Softball Preps For Weekend Showdown In Tampa

Julie Brito and the Bucs face off with defending SSC champs Tampa this weekend. Photo by Andy Meng.

MIAMI SHORES, Fla.—The Sunshine State Conference softball standings are shaping up and the league looks to be very strong again this year as only one game separates the top four teams.

No one is hotter in conference play than the Barry Buccaneers, tied for first in the league at 7-2 with Florida Tech, and winners of their last seven conference games. Overall, the Bucs are 19-10 and have won seven of their last eight.

The Bucs face one of their toughest tests this season as they travel to face the seventh-ranked Tampa Spartans at Vince Naimoli Family Field this weekend. The series promises to be one of contrasts.

The Bucs are one of the top offensive squads in the conference, ranking second in batting and fourth in runs scored per game. Sophomore first baseman Julie Brito has been the Bucs’ top hitter for most of the season. Her .409 average is second in the league and she leads the team in homers and RBI. Senior Sarah Broeseker is second on the team in batting at .382 and leads the team in extra-base hits and runs scored. The Bucs’ table-setters have been senior Natalia Ojeda and freshman Megan Copeland. Copeland is batting .329 with 15 runs and a team-high 13 stolen bases. Ojeda carries a .326 average, 16 runs scored and leads the team with 10 walks. Sophomore second sacker Kelly Martinez checks in with a .324 average, is tied with Brito for the lead in homers and tied with Broeseker for second in RBI.

The Bucs’ pitchers are led by senior Alexis Yohe. She carries a 1.99 ERA and leads the team with nine wins and 78 strikeouts in 91.2 innings. Britney Pugh, who has won her last three starts, has an 0.98 ERA and has walked just seven in 35.2 innings.

Tampa (18-6, 6-3 SSC) lives and dies with pitching. Junior Kayla Cox is tops in the nation in ERA and strike outs. She is now 13-3 on the year with a 0.32 ERA and has amassed 195 strikeouts in 109.1 innings while hurling five no-hitters, including a perfect game.

But the Spartans have had trouble scoring runs as they rank eighth in the league in batting and runs scored per game. Only two hitters are batting over .300. Sophomore first baseman Meghan Burke leads the team at .329 with three homers and 12 RBI. Sophomore shortstop Kayleen Boatwright is at .316 with a team-high 16 RBI and seven doubles.

One thing that could slow both teams down: the weather. Forecasts call for rain in the Tampa area this weekend and have prompted a schedule change. The series now will open with a doubleheader Saturday evening at the Naimoli Family Field beginning at 5 p.m., with the final game starting at 10 a.m., on Sunday.

Admission to all UT softball games is free of charge. Buccaneer fans unable to make it to the games can follow the action through a live video feed from tampaspartans.tv and live stats through GoBarryBucs.com.

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