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SB Preview: Florida Lipton Invitational

Courtesy: UNCW Athletic Communications  
Release: 02/14/2013
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The UNCW softball team takes its first road trip of the season as it travels to Gainesville, Fla., to take part in the Florida Lipton Invitational
View larger Courtesy: Joe Browning

The UNCW softball team takes its first road trip of the season as it travels to Gainesville, Fla., to take part in the Florida Lipton Invitational

WILMINGTON, North Carolina - The UNCW softball team takes its first road trip of the season  as it travels to Gainesville, Fla., to take part in the Florida Lipton Invitational this weekend.

Tournament Schedule

The Seahawks are scheduled to play five games in the Florida Lipton Invitational. UNCW opens the tournament Friday with games against Western Carolina (9 a.m.) and No. 5 Florida (4 p.m.). Saturday's schedule features games for the Seahawks against Charleston Southern (4:30 p.m.) and Savannah State (6:45 p.m.). UNCW closes out the tournament Sunday with a 1 p.m. matinee matchup with the Gators.

Staying Connected

Live stats will be available for all five games UNCW will play in the Florida Lipton Invitational and can be accessed by clicking here ... In addition, both of the Seahawks' games against No. 5 Florida will be streamed online and can be viewed for free by all HawkVision subscribers or by clicking here ...  Fans can also keep up with the UNCW softball program by checking out the program's Facebook (UNCW Softball) and Twitter (@UNCWsoftball) accounts or the department's Facebook (UNCWsports) and Twitter (@UNCWAthletics) pages.

Seahawk Notes

  • UNCW opened the season at home last weekend with a 3-2 record in the UNCW Beach Blast, defeating Iona twice (W 2-1; W 3-2), splitting with Detroit (W 8-0; L 10-4) and falling in its lone contest against Nebraska-Omaha (L 6-2).
  • Senior Lauryn Buckworth enjoyed a solid opening weekend at the plate, going 7-of-13 (.538) with a team-high five RBI. Buckworth drove in a run in four of five games, including a pinch-hit single in the tournament finale against Iona.
  • Transfers junior KC Shue and sophomore Morgan McCann both paid immediate dividends in the UNCW lineup. Shue was 6-for-13 (.462) during the Beach Blast with four RBI while McCann was 5-for-11 with two RBI and a team-best five runs scored.
  • In the circle, sophomore Casey Rowland posted a 1.35 ERA as she struck out 12 in 13.1 innings of work while limiting opponents to a .114 batting average. Rowland won both of her starts, a one-hit shutout against Detroit and a complete-game effort versus Iona, to earn CAA Pitcher-of-the-Week accolades on Tuesday.
  • UNCW showed great discipline at the plate during the UNCW Beach Blast, drawing 21 walks during its five contests. Sophomore Kristen Jernigan led the way, drawing five walks during the opening weekend.
  • The Seahawks gave first-year head coach Kristy Norton a victory in her UNCW debut, an 8-0 triumph over Detroit. Norton became the first UNCW head coach to win her inaugural game since Melissa Jarrell in 2002.
  • The Seahawks were active on the base paths, going 10-for-13 in stolen base attempts during the UNCW Beach Blast. The 10 stolen bases already surpassed the total of the 2012 squad, who were just 8-of-11 in stolen base tries.
  • UNCW won both of its one-run contests during the Beach Blast, posting 2-1 and 3-2 victories over Iona. The Seahawks were just 4-9 in one-run contests a season ago.
  • For the fifth consecutive season, the Seahawks will face a nationally-ranked opponent when it takes on No. 5 Florida. UNCW is looking for its first victory against a ranked opponent in that span, suffering three losses to UNC Chapel Hill (2009, 2010 & 2012) and a doubleheader setback to SEC foe Georgia in 2011.
  • UNCW Assistant Coach Meredith Felts is no stranger to the Charleston Southern program. Felts spent two seasons in the Low Country as an assistant coach to the Buccaneers' program, helping the squad advance to the Big South Conference Championship for the first time in 24 years last season.

Scouting Charleston Southern

  • Charleston Southern brings a 1-2 overall record into the Florida Lipton Invitational after opening the season at home with a split of games against CAA foe George Mason and a loss to UNC Greensboro.
  • The Buccaneers are led offensively by junior Stephanie Sbardella, who went 5-for-8 (.625) with three RBI during the opening weekend.
  • In the circle, sophomore Jennifer Giles got the start in two of CSU's first three games and fashioned a 3.50 ERA to go along with two complete games and 10 strikeouts.
  • Head Coach Shane Winkler is in his fifth season at Charleston Southern. He helped lead the Buccaneers to a school-record 33 victories last season.

Series Notes Versus Charleston Southern

  • UNCW holds a 20-13 overall record against Charleston Southern, but the Buccaneers have won each of the last three meetings.
  • The two programs have met in seven of the last eight seasons, with the only exception in that span being the 2012 season.
  • UNCW holds a 3-1 edge over the Buccaneers in neutral-site contests, including a 7-1 victory in their last neutral-site tilt in Cullowhee, N.C., during the 2005 season.

Scouting Florida

  • No. 5 Florida brings an unblemished 6-0 record into the Lipton Florida Invitational after posting an 11-3 victory at Jacksonville on Wednesday.
  • Freshman Kelsey Stewart has paced a powerful Gators lineup that has plated 53 runs in its first six games, recording 13 hits to go along with a 1.087 slugging percentage and a team-high seven RBI.
  • Junior Hannah Rodgers has seen the majority of the work for Florida in the circle, posting a 3-0 record in four appearances. Rodgers has recorded 21 strikeouts to just six walks in 23.0 innings in the circle this season.
  • Tim Walton is in his eighth season as head coach of the Gators program. He has led Florida to the NCAA tournament in each of his seven previous seasons, highlighted by four straight trips to the Women's College World Series (2008-11).

Series Notes Versus Florida

  • The games at the Florida Lipton Invitational mark the first meetings between UNCW and Florida.

Scouting Savannah State

  • Savannah State carries a 3-1 mark into the second weekend of the season after opening the campaign with home wins over Morgan State (twice) and Thomas University and a loss to USC-Beaufort.
  • Freshman Torrian Wright leads a potent Lady Tigers lineup that has combined to post a .376 batting average in the early going with five hits, including three home runs, and five RBI. Wright was named the MEAC Rookie-of-the-Week on Monday.
  • Senior Madison Hedderly has seen a majority of the time in the circle for SSU, posting a 2-1 record in three appearances. Hedderly has fanned 19 and walked just three in 16.2 innings of work this season.
  • Jose Gonzalez is in his sixth season as head coach of the Lady Tigers. He led SSU to the program's first winning season in 2012 with a 26-24 overall mark, including a 12-3 record in MEAC play.

Series Notes Versus Savannah State

  • Saturday's game will serve as the first meeting between UNCW and Savannah State.

Scouting Western Carolina

  • Western Carolina opens the Florida Lipton Invitational with a 2-2 record following a split of its games at the USC Upstate Tournament last weekend. The Catamounts posted wins over Maine and North Carolina Central and suffered losses to UMKC and the host Spartans in the three-day event.
  • Senior Shemekia Scotton paces the Catamounts attack in the early going, hitting .583 with four extra-base knocks and a team-high six RBI.
  • Sophomore Jordan Garrett has seen the majority of the work in the circle for WCU, pitching 15.1 of the team's 22.0 innings in the field this season. She has tallied 18 strikeouts and just eight walks.
  • Jim Clift is in his second season as head coach of the Catamounts program. The former WCU assistant led the Catamounts to its best overall record since 2007 and an appearance in the SoCon tournament in his first season at the helm.

Series Notes Versus Western Carolina

  • UNCW and Western Carolina have split eight previous meetings between the two programs. All eight meetings have come since the start of the 2006 season.
  • The two sides last met during the 2011 season as they split a mid-week doubleheader in Cullowhee with UNCW winning the opener, 8-2, and the Catamounts taking the nightcap, 7-1.
  • Six of the previous eight meetings have taken place at Western Carolina. The two teams have played two neutral-site tilts, both during the 2006 campaign.
Up Next

UNCW returns home to host its second tournament of the regular season as it welcomes Gardner-Webb, UMBC and Morehead State to Boseman Field for the Seahawk Classic.

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