The Blue Raiders will kick-off their season in Fort Myers, Fla. today with the FGCU Tournament February 12-14. In the field are the Big Ten’s Michigan State, in-state rival Memphis, Kent State out of the Mid-American, UIC and the host FGCU. The Lady Blue Raiders play Michigan State at 2:45. For complete schedule click here.
The Raiders will be playing 10 games against 5 teams that made 2015 Regional appearances. The Blue Raiders are picked to finish 11th in Conference USA play and will be led by Pre-Season All-American catcher Morgan Harris . The Blue Raiders’ catcher hit .322 last season in 51 games, recorded six home runs, racked up 34 RBIs, and had a slugging percentage of .497.
It will be a generally young inexperienced team. Kelci Cheney and Megan Chocallo bring the only real experience to the mound. Cheney, a Senior, pitched 134 innings last year to a 12-14 record and a 3.74 ERA. Chocallo, a Junior , pitched just over 80 innings for a 5-5 mark.
The infield will be anchored by senior Carlie Jenkins who will be making the move from first to second base. She will have Dickson County true freshman Payton Grove at short. A possible other choice at second is junior Austin Whaley. Whaley has the stuff on defense, if she can get her bat going she will be a nice option. Youth continues to abound as medical redshirt freshman Danielle Munoz will get the shot at first. At third it looks as though senior Megan Griffith will share time with sophomore, and former Riverdale Warrior, Kristin Uselton.
The outfield is full of young talent, led by sophomore Precious Birdsong who stole 40 of 45 bases last year. In left Field it’s California freshman Deja Portillo. Right looks to be platooned by junior Lauren Payne and local freshman sensation Kirstyn Cuccia of Blackman High School.