GULF SHORES, Ala-- The University of Mobile softball program will host the Gulf Coast Invitational Mar. 11-13 at the Gulf Shores Sportsplex. The tournament will feature 28 teams from around the NAIA.
Ranked teams in the field are #3 William Carey, #7 Lee, #9 Trevecca Nazarene, #10 Shorter, #18 Brenau, #19 Houston-Victoria, #20 Columbia College, #23 Auburn-Montgomery and #25 University of Mobile. Then, you look into the top 12 teams receiving votes and see participants Martin Methodist, Lindsey Wilson, Southern Nazarene and McKendree University.
Friday and Saturday will feature pool play at six different fields and then late Saturday and Sunday, the top teams from pool play action will advance to Gold, Silver and Bronze brackets to find out the tournament winners.
The tournament will serve as a 2011 NAIA Softball National Championship preview, as the University of Mobile will host nationals at the Sportsplex May 19-25, along with the Alabama Gulf Coast Sports Commission.
With so many of the nation's top teams involved, you know plenty of top athletes will be featured. A glance at the NAIA statistical leaders confirms that. Brenau's Lana Lazar is hitting .706 (12-17), AUM's Brandi Richards is batting .571 (24-42) and UH-Victoria's Courtney Pettit is hitting .543 (25-46). Lindsey Wilson's Jamie Williams and AUM's Richards have both swatted 7 homers already.
Hitters will have their work cut out with some talented pitchers taking the circle. William Carey's Anna Ard holds hitters to a .075 average, while Lindsey Wilson's Anyibell Ramirez limits opponents to a .079 average. Ramirez has fanned an impressive 97 batters in 42.2 innings of work, while Mobile's Victoria Buie has k'd 75 in 63.2 innings. Buie has also racked up 9 wins on the season.
Mobile will face Cumberland Friday at 10 am and Oklahoma Baptist at 12 pm. On Saturday, the Lady Rams will face Lindsey Wilson at 11 and Central Methodist at 1.
Spring Hill is also in the tournament and will play at 2 and 4 on Friday and 9 am and 5 pm on Saturday.