What Did We Learn at Mary Nutter?


cropped-cropped-nutterclassic_final_012On this edition of In The Circle podcast, Eric Lopez and Victor Anderson recap the Mary Nutter Tournament 2 weekend tournament in Palm Springs  as well as the ACC/Big 10 Challenge.Lopez and Anderson break down who are the top conferences thru the first 3 weeks of the season. Lopez and Anderson also break down the fast starts by the Florida Gators, Auburn Tigers and James Madison. Eric and Victor also talk about conference play stating all over D2.

Among the topics discussed on the podcast include :

  • Early look to Florida-Auburn showdown in March
  • What does the ACC/Big 10 Challenge results mean?
  •  What are headlines coming out of Mary Nutter?
  • What teams in D2 stock up?  Which teams stock down?
  • What did we learn from first 2 weeks of Sunshine State Conference play?

In the Circle Podcast  Episode 10

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Mary Nutter, Citrus Classic Previews


On this edition of In The Circle podcast, Eric Lopez and Victor Anderson recap the wild first weekend of the college softball season and previewed Mary Nutter Tournament in Palm Springs as well as the ACC/Big 10 Challenge in Tallahassee and the Michelle Smith Tournament in Clearwater. Lopez and Anderson also talked about the Oregon-Louisiana Lafayette 3 game set this weekend as well as the Citrus Tournament at the Wide World of Sports which features games in D1 and D2.

Among the topics discussed on the podcast include :

  • Auburn being a legit National Title Contender?.
  • What to expect in ACC/Big 10 Challenge
  • What to expect in Michelle Smith Inv in Clearwater
  • Cheridan Hawkins vs Lexie Elkins
  • Mary Nutter Outlook
  • Citrus Tournament games outlook with D1 and D2 games being played

In the Circle Podcast : Week 2 College Softball Preview

Mary Nutter Classic Tournament Schedule :  All Games on FloSoftball.com

2016 MNCClassic II Final schedule New 10-27-15 for the web_001



NCAA Softball Games on ESPN3
2/19 11:00 AM EST  Nebraska-Omaha vs. Georgia (Disney)

2/19 1:15 PM EST  Missouri vs. Jacksonville State (Disney)

2/19  3:30 PM EST   UAB vs. Florida (Disney)

2/19  4:30 PM EST   Nebraska vs. North Carolina State

2/19 5:00 PM EST  UNC Greensboro vs. South Carolina

2/195:45 PM EST   Rollins vs. North Georgia (Disney)

2/19  6:30 PM EST   Ohio State vs. Georgia Tech

2/19 6:30 PM EST    Michigan vs. Florida State (ACC/BIG 10)

2/20  1230pm  EST    Ohio vs South Carolina

2/20    5pm   EST      Michigan vs Florida State (ACC/BIG)

2/20    5pm EST     Nebraska vs. North Carolina State

2/20    730pm EST   Wisconsin vs. North Carolina State

2/20   730pm  EST   Minnesota vs Florida State ( ACC/Big 10)

2/21    11:00 AM EST  Penn State vs. Jacksonville

2/21     1230pm EST   Wisconsin vs. North Carolina State

2/21      1230pm EST  Longwood vs. South Carolina

2/21       1230pm EST  Minnesota vs. Florida State (ACC/Big 10)

2/21         3pm EST   Winthrop vs. South Carolina

Check out schedule for Michelle Smith Tournament Here.

Check out details for ACC/Big 10 Challenge in Tallahassee Here.

Early Look at 2016 NPF Draft


On this edition of In The Circle podcast, Eric Lopez and Victor Anderson talked to Justin McCleod of Justin’sWorld about who are some of the key players in the college game that the NPF teams are looking at closely for the 2016 NPF College Draft which will take place on April 14th at 8pm on CBS Sports Network. The  eleventh annual collegiate draft for the NPF  will be held at the Country Music Hall of Fame and Museum in Downtown Nashville.

Among the topics discussed on the podcast include :

  • The Impact of Team USA Softball and NPF working together.
  • Who is best player projected in the Draft?
  • Who are the top pitchers in this year’s Draft ?

In the Circle Podcast : Early Look at 2016 NPF Draft

Some of the players  to watch include  Sierra Romero ( Michigan), Kelsey Stewart (Florida), Lexi Elkins (University of Louisiana), Alex Hugo (Georgia) and Haley McCleney (Alabama).  Among the top pitchers to be considered in this year’s draft are Cheridan Hawkins (Oregon), Kelsey Nunley (Kentucky), Kelsey Stevens (Oklahoma) and Shelby Turnier (UCF).  The Pennsylvania Rebellion currently holds the No. 1 pick.

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Gators Season Outlook with Adam Schick

Adam Schick Been part of Gators Softball radio broadcast since 2008

On this edition of In the Circle, Eric Lopez and Victor Anderson talk to the radio voice of the Florida Gators Softball program, Adam Schick about the upcoming Gators 2016 season. Schick been part of the Gators broadcast since 2008 discussed the following .

  • The growth of the Gators program since 2008
  • How the Gators won the last 2 national titles.
  • How do the Gators replace National Player of the Year Lauren Haeger?
  • Who are some of the  Gators players to look for in 2016
  •  Outlook of the SEC

In the Circle Podcast  Interview with Adam Schick  

You can watch Gators Head Coach Tim Walton Talk about the Gators 2016 season right here courtesy of FloridaGators.com

Tim Walton Been Head Coach at Florida since 2006

Last season,  Florida went 60-7 and won its second-straight NCAA Championship. The Gators reached the 60-win plateau for just the third time in school history.The Gators are looking to become the first team since UCLA (1988-1990) to three-peat as National Champions.

Kelsey Stewart

Florida returns 12 players, including All-America first team infielder and the reigning SEC Player of the Year Kelsey Stewart, All-America third team pitcher  Aleshia Ocasio and All-Region first team outfielder Kirsti Merritt. In addition, Florida’s roster boasts seven freshmen including pitcher Kelly Barnhill. Barnhill is regarded as the number one recruit in the country and possibly the best recruit to come to Gainesville. Barnhill threw 22 no-hitters during her high school career, including one in the Georgia Class 6A state title game and another when she struck out all 21 batters she faced. She’s already been selected for the 2016 U.S. National Team, making her the second-youngest player ever chosen.

You can watch Ocasio and Barnhill talk about the season right here courtesy of FloridaGators.com

2016 SEC Softball Preseason Coaches’ Poll
(First-Place Votes in Parentheses)

Place School Points
1. Florida (10) 142
2. LSU (3) 128
3. Auburn 121
4. Alabama 113
5. Tennessee 102
6. Georgia 85
7. Missouri 82
8. Kentucky 59
9. Texas A&M 58
10. Mississippi State 45
11. South Carolina 40
12. Ole Miss 27
13. Arkansas 12
2016 Preseason All-SEC Softball Team
Emily Carosone Auburn IF Sr. 5-4 Orlando, Fla.
Kasey Cooper Auburn IF Jr. 5-4 Dothan, Ala.
Kelsey Stewart Florida IF Sr. 5-6 Wichita, Kan.
Alex Hugo Georgia IF Sr. 5-8 Olathe, Kan.
Bianka Bell LSU IF Sr. 5-5 Tampa, Fla.
Haylie McCleney Alabama OF Sr. 5-4 Morris, Ala.
Tiffany Howard Auburn OF Sr. 5-5 Pembroke, Ga.
Kirsti Merritt Florida OF Sr. 5-4 Lake Panasoffkee, Fla.
Alaynie Page South Carolina OF Sr. 5-6 Boiling Springs, S.C.
Alexis Osorio Alabama P So. 5-8 Riverside, Calif.
Kelsey Nunley Kentucky P Sr. 5-10 Soddy Daisy, Tenn.
Carley Hoover LSU P So. 6-2 Clemson, S.C.
Aubree Munro Florida C Sr. 5-10 Brea, Calif.
Rainey Gaffin Tennessee DP/UT Sr. 5-10 Thornton, Colo.

Listen to Gators Softball  with Adam Schick and former Gator All-American player Megan Bush all season long on FloridaGators.com 

Listen to Adam Schick on his weekly radio show “The Tailgate” on ESPN Gainesville 95.3 FM 4-6pm.

Listen to Adam Schick host GatorTales Podcast on FloridaGators.com

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Ken Eriksen Previews USF Season


South Florida’s Ken Eriksen has been USF Head Coach since 1997

Eric Lopez and Victor Anderson talk to South Florida’ Head Coach Ken Eriksen about the Bulls 2016 season. Among the topics Eriksen talked about include :

  • Who are some of the players to look for this season at USF?
  • Breaking down USF’s schedule
  • Outlook for the AAC in 2016
  • Impact new Asst Coach Jessica Moore will have on program
  • Chances of Softball getting back to the Olympics in 2020?

Interview with Ken Eriksen 

2016 American Athletic Conference Softball Preseason Coaches’ Poll

School Points
1. UCF (4) 33
2. Tulsa (2) 31
3. Houston (1) 27
4. USF 23
5. East Carolina 12
6. Memphis 11
7. UConn 10

The Bulls offense will be led by Catcher/Outfielder Lee Ann Spivey. Spivey hit ten homeruns and drove in 52 runs last season for South Florida. Infielder Kristen Wyckoff is going to be another key player to watch as Wyckoff led the Bulls in runs scored with 45 as well as stolen bases with 25. Junior  Juli Weber also will be a big part of the offense as Weber won AAC Freshman of the Year and was first team all-AAC in 2014. In 2015 Weber scored 28 runs which was a career high.

On the Pitching Staff the Bulls will led by senior  Eric Nunn as well as well as Emily Gaitan who joins South Florida after transferring from Ole Miss.

Ken Eriksen Been Head Coach of Team USA since 2011

Coaching the Bulls pitching staff is 1st year asst coach at USF , Jessica Moore. Moore comes over after coaching 1 season as an asst coach at Idaho State. Moore is a former Oregon all-american pitches for Eriksen on Team USA. Eriksen has been the head coach for the U.S. Women’s National Team since 2011.

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Big 12 Outlook


Oklahoma begins life without Lauren Chamberlain and Shelby Pendley who are in the NPF with the USSSA Pride. Is this the year the Sooners will get knock off for the Big 12 championship or will ace pitcher Paige Parker keep the Sooners on top of the Big 12?

Lauren Chamberlain & Shelby Pendley

Eric Lopez & Victor Anderson talked to Justin McCleod’s of Justin’s World about the outlook for the Big 12. Among the topics discussed included.

  • How will Oklahoma look without Chamberlain and Pendley?
  • What impact will Kelsee Selman have on Baylor after coming over from LSU?
  • Is Baylor a legit contender for the Women’s College World Series?
  • How will Sydney Romero do at Oklahoma?
  • Is Texas headed for a down season?
  • Could Oklahoma State suprise under new Head Coach Kenny Gajewski?

In the Circle : Big 12 Preview. 

2016 Big 12 Softball Preseason Poll

Rank Team Points
1. Oklahoma (5) 35
2. Baylor (2) 32
3. Texas 26
4. Kansas 20
 5. Oklahoma State 14
6. Texas Tech 13
7. Iowa State 7

Players to Watch according to Justin McCleod:
Kelsee Selman, Baylor – The former LSU hurler transferred to the Bears in the offseason and will be eligible to play immediately. While senior Heather Stearns is the undoubted ace of the Baylor staff, Selman will provide a nice compliment and the back end of an effective 1-2 punch. She figures to get plenty more than the fifteen appearances and fifty-seven innings she amassed at LSU last season as the #4 member of that staff.
Sydney Romero, Oklahoma – The younger sister of Michigan senior superstar Sierra, Sydney impressed in the fall season and she has the potential to be a quality infielder and help make up for the afore-mentioned losses of Pendley and Chamberlain.
Tiffany Mikkelson, Oklahoma State – ‘A career year’ indeed described Mikkelson’s 2015 season, when she hit .361/13/46 with a slugging percentage of .722. She finished in the conference’s top-ten in five categories, including total bases and on-base percentage, as well as walks, RBI, and slugging percentage. Under a new coaching regime and in her swan song season, Mikkelson’s game-changing capabilities will come in handy for Kenny Gajewski and I figure her to have another heavy-hitting season and a repeat of all-conference and all-region honors after the campaign’s completion.

Eric Lopez’s NCAA Tournament Projections for Big 12 – 4 Teams





ACC Preview

Big 10 Preview

Pac 12 Preview

SEC Preview

American Conference & Mid Majors

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USA Softball Player of The Year Preview


On this edition of In The Circle Podcast, Eric Lopez & Victor Anderson prevew the USA Softball Player of the Year Top 50 ” Watch List”

In The Circle Podcast : College Softball Player of The Year Preview

The pre-season “Watch List” includes 25 seniors, 15 juniors and 10 sophomores, with freshman ineligible for consideration. (Freshman can be considered for the USA Softball Collegiate Player of the Year award once they have competed at the collegiate level).  Athletes named to the “Watch List” represent 35 NCAA Division I universities and 15 athletic conferences. Georgia, LSU and Michigan lead the way among universities with three athlete representatives each, while Alabama, Auburn, California, Florida, James Madison, Louisiana-Lafayette, Oklahoma, Oregon and UCLA have two athletes on the “Watch List” apiece.  The Southeastern Conference (SEC) is also well represented among the Top 50 “Watch List” with eight member-schools represented with the Pac-12 Conference represented by six universities.

Previous recipients of the USA Softball Collegiate Player of the Year award, the most prestigious individual honor in NCAA Division I Softball, are UCLA catcher Stacey Nuveman (2002), Texas pitcher Cat Osterman (2003, 2005 and 2006), Florida State pitcher Jessica Van der Linden (2004), Tennessee pitcher Monica Abbott (2007), Virginia Tech pitcher Angela Tincher (2008), Washington pitcher Danielle Lawrie (2009 and 2010), Stanford shortstop Ashley Hansen (2011), Oklahoma’s Keilani Ricketts (2012 and 2013), Florida State’s Lacey Waldrop (2014) and Florida’s Lauren Haeger (2015).

2016 USA Softball Collegiate Player of the Year Top 50 “Watch List”

Ali Aguilar
Infield – Junior

Annie Aldrete
Catcher – Junior

Bianka Bell
Infield – Senior

Allexis Bennett
Outfield – Senior

Megan Betsa
Pitcher – Junior

Kayla Bonstrom
Infield – Senior

Elena Bowman
Catcher – Senior

Kristen Brown
North Carolina
Infield – Senior

Kacie Burnett
Idaho State
Outfield – Junior

Jessica Burroughs
Florida State
Pitcher – Junior

Emily Carosone
Infield – Senior

Kelly Christner
Outfield – Junior

Kasey Cooper
Infield – Junior

Emily Crane
Outfield – Senior

Ivie Drake
Georgia State
Catcher – Sophomore

Lexie Elkins
Catcher – Senior

Cortni Emanuel
Infield – Sophomore

Jailyn Ford
James Madison
Pitcher – Senior

Shelby Friudenberg
Infield – Sophomore

Rainey Gaffin
Utility – Senior

Megan Good
James Madison
Pitcher – Sophomore

Sara Groenewegen
Pitcher – Junior

Kylee Hanson
Florida Atlantic
Pitcher – Junior

Cheridan Hawkins
Pitcher – Senior

Carly Hoover
Pitcher – Sophomore

Alex Hugo
Infield – Senior

Jazmyn Jackson
Outfield – Sophomore

Bailey Landry
Outfield – Junior

Shellie Landry
Outfield – Senior

Jenna Lilley
Infield – Sophomore

Katiyana Mauga
Infield – Junior

Haylie McCleney
Outfield – Senior

Erin Miller
Outfield – Senior

Aubree Munro
Catcher- Senior

Alexis Osorio
Pitcher – Sophomore

Alaynie Page
South Carolina
Outfield – Senior

Paige Parker
Pitcher – Sophomore

Erika Piancastelli
McNeese State
Catcher – Sophomore

Sierra Romero
Infield – Senior

Lexi Shubert
USC Upstate
Pitcher – Sophomore

Delaney Spaulding
Infield – Junior

Lindsey Stephens
Outfield – Senior

Kelsey Stewart
Infield – Senior

Kiki Stokes
Outfield – Senior

Missy Taukeiaho
Cal State Fullerton
Infield – Senior

Shelby Turnier
Pitcher – Senior

Karley Wester
Notre Dame
Outfield – Junior

Chelsea Wilkinson
Pitcher – Senior

Torrian Wright
Savannah State
Infield – Senior

Morgan Zerkle
Outfield – Junior

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NFCA D2 Player of The Year Preview


On This edition of In The Circle Podcast, Eric Lopez and Victor Anderson previewed the D1 and D2 Softball Player of the Year lists.

In The Circle Podcast : College Softball Player of the Year Preview

The D2 NFCA Top 50 Player of the Year Watch list came out .Headlining the list are 23 returning NFCA All-Americans, nine from the first team, including 2015 Player and Freshman of the Year recipients, Courtney Poole of North Georgia and Janessa Bassett from Dixie State, respectively.

In all, the group consists of 24 seniors, 14 juniors and 12 sophomores, representing 37 programs from 18 different conferences. Ten programs garnered multiple candidates with Valdosta State, West Virginia Wesleyan and California (Pa.) boasting three representatives apiece. Dixie State, Wayne State (Mich.), Cal State Monterey Bay, Humboldt State, University of Missouri-St. Louis, West Texas A&M and Azusa Pacific earned two nods apiece.

The Peach Belt (Armstrong State, Montevallo, North Georgia, Young Harris) and Lone Star (Angelo State, Cameron, Tarleton State and West Texas A&M) Conferences have representation from four programs. The Great Lakes Valley (Bellarmine, Indianapolis, UMSL) and Gulf South (UAH, Shorter, Valdosta State) Conferences have three schools on the list.



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AAC and Mid Major Conference Outlook


On this edition of In The Circle podcast, Eric Lopez and Victor Anderson talk to Justin McCleod of Justin’s World about the upcoming season in the American Conference as well discussions on other mid major teams. Among topics discussed

  • Who can knock off UCF in American Conference?
  • Can South Florida and Tulsa get back to NCAA Tournament?
  • Which mid-major team is a sleeper for Oklahoma City?
  • Whats the outlook of James Madison and Louisiana Lafayette?

In The Circle Podcast : American Conference outlook and Mid-Major Teams talk

Check out Justin’s World previews of American East, Big Sky, Big South, Horizon League, Ivy League, MEAC, and MAAC as well as the Patriot League, Northeast, So Con, Summit, SWAC, WAC, and WCC Conferences. Check every conference preview by Justin McCleod right here.

2016 American Athletic Conference Softball Preseason Coaches’ Poll

School Points
1. UCF (4) 33
2. Tulsa (2) 31
3. Houston (1) 27
4. USF 23
5. East Carolina 12
6. Memphis 11
7. UConn 10

Players to Watch:

  • Shelby Turnier- UCF– Turnier led the NCAA with a 0.87 ERA last season edging out her teammate Mackenzie Audas who had 0.95 . Turnier had a  record-breaking season for the Knights by going 25-8 with 268 strikeouts on her way to winning the 2015 American Athletic Conference Pitcher of the Year and  being named to the 2015 NFCA Division I All-America First Team. Turnier finished last season as a top ten finalist for USA Softball Player of the Year award and was named last week to the Top 50 watch list for the award for the upcoming season.
  •  Caitlin Sill, Tulsa – Despite a record just under .500 a year ago, Sill enjoyed the best season of her career in 2015. With a 2.65 career ERA and opponents hitting below .240 against her the past two seasons, she stands with a golden opportunity to finish her career in the circle stellarly. Her strikeout/walk ratio could use improvement, but there are otherwise few complaints about her skill set.
  •  Emily Gaitan, South Florida – In an abbreviated non-conference campaign with the SEC’s Ole Miss a year ago, Gaitan impressed, putting together a sub-2.00 ERA and an 8-2 record. In 2014, her only full season as a Rebel, opponents hit .235 against her and she published a 3.93 ERA in seventy-three innings. In a decidedly-lower level of competition in moving from the SEC to the AAC, she could enjoy similar statistics in an elevated amount of work.


2016 Sun Belt Conference Preseason Poll (First Place Votes)                            
1. UL Lafayette (8) – 98 pts
2. South Alabama (1) – 90 pts
3. Georgia State – 74 pts
4. Texas State – 71 pts
5. Troy – 66 pts
6. UL Monroe – 56 pts
7. UT Arlington – 46 pts
8. Georgia Southern – 38 pts
9. Appalachian State – 28 pts

 Sun Belt Softball Preseason All-Conference Team
Taylor Rogers, Georgia Southern, Junior, Outfield
Taylor Anderson, Georgia State, Senior, Shortstop
Ivie Drake, Georgia State, Sophomore, Catcher
Devin Brown, South Alabama, Sophomore, Pitcher
Emily Messer, South Alabama, Senior, Third Base
Stephanie Pilkington, South Alabama, Senior, Outfield
Randi Rupp, Texas State, Sophomore, Pitcher
Kendall Wiley, Texas State, Senior, First Base
Lexie Elkins, UL Lafayette, Senior, Catcher
Haley Hayden, UL Lafayette, Junior, Second Base
Shellie Landry, UL Lafayette, Senior, Outfield
DJ Sanders, UL Lafayette, Sophomore, Shortstop
Kelsey Vincent, UL Lafayette, Senior, First Base
Rochelle Roberts, UL Monroe, Junior, Outfield
Mya Anderson, UT Arlington, Senior, Designated Player

Preseason Student-Athlete of the Year
Lexie Elkins, UL Lafayette, Catcher, Senior

Preseason Pitcher of the Year
Randi Rupp, Texas State, Pitcher, Sophomore

Players to Watch

  •  Lexie Elkins– the two-time reigning Sun Belt Player of the Year (2014, 2015) is returning for her senior season behind the plate for the Cajuns. She was named as the First Team All-American and Diamond Sports/NFCA Division I Catcher of the Year in 2015 after posting a .541 batting average. She generated a school-record 32 home runs, which led all levels of collegiate softball and tied for second on the NCAA all-division single-season list. Elkins also led the nation in RBI’s per game with an average of 1.54, recording 53 in league play. Recording 20 homeruns in 2015, she upped her career total to 11 multiple-home run games.
  •  Randi Rupp was named the 2016 Sun Belt Preseason Pitcher of the Year. As a freshman, Rupp quickly made her mark by leading the league in strikeouts with 293. She was named First-Team All-Sun Belt Conference last season, as well as to the NFCA All-Region Second-Team under the coaching from Asst Coach Cat Osterman.


2016 CAA Softball Coaches’ Predicted Order of Finish
1. James Madison (56 points)
2. Hofstra (49)
3. College of Charleston (39)
4. Elon (38)
5. Towson (37)
6. Delaware (24)
7. UNCW (19)
8. Drexel (16)
Players to Watch:
– Jailyn Ford, James Madison –Ford has helped put JMU on the national map and made herself virtually a household name, an almost-unheard of feat coming from a small mid-major. Twice an all-American and a former conference Pitcher and Player of the Year, she is simply a sensational player. Especially when coupled with sophomore Megan Good both in the circle and at the plate, Ford packs a dangerous, deadly punch both in the circle and at the plate.
– Caryn Bailey, Hofstra – Bailey earned National Player of the Week honors the first week of May last season after batting .667 with four home runs and eight RBI in the conference tournament. The performance was an opportunity for her to receive national acclaim, but followed up much of the same that she had been doing throughout the season. Ending the campaign with a .386/16/52 slash line and a .737 slugging percentage, Bailey played a hueg role in the Pride’s success a year ago and figures to do the same in 2016. A senior, look for her swan song to be a memorable one.
Eric Lopez’s NCAA Tournament Projections 
American – UCF, Tulsa, South Florida
Sun Belt – Louisiana Lafayette, South Alabama
CAA- James Madison, Hofstra
A-Sun- USC Upstate, Lipcomb
A-10- Fordham
Big East- St John’s
Big West- Long Beach State, Cal State Fullerton
CUSA- Florida Atlantic, UAB, Marshall
MAC- Kent State
MVC- Missouri State
Mountain West- Fresno State, San Diego State
OVC- Tennessee Tech
Southland- Northwestern State 
MEAC- Bethune Cookman
IVY- Dartmouth
Horizon- Oakland
Big South- Coastal Carolina
Big Sky- Weber State
American East- Stony Brook
WAC- New Mexico State
SWAC- Texas Southern
Summit- North Dakota State
Southern- Chattanoga
Patriot- Bucknell
Northeast- St Francis 
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Renee Luers Gillispie Talks UCF Season

Renee Luers-Gillispie enters her 15th season at UCF. Photo Courtesy of UCF Athletics.

Eric Lopez previews the 2016 UCF Softball season with Head Coach Renee Luers Gillispie on the ” SportstalkFlorida Insiders Show” on Sportstalk 1080am Orlando from Saturday. Gillispie, who is entering her 15th season at UCF, talked to Lopez about the following in the interview.

  • The impact of the succesful 2015 season on and off the field.
  • Outlook of the 2016 season
  • Who are some of the players to look for this season?
  •  The Expectations of Shelby Turnier
  • Breaking down UCF’s schedule which includes 8 teams in Top 25 in first two weeks of season
  •  The Outlook for the AAC in 2016

Listen to Interview with Renee Luers Gillispie from “SportstalkFlorida Insiders Show”

The Knights are coming off a season where they won a program record 50 games in going 50-9 on their way to winning the AAC Regular season championship and Conference Tournament at home on a walk-off Homerun by Samantha McCloskey.

The Knights made it to the NCAA Tournament regional final in Tallahassee before losing to Florida State. UCF finished the season ranked 16th in the national polls which was the first time the Knights finished the season ranked in the top 25. This season UCF starts the year ranked 17th in the preseason polls returns 16 players from the team, including First team All-American pitcher Shelby Turnier.

Shelby Turnier is UCF’s first ever All-American  and USA Softball Player of the Year candidate.

Turnier led the NCAA with a 0.87 ERA last season edging out her teammate Mackenzie Audas who had 0.95 . Turnier had a  record-breaking season for the Knights by going 25-8 with 268 strikeouts on her way to winning the 2015 American Athletic Conference Pitcher of the Year and  being named to the 2015 NFCA Division I All-America First Team.

Turnier finished last season as a top ten finalist for USA Softball Player of the Year award and was named last week to the Top 50 watch list for the award for the upcoming season.

The question will be back who will pitch behind Turnier as the Knights dont have Mackenzie Audas who graduated as the Knights all-time leader in Wins, Strikeouts and No Hitters in a career. Audas finished behind Turnier in the NCAA with 0.95 ERA while going 24-1 and made Academic All-American Team.  The combo of Turnier and Audas helped UCF finish No 1 in the country in ERA (0.93) as a staff.

The Knights bring back veteran seniors Jamie Ujvari and Mackenzie Huhn who were part of the Knights 2014,2015 American Conference championships to the pitching staff while also adding Manami Calixto  who comes to UCF  after two successful seasons at Miami Dade College. The Curitiba, Brazil, native  Calixto was named FCSAA Pitcher of the Year twice and earned NJCAA First Team All-America and Pitcher of the Year honors. Calixto was a member of the 2010 Brazil National World Cup Championship team.


On offense the Knights will be led by 2015 AAC Player of the Year, Jessica Ujvari as well as  Samantha McCloskey, who hit the game-winning walk-off home run against Tulsa in the AAC Championship along with  Kalyn Cenal, whose 11 home runs were the most in a single season since 2005.

Juniors  Linnea Goodman and Brittany Solis were all-conference and NFCA  all-region selections last season will help set the table for the power hitters. The Knights will have to replace starting third baseman Farrah Sullivan who won AAC 2014 Player of the Year, starting second base Kahley Novak who is the progam all-time leader in stolen bases and plays in the NPF with the Dallas Charge as well starting center field Maddy Schroeder who was all-conference last season.

UCF will face eight of their ranked opponents in the first 12 games including facing No. 5 Alabama (Feb 12) in the third game of the season at the UCF Softball complex, and No. 19 James Madison (Feb 13) in the fifth game of the 2016 campaign.

In total the Knights have 14 teams that are ranked or receiving votes in the USA Today/NFCA preseason poll on the 2016 schedule including six Top 10 teams on the preseason poll. UCF will Host 4 teams in the top ten ,No. 1 Florida (April 6) , No. 4 Auburn (Feb 17), No. 5 Alabama (Feb 12), No. 10 Florida State (March 29) at the UCF Softball Complex.

UCF are the favorites in the American in 2016.Photo by Romeo Guzman of Sanford Herald.

The Knights are favorites to three-peat as AAC Regular season champions by the American conference coaches.

2016 American Athletic Conference Softball Preseason Coaches’ Poll

School Points
1. UCF (4) 33
2. Tulsa (2) 31
3. Houston (1) 27
4. USF 23
5. East Carolina 12
6. Memphis 11
7. UConn 10

(First-place votes in parentheses)

Listen to Interview with Renee Luers Gillispie from Feb 6th edition of SportstalkFlorida Insiders Show on Sportstalk 1080am Orlando.

You can listen and watch UCF Softball games on UCFKnights.com starting February 11.

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