FLORENCE, SC - The 21st-ranked Francis Marion University women’s softball team will face Lander University, Friday (April 15) at noon as the 2005 Peach Belt Conference Tournament commences at the Citizen’s Park II complex in Aiken, S.C.
The Patriots (34-12) are seeded sixth, while Lander (32-32) is the 11th seed. FMU swept a pair of games (9-1 and 5-1) from the Lady Bearcats two weeks ago in Florence. Their contest is one of three opening-round games at noon.
If FMU beats Lander, the Patriots would advance to face third-seeded Georgia College & State University in one of three winners’ bracket contests, Friday at 2 p.m. A loss to Lander would place FMU in a losers’ bracket game on Saturday at 1 p.m. The tournament championship game is set for Sunday at 1 p.m.
Tournament results may be viewed at http://www.pacersports.com/PBCSoftball2005.html
Francis Marion is 17-20 all-time in the tournament, including a third-place finish at last year’s event.
Senior center fielder Betsy Bouknight leads the Patriots in hitting (.428), home runs (8), runs scored (41), slugging percentage (.710), and stolen bases (27 in 31 attempts). She is nationally ranked in four categories, including 47th in NCAA Division II in batting average. Six Patriot regulars are batting over .300, but FMU will be without the services of PBC Freshman of the Year candidate Allie Aleman (.404), who is nursing an injury.
The young Patriot pitching staff consists of sophomores Jessica Johnson (19-7 record, 1.82 earned run average) and Sam Goff (9-3, 1.34 ERA), and freshman Meg Thomy (5-2, 2.66 ERA). Johnson is one win shy of becoming the first Patriot hurler in 16 seasons to win 20 games.
Eighth-ranked University of North Florida (35-7) is the tournament’s top seed after winning a tiebreaker with fourth-ranked Kennesaw State University (45-8). The two teams were the PBC regular-season co-champions with identical 16-4 conference marks. UNF and KSU, both playing their final seasons in the Peach Belt, have combined to win the last eight PBC Tournaments.
GC&SU (23-15) is under the direction of interim head coach Ginger Miller, an FMU graduate and former Patriot outfielder.