MONDAY, JUNE 23, 2003
JU Makes Splash in Inaugural Softball Campaign
June 23, 2003
The inaugural Jacksonville University softball team surpassed all expectations and turned in one of the finest seasons for a first-year program. The Dolphins finished with 23 victories (23-33 overall) and six wins (6-16 overall) in the Atlantic Sun Conference, including wins over A-Sun Championship participants Jacksonville St. and Stetson. JU earned its first tournament title at the Lady Rattler Invitational in Tallahassee and recorded a pair of no-hitters and a perfect game, while knocking off SEC foe Arkansas for its first win and NCAA Region 5 participant Hofstra.
Freshman Jill Bandhauer (Crystal River, Fla.) was named to the A-Sun All-Freshman Team after leading all freshmen with a .326 average and 25 RBI, while Bridget Starry (San Diego, Calif.) earned Pitcher-of-the-Week honors after leading the Dolphins to two victories at the USF/Wilson Invitational in Tampa, including a 3-1 decision over NCAA Region 5 participant Hofstra. Junior shortstop Dianna Korcak (Clearwater, Fla.) was named the team MVP after leading the Dolphins in nearly every offensive category and ranking among the A-Sun leaders in batting average, hits, triples, at-bats and plate appearances.
The Dolphins picked up their first victory in dramatic fashion, claiming a 3-2 decision in eight innings over SEC power Arkansas at the UCF/Triple Crown Classic in St. Augustine, Fla. Although Jacksonville did not win its first game until its fifth game of the season, it carried the momentum from its win over the Lady Razorbacks to reel off seven wins over the next 11 games, including winning a season-high five-straight games at one point. JU's winning streak began with back-to-back 10-inning victories over A-Sun foe Gardner-Webb by a combined two runs, which gave the Dolphins their first conference victories, and concluded with three wins over Alabama A&M and Savannah St. at the Bulldog Classic, in which freshman Katie Dobson (Clearwater, Fla.) tossed the program's first no-hitter against Alabama A&M. In the Dolphins' three games at the Bulldog Classic they outscored their opponents, 49-1, as Dobson, Bandhauer and freshman Melissa Coburn (Crystal River, Fla.) earned all-tournament honors.
JU continued its strong play at the Lady Rattler Invitational hosted by Florida A&M and walked away with the championship trophy after a 9-3 thumping of South Carolina St. to claim its first-ever tournament title. After suffering back-to-back 10-inning losses to Mercer, the Dolphins battled back to win four straight in the final month of the season. JU avenged its season-opening loss to Webber International with a doubleheader sweep of the Warriors on the road and closed out its home season at the JU Softball Complex with a sweep against Savannah St., in which Starry tossed the program's first perfect game and Dobson followed with her second no-hitter of the season.
"The success we had this year was above all expectations," said first-year head coach Jeff Franquet. "We had the chance to win almost every game we played. Because of the successes we enjoyed in our inaugural season, the team now believes they can qualify for the A-Sun Championship next season."
Franquet put together an extremely challenging schedule for the Dolphins as they faced nationally ranked Notre Dame, South Florida and Florida St., in addition to six teams that qualified for the NCAA Regional Championships. 2004 will be more of the same as the Dolphins continue to build one of the top programs in the Southeast Region.