PROVIDENCE, R.I. – The Providence College softball team opens up its 2018 campaign at the University of Central Florida “Friends of Jaclyn” Invitational in Sanford, Fla. on Feb. 9-11. At the tournament, the Friars will take on Illinois, the University of North Florida, South Alabama, University of Central Florida and the University of North Carolina.
LIVE STAT LINKS:
LIVE STATS VS. ILLINOIS: FEB 9 AT 12:00 P.M.
LIVE STATS VS. UNF: FEB 9 AT 5:30 P.M.
LIVE STATS VS. SOUTH ALABAMA: FEB 10 AT 11:00 A.M.
LIVE STATS VS. UCF: FEB 10 AT 1:30 P.M.
LIVE STAS VS. UNC: FEB 11 AT 11:30 A.M.
The Friars finished 2017 with an overall record of 23-25 and a record of 10-11 in the BIG EAST. Providence finished fifth overall in the BIG EAST in 2017.
The Friars return seven of their nine starters from the 2017 season, including 2017 All-BIG EAST Second Team selections Emma Lee (Orange, Calif.) and Julianne Rurka (Warrenville, Ill.). During the 2017 season, Lee batted .361 with 43 runs and 65 hits, 16 of which were extra base hits. Rurka batted .328 with 42 hits and 34 RBI.
The Friars also bring back Brittney Veler (Santa Rosa, Calif.) and Vanessa Portillo (Chatsworth, Calif.). Veler ended last season with a .320 batting average, 48 hits and 35 RBI. Portillo is the top returning power bat for Providence, having finished with eight home runs and 37 RBI.
Christina Ramirez (Niceville, Fla.) looks to be the ace of the Friars’ pitching staff again in 2018. Ramirez led the Friars in every pitching category in 2017. She finished the season with a 4.46 ERA, 14 wins, 22 complete games, 111 strikeouts and held opponents to a .284 batting average.
The Friars will look to Taylor Huntly (Las Vegas, Nev.), Megan McCune (Orange, Calif.) and Olivia Sprofera (Mahwah, N.J.) to supplement the pitching staff.
The Illinois Fighting Illini finished last season with a record of 39-20 and 14-8 in the Big Ten.
The Illini return three players with batting averages of at least .300 in Annie Fleming (.347), Kiana Sherlund (.343) and Stephanie Abello (.307). Sherlund led Illinois with 71 hits in the 2017 season while Abello is the top returning power hitting as she tallied 13 home runs and 41 RBI last season.
Taylor Edwards is the returning pitcher for Illinois after having a record of 14-2 in 17 starts last season. Edwards also recorded 27 strikeouts and held opponents to a .268 batting average on 91.2 innings pitched.
The University of North Florida Osprey ended the 2017 season with a record of 31-27 and were 9-9 in the Atlantic Sun conference.
The Osprey will look for Navia Penrod to have a repeat of her 2017 season that saw her record a .422 batting average, 87 hits and 50 runs. Kayla McGory and Dominica Cocuzza will also look to factor heavily into the offense. McGory recorded a .362 batting average with 39 runs, 59 hits, four triples and 47 RBI while Cocuzza tallied a .352 batting average with 62 hits, six home runs and 48 RBI.
Morgan Blourne will look to be the ace of the UNF pitching staff after having a 2.87 ERA with an 11-5 record in 2017. Blourne also had 87 strikeouts and held batters to a .283 batting average in 119.1 innings of work.
SCOUTING SOUTH ALABAMA:
The South Alabama Jaguars concluded their 2017 campaign with a record of 35-20 and 15-12 in the Sun Belt Conference.
The Jaguars return three players with batting averages above .300. Kaleigh Todd led the team last season with a .398 average, 74 hits and 43 runs scored. MC Nichols (.339) and Haleigh Lowe (.317) will also factor heavily into the South Alabama offense along with Kristian Foster who recorded a batting average of .299 with five doubles, three home runs and 38 RBI.
The Jaguars will lean on Devin Brown to be their ace again in 2018. Brown finished 2017 with an era of 1.51, a record of 19-7 in 25 starts, and tallied 194 strike outs.
The University of Central Florida Knights had a 25-21 record and a 9-6 American Athletic Conference record in 2017.
Cassady Brewer and Cournety Rotton both had batting averages above .300 as they tallied .338 and .324, respectively. Brewer had 44 hits, eight doubles, four home runs and 27 RBI. Rotton also had 44 hits with eight doubles, a triple, two home runs and 21 RBI.
The Knights have their top pitcher returning to the circle in 2018. Alea White led UCF with a record of 16-13 in 25 starts while also recording 82 strikeouts in 174.1 innings.
The University of North Carolina Tar Heels finished 2017 with a record of 40-21 and were 14-9 in ACC play.
Leah Murray and Taylor Wike will look to lead the Tar Heels’ offense in 2018. Murray batted .370 with 74 hits, 47 runs and 38 stolen bases last season. Wike batted .346 with 65 hits, three home runs and 42 RBI.
Brittany Pickett was the top starter for UNC last year, having started 30 games with a record of 22-10 and an ERA of 2.81. In her 221.2 innings pitched, Pickett tallied 151 strikeouts and held opponents to a .256 batting average.
The Friars will return to Florida on Feb. 16 for the University of North Florida Osprey Tournament in Jacksonville, Fla. Providence will take on South Dakota State, UNF, Canisius, and Jacksonville twice over the course of Feb. 16-18.
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