GAINESVILLE, Fla. (Feb. 14, 2008) - After opening the 2008 season with a split at Furman, the ETSU softball team now enters a stretch where they play in four difficult tournaments, beginning this weekend with the Cox Communications Classic. The three day five-game tournament kicks off Friday morning when the Lady Bucs tangle with ACC foe North Carolina at 9 a.m. from Katie Seashole Pressly Softball Stadium.
ETSU survived game one of the Furman series with a little help from the long ball. Junior Jessie Hackworth (Clinton, Tenn.) blasted her second career grand slam and two plays later sophomore catcher Trisha Massenzo (Russellville, Tenn.) belted her first career homer, lifting ETSU to a 7-0 victory. Then, in game two, ETSU saw its three-run lead evaporate as Furman tacked on two runs in the fourth and three more in the sixth to come away with a 5-3 win.
The Tar Heels (5-0) enter the tournament red-hot after winning the Carolina Classic last weekend in Chapel Hill. North Carolina swept away tournament field by outscoring the opposition, 61-7, as they plated 20+ runs in two of the five contests. The Tar Heels were picked second behind Virginia Tech in the Preseason ACC Coaches Poll and are currently receiving votes in the USA Today/NFCA Division I Top 25 Poll.
Things will not get any easier for ETSU after its game with UNC, because they will face host and No. 11 Florida (7-0) at 4 p.m. The Gators claimed the USF Invitational last weekend and picked up a sweep over Atlantic Sun foe Mercer Wednesday afternoon. Florida's pitching staff is really getting things done as they have posted three shutouts in seven games thus far.
On Saturday, ETSU will get a lot of time to relax before having to face Florida for the second time in less than a 24-hour stretch, when they square off at 4 p.m. Then, the Lady Bucs will quickly turnaround and play conference rival Stetson in a non-conference showdown at 6:15 p.m.
Sunday marks the final day of the tournament and ETSU will have an early wake-up call as they take on College of Charleston at 9 a.m. Despite standing at 1-7, the Cougars have been tested early as they faced two top-25 teams at last weekend's UGA Red & Black Showcase (No. 14 DePaul and No. 21 Georgia). Charleston's lone win came against Campbell Monday night.
ETSU fans can follow all the action via GameTracker, courtesy of Florida athletics. The pair of Lady Buccaneer games against Florida will also be broadcast over the web. Please click link(s) above or visit www.GatorZone.com to access GameTracker and audio.
For more information on Lady Buccaneer softball, visit www.ETSUBucs.com.