PISCATAWAY, N.J. (Feb. 20, 2014) – The Rutgers softball team continues the 2014 season in Clearwater, Fla., as the Scarlet Knights will take part in the NFCA Division I Leadoff Classic at the Eddie C. Moore Complex.
RU opens the tournament on Friday at noon against James Madison before taking on the College of Charleston at 5p.m. On Feb. 22 RU will take on DePaul at noon and UMass at 2:30 p.m. and wrap up the tournament against No. 22/20 Louisiana-Lafayette.
The ranked foe is the first for the Scarlet Knights’ since taking on No. 12/13 Louisville on April 7, 2012.
The squad went 3-2 in its opening weekend at the UTSA Roadrunner Classic, recording the program’s best start since the 2003 season. The Scarlet Knights hit .336 in five games, as two players – seniors Loren Williams (Los Angeles, Calif.) and Alexis Durando (Oakland, N.J.) - recorded batting averages of at least .500.
Williams took home the American Athletic Conference Player of the Week Award after going 13-for-19 (.684) in the Scarlet Knights’ opening weekend in San Antonio, Texas.
Williams, the team’s leading returning hitter from last season, recorded five-straight multi-hit games to start the season, capped by her 4-for-4 performance in a 10-6 win against Colorado State in the team’s final game at the tourney.
Scouting James Madison
The Dukes come into the tournament at 5-5 overall after going 4-1 at the UCF Holiday Inn Classic last weekend in Orlando, Fla. James Madison’s lone defeat came against American Athletic Conference opponent, UCF, which walked off with the win on a throwing error to seal a 3-2 victory (Feb. 15).
Sophomore Hanna Hayes has been on fire through 10 games, hitting .435. Four other Dukes own .300-plus batting averages this season, while sophomore Erica Field leads the team with eight RBIs.
Sophomore Jailyn Ford has been the most consistent arm for the Dukes, owning a 3-2 record and 1.34 ERA. She leads the squad with 34 strikeouts.
The Cougars head into the weekend 3-4 overall, going 3-2 last weekend at the College of Charleston Classic. The Cougars picked up wins over Western Carolina (Feb. 14), DePaul (Feb. 14) and Mississippi (Feb. 16) in the tourney.
Senior Lizzy Vaugn, senior Carly Corthell, sophomore Chandler Frisbie and sophomore Carly Hansis lead the squad with .286 batting averages.
Freshman Samantha Martin and junior Hope Klicker lead the Cougars from the circle. Martin is 1-0 with a 1.62 ERA in 13.0 innings pitched, while Klicker is 2-4 with a 2.62 ERA in 29.1 innings pitched.
The Blue Demons are 7-3 this season and enter the tournament after receiving votes in the most recent USA Today/NFCA Coaches’ Poll. The team went 4-1 at the College of Charleston Classic last weekend, losing only to the College of Charleston, 3-1, on Feb. 14.
Nine batters are hitting over .300 for DePaul this season, as freshman Nicole Pihl leads the way with a .500 batting average. Senior Kirsten Verdun has been lights out from the circle and is 5-1 on the year. She has a 0.98 ERA and has struck out 53 batters.
UMass will open its season at the Leadoff Classic this weekend, kicking off the tournament with a noon matchup against Drexel.
The squad went 18-25 overall last season and 12-10 in Atlantic-10 action. The team was picked to finish fourth in the Atlantic-10 Preseason Coaches’ Poll.
Louisiana-Lafayette enters the weekend 6-3-1 overall after playing in the first two weekends of the regular season. The Ragin’ Cajuns posted a 4-1 record last weekend at the Ragin’ Cajuns Invitational, winning the final two games of the tournament by a combined score of 18-2 against Memphis (Feb. 15) and Central Arkansas (Feb. 16).
Louisiana-Lafayette’s only loss last weekend came against No. 5/7 Michigan, which tallied 13 hits and 15 runs in a 15-1, five-inning victory.
Senior Natalie Fernandez leads the team with a .424 batting average, while the Ragin ‘ Cajuns have three big-time power threats through 10 games.
Sophomore Lexi Elkins, freshman Hayley Hayden and senior Shelbi Landry have hit four, five and four home runs, respectively, this season, while the team has cranked 21 overall.
Junior righthander Christina Hamilton leads the squad from the circle with a 3-0 record and 1.57 ERA.
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