Cavaliers Head South for Citrus Classic
CHARLOTTESVILLE, Va. – The Virginia softball team (9-5) heads south for competition Friday through Sunday at the 2011 Citrus Classic on the Disney Wild World of Sports grounds in Lake Buena Vista, Fla. The Cavaliers will play five games on the weekend, including three against ranked opponents. Live statistics for all games will be available on VirginiaSports.com.
Virginia opens the tournament at 10 a.m. Friday against No. 17 Louisiana-Lafayette. UVa will also face No. 13 Oregon at 12:30 p.m. Friday and play two more games on Saturday against Illinois State (10 a.m.) and Long Island (12:30 p.m.). Virginia concludes the event with a match-up against top-ranked Alabama at 9 a.m. Saturday. That game will be broadcast on ESPN3.com.
Virginia is receiving votes in the latest USA Today/NFCA Division I Top 25 poll released Tuesday. The Cavaliers are coming off a 3-2 performance last weekend in the Cathedral City Classic, including wins against then-No. 25 BYU and then-No. 11 Hawai’i.
Freshman Stephanie Harris leads the Cavaliers at the plate thus far into the season with a team-best .364 average and four doubles. Sophomore Alex Skinkis posts a .341 average while classmate Kristen Hawkins is hitting .323 with a team-high 12 RBI.
Sophomore pitcher Melanie Mitchell is 6-4 on the year with three shutouts and nine complete games. Teammates Erica Cipolloni (1-1) and Stephanie Coates (2-0) have also seen action in the circle this season.
No. 17 Louisiana-Layfatete (14-1) is coming off a 4-1 weekend at the Cowgirl Classic in Lake Charles, La. Junior Ashley Brignac threw a no-hitter against McNeese State and recorded 16 strikeouts against Houston Baptist en route to being named the Sun Belt pitcher of the week.
The Cavaliers won the only meeting with ULL, a 10-4 victory last season at the Judi Garman Classic in Fullerton, Calif.
No. 13 Oregon (14-2) is also coming off a 4-1 weekend at the Libby Matson Tournament in Stockton, Calif. Junior Jessica Moore did not allow an earned run on the weekend and classmate Kelsey Chambers posted a .444 average through the team’s five games.
Virginia will face Oregon for the first time on Friday.
Illinois State (9-5) played last weekend at the USF Fairfield Inn and Suites Tournament in Tampa, Fla., and finished with a 2-3 mark. Freshman pitcher Taylor Baxter earned her third shutout victory of the year in a perfect game outing against Central Connecticut State on Sunday.
The Cavaliers are winless (0-2) against the Redbirds; the last time meeting came during the 1994 season, a 5-1 Illinois State victory.
Long Island (3-12) joined UVa at the Cathedral City Classic last weekend, posting a 1-4 mark in the event. The Blackbirds, a NCAA team a year ago, defeated Oregon State in California last weekend, led by a Megan Sheaf home run.
Virginia and LIU last met in 2002, a 4-1 Cavalier win. UVa leads the all-time series 2-0.
Top-ranked Alabama (16-0) played in the USF Fairfield Inn and Sites Tournament with Illinois State and finished a perfect 5-0. Freshman Kaila Hunt hit .455 with three home runs and 10 RBI over the course of the tournament.
The Cavaliers and Crimson Tide will also meet for the first time this weekend in the Citrus Classic.