THURSDAY, MAY 19, 2011
Softball plays UCLA on Friday to start Gainesville Regional
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The JU softball team will get to face a national power to start the NCAA Tournament on Friday as they play defending national champion UCLA at 3:30 p.m. on the first day of the Gainesville Regional.

The Dolphins (43-14, 18-2 A-Sun) and Bruins (33-17, 9-12 Pac 10) will have the first game of the double-elimination event, followed by Florida and Bethune-Cookman in the night cap.

Three games are set for Saturday beginning at 1 p.m., while the final and deciding contest to win the regional on Sunday is set for 1 p.m. Fans call watch all of the games live from the Gainesville Regional on ESPN3.com, the first national TV appearance for the Dolphins.

The winner of the Gainesville Regional faces the winner of the University Park Regional featuring No. 13 Oregon, Fordham, Penn State and Albany.

“This is going to be a fun weekend,” said JU head coach Amanda Lehotak. “We look forward to playing UCLA on Friday. They are the national champs and our kids are ready to face them. We have been playing really well as of late, which gives us some good confidence as we head into our first NCAA postseason.”

JU enters the tournament on a program-best 15-game winning streak, which includes a sweep against cross-town rival UNF to secure its first A-Sun regular season championship.

At the A-Sun Tournament, junior Amanda Schmidt smashed a two-run homer in the first game in a 4-1 win against Mercer. Freshman Karson Tuck had a three-run game-winning home run to help JU down Lipscomb, 3-1, to advance to the title game. The Lady Bisons fought their way back to the championship game, but the Dolphins finished them off with the help of two homers by Schmidt for a 7-1 win.

Junior Sarah Sigrest earned all three wins in the circle and fanned 15 total batters to secure tournament MVP accolades and a spot on the all-tournament team. Schmidt and Tuck also received all-tournament honors.

Schmidt currently leads the team in doubles (12), home runs (9) and RBI (48) after her solid weekend at the A-Sun Tournament. Sigrest paces the pitching staff with a 26-5 mark, a 1.01 ERA and 200 strikeouts in 215.1 innings of work. She is also holding opposing hitting to a .165 batting average.

The Bruins come into the tournament after dropping eight of their last 10 games in Pac-10 play. They lost two of three to Oregon over the weekend.

Offensively, Andrea Harrison is hitting .392 (58-148) with 11 doubles, 13 home runs and 46 RBI for UCLA. Jessica Hall paces the pitchers with 16 wins, while Donna Kerr logged a team-high 167 strikeouts en route to a 12-9 record.

The Lady Wildcats (33-24) won twice against Delaware State, including the second game in extra innings, to secure the MEAC Tournament title for the second straight year.

Allison Garica leads Bethune-Cookman in both offense and defensive catergories. She is hitting .374 (61-163) with 56 RBI at the plate and getting 26 wins in the circle by fanning 133 batters in 257 innings.

Florida took an early exit from the SEC Tournament, but boasts a 47-9 record to get its national seeding.

The Gators are built for power with five players at 10 or more home runs, led by Megan Bush’s 20 round trippers. Michelle Moultrie is hitting .427 to pace the offense as a whole.

Hannah Rogers leads the Florida staff with 30 wins and 178 strikeouts, while Stephanie Brombacher has a 17-2 record and 1.08 ERA in 123 innings.

This will be the first meeting between JU and UCLA on Friday. The Dolphins have played both Florida and Bethune-Cookman during the 2011 schedule.

On Feb. 16, the Gators used a late grand slam to secure a 7-0 victory at the JU Softball Complex and take a 9-0 lead in the all-times series.

The Dolphins knocked off the Lady Wildcats, 5-0, at home on Feb. 11 before a six-RBI day by Schmidt in Daytona Beach powered JU to an 11-3 victory on April 27 to take the series sweep. JU now owns a 7-5 advantage in the all-time series against Bethune-Cookman.

Allow with the ESPN3 broadcasts, fans can follow the games through internet radio and live stats by logging onto JUDolphins.com.