching staff by ERA (2.14) and opposing batting average (.237) in the league, led by junior standout and NFCA All-Region selection Jenelle Trautmann. The Hastings, Minn., native is a double threat that gets it done at both the plate and in the circle, leading the NSIC with 22 wins and rating fourth in both strikeouts (136) and ERA (2.05) over 126.1 innings of work while also adding a .312 batting mark with 15 extra-base hits and 33 RBIs. Sophomore hurler Carley Pickett has contributed a 10-4 record with a 2.34 ERA and 80 K’s over 101.2 innings of support. As an offense, Augustana rates just fifth out of 16 teams in the league in batting average (.320) and runs-per-game (5.7) but has bashed the most total HR’s (35) while in possession of eight hitters with double-digit RBI totals. Junior catcher Jordan Schaffer tops the power contingent with nine HR’s to go along with a .318 average, 23 runs scored and 33 RBIs, while sophomore infielder/outfielder Carly Peterson (.421 avg., 12 tallies, three doubles, 14 RBIs) and senior infielder Lindsay Spanton (.419 avg., 33 runs, team-high 13 doubles, five HR’s, 32 RBIs) guide the group in batting average.

 

Some Additional Major Division II Games This Weekend:

#5 UMSL at #RV Bellarmine Live Stats (BOTH GAMES) – Fri., April 18 at 1 & 3 p.m. ET (Doubleheader)

#16 Truman State at #24 Indianapolis Live Stats (BOTH GAMES) – Fri., April 18 at Noon & 2:30 p.m. ET (Doubleheader)

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#23 Kean at #2 Montclair State – DIVISION III

Site: MSU Softball Stadium, Montclair, N.J.

Date/Game Time: Sat., April 19, 1 & 2:30 p.m. ET

Follow them on Twitter: @KeanAthletics, @MSURedhawks

Live Stats: #23 Kean at #2 Montclair State 

Game Notes/Official Sites: Kean Softball Official Site | Montclair State Softball Official Site

All About #23 Kean: The (24-6) Cougars are led by two-way threat Courtney Yard, who has a .376 average with eight doubles, two homers and 24 RBI, while also compiling a 13-4 record in the circle with a 0.87 ERA, 120 strikeouts and 23 walks over 112.2 innings. Teamed with juniors Rebecca Rotola (11-2, 1.51 ERA, 17 earned runs in 79 innings) and Stephanie Gilbert (five appearances), the Kean pitching staff has a solid 1.33 ERA. Other big contributors on offense are senior outfielders Sandra Binkiewicz (.472 average, 20 runs, nine doubles, three triples, 28 RBI, .560 on-base percentage) and Megan Cegielski (.413 average, 30 runs, two doubles) and junior infielder Emily Sabo (.460 average, 24 runs, two doubles, three triples, 13 RBI, 13 stolen bases).

All About #2 Montclair State: The (26-1) Red Hawks will go as far as senior Alex Hill will take them. She leads the team at the plate, compiling a .400 average with three doubles, a triple and two homers, but it is in the circle that she’s at her most valuable, with a 18-1 record, 0.32 ERA, 214 strikeouts and 13 walks over 131.1 innings, plus four saves and an opponent batting average of .119. Fellow senior Alison Cullen has been similarly difficult for hitters to solve, going 8-0 with a 0.67 ERA in 11 appearances. Combined with freshmen Brianna Creegan and Rebecca Coleman, plus sophomore Brooke Powers, the Montclair staff has a tiny 0.56 ERA. Senior infielder Dana Amato (.386, six doubles, seven homers, 30 RBI), Powers (.356, six doubles, three homers, 14 RBI) and junior infielder Melissa Rustemeyer (.342, five doubles, six homers, 22 RBI) form a powerful portion of the lineup. The doubleheader is part of the Red Hawks’ “Playing for Charity” series, where each athletic team chooses one day to support a cause. For the softball team, that cause is Comfort Zone Camp, a free bereavement camp for children that have experienced the death of a parent, sibling or primary caregiver.

 

Some Additional Major Division III Games This Weekend:

#1 Salisbury, #13 Christopher Newport at CAC Tournament LIVE STATSLIVE VIDEO – at Newport News, Va. – Thu., April 17-Sat., April 19 at times TBA

#4 Tufts at Bates LIVE STATSLIVE VIDEO – at Lewiston, Maine – Fri., April 18 at 4 p.m. ET; Sat., April 19 at noon & 2:30 p.m. ET

#5 Trine at Calvin LIVE STATS – at Grand Rapids, Mich. – Sat., April 19 at 1 & 3 p.m. ET

#6 Linfield hosts NWC Tournament LIVE STATSLIVE VIDEO – at McMinnville, Ore. – Fri., April 18-Sat., April 19 at times TBA

#7 East Texas Baptist at Louisiana College – at Pineville, La. – Thu., April 17 at 7 p.m. ET; Fri., April 18 at 1 & 3 p.m. ET

Roanoke at #11 Virginia WesleyanLIVE STATS – at Norfolk, Va. – Fri., April 18 at 2:30 & 4 p.m. ET

#17 Illinois Wesleyan at #19 Augustana (Ill.) LIVE STATS – at Rock Island, Ill. – Fri., April 18 at 4 & 6 p.m. ET

#21 Univ. of Chicago at #17 Illinois Wesleyan LIVE STATS at Bloomington, Ill. –Sat., April 19 at 2 & 4 p.m. ET