SUNDAY, MAY 15, 2011
Softball to face UCLA in Gainesville Regional on Friday
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The JU softball team’s inaugural NCAA Tournament appearance will be against the one of the nation’s best, as the Dolphins will face defending national champion UCLA in the Gainesville regional starting on Friday, as announced on the ESPNU selection show Sunday night.

The Dolphins (43-14) will play the Bruins (33-17, 9-12 PAC 10) to start the double-elimination event, while the host Gators, seeded fourth nationally, will have Bethune-Cookman in the night cap to round out the first day.

“We are thrilled to be in this regional,” said JU head coach Amanda Lehotak. “Our kids like a challenge and these three teams are at the top of their conferences. UCLA is the defending national champion and there is no better way to gauge how far we’ve come than against one of the top teams in collegiate softball. We excited to be playing in this field.”

The Dolphins have won 25 of their last 27 contests, including three straight to the claim the Atlantic Sun Conference Tournament and an automatic bid to the NCAA Tournament.

JU is currently 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 to secure a 4-1 win against Mercer, while 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 be named tournament MVP and to the all-tournament team. Schmidt and Tuck also received all-tournament honors.

Sigrest, the 2011 A-Sun “Pitcher of the Year” has been rock solid for the Dolphins during the winning streak, recording a 12-0 record in 13 appearances and fanning 77 batters for an 0.56 ERA. She currently has a 1.01 ERA (fifth nationally) and 200 strikeouts on the year, both school records.

Sophomore Sarah Simon is batting .436 (17-39) with two home runs and 11 RBI during the streak, while junior Amanda Schmidt has 24 RBI.

The Bruins came into the tournament after dropping eight of their last 10 games in Pac-10 play. Florida took an early exit from the SEC Tournament, but boasts a 47-9 record. The Lady Wildcats (33-24) won the MEAC Tournament to get their ticket into the NCAA Tournament for the second straight year.

Tickets are on sale at the Florida ticket office starting on Monday. For more information, visit www.gatorzone.com/tickets or call the Florida ticket office at (800) 344-2867, ext. 6800