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Monday, February 16, 2015

Weekend Roundup

NEWS:
  • Former Florida legendary pitcher Hannah Rogers had her high school number retired at Lake Wales High School on Friday.
  • In another installment of "Odd Softball Happenings", three Arizona Wildcats left base early in a game against Wright State. Nothing particularly unusual about that? The "odd" part comes in with the information that they all left the same base (second) and all did it in the very same inning, providing all three outs the easy way for the defense.
  • UC-San Diego head coach Patti Gerckens earned her 600th career win with a victory over San Francisco State on Friday.
  • Alabama-Huntsville head coach Les Stuedeman (also sister to Miss. State HC Vann Stuedeman) earned her 900th career win with a victory over West Georgia on Friday.
  • NPF: Former Western Kentucky star Olivia Watkins has signed with the Pennsylvania Rebellion. Watkins played for the Akron Racers in 2014.
  • Nevada infielder Karley Hopkins became the program's all-time hits leader over the weekend, passing the previous record of 256.
  • WORTH READING: "Love Match for Malveauxs"
  • Congratulations to this week's members of the No-No Express- 
    • Jordan Wallace, Louisiana-Lafayette (7.0 IP, 16 SO vs. Mississippi Valley State)
    • Remy Edwards, Miami (OH) (5.0 IP, 9 SO vs. Austin Peay)
    • Molly Randle, Colorado State (6.0 IP, 3 SO vs. IPFW)
    • Morgan Lashley, Hofstra (6.0 IP, 7 SO vs. Central Arkansas)
    • Alexis Osorio, Alabama (5.0 IP, 5 SO vs. Pacific)
    • Ally Carda, UCLA (7.0 IP, 11 SO vs. Boise State)

LAUREN CHAMBERLAIN HOME RUN TRACKER:

VIDEO OF THE WEEK: Florida's Kirsti Merritt pulled back a home run and saved the eventual-victory for the Gators. Take a look at her incredible catch here:

PERFORMANCES OF THE WEEK:
  • Courtney Gano, Washington - Gano narrowly missed acknowledgement on this list last week, but after her second straight offensively-excellent weekend of games, there was no doubt she would be recognized this time around. Coming back from nearly two full years away from regular playing, Gano came out of the gate red-hot and hasn't cooled off. She hit .571 this weekend, with 3 doubles; two home runs; a triple; and eleven RBI. Those numbers, added to the three home runs and seven RBI she added up last week, make for a pretty impressive return from injury & start to the season.
  • Linsey Hays, Baylor - Oft overshadowed by the successes of seniors Jordan Strickland and Kaitlyn Thumann, Hays reminded softball fans that there's another offensive star on the Bears' team and she's it. Opening the weekend with a 3 HR/6 RBI game, Hays drove in eleven runs in total over the weekend and added a triple on Sunday.
  • Corinne Ozanne, Syracuse - The junior infielder's previous season high for home runs is twelve; with seven already on this young season, chances are that number will end up shattered by season's end. Ozanne clubbed four roundtrippers this week alone, including two against Jacksonville. Though her team went 1-4, Ozanne's offensive prowess showed no signs of faltering. 

MY TAKE:
This is a new addition to the Roundup, where I'll give you my thoughts on several different topics that won't fit into a 140-character tweet. Lots of websites and sports news services sponsor regular "Who's hot, who's not" or "contender/pretender" series'. Though that's not my proverbial cup of tea, I decided to find a team to fit into each of those categories this week, as well as offer some brief thoughts on four players that have impressed me through the first couple of weeks of the season.

Who's hot: Kennesaw State Owls - Whether it's the addition of Amanda Williams at hitting coach days before the season began or Tory Acheson's return to the helm of a program, something is going right for the Owls. A walk-off upset of #5 Kentucky on Saturday is without a doubt the year's highlight to this point, but quality wins over Morehead State, Tennessee Tech, and Dayton have been impressive. A run-rule loss to Tennessee and shutout at the hands of IUPUI don't look great on the resume, but the Owls are playing solid softball and with a good showing at the East Carolina-hosted Pirate Invitational next week, they may enter the very early conversation for conference champion.

Who's not: Nebraska Cornhuskers - The wheels have come off the wagon for Rhonda Revelle's Huskers. Ranked #19 coming into the weekend, they dropped all five games they played, including two each to Georgia Tech and Florida State and a single game to Western Kentucky. While all three opponents are quality competition, an 0-5 weekend does not look good on the resume come postseason time. Next weekend takes the squad to Mary Nutter, where they will face SDSU, LSU, Tennessee, Oregon State, and UCLA all in a three-day span. Without at least a winning record over the weekend, we may see the Huskers fall for good sooner rather than later.

Contender: Central Florida Knights - The Knights knocked off three straight SEC opponents, including a shutout of #18 Mizzou, and followed that streak with another shutout victory over #13 Minnesota. The Knights have excellent pitching and a capable offense; they'll definitely find themselves ranked this week and don't expect them to fall out of the top 25 anytime soon.

Pretender: ULM Warhawks - I picked the Warhawks as the Sun Belt's disappointment team in my preseason forecast; in the first two weeks of the season, they seem to have already buck that prediction, going 9-1. I'm not ready to eat crow yet, however, thanks to the low-level competition they've faced thus-far. If the Warhawks keep up the impressive showing at the Alex Park Resort Classic in Vegas at the end of the month and into conference play, and perhaps even upset one of the conference "big boys" in USA, ULL, or GSU, then you'll find me writing a very different opinion on Corey Lyon's team.

Bits and pieces: Mandy Gardner's new nickname must be "clutch"; the former Michigan transfer has come up in big spots for the Maryland Terps and is finally showing some of the potential they knew she had when they brought in the ex-Wolverine two years ago... North Texas's Taylor Schoblocher continued her power trip this weekend, crushing two more home runs to bring her year-to-date total to eight. I picked Schoblocher as the conference Player of the Year last season, and it seems like I may have been just a year premature... Natalie Clemmons of Furman enjoyed some offensive success herself in her team's weekend of three games... two triples, two home runs, and eight RBI give her a .462 batting average to start the year off. Keep an eye on the senior third baseman.... Chelsea Thomas, the Missouri State infielder and younger sister of former Ramblin' Wreck great Ashley Thomas, has already begun to make a name for herself in the collegiate ranks - the freshman knocked a pair of home runs over the fence against Eastern Michigan on Saturday and accounting for three of her team's four runs.

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