CLEARWATER, Fla. (March 3, 2011) - For the third consecutive weekend the ETSU softball team will gear up for tournament play as the Bucs participate in the USF Under Armour Invitational, beginning Friday morning in Clearwater, Fla. The Bucs open play against Columbia (10 a.m.), before closing out the day with BIG EAST foe Villanova at 12:30 p.m.
On Saturday, ETSU will take on SEC contender Arkansas at 12:30 p.m., while wrapping up the day with another BIG EAST opponent in host South Florida at 3 p.m. The Blue and Gold wrap up play Sunday when the Bucs face Mid-American Conference preseason favorite Ball State at noon.
The Bucs (3-8) picked up a pair of wins last weekend at the Frost Classic in Chattanooga, as ETSU defeated Tennessee-Martin (5-4) and Toledo (6-1). A trio of Buccaneer players bring hitting streaks into play this weekend as Amy Campbell (Chattanooga, Tenn.), Katie Wolff (LaGrange, Fla.), and Katie Henderson (Jackson, Tenn.) have all hit safely in the last four games. Campbell went 6-for-14 (.429) with a double, two home runs (one grand slam), six runs scored and six RBI last weekend in Chattanooga. Meanwhile, Wolff hit her first collegiate home run and Henderson hit .333 last weekend.
Below is a breakdown of each Buccaneer opponent this weekend.
Columbia is making its season debut against the Bucs on Friday morning. The Lions finished the 2010 campaign with a record of 15-32, but Columbia returns 10 letterwinners from last season's squad that set program marks for a myriad of offensive categories, including batting average, home runs, hits, runs and RBIs. Senior pitcher/first baseman Maggie Johnson is the top returning hitter and pitcher for Columbia. Johnson hit .336 (48-143) with 17 doubles, four home runs and 23 RBIs, while also earning a team-high six wins in the circle.
The Wildcats - who have won four of their last six games - have been led by strong pitching in the early season. Villanova's junior right-hander Caitlyn Delahaba is 4-2 with a 1.65 ERA (10ER/42.1IP). Delahaba has 32 strikeouts and 13 walks on the year. Meanwhile, Villanova is only hitting .193 on the year as junior third baseman Kristi Burlin is batting a team-best .296 with 12 RBI.
Despite being one game under .500, the Razorbacks have still managed to knock off then number-one UCLA, 4-3, back on Feb. 18 in Las Vegas. Unlike Villanova, the Razorbacks are led by a strong offensive attack as Arkansas is hitting .305 with 24 doubles, nine triples and ten home runs. Senior outfielder Becca Carden is hitting a team-high .400 (20-50) with four doubles, three triples, two home runs and 14 RBI, while also being a perfect 4-of-4 in stolen bases. As a team, Arkansas has only been thrown out three times in 26 attempts.
South Florida (7-8)
After winning four straight to open the season, the Bulls have dropped eight of their last 11 games; however, USF is coming off an 8-0 six-inning win over Western Michigan on Wednesday. Freshman left-hander Sara Nevins tossed a two-hit shutout to improve to 4-2 on the season, while Gina Kafalas went 3-for-4 with two runs scored and a stolen base. Kafalas is leading the team in hitting at .365, while Janine Richardson and Stephanie Medina have combined to record five doubles, four homers and 24 RBIs.
Ball State (6-3)
Ball State has won five straight and brings a potent offensive attack to the diamond. The Cardinals have a pair of batters hitting over .450 as Alyssa Collins carries a .464 average into play this weekend, while Alicia Barkley is batting .455 with four doubles and a triple. In the circle, sophomore righty Audra Sanders is 3-2 with a 1.80 ERA (7ER/35.0IP) while compiling 45 punch outs and only nine walks.
To access the tournament central homepage, visit www.GoUSFBulls.com.
For complete recaps after each day, visit www.ETSUBucs.com.