BUIES CREEK, N.C. – Campbell's softball team (7-8) is making a trip down to Gainesville, Fla. this weekend to spend the start of CU's Spring Break playing in the Lipton Invitational from March 2-4. The Camels are slated to take Tennessee State and Eastern Michigan twice plus a game with No. 3/4 Florida. CU starts the tournament with its contest against Tennessee State at 9 a.m. on March 2. CU then takes on Eastern Michigan at 11:15 a.m. that morning. The Camels take on the same two teams in the opposite order on March 3 at 4:30 p.m. and 6:45 p.m. Campbell completes the tournament with the marquee match-up with No. 3/4 Florida at 1:30 p.m. on March 4.
The Camels went 4-3 last week in its doubleheader against North Carolina Central and the team's five games at the Phyllis Rafter Memorial. Christina Melton started the week well in throwing a one-hitter in a 12-1 win over NCCU. It was her second consecutive one-hitter. She also hit two home runs and had five RBIs in that game to propel the offensive attack. Senior Taylor McGee had a strong pair of games against the Eagles with two home runs and five RBIs. The Phyllis Rafter Memorial saw Brittany Arnn threw the first shutout of her career in the team's 6-0 victory over Alabama State (2/24). The shutout was also the first record by Campbell this season. The Camels were also able to defeat Southeastern Louisiana by a 3-2 score in eight innings (2/26) to close out the tournament. Melton went the distance for Campbell and allowed just two runs in earning her third win of the season. Freshman Erica Johnson provided the late game heroics with her extra inning knock to drive in fellow rookie Ericka Nesbitt in the bottom of the eighth. Upon completion of the tournament sophomore Raven Lee and freshman Stephanie Jones were named to the all-tournament team. Lee hit .357 with three home runs and six RBIs in the team's five games at the tournament. Jones led the team with her .389 batting average, seven hits and two doubles.
CU enters the fourth week of the year ranking highly in Big South in numerous categories. Jones leads the conference with 20 hits, 13 RBIs, six doubles and six stolen bases. Nesbitt is second in hits (19) and stolen bases (5). Lee is second in the conference in home runs (4), total bases (27) and walks (10). Junior Sarah Forgacs is the league leader in runs scored (9). McGee is second in the conference in RBIs (12) and doubles (5) and is third in home runs (3) and total bases (26). Melton leads the Big South in innings pitched (48) and complete games (5). She and Arnn are tied for second in the league in strikeouts (31).
Tennessee State (4-5) went 2-3 last weekend at the Arkansas Tournament. Tedra Alford has been the top hitter with eight hits, three doubles and a .296 batting average. Jennifer Givens is tied for the team lead with eight hits and has also stolen five bases. Devin Amar has a team-high five RBIs. Shea Morris has been tough to hit this season with three wins and a 1.85 ERA. She has also struck out 32 in 34 innings worked. The Camels have never faced Tennessee State. CU did take on fellow Ohio Valley Conference (OVC) school Eastern Kentucky last weekend. Campbell is 13-21 all-time against OVC schools.
Eastern Michigan (2-4) just started the season last weekend at the Central Florida Tournament. EMU has victories over Jacksonville and Seton Hall this season. The Eagles are predicted to finish fifth in the Mid-American Conference (MAC) in 2012. Katy Blaharski leads the team with nine hits and 10 total bases. Jessica Richards is hitting .350 with four runs scored this year. Jenna Ignowski has won both of the team's games with a 1.19 ERA. She has struck out 16 in her 17.2 innings worked in the circle. The Eagles plays two games against Jacksonville on Wednesday and a single game against No. 3/4 Florida on Thursday before opening the tournament against Campbell on Friday. The Camels lead the all-time series with EMU by a 3-1 count, but the teams haven't played each other since 2001. CU did take on fellow MAC school Ohio earlier this season and came away with a 6-4 victory.
Florida (13-1) is one of the top programs in the country and enters the week ranked No. 3/4 in the two major polls. The Gators have only suffered one setback and it came at the hands of fellow ranked and traditional softball power Washington at the Cathedral Classic. Sami Fagan is hitting .500 with 23 hits, 17 runs and four stolen bases this season. Brittany Schutte is hitting .486 with 16 runs, 18 hits, two home runs and 17 RBIs. Michelle Moultrie is off to a fast start with a .385 batting average, 19 runs scored and 11 stolen bases. Cheyenne Coyle provides the power with five home runs, 14 RBIs and 10 stolen bases. The Gators team batting average is .347. The program has also hit 17 home runs and has 94 RBIs. Hannah Rogers is one of the top pitchers in the country and is 8-0 so far this season with a 0.63 ERA. She has also struck out 49 in 44.2 innings worked. Lauren Haeger is the other primary start for Florida. She is 4-1 with a 1.73 ERA and 36 strikeouts in 32.1 innings worked. The Camels are 0-3 all-time against the Gators with the last loss being 7-0 in 2010. Florida is the second ranked team that Campbell has faced this season after the team took on Georgia in the Red & Black Showcase in Athens, Ga. to start the campaign.
After this weekend's action, the Camels return home to play two games against Hampton on March 7 at 3 and 5:30 p.m. CU then makes the trip to Rock Hill, S.C. to participate in the Winthrop/Adidas Invitational from March 9-10.