FLORENCE, S.C. – The 19th-ranked Francis Marion University women’s softball team finished fourth in the final regular-season Peach Belt Conference standings, following Monday’s doubleheader sweep of UNC Pembroke.
The Patriots concluded their regular-season with a 35-7 overall mark and an 11-5 PBC record. The 35 wins equal the fourth most in team history, and represent the fourth straight 30-win season for the Patriots. The 11 conference wins equal the most in team history, matching the 2001 squad that went 11-9 and tied for fourth place.
The University of North Florida (39-8, 14-2) captured the PBC regular-season crown, while Georgia College & State University (32-4, 12-4) was second, and Kennesaw State University (30-9, 14-6) was third.
The PBC Tournament will be held Friday through Sunday (April 18-20) at Citizens Park in Aiken, S.C.
Francis Marion will receive a first-round bye at the tournament. The Patriots’ likely first-round opponent will be 18th-ranked Columbus State University (39-9, 12-6), Friday at 2 p.m. FMU and CSU split a twinbill this past Saturday with Francis Marion winning the opener 6-2 and dropping a 6-5 decision in the nightcap that lasted only five innings because of a power failure in CSU’s field lights.
A win over CSU would place Francis Marion in Saturday’s 1 p.m. winners’ bracket contest, while a loss to Columbus State would have Francis Marion playing Saturday at 11 a.m. in a losers’ bracket game. The tournament is double elimination.
Freshman second baseman Carrie Closson (Goose Creek, SC) continues to lead the Patriot offense with a .438 average, while freshman shortstop Heather Garrison (Hartsville, SC) is hitting .425 and leads the squad with 45 runs batted in. Garrison’s RBI total is only two shy of the FMU single-season record. Senior catcher Laurie Niego (Chicago, IL), the program’s career leader in RBIs, is hitting .367 with seven home runs and 44 RBIs.
The Patriot pitching staff consists of senior right-hander Amy Birch (19-3 record, 1.53 earned run average), senior righty Heather Johnson (11-3, 1.72), and junior righty Natalie Taylor (5-1, 1.18).