Softball Opens Season Friday at FIU Tournament
Meagan Balding (Photo credit: Skip Tapp) Play Video
Meagan Balding (Photo credit: Skip Tapp)

JACKSONVILLE, Fla. – The Jacksonville University softball team opens its season this Friday, Feb. 7, in the weekend Felsberg Memorial Tournament in Miami, Fla.

The Dolphins, selected to finish seventh in the Atlantic Sun preseason poll, start the tournament on Friday against Big East member DePaul at 1:30 p.m. before clashing against host school and C-USA member Florida International University (FIU) at 6:30 p.m. On Saturday, Jacksonville will face an early 10 a.m. game against the ACC Maryland Terrapins.

“I’m really excited to open the season this weekend down in Miami,” said third-year Head Coach Ali Higgs. “The three teams we will face have all had a lot of success in the past and every game is going to be competitive.

“Our team is really focused and has been working really hard the past three weeks [and] I feel like we are prepared and ready to go.”

In 2013, Jacksonville continued its winning ways of earning 30 or more wins for the fourth straight season, but fell just shy of earning a spot in the Atlantic Sun Tournament.

As a team, the Fins ended its season ranked second in the A-Sun in team fielding (.966) and third in batting average (.286).

Seniors Karson Tuck, Miranda Fleming, Codi Kelly and Meagan Balding highlight the 2014 lineup, along with eight returnees and six freshmen, including 2013 Gatorade Oklahoma Softball Player of the Year, Jessi Walker.

Tuck started all 50 games played last season. She ranked second on the team in batting average (.348) and RBI (39) and tied for second in hits (56), doubles (9) and fielding double plays (3). She tallied 23 runs, completed 17 multi-hit games, and held a 14-game hitting streak from March 17 to April 7.

Fleming played in 13 games, starting two, and earned her lone run against Ball State on March 3 where she also recorded one hit and two RBI. Kelly, who started all 52 games played, led the Dolphins in triples (3) and fielding double plays (5). Kelly finished .302 with eight doubles, three triples, four homers and 19 RBI.

Balding finished fourth on the Fins in fielding percentage (.983), tallied eight runs, recorded 11 RBI and had four multi-hit games.

DePaul, which was chosen to win the Big East Conference in the preseason poll, swept Jacksonville 4-0 in 2010 during the only meeting between the two schools.

Selected to finish sixth in the C-USA preseason poll and sixth in the ACC preseason poll, respectively, Florida International and Maryland most recently beat Jacksonville in 2012 and 2011. FIU has won three of four meetings dating back to the 2009 season, while Maryland just edged Jacksonville 2-1 in eight innings during their only meeting in 2011.