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Thursday, February 16, 2017

Weekend Primer: Mary Nutter Classic I

Participants: Sixteen teams (Arkansas, California, Cal Poly, Cal State Northridge, Illinois, Kent State, Kentucky, Liberty, Loyola Marymount, Oregon, San Diego, St. Mary's, UC Davis, UCF, UCLA, Utah Valley)

Venue/Location: The Mary Nutter Classic is held at the Big League Dreams Complex, a series of five fields in Cathedral City (Palm Springs), California. 

Tournament style: At-large format; most teams play 4-5 games, each against different opponents

Schedule: Thanks to weather conditions, the schedule for the Friday slate of games has changed. Find the updated schedule here. For Saturday's and Sunday's schedule of games, click here to be redirected to the tournament website.

Social media: Tournament organizers maintain an active presence on both Twitter and Facebook under the tournament name.

Matchups to Watch:
4. Arkansas v. Kent State (Sunday, 9 am PT)
Arkansas senior slugger Nicole Schroeder enjoyed her school's first conference Player of the Week honors in three years after a three-homer weekend to start off her season. Kent State's senior hurler Ronnie Ladines pitched herself to a 1.47 ERA in fourteen innings over opening weekend, allowing just three runs. On the offensive side of the ball for the Golden Flashes, Holly Speers and Maddy Grimm hit .429 with a combined four home runs and twenty RBI.

3. Arkansas v. Illinois (Saturday, 12 pm PT)
The Hogs will face the Big 10's Illini on Saturday afternoon and the matchup to watch here is are the Illini's top hitters - Nicole Evans, Annie Fleming, and Maddi Doane, all sporting .600+ batting averages - against the Razorback pitching that did not allow an earned run through opening weekend.

2. Kentucky v. Oregon (Friday, 12:30 pm PT)
Fresh off an extra-inning victory over UCLA, the Wildcats look to rebound from an opening weekend that saw them take a pair of losses to Pittsburgh. The Wildcat hurlers, particularly Meagan Prince and Larissa Spellman, have impressed thus far this season; Prince leads the team with a 1.80 ERA while Spellman's batting average against of an even .200 is an impressive number. The Duck pitching staff has a cumulative ERA of 0.88, a feat even bettered by Megan Kleist's 0.00 number and freshman Maggie Balint's 0.36 mark. Opponents are hitting below .180 against each.

1. UCLA v. Cal Poly (Friday, 12:30 pm PT)
In what some are calling the 'Game of the Week', Cal Poly and breakout senior hurler Sierra Hyland will take on UCLA in one of the tournament's first games on Friday. With the latter portion of the tournament still up in the air, it's a good thing this game is scheduled for opening day. If Hyland can do to the Bruin hitters anything close to what she did to Purdue and Creighton last weekend, she'll put herself in the front runner's seat already for National Player of the Year.

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