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Bulldogs face five teams in this weekend's Citrus Classic 2

Bulldogs face five teams in this weekend's Citrus Classic 2

SMITHFIELD, R.I. – After opening the season 1-4 at the ECU Pirate Clash, the Bryant University softball team continues nonconference play with five games at the Citrus Classic 2 in Orlando, Fla., facing Chattanooga, Purdue, South Alabama, Mercer and Florida International.

The Bulldogs (1-4) open the tournament against the Mocs on Friday at 1:15 p.m. (5-9). Chattanooga enters the contest on a one-game losing streak, most recently dropping a 5-2 decision to St. Louis. The Mocs faced fellow Northeast Conference foe Fairleigh Dickinson at the NTC Tournament and Frost Classic, where they split games, winning, 6-4, before losing, 8-7. Chattanooga was also defeated by fellow New England team, UConn, 5-1, at the Chattanooga Challenge.  

Ashley Conner and Emma Sturdivant lead the Mocs, batting .463 and .360, respectively. Conner's average places her second in the Southern Conference, as she also leads the team with 19 hits, four homeruns, 12 RBIs, .829 slugging percentage and .531 on-base percentage. Payten Price has seen the most time in the circle, beginning the season 3-7, while averaging a 3.36 ERA. Price's three wins places her third in the conference, while sitting second with 40 strikeouts. Price is backed by Alex Connell, who is 1-2 on the season with a 4.91 ERA. First baseman and shortstop Jesslyn Stockard and Maddy Adams both remain errorless on the season. Stockard leads the team with 45 putouts, while Adams totals eight putouts and six assists.

Bryant faces off with Purdue on Friday at 5:45 p.m. The Boilermakers (2-12) enter the tournament on a four-game losing streak, after already facing tough competition in Arizona State, Stanford, Louisville, North Carolina, Arizona and Houston. Most recently, the Boilermakers have been dealt their biggest loss of the season, 21-5, to defending NEC Champions LIU Brooklyn in five innings, despite scoring in every inning.  

Purdue's two wins this season have come over UC Santa Barbara and St. Mary's. Maya Hughes leads the team, batting .386 with 17 hits and nine runs. Kaylah Hampton sits second on the team with 11 hits, six runs, while batting .324. Maddie Damon is 2-3 in the circle, posting a 4.69 ERA, while Kaitlynn Moody is 0-4, with a 7.70 ERA. Utility player Mallory Baker and outfielder Maddie Damon both remain errorless this season, combining for 44 putouts and eight assists.

On Saturday, the Bulldogs face South Alabama and Mercer in back-to-back games (12:30 and 2:45 pm). The Jaguars (13-2) began the season 13-0 at home, but suffered a loss most recently to McNeese State, 7-1. South Alabama's only other loss came to in-state rival Alabama, 3-1, on the road.  

Mary Catherine Elizabeth Nichols is 18-for-39 at the plate, averaging a team-high .462, while totaling 8 runs. Haleigh Lowe has totaled 10 hits and five runs, averaging .385 through the first 15 games. Devin Brown posts an impressive 0.41 ERA, siting 6-1 on the season. Brown is backed by Destin Vicknair, who is 7-1 on the season with a 1.72 ERA. Katelyn Gruich and Amanda Minahan top the team in putouts with 32 and 17, respectively. Nichols and Brown were most recently named Community Coffee Players of the Week, as announced by the Sun Belt Conference office on Tuesday.

The Bears (8-7) most recently split games with Florida A&M at home in Macon, Ga. Two of Mercer's eight wins have come over Creighton and Dayton, 10-6, and, 4-0, respectively. The Bears largest win of the season came over Savannah State, winning, 21-2, in front of a home crowd.

Meghan Rud leads the team with 23 hits and 15 runs, batting .442. Megan Lane is fresh off of being named the Southern Conference Softball Player of the Week, totaling 16 hits and 11 runs, while batting .410 this season. Stella Preston leads the pitching staff with a 2.44 ERA, posting a 3-2 record. Megan Bilgri is 3-0 on the season, posting a 3.45 ERA. Catcher Catie Josselet leads the Bears with 25 putouts, while Stella Preston tops the team with 11 assists.

The Bulldogs wrap up the Citrus Classic 2 with a final game against Florida International. The Panthers (11-5) are entering the tournament with a 6-1 win over Florida Gulf Coast. FIU has accumulated a number of impressive wins, including victories over Georgetown in all three meetings, Memphis in 2-of-3 meetings, Rutgers and Maryland. Their largest win over the season came over Memphis, 12-4, while also beating fellow New Englander Boston College, 2-1. An in in-state rival game, the Panthers fell to No. 1 Florida, 5-0.

Jackie Schoff tops the Panthers offensive stats with 24 hits, 19 runs and a .462 batting average. Stephanie Texeira bats .347, while totaling 17 hits and 11 runs. Abby Summers posts a team-best 1.52 ERA and 4-0 record. Megan Kugelmann is 4-1 on the season and posts a 2.37 ERA. First baseman Stephanie Texeira leads the Panthers with 82 putouts, while catcher Jessica Rivera totals 38 put outs and 23 assists. Most recently, Texeira broke the program's career homerun record by hitting her 34th in the team's 6-1 win at FGCU.