FORT MYERS, Fla. – The FGCU softball team looks for its third straight ASUN Conference series win Saturday and Sunday, when the Eagles host Austin Peay for a three-game homestand at the FGCU Softball Complex.
The Eagles (22-14 overall, 4-2 ASUN) and the Governors (16-11, 4-2) open with a doubleheader on Saturday beginning at 2 p.m. The final game of the series, Youth Day, is scheduled for Sunday at noon. Ages 12 and under get free admission with a paying adult, an opportunity to run the bases after the game and a chance to grab some signed Eagles posters.
All three games will be streamed on ESPN+. Tickets can be purchased online at FGCU Ticket Office and in the Alico Arena ticket office. Admission is free for FGCU students, faculty and staff with valid Eagle ID. No pets or emotional support animals are allowed at the FGCU Softball Complex. Only certified service animals are allowed.
FGCU opened conference play this season with series victories over both Jacksonville at home and on the road at ASUN preseason favorite Liberty. The Eagles enter the month of April with an RPI of 60 and have reached as high as no. 47 on March 7. FGCU is in third place in the ASUN standings, as Jacksonville State sits atop the leaderboard at 20-9 overall and 6 -0 in league play.
The Eagles accomplished a feat last weekend that no other ASUN team has been able to do against the Liberty since the Flames joined the conference in 2019 – recording back-to-back shutout victories. The Eagles also snapped the Flames' 13-game ASUN series win streak.
FGCU continues to cause problems for opposing teams with its speed. The Green & Blue ranks seventh nationally in total steals with 86, and No. 15 in stolen bases per game at 2.39 per contest. Grambling State has the nation's top mark with 130 stolen bases.
In an 11-3 win over Saint Francis on March 11, FGCU set the program's single-game stolen base record with 12. FGCU is a perfect 12-0 this season when recording three or more stolen bases.
The Three Eagles sit among the fastest in the ASUN, as Emily Chiarella (Lutz, Fla./Steinbrenner HS) leads all Eagles in steals with 17 and is fourth in the ASUN — 37th nationally. Freshman Olivia Black (Fort Pierce, FL/Fort Pierce Central HS) and the second Avery Viancos (Orlando, Fla./Lake Nona HS) is closely behind Chiarella, ranked fifth and sixth respectively.
In the circle, Ally Hulme paces Eagles in wins at eight. Four pitchers in the Eagles' stable have recorded at least four wins: Hulme, junior Angelina Bonilla (Coral Gables, FL/Coral Gables HS)junior Claire Maulding (Casey, Ill./Casey Westfield HS/Lake Land College)and senior Baylee Haggard (Naples, Florida/Palmetto Ridge HS/Florida SouthWestern State & South Florida State College). Bonilla leads the Eagles in strikeouts recorded with 59.
Bonilla duplicated the second of back-to-back playoff shutouts over Liberty last weekend for the series victory. Before surrendering a three-run double in the series finale against the Flames, Bonilla had held opponents scoreless in 30 2/3 straight innings over her last seven appearances.
Last weekend also saw Hulme surpass Kelci Breaux for ninth all-time in career at FGCU with 156 strikeouts.
Graduated Tayli Filla (Fort Myers, Fla./Bishop Verot HS/USF) continues to be the most consistent offensive spark for the Eagles, leading FGCU in six offensive categories: batting average (.343), hits (37), triples (2), home runs (4), RBIs (25) and slugging percentage (.565 ). Filla's 27 hits rank second in the ASUN and her 25 RBIs rank third across the conference.
Filla and the Eagles will face the ASUN Pitcher of the Week in Jordan Benefiel, who leads the league in strikeouts this season with 133, 12th nationally. Benefiel's 11 wins are also tied for second in the ASUN.
Last time out against Queens, Benefiel threw two complete game one-hitters. She boasts a 2.20 ERA over 111.1 innings of work, holding opponents to a .204 batting average.
The Governors are 3-5 this season in real games after a 6-4 midweek win against Murray State on Wednesday.
FGCU is 1-2 all-time against Austin Peay dating back to 2010. The last matchup between the two programs occurred in 2022, with the Governors coming out on top 2-1. FGCU's lone victory over Austin Peay was a 10-0, five-inning win during the 2010 campaign.
For current information on the FGCU softball program, follow on Twitter @FGCU_Softball, Instagram at fgcusoftball, Facebook and stay tuned to FGCUAthletics.com.
The founder of FGCU softball, David Deiros enters his 21st season as head coach in 2023. Hired in 2001 to build the program from the ground up, Deiros has since guided the Eagles to a 728-411-3 (.637) record, going 180-111 (.619) in ASUN, had 16 seasons with a winning record and nine campaigns with 35+ wins. Deiros has also led the Eagles to three ASUN regular season championships (2008, 2012 and 2016) and one ASUN tournament title (2012). In 2012, FGCU defeated No. 5 Florida in its first-ever NCAA Tournament appearance. Last season (2022), FGCU took down both No. 8 Texas and No. 10 Florida again. Deiros is a former head coach at 1998 Florida State Runner-Up Lely High School in Naples and is the founding head coach of 1999 District Champion/2001 Regional Runner-Up Gulf Coast High School in Naples.
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FGCU Athletics sponsors events in November and April to benefit the FGCUCampus Food Pantry (https://www.fgcu.edu/adminservices/foodpantry) and the Harry Chapin Food Bank (www.harrychapinfoodbank.org), FGCU Athletics' charities of choice. For more information, including how to make a contribution, visit https://www.fgcu.edu/adminservices/foodpantry and use the hashtag #FeedFGCU to raise awareness.
FGCU teams have combined to win an incredible 96 regular-season conference and tournament titles in just 15-plus seasons at the Division I level. Additionally, in just 11-plus seasons of DI postseason eligibility, the Eagles have had a combined 48 teams or individuals compete in NCAA Championships. In 2022, the men's golf team became the first program to earn an at-large berth to the NCAA Tournament. Nine FGCU programs have earned a top-25 national ranking in their respective sports – including women's basketball (No. 20 in 2021-22 and No. 22 in 2022-23), baseball (No. 16 in 2023), beach volleyball (No. 20 in 2022) , and both men's soccer (2018, 2019) and women's soccer (2018) as five of the most recent. In 2016-17, the Green & Blue placed a division-best sixth in the DI-AAA Learfield Directors' Cup and top-100 nationally, ahead of several Power-5 and FBS institutions. In 2018-19, the Eagles had an ASUN and state of Florida top-seven team earn the NCAA's Public Recognition Award for academic excellence in their sport. FGCU also earned a collective record 3.67 GPA in the fall 2022 classroom and has outperformed the general university student population for 27 consecutive semesters. The past seven semesters (Fall 2019 – Fall 2022) another milestone was reached as all 15 programs achieved a cumulative team GPA of 3.0 or higher. The Eagles also earned an all-time 7,200 volunteer hours in 2017 – and were recognized as one of two runners-up for the inaugural NACDA Community Service Award presented by the Fiesta Bowl.
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