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    Softball Heads to Florida for Citrus Classic
    Senior catcher Kirsty Grant
    Senior catcher Kirsty Grant

    Feb. 20, 2014

    Friday's Schedule - Feb. 21
    NC State vs. #17 Georgia - 1:15 p.m. (ESPN3)
    NC State vs. Lehigh - 5:45 p.m.

    Saturday's Schedule - Feb. 22
    NC State vs. Albany - 3:30 p.m.
    Northern Illinois vs. NC State - 5:45 p.m.

    Sunday's Schedule - Feb. 23
    IPFW vs. NC State - 10 a.m. 

    RALEIGH, N.C. – The NC State softball team is anxiously waiting to take the field this weekend at the Citrus Classic, as the squad’s games last weekend were cancelled when severe weather halted the Wolfpack’s travel plans. The tournament will be held in Kissimmee, Fla., at Disney’s Wide World of Sports Complex.

    "We're excited this weekend's tournament," said head coach Shawn Rychcik. "We've got a good opponent to start the tournament (Georgia) and the tough competition will continue throughout the weekend with a couple teams that were picked to finish in the top of their conference."

    The Wolfpack’s (1-5) first game of the weekend on Friday, Feb. 21 against the 17th-ranked Georgia Bulldogs (9-0) will be broadcast live on ESPN3/Watch ESPN. First pitch of that contest is slated for 1:15 p.m. State will return to the diamond for the second time on Friday when it faces the Lehigh Mountain Hawks (0-0) at 5:45 p.m.

    On Saturday, the squad will start the day by facing the Albany Great Danes (0-0) at 3:30 p.m., before taking the field against Northern Illinois (2-3) at 5:45 p.m. State will conclude play in the tournament Sunday morning against the IPFW Mastodons, who own a 7-2 record on the season, at 10 a.m.

    It will be NC State’s second time competing in the Citrus Classic, as the squad last participated in the event during the 2012 season when it posted a 3-2 mark in the tournament.

    In the Wolfpack’s first outing of the season, sophomore Lana Van Dyken led the squad at the plate with six hits in 14 at-bats. Her average of .429 currently ranks as the fourth best among the Atlantic Coast Conference (ACC) hitters.

    Despite having only pitched 25 innings this season, junior Emily Weiman leads the conference in strikeouts with 35 on the year. She has pitched the seventh-most innings in the league, but has fanned more batters than any other pitcher. On the final day of play at the Kajikawa Classic, Weiman had 22 strikeouts with 11 in each game of the doubleheader.

    The Georgia Bulldogs enter Friday’s game undefeated with a 9-0 mark on the season. The squad was listed at No. 17 in the latest National Fastpitch Coaches Association Poll, as well as the ranking. Last weekend’s winter weather also affected their schedule, as they were forced to cancel the Georgia Classic. However, the Bulldogs managed to schedule doubleheaders against Furman and Mercer on Sunday and Monday, respectively. 

    It will be the third meeting between the two teams, as each school has won a game in the series. NC State won the last meeting, 3-2 on Feb. 12, 2012, while Georgia won the first meeting, 13-4 on Feb. 20, 2011.

    The Bulldogs are led offensively by Paige Wilson, who owns a batting average of .424 with 14 hits and 8 runs batted in (RBI). Chelsea Wilkinson leads the squad in the circle with a 6-0 record and has not given up an earned run in the early portion of the season. 

    The Lehigh Mountain Hawks will be playing their second game of the season on Friday when they take the field against the Wolfpack. The Mountain Hawks’ first game of the 2014 season will be at 3 p.m. against the University of Delaware. 

    The Hawks finished the 2013 campaign with a 37-16-1 record, including a 7-7 mark in neutral site contests. NC State won the first meeting between the two schools, 1-0, in Raleigh on Feb. 23, 2012.

    Emily Bauscher is the team’s top returning pitcher from a year ago, as she finished the season with a 1.60 earned run average and a 15-7 record in the circle. Morgan Decker is the team’s leading hitter from last season’s squad returning, as she hit .415 with nine homers and 46 RBI.

    The Albany Great Danes will also be making their season debut at the tournament this weekend. The program was preseason picked to finish first in the America East coaches’ poll. Last season, the Great Danes compiled a 37-15 record and advanced to the AEC championship game before falling to Stony Brook. 

    It will be the first meeting between NC State and Albany.

    The Great Danes’ top returning pitcher, Brittany MacFawn, collected 283 strikeouts during the 2013 season en route to posting a 2.11 ERA with a 28-9 record. Offensively, Charlise Castro returns after driving in 32 runs a season ago and clubbing eight home runs with a .309 batting average.

    Northern Illinois enters the weekend with a 2-3 record on the year, after competing in the FAU “Kickoff Classic” in its last outing. The squad defeated host Florida Atlantic and St John’s, while suffering losses against Louisville, Ohio State and Tulsa. 

    The Wolfpack and the Huskies have never met in softball competition.

    Nicole Gremillion led the squad at the plate in the first tournament of the season with six hits in 16 at-bats. The senior also scored three runs and had 2 RBI. Jessica Sturm leads the team in the circle with a 2-1 record on the year and a 1.78 ERA in 19.2 innings pitched.

    The IPFW Mastodons own a 7-2 record on the early 2014 season, with both of their two losses coming against ranked opponents. The squad lost to No. 15 Texas, 10-2, and No. 7 Kentucky, 2-1. The Mastodons also defeated the Texas Longhorns in eight innings, 3-2. 

    It will be the first meeting between the Wolfpack and Mastodons.

    Larissa Franklin is the team’s best hitter with a .538 batting average on the young season, including a homer and five RBI. Miranda Kramer is the top pitcher for the Mastodons with a 5-1 record in 2014. She has also collected 62 strikeouts with an ERA of 0.72.




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