The Central Connecticut softball team will open the 2016 season as they square off with Florida International on Thursday night on Felsberg Field at the FIU Softball Stadium in Miami, FL. First pitch between the Blue Devils and Panthers is slated for 7 p.m.
The Panthers enter tonight's contest with an 8-2 overall record after finishing each of their first two tournaments of 2016 with 4-1 marks. They had won six straight across the two weekends at one point and are currently on a two game winning streak after victories over Holy Cross and Delaware last Saturday (2/20) and Sunday (2/21).
The Blue Devils, who began the 2015 season with an impressive 6-0 mark en route to eventually winning their second NEC Championship in program history, will look to get off to another hot start this season on Thursday night.
Central returns 12 players from its 2015 NEC Championship team, including five seniors who were all consistent starters in the Blue Devils lineup, but lost a pair of All-Conference and CCSU standouts in Laura Messina and Kat Malcolm.
Seniors Katie Schmidt, Evie Rentzel and Eileen Purcell are the top upperclassmen returning for CCSU offensively. Schmidt was fourth on the team last season with a .272 batting average followed closely by Rentzel at .270. Rentzel also slugged .402 in 2015 with seven doubles and three home runs, while driving in 20 RBI. Purcell was tied for second on the team with 26 RBI last year.
CCSU and FIU are meeting in advance of the Felsberg Invitational, which will feature these two teams, as well as Delaware and Siena, this coming weekend (Feb. 26-28). The Blue Devils and Panthers will play twice more this weekend, Friday at 7 p.m. and Saturday at 4 p.m.
The Felsberg Invitational starts at 11 a.m. Friday with Delaware and Siena. The Blue Devils will return to action next and first play against Delaware at 2 p.m. Friday afternoon before facing FIU at 7 p.m.