TALLAHASSEE, Fla. (Univ. of Ark.) - The University of Arkansas softball team will travel Tallahassee, Fla. for the Unconquered Invitational. Arkansas will battle No. 20 Hofstra, No. 25 Florida State and Tulsa in a round-robin style tournament from Feb. 15 - Feb. 17.
Arkansas (7-0) has completed the best start in program history thus far. The team started its season with five wins at the Red Desert Classic in St. George, Utah. The Razorbacks swept Jackson State (1-5) Wednesday in a doubleheader by scores of 8-2 and 8-0 in five innings.
Leading the way for the Razorbacks in Jackson were two freshmen. Pitcher Kelly Young returned to Mississippi in grand fashion. The Madison, Miss. native pitched five shutout innings, allowing two hits, while striking out five. The freshman pitcher is averaging over one strikeout per inning.
Also contributing to the wins on Wednesday was freshman Claire Clark. She went 3-for-6 with five RBI on the day including a grand slam over the leftfield fence in the fifth inning of game two.
The Hogs now turn their attention to the Unconquered Invitational. In the invitational the team will face three teams that qualified for the 2012 NCAA tournament; Hofstra, Florida State and Tulsa. Arkansas will face Hofstra on Feb. 15 at 9 a.m. CT, followed by Florida State at 1:30 p.m. CT and finally Tulsa on Feb. 16 at 9 a.m. CT. After round-robin play is complete the teams will be seeded according to their respective records in the tournament. The No. 1 seed will play the No. 4 seed on Feb. 16 at 1:30 p.m. CT and the No. 2 seed will face the No. 3 seed at 3:30 p.m. CT. The winners of the semi-final games will play on Feb. 17 at 10:30 a.m. CT with the losers in the semi-final games preluding the championship game at 8 a.m. CT. Head coach Mike Larabee is looking forward to facing the stiff competition.
"I am excited to see where we are at," Larabee said. "We are going to face three ranked or close to ranked teams. Florida State is No. 25, Hofstra was one game from the World Series last year and has a great pitcher and Tulsa is very athletic and beat us last year. We are going to have our hands full."
The No. 21 Hofstra Pride will play its first game of the 2013 season versus Arkansas on Feb. 15. The Pride finished 42-15 last season and narrowly missed a WCWS appearance, losing to USF in the super regional. Hofstra returns seven starters from the 2012 CAA winning club. Olivia Galati returns for her senior season after capturing the Division I ERA crown with a 0.95 ERA last season.
Scouting Florida State
The No. 25 Florida State Seminoles (4-0) have outscored its opponents ...-... so far this season. FSU went 47-16 in 2012, the best finish for the program since 2004. The Seminoles reached the postseason for the 13th consecutive season in 2012 and return 15 letterwinners including redshirt senior pitcher Monica Perry and sophomore thrower Lacey Waldrop, who both finished in the Top 30 in ERA last season, while Perry held a 22-6 record and Waldrop finished 19-5.
The Tulsa Golden Hurricane (3-2) return 12 letterwinners from its 42-14, Conference USA winning team. Tulsa defeated Arkansas twice last season by scores of 6-0 and 12-9. In Tulsa's first game against an SEC opponent this season they lost to LSU by a score of 1-0.
When the road trip concludes the Razorbacks will return home for the Arkansas Invitational. Game one of the invitational features Arkansas hosting Saint Louis on Feb. 22 at 3 p.m. CT in Bogle Park.