@BCUSoftball Gameday: Opening Weekend At USF
TAMPA – Bethune-Cookman opens its 2014 season against two top five teams, a top 25 team and another that made the Women’s College World Series.
The Wildcats, coming off an 18-36 season in which they won the Mid-Eastern Athletic Conference Southern Division championship but exited the MEAC tournament with 1-2 record. open Thursday at 8:15 p.m. against South Florida, ranked No. 25 in the USA Today/NFCA Preseason Top 25 and No. 23 in the ESPN.com/USA Softball Preseason. The Bulls are hosting the Wilson DeMarini Tournament through Sunday.
B-CU meets Illinois State Friday and Wisconsin, a tournament team last year, on Saturday. Sunday’s finale include games with Michigan (5/4) and Florida (4/3) back-to-back.
B-CU OVERVIEW: The Wildcats return five position players from last year, include senior secondbaseman Kelsey Rodney, who hit .290 last season. Calesha Shelley returns as leadoff hitter, Shamaria Engram at first, Sophia Ortega at third and Melissa Berouty behind the plate. Shanel Tolbert, who has recorded 45 victories, returns for her senior season in the circle.
Head Coach Chris Cochran enters her eight season. She was named MEAC Coach of Year in 2013.
GOOD HISTORY: The last time B-CU was in a tournament that included USF and Florida, the Wildcats won the 2005 NCAA Gainesville Regional to earn a berth in the NCAA Super Regionals against Texas
ABOUT USF: The Bulls return eight starters from last year’s team and are coming off its second-consecutive NCAA tournament appearance. USF also won the program’s first Big East Tournament championship last season, finishing with a 18-3 league record (45-15 overall).
ABOUT NORTHERN ILLINOIS: The Redbirds finished 28-20 overall and 13-7 in the MVC, good for third-place in the league.
ABOUT MICHIGAN: The Wolverines are seeking their seventh straight Big Ten title and 17th overall in 2014. They were 51-13 in 2013 and advanced to the WCWS for the tenth straight time.
ABOUT WISCONSIN: The Badgers are coming off their best season in program history with a 44-13 mark.
ABOUT FLORIDA: The Gators return 14 letterwinners from last year’s squad that led the nation with 58 wins (58-9), won the SEC regular-season and tournament titles and advanced to the Women’s College World Series for the fifth time since 2008.
TOURNAMENT COVERAGE: Thursday’s game with USF will be streamed on GoUSFbulls.com, which will also have a Tournament Central page. You can also follow B-CU’s progress on the official twitter feeds, @bcuathletics and @bcusoftball.