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PREVIEW: Tars Open 2018 at the Gulf Coast Invitational

PREVIEW: Tars Open 2018 at the Gulf Coast Invitational

Rollins (0-0) vs. Delta State (0-0)
Rollins (0-0) vs. Alabama-Huntsville (0-0)
Rollins (0-0) vs. West Alabama (0-0)
Rollins (0-0) vs. No. 11 Lee (0-0)
Rollins (0-0) vs. Tuskegee (0-0) 

Gulf Shores, Alabama - Gulf Shores Sportsplex 

DSU: Friday, February 2, 2018 - 12:15 p.m.
UAH: Friday, February 2, 2018 - 2:30 p.m.
UWA: Saturday, February 3, 2018 - 9:00 a.m.
Lee: Saturday, February 3, 2018 - 11:15 a.m.
TU: Sunday, February 4, 2018 - 9:00 a.m. 

DSU: Live Stats | Audio
UAH: Live Stats
Lee: Live Stats 
TU: Live Stats

The Tars will head to north to begin their 2018 season at the Gulf Coast Invitational. The tournament, which is being held in Gulf Shores, Alabama, is bringing together some of the top talent in the South Region.  The Tars will play five games, two of which are against teams who made the NCAA Tournament in 2017, and one who advanced to the South Super Regional. 

The Tars are coming off a 29-24 season, in which they missed the postseason for only the second time in the last decade.  Rollins is now picked in a tie for fourth in the Sunshine State Conference. 

Rollins is returning 11 players, including three seniors, while bringing in eight fresh faces, four freshmen and four transfers.  Senior Brianne Lint headlines the returning cast, coming off a First Team All-SSC season in 2017, in which she led Rollins in homeruns, and tied for first in doubles and RBI.  Sophomore Sarah Harrison will look to improve on a freshman campaign that earned her Second Team All-Conference.  In the circle the Tars are returning junior Grace Street, and sophomore Erin Crawford, while also bringing in transfer Abby Summers

Head coach Michelle Frew is 771-325-1 at the helm of the Rollins Softball program. 

Delta State finished 2017 with a record of 21-25, which included a 9-0 loss to the Tars at this event.  The Lady Statesmen were picked to finish 10th in a deep Gulf South Conference. 

Mari Alex Sandridge was selected Preseason All-GSC after earning NFCA Second Team All-South Region as a freshman last year.  The Hernando, Mississippi native led the team in both ERA and homeruns.  Transfers Kelly Byrd and Nicole Fullilove were named Top Newcomers by the conference.

The Lady Statesmen will begin their season by facing off against fellow SSC institution Saint Leo, before facing the Tars in the second game of their opening day. 

Alabama-Huntsville will be looking to go even farther in 2018, after falling in the NCAA South Regional, and going 42-17 last season.  The Chargers were picked fourth in the GSC Preseason Poll and received votes in the NFCA National Poll. 

UAH graduated a bevy of talent, including a National Player of the Year finalist, however, Shelby Booker and Layton Murray were listed among the conference's best newcomers.  Both freshmen, Booker will look to make an impact on the infield, while Murphy will try to make her presence felt from the circle.

Rollins defeated Alabama-Huntsville in last season's Gulf Coast Invitational.  This year's game will be the Tars' second match of opening day, and the Chargers' first.

West Alabama is coming off a 21-31 season, in which they went 11-22 in the GSC.  Conference coaches selected the Tigers to finish 11th this season. 

Audrey Diekmann has been named to the 2018 Preseason All-GSC Team.  As a senior, she will try to improve on junior campaign in which she hit .388 with 14 homeruns.  Shortstop Haylie Best and pitcher Nora Keehn highlight the incoming class for the Tigers.

West Alabama faces No. 25 Lenoir-Rhyne and Eckerd on the first day of the invitational, before starting day two against the Tars. 

Lee is coming off a 36-20 season, in which made their first NCAA tournament and advanced out of the South Regional, making it all the way to the Super Regional.  The Flames, the No. 11 team in the opening NFCA National Poll, were picked sixth in the GSC Preseason coaches poll, but picked up one first place vote. 

Lee returns seven starters from their 2017 squad.  They are headlined by Taylor Morgan.  The Chattanooga, Tennessee native was named to the GSC Preseason Team after a freshman campaign in which she earned First Team All-Conference and D2CCA First Team All-South Region accolades.

The Flames take on SSC opponent Nova Southeastern, and have a top-25 battle against Lenoir-Rhyne scheduled before facing the Tars.

Tuskegee struggled in 2017, going 3-31.  The Golden Tigers season ended in the early rounds of the SIAC Tournament, stopping their run of three straight conference championships.

The Golden Tigers will welcome 10 new freshmen to the roster in 2018. They will turn to the leadership of two seniors, catchers Sierra Smith and Jasmine Howard, as they try to return the program prominence.

The Tars and Golden Tigers will close the invitational; Tuskegee faces Shorter, Barry, West Alabama, and West Florida in the first two days of competition.

The Tars are 8-1-1 in their last ten season openers.  The lone draw occurred against Valdosta State, two years ago, and the lone loss was in an 11-10 thriller against West Florida last season. 

Brianne Lint is only five homeruns away from breaking into the Tars' all time top-10 list.

Senior Kacie Booth only needs to help turn two more double plays to rank in a tie for tenth in program history.

Michelle Frew is 771-325-1, and ranks as the 16th winningest active coach in Division II. 

The Tars again head on the road, traveling to Flagler College in St. Augustine, Florida, for the South Region Crossover, between February 9-11.  Rollins will face North Georgia twice, and West Alabama again, before a doubleheader date with the host Flagler Saints to close out the event. 

For the latest news, updates, and information on the Rollins softball team, fans can visit Fans can also stay up-to-date on the latest #TARnation news by following Rollins Sports on FacebookTwitter, and Instagram.

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