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    Softball to Open 2012 Season Friday
    Toni Ann Williford
    Toni Ann Williford

    Feb. 9, 2012

    Head coach Lisa Navasand the NC State softball program will begin its ninth season this weekend, taking part in the Red and Black Showcase in Athens, Ga. The Wolfpack will compete in five games, battling Utah State, St. John's, Campbell, Army and No. 10 Georgia.

    On Feb. 10, the Pack kicks off the 2012 campaign by taking on Utah State at 11 a.m. and St. John's at 1 p.m. The tournament continues Feb. 11 as the Pack plays Campbell at 3 p.m. and Army at 7 p.m. On the final day of the Red and Black Showcase, State will face the host Georgia Bulldogs at 3 p.m.

    The Wolfpack returns 10 letterwinners from the 2011 season, and welcomes seven newcomers to the roster in 2012. Among the first-year players are five freshmen and two sophomores, including transfer Kirsty Grant.

    Senior Toni Ann Williford is the top returning offensive player for the Pack this season. In 2011, Williford posted a .310 batting average, tied for the team lead in hits (48), and notched six doubles. Junior Bethaney Wellslooks to add to her team-best nine home runs and 30 RBI a season ago.

    In the circle, senior Morgan Peeler and newcomer Emily Weiman will shoulder the pitching responsibility under first-year pitching coach Lisa Norris.

    Utah State finished the 2011 season 15-42 overall and 8-13 in the Western Athletic Conference. The Aggies return a solid core of players, including top pitchers Mandy Harmon and Shelbi Tyteca, who together logged a total of over 302 innings a season ago.

    St. John's is coming off one of the best finishes in program history, where the Red Storm posted the second-best winning percentage under head coach Kvilhaug Era. The squad returns leading hitter Kacee Cox, who led the Big East with a .404 average in 2010, and top hurler Aleshia Link, whose 2.55 ERA was tops for the Red Storm in 2011.

    Campbell finished the 2011 season with a 32-28 record. The Fighting Camels return top offensive threats Sarah Forgacs, Taylor McGee and Raven Lee, as well as Christina Melton and Brittany Arnn in the circle.

    Army returns nine letterwinners from last season's 28-25 finish, including first-team All-Patriot league selections Alex Reynolds and Amanda Nguyen. Overall, six Black Knight's were tabbed preseason All-Patriot league. The squad also returns top pitcher Haley Pypes, who compiled a 16-13 record and 3.10 ERA a season ago, while tossing 19 complete games and three shutouts.

    No. 10 Georgia, a 2011 NCAA Super Regional participant, returns six starters from it's 51-14 finish a season ago. The Bulldogs' top returning hitter is senior Ashley Pauly, who notched a .352 batting average in 2011, good for second on the squad.

    All of NC State's games at the Red and Black Showcase will be available on via Gametracker.



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