Softball hosts JU Invitational on Friday
The JU softball team will get back into a more normal game schedule this week when the Dolphins host Marist, Vermont and Coastal Carolina for the JU Invitational starting Friday at the JU Softball Complex.

The Dolphins (3-9) open their last home tournament of the season against Coastal Carolina at 3:30 p.m. before finishing the day against Vermont (0-0) at 5:45 p.m. On Saturday, JU begins with the Catamounts again at 2:30 p.m. and end the day vs. Marist at 4:45 p.m. The Dolphins close out the invitational on Sunday at 11:45 a.m. vs. the Chanticleers.

“We feel good about heading into this weekend,” said JU head coach Amanda Lehotak. “We had to move our defense around and the players have responded with hard work and great effort. Our goal this weekend is to really focus on one game at a time and start building some good momentum heading into conference.”

JU gets back into full swing this week after falling in extra innings to UCF, 5-3, in the Dolphins only game last week.

The Dolphins led initially and tied the game in the fifth inning, but Ashleigh Cole’s 3.1 scoreless innings of relief and Abby McClain’s two-out, run-scoring double in the eighth inning helped give UCF the victory.

Sophomore Katie Kelly is currently the Dolphins hottest hitter by pacing the team in average (.342), hits (13) and multi-hit games (5). Kelly also is in the midst of a four-game hitting streak and has driven a run home in three of the four contests during the stretch.

In the circle, freshman Sarah Sigrest is tops among the JU pitching staff with a team-high 38 strikeouts in 46 innings of work.

Marist enters its first set of games this season under first-year head coach Joe Ausanio, who is a former pitcher on the JU baseball team from 1985-88.

In 2008, the Red Foxes posted a 24-30 overall en route to a fourth place finish in the Metro Athletic Atlantic Conference.

They return eight starters from last year’s including senior Melissa Giordano who was tabbed as MAAC’s Preseason “Player of the Year.” Caitlin Carpenter is the squad’s top returning hurler after fanning 111 batters in 115.2 innings over work over 25 appearances.

Like Marist, this will also be Vermont’s first games of the season after posting a 14-27 record in 2008 to finish seventh in the America East Conference.

Caroline Goddard finished third hitting in 2008 with a .276 (24-87) and Allison Daggett posted 47 strikeouts to lead a group of six returners for Vermont.

The Chanticleers enter the weekend after falling in all five of their games at the Kickin’ Chicken Classic. Coastal Carolina’s lone win so far this season came against Florida Atlantic, 3-2, to close out the University of Florida/Lipton Invitational on Feb. 15.

Mecaela Ballard leads the team in hitting with a .458 (11-24) average through nine games, while Sarah Maples has a team-high five RBI. Katelin Edwards has a team-high 23 strikeouts in 34.2 innings, but has posted a 6.46 ERA with allowing 32 earned runs in nine appearances.