Jenn Salling Talks Washington Softball

On this edition of In The Circle, Eric Lopez talks with  Graduate Asst Manager Jenn Salling who played at Washington being part of the Huskies 2009 National Championship team.

Among the topics Salling discussed in the interview include :

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Jenn Salling played in the NPF from 2011-2014 winning NPF Championship with the USSSA Pride in 2013. (Photo Courtesy of USSSA)
  • Outlook for the 2017 Huskies
  • What got Salling into coaching?
  • Being part of 2009 National Championship team
  • Playing with Danielle Lawrie
  • Being part of Canadian National team
  • Playing in the NPF
  • Softball back in the Olympics

Jenn Salling Interview

Salling joined the Huskies program as a player  on April 2, 2009 after transferring from Oregon. Salling  started every game at shortstop to help Washington win their first National Championship in program history.

In  2010, Salling earned first team NFCA/Louisville Slugger All-America, All-Pacific Region and All-Pac-10 honors. She was named a top-25 finalist for the USA Softball Collegiate Player of the Year.

As a senior in 2011, Salling  earned Pac-10 Defensive Player of the Year and left Washington ranked in the Husky career records for batting average (T-10, .342), triples (T-eighth, 7), slugging percentage (ninth, .543),  on-base percentage (fifth, .474).

Salling would go on to play in the NPF as Salling was selected 3rd overall in the 2011 NPF Draft by the USSSA Pride where Salling played with from 2011-2013. Salling was part of the Pride’s 2013 NPF Championship.  Salling played 2014 season with the Pennsylvania Rebellion.

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Salling is part of Canadian Softball team. Been involved since 2006 (Photo Courtesy of Canada Softball)

Salling left the NPF after 2014 season. Salling decided to return to Washington  joining the coaching staff as its graduate assistant coach in the fall of 2015. Salling still plays as a member of the Canadian National Team which she has been involved with since 2006. Salling was part of Canadian National team that participated in Summer Olympics in Beijing in 2008. Among the highlights of her career with Canada, Salling   won the gold medal in the 2015 Pan American Games.

Washington coming off a 2016 season where the Huskies finished 39-15 advancing to the Super Regionals before falling at Alabama. The Husky program is celebrating their 25th season as an NCAA sport under 13th year head coach Heather Tarr as they enter the 2017 season.

The Huskies offense will be led by  Ali Aguilar,Casey Stangel and Taylor Van Zee.

Washington’s pitching will be led by duo of Madi Schreyer and Taran Alvelo in the circle.

For more on the Washington Huskies softball program. Go to GoHuskies.com  and follow on twitter @UWSoftball.

 

 

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Auburn Back to WCWS

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Eric Lopez and Victor Anderson talk to the radio voice of Auburn Softball Brit Bowen who joined the guys from Oklahoma City talked about the Auburn Tigers making it back to the Women’s College World Series for the second consecutive season. Last season Auburn made the Women’s College World Series for the first time in program history. This season with high expectations the Tigers under Clint Myers in his 3rd season at Auburn return to OKC.

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Clint Myers taking Auburn to 2 WCWS appearances in 3 seasons

Bowen  in his 5th season as the Softball radio voice, recap the Tigers 2016 season as well as gave the keys to the Tigers season and among the topics discussed included :

  • Auburn coming from behind to Beat Arizona in Super Regional
  • How has the Auburn program changed since Clint Myers arrival?
  • Whats the difference between 2015 vs 2016?
  • Thoughts on SEC representing the WCWS with 4 teams
  • Impact Kasey Cooper and Emily Carosone have made to program?

Brit Bowen on the Auburn Tigers in the Women’s College World Series.

  • You can also check out Oklahoma WCWS Preview in Interview with former Sooners Catcher  Jessica Shults who was part of Oklahoma National Championship in 2013 right here.
  • You can also check out Women’s College World Series preview in Interview with ESPN and Big 10 TV Anaylst Jennie Ritter who was part of Michigan National championship in 2005. Ritter breaks down WCWS and discusses Michigan chances. You can listen to Interview right here.
  •  You can listen to In The Circle WCWS Preview Podcast right here.

 

 

Super Regional Recap, WCWS Preview

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On this edition of In The Circle, Eric Lopez and Victor Anderson break down the Super Regionals as well as look ahead to the Women’s College World Series. Among the topics the guys discussed included should Oregon’s  Head Coach Mike White brought in Cheridan Hawkins in Game 2 vs UCLA? Also the guys talked about

  • Georgia- Florida Super Regional
  • Lonni Alameda bringing FSU back to WCWS
  • Beth Torina taking LSU to WCWS coming from behind against James Madison
  •  Oklahoma, Michigan, Auburn, UCLA, and Alabama Super Regional wins
  • Who the favorite in Oklahoma City?

In The Circle Podcast : Super Regional Recap and WCWS Preview 

  • You can also listen to our interview with former Michigan All-American and National Champion Jennie Ritter who TV analyst for ESPN and Big Ten Network who broke down Georgia win over Florida, Previewed the WCWS, and talked about the Michigan program.
  • You can also listen to our interview with former Oklahoma Catcher National Champion Jessica Shults about the Sooners making it to the Women’s College World Series and reflecting on being part of 2013 National Championship team.

 

 

UCF vs Houston Softball Rivalry

Another chapter in the rivalry between UCF and Houston will be written in Houston this weekend 10 years after it wrote the first chapter.  Houston and UCF have met 31 times including three times in conference tournaments including 1 classic championship game in Houston 8 years ago. UCF and Houston have met with Conference Championships implications or post season implications. Houston-UCF have provided many memorable games since the rivalry began 10 years ago with the first ever meeting. Over the 10 years, Both UCF and Houston have had memorable games with memorable players from both programs  which included one of greatest individual rivalries in College Softball history.

March 25, 2006 : Start of a Rivalry: At the start it didn’t look like much of a rivalry  as the Cougars swept UCF in Orlando. Houston Ace Angel Shamblin a then sophomore won all 3 games including the 2nd game in relief pitching3.1 innings in relief as Houston beat the Knights 3-2 in 11 innings. Allison Kime pitched 11 innings in defeat. It would be the start of one of the great intense personal rivalries between two of the greatest players i both program history.

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Angel Shamblin at 2007 CUSA Tournament in Orlando Courtesy of UCFSports.com

Playing against UCF was always going to be a good series.” said Shamblin who knew Kime as both had the same personal pitching coach in Kaci Clark. “Against Kime You always had to bring your best game and compete hard pitch for pitch… Kime was a competitor, she never backed down…”

April 21, 2007 : Shamblin Takes Kime Deep: The Cougars would sweep UCF in Houston in a big 3 game series in the Knights first ever trip to Houston. The tone was set in Game 1 when Shamblin hit a Homerunoff Kime to LF in the 4th inning as the Cougars would dominate the weekend.

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Houston wins 2007 CUSA Title at UCF.

May 10, 2007 : First Postseason Meeting: UCF hosted 2007 CUSA Tournament. A double-elimination format at the time. UCF won earlier in the day over Marshall setting up a showdown with regular season champion Houston. With Kime having started the Marshall game earlier in the day, It meant that then Freshman pitcher Ashleigh Cole would get the ball against the CUSA 2-time pitcher of the year winner Angel Shamblin. The Cougars would edge out the Knights 2-1 on an RBI single by Haley Valis in the 6th inning for the win.Shamblin would break Houston all-time record for strikeouts in a career.  Houston would go on to win CUSA Championship over East Carolina as Shamblin went 3-0 in the tournament to win Tournament MVP.

“Winning the CUSA championship at UCF was a memorable one for me, not only was it the first in school history but it was in my home state (Davie, Florida) “. Shamblin said.

April 6, 2008 : Kime Takes Shamblin Deep , Turns Rivalry Around: UCF hosted 9th rank Houston in showdown of top 2 teams in CUSA. The big question would be could UCF beat Houston, after all the Cougars had won all previous seven meetings coming into the weekend. That would not change in game 1 of series as Shamblin and Houston beat UCF in Game 1 of series. Mother nature suspended Game 2 to following day where UCF jump out early with a 5 run 1st inning which allowed Allison Kime to come in relief but it would be her bat that would make the biggest statement as Kime went 3 for 3 at the plate including a solo homerun off her rival Shamblin in the 3rd inning. The Knights would hold on to knock off Houston 6-4.

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UCF Wins CUSA Title in 2008 in Houston

“Shamblin was always tough and anytime I was facing her I had to bring my A game if we had even a chance at winning” said Kime of her rival Shamblin who both batted as well as pitched against each other throughout both careers.

May 10, 2008 : CUSA Championship Game: The most anticipated CUSA Championship Game in CUSA history as Houston and UCF met in Houston for the title. Shamblin vs Kime for the last time in both brilliant college career and it would be Kime winning the final chapter of the rivalry with the help of Freshman Tiffany Lane who would go on to win CUSA Tournament MVP with Game winning 2 run homer in the top of 6th as UCF wins the title 4-2.

“Playing Houston was always tough that year and when we beat them in 2008 it was a huge accomplishment for us”. said Kime who beat Houston twice in 2008 season including the championship game in Houston. “We got swept by them I think most series’s and being that we were in the championship game I wanted nothing more than to win! It was my first time ever winning a tournament that big and it would be the second in program history!”

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Kime would get the best of Shamblin in the final meeting  between the rivals at 2008 CUSA Championship Game in Houston

Kime would lead the Knights into the Gainesville regional where the Knights would beat USF 3-2 thanks to Kime’s 2 RBI triple in 6th inning and then a walk off hit win over number 1 rank Florida snapping the Gators 37 straight wins and 41 in a row in Gainesville. Shamblin would lead Houston to regional championship win at home with a 2-1 win over Washingtonbefore losing in three games to Lousiana-Lafayette in the Super Regionals.

“They were two kids who brought the intangible part of this sport more than most.” Said Kaci Clark-Zerbie on Kime and Shamblin.  “They both defined the term “gamer” and were spectacular at finding ways to win.  They could both beat you with whatever they had going for them on any given day, even when it wasn’t all of their good stuff. Those two brought the game in their bags every time they showed up to play!”

The 2008 CUSA Championship would not be the only championship Kime would get as she did something Shamblin could not do which is win a Pro Championship as Kime won the NPFChampionship in 2009 with Cat Osterman and the Rockford Thunder.

Although the Kime-Shamblin rivalry was complete. The individual rivalry  set the tone for  future games between the schools  and would have an impact on the rivalry for years to come especially with  one future key player of the rivalry. “Kaci  definently mention both of them to me!” said Mackenzie Audas (2012-2015 at UCF) who like Kime and Shamblin had Kaci Clark as a personal pitching coach. ” She loved them as players and people and was proud of their accomplishments. I remember after telling Kaci I wanted to go to UCF, she said I reminded her of Allison.”

March 21, 2010 : Barrow Walk Off Homer: Both UCF and Houston had to transition from not having best players in program history (Shamblin,Kime) in 2009. Both programs bounced back and pick up the rivalry in 2010 where it left off in 2008. Then senior Hillary Barrow hit one of more memorable regular season home runs in program history with a walk off solo home run to LF in the bottom of the 9th inning with mist rain drops to complete a UCF sweep over Houston the series with a 1-0 win in the finale.Ashleigh Cole outdueled Amanda Crabtree in great pitcher duel in the mist rain. It was the first UCF not only won a series from Houston but also sweeping them. UCF would end up finishing 2nd in CUSA and got to CUSA Championship game in Houston where they would lose to East Carolina. The Knights would get into the NCAA Tournament for the first time as an at-large team.

Check out highlights below of the series sweep including Barrow Homerun starting at the 5 minute and 3 second mark. Also hear from Coach Renee Luers Gillispie at the 12 minute and 38 second mark.

 

May 8, 2011 : Houston wins 3rd CUSA Title : On senior weekend Houston swept UCFon the final weekend of the regular season to win the CUSA regular season title. Houston would eventually reach the Super Regionals losing at Oklahoma State.

 

April 29, 2012 : UCF Sweeps Houston on Senior Weekend: UCF swept Houston in big series that help UCF  get in to the NCAA Tournament as an at-large. Highlights of series include Natalie Land on the first pitch that she saw in Game 1 in the bottom drilled it over the fence in LF to set the tone. “It was always exciting and nerve wrecking playing Houston because of the school rivalry and because they were important conference games.” Audas said on playing Houston. “Houston was one of the teams we all look forward to playing each year.”

Audas a Freshman at the time made her debut in the rivalry by picking up her 20th win of the season to set the tone in Game 1 of the series . UCF would go on to 6-3 win on Senior day to complete the 3 game sweep. UCF would go 27-4 at home and this mark the last home game of the great career of Natalie Land and Vanessa Perez who were part of two UCF NCAA Tournament teams (2010,2012).

May 10, 2012 : Outon Power: Haley Outon 3-run homer in the 3rd inning prove to be to much as Houston would eliminate UCF 6-2 in Quarterfinals of CUSA Tournament in Birmingham, Alabama. Watch highlights of the game here. Both Houston and UCF would end up making the NCAA Tournament.

April 28, 2014 : Farrah Sullivan Lifts UCF to Sweep of Houston :  New Conference, same old high stakes. Going into weekend, Houston and UCF were 1-2 in the American Conference standings with just two weeks left in conference season It was the first year for UCF and Houston in the American Conference.Going into the weekend Houston’s Haley Outon was believed to be in the lead for Conference player of the year. That would not be the case following the weekend. History would be made as Farrah Sullivan put on one of greatest weekends any Knight ever had as Sullivan just owned Houston pitching the entire weekend. Sullivan set a school record for most hits in a 3 game conference series including 3 more hits in Sunday finale leading UCF on a comeback from a 4-1 deficit in the Bottom of 4th to a 7-5 victory to complete the sweep. UCF would go on to win 1st regular season conference championship in program history the following week at UConn. But it was the Houston series that really won the conference for UCF and Sullivan was one of main reasons for it. For the series, Sullivan went 9 for 11 with 5 RBIs and 4 doubles in the series which would help propel Sullivan to winning American Conference Player of the Year over  Outon. Sullivan became the 2nd Knight to win Conference Player of the Year Award joining Stephanie Best who won A-Sun Player of the Year three times (2003-2005).

 

April 11, 2015 : Mackenzie Audas Breaks Allison Kime Wins and No-Hitters Record

Once again going into weekend UCF and Houston were at top of the American Conference with UCF coming in ranked 17th in nation with 37-6 overall record.

Audas was coming into weekend tied for most wins in program history with Allison Kime at 71. But Houston was a nemesis to Audas like it was to Kime during her career. But not on this day.  Aided by an offense that scored 10 runs in the 3rd inning to break the game open. Audas would turn in a record -breaking performance by tossing her 5th career no hitter which also broke school record that Audas had shared with Kime with 4 no hitters in a 13-0 win in 5 innings over the Cougars.   Audas broke Kime’s wins and no hitters record on the same very field that Angel Shamblin broke the Houston Cougars strikeout record and won CUSA championship 8 years earlier and  on the same very field where Kime and UCF beat Houston for the first time in program history 7 years to the same month.

” It was a great feeling and honor breaking those two records and even sweeter because it was against a big rival. ” said Audas. ” Kime was such a great ball player and left a legacy I looked up to. So to be able to break those records and leave my own legacy is an indescribable feeling and accomplishment.”

The Knights would go on to sweep Houston and would go on to win regular season and conference tournament championships.

 

“Mackenzie was the perfectionist.” said Clark-Zerbe talking about Audas. “Her spin was always on, her location was ice cold, and her change buckled probably every hitter in and out of the conference. She was a force in college softball from the outset, but somehow always seemed to stay under the national radar. That kid could pitch and had a humble worker’s heart. To watch the way she carried herself, you’d never know she broke so many records. But that was her. Praise always brought no more than a shy smile from that kid.

As the Knights and Cougars renew  the rivalry this weekend and for years to come future Knights and Cougars will look to follow the path left before them.

“I just hope that my legacy at UCF can inspire the next pitchers  to come in and be  even better than me just like Allison inspired me”.said Audas.

Special Thanks to Allison Kime-Trela, Angel Shamblin, Mackenzie Audas-Packrall and Kaci Clark-Zerbe for contributing to this story. Thanks to UCFSports.com, UCFKnights.com and UHCougars.com with photos and videos courtesy of them.

Ken Eriksen Previews USF Season

 

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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?

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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

Baylor

Oklahoma

Kansas 

Texas

ACC Preview

Big 10 Preview

Pac 12 Preview

SEC Preview

American Conference & Mid Majors

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NFCA D2 Player of The Year Preview

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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

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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.

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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.

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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
WCC- BYU
SWAC- Texas Southern
Summit- North Dakota State
Southern- Chattanoga
Patriot- Bucknell
Northeast- St Francis 
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Renee Luers Gillispie Talks UCF Season

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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.

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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.

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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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Marcie Hickey Previews UNF Season

 

Eric Lopez previews the 2016 North Florida Ospreys season with Head Coach Marcie Hickey, who is entering his 7th season at North Florida, talks to Lopez about the following.

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UNF Head Coach Marcie Hickey  Photo Courtesy of UNF Athletics
  • Outlook of the 2016 season
  • Who are some of the players to look for this season?
  • Breaking down UNF’s schedule
  • The outlook of the A-Sun Conference.
  • The Growth of the Program

 Listen to Marcie Hickey Interview Here

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Shelby Duncan and Stacy McClelland will lead the Ospreys offense attack in 2016

The Ospreys enter 2016 led by the A-Sun Preseason Player of the Year in Stacy McClelland. McClelland is the returning conference leader in both batting average (.399) and home runs (13), while ranking second among returners in RBIs with 47 a season ago.

McClelland is join by fellow senior Shelby Duncan who finished 2015 with 72 hits in 59 games whch was best in the A-Sun. Duncan finished second in the A-Sun in doubles on the year with 15, while boasting a batting average of .379 which ranked 7th in the A-Sun.

The Ospreys pitching staff is very young with losses of Kaylie Wallace and Kayla Goff who combined for 26 of 31 wins the Ospreys had last year.

The Ospreys were picked 5th in the A-Sun Preseason Poll.

Preseason Softball Coaches Poll

Pl. Team (1st Place Votes) Points
1. Lipscomb (6) 48
2. USC Upstate (1) 41
3. Kennesaw State 31
4. Stetson 25
5. North Florida 19
6t. FGCU 16
6t. Jacksonville 16

Preseason Atlantic Sun All-Conference Team
Lexi Shubert, P, USC Upstate
Tanner Sanders, P, Lipscomb
Courtney Sutter, C, Kennesaw State
Stacy McClelland, INF, North Florida
Megan Veringa, INF, Kennesaw State
Kayla Drury, INF, Stetson
Jessie Tenbroeck, INF, Stetson
Brittany Elmore, OF, Lipscomb
Shelby Duncan, OF, North Florida
Jazz Vasquez, OF, Stetson
Karla Beasley, UTIL/DP, USC Upstate

Preseason Player of the Year: Stacy McClelland, North Florida
Preseason Defensive Player of the Year: Brittany Hawn, Stetson
Preseason Pitcher of the Year: Lexi Shubert, USC Upstate

Marcie Hickey Interview

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