Softball travels to compete at Florida Gulf Coast Tournament

    SIU travels to Fort Myers, Fla. to compete in a three-day tournament at Florida Gulf Coast University.

    SIU travels to Fort Myers, Fla. to compete in a three-day tournament at Florida Gulf Coast University.
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    Feb. 13, 2013

    By Robin Thuringer

    Game Notes Get Acrobat Reader

    CARBONDALE, Ill.-- The Southern Illinois University softball team will travel to Fort Myers, Fla. this weekend to compete in the 2013 Florida Gulf Coast Tournament.

    The Salukis return to action after opening the 2013 season with a 3-2 finish at the Dot Richardson National Collegiate Invitational. Southern Illinois will face a tough weekend schedule taking on three 2012 NCAA tournament teams- defending national champions Alabama, host FGCU and Georgia Southern.

    SIU will open the 2013 Florida Gulf Coast Tournament on Friday morning when they square off with Appalachian State at 8 a.m. CT

    WHAT: La Quinta Inn Florida Gulf Coast Tournament

    WHERE: Fort Myers, Fla.

    WHEN: Feb. 15-17

    RADIO: None    VIDEO: None    LIVE STATS: Click Here

    TWITTER: @SIU_Softball


    Fri., Feb. 15    vs. Appalachian State     8 a.m. CT

                        vs. Georgia Southern     10:15 a.m. CT

    Sat., Feb. 16   vs. Georgia Southern     8 a.m. CT

                        at Florida Gulf Coast     5:00 p.m. CT

    Sun., Feb.17    vs. No. 1 Alabama       8:00 a.m. CT

    WHAT'S ON DECK Southern Illinois will travel to Fort Myers, Fla. to compete in the La Quinta FGCU Tournament. The Salukis will face a tough schedule taking on three 2012 NCAA tournament teams- defending national champions Alabama, host FGCU and Georgia Southern. SIU will also take on Appalachian State in the opening game of the tournament.

    RECAPPING LAST WEEK The Salukis opened the 2013 season at the Dot Richardson Invitational in Clermont, Fla. finishing the weekend 3-2. The Salukis topped Chattanooga, Fordham and LIU Brooklyn but fell to Virginia Tech in both their meetings.

    LOOKING AT LAST SEASON The Salukis finished the 2012 season with a record of 16-10 in the Missouri Valley Conference. SIU returns 12 letterwinners, including seven position starters and three pitchers, from a team that went 36-20 and made it to the MVC Tournament championship game last season.

    BLAYLOCK NEARS 500 WINS Kerri Blaylock returns to the helm of Saluki Softball in 2013 nearing her 500th career win. Blaylock enters her 14th season as the team's head coach and her 23rd overall year with the program boasting a career record of 491-228.

    INCREDIBLE INNING The Salukis opened their 2013 season with a mega sixth inning against Fordham last weekend. Meredith Wilson highlighted the inning with her first career grand slam, which accounted for all of Southern's runs in the 4-0 win over the Rams. In the bottom of the inning, the Salukis held off their opponent with an impressive triple play to end the inning.

    SALUKI STARTERS With the graduation of Haley Gorman and Mallory Duran-Sellars Southern will look to replace two starting positions this season. Gorman was a four-year starter at shortstop while Duran-Sellers was an anchor in the outfield, primarily playing in left field. This past weekend, Kalyn Harker got the start in center field while freshman Kelsey Gonzalez started at short stop.

    DAWGS AGAINST NO. 1 Southern Illinois has played the No. 1 team four times since 1995 and lost each time. The last matchup against a No. 1 was an 8-0 loss to Alabama on Feb. 27, 2009. The Salukis will face No. 1 Alabama in their final game of the weekend.

    SCOUTING ALABAMA The 2012 NCAA National Champions enter the weekend ranked as the No. 1 team in the country as released by the USA Today/NFCA Poll. The Crimson Tide left their opening weekend tournament at the University of Northern Iowa with a perfect 5-0 mark defeating Illinois, UNI, Drake, Green Bay and North Dakota. Alabama produced nine homeruns and outscored their opponents 43-12 over the five game slate. The Crimson Tide return two All-Americans in Kaila Hunt and Jackie Traina and were chosen to repeat as the SEC Champions. Southern trails their all-time series with Alabama 1-4.

    SCOUTING APPALACHIAN STATE The Mountaineers will open their 2013 season against the Salukis in the opening game of the FGCU Tournament. ASU was tabbed to finish fourth overall in the Southern Conference preseason coaches poll. Appalachian State returns preseason player of the year Allie Cashion. Cashion posted a .396 batting average in 2012 recoding 53 hits in 134 at-bats and 16 homeruns. ASU also returns preseason all-conference selections Meghan Smith and Sarrah Warnock. This will be the first meeting between Southern Illinois and Appalachian State.

    SCOUTING FGCU Florida Gulf Coast returns to the 2013 season after finishing the 2012 season as the A-Sun regular season and tournament champions. FGCU was picked to repeat again this season. The Eagles boast preseason player of the year catcher Chelsea Zgrabik, and preseason pitcher of the year, Shelby Morgan. FGCU opened their season on Wednesday night with a doubleheader at Florida International University. SIU leads the all-time series with Gulf Coast 1-0.

    SCOUTING GEORGIA SOUTHERN The reining 2012 SoCon regular season and tournament champions, Georgia Southern was picked to finish first again in the Southern Conference preseason poll. Junior pitcher Sarah Purvis was tabbed as the leagues preseason Pitcher of the Year and earned Pitcher of the Week accolades this past week for her performance. Last season Purvis became the first 20-game winner in program history. Last weekend the Eagles kicked off their 2013 season finishing the Eagle Round Robin 3-1, defeating St. John's, Akron and Tennessee Tech. The Salukis lead their all-time series with GSU 1-0.

    SENIOR SEASON Morgan Barchan, Brittney Lang and Michelle Bradley make up with 2013 senior class. Barchan and Bradley will return to the outfield while Lang returns to the circle for the Salukis. Last season, Lang led the team with 75 strikeouts including throwing three shutouts.

    NEXT TIME OUT The Salukis will hit the road again next weekend traveling to Clearwater, Fla. Southern Illinois will be competing in the NFCA Leadoff Classic facing UC Davis, South Florida, Central Florida, U Mass and Hofstra.