#44 Florida Gulf Coast Softball 2015 Preview

Florida Gulf Coast Eagles

Overall Rank: #44
Conference Rank: #2 Atlantic Sun
#44 Florida Gulf Coast Softball 2015 Preview
Florida Gulf Coast Team Page


Florida Gulf Coast University won 30 games again in 2014, but finished almost dead-center of the A-Sun in nearly every meaningful team statistic. Their 33-26-1 earned them a trip to the A-Sun tournament, but no further. One thing the Eagles had in 2014 was experience--seniors anchored centerfield, third base, shortstop, first base and catcher. It shouldn’t take long to see if Coach Deiros has brought in the right mix of speed, power and defense--all of which need addressing.

2014: 33-26-1, 14-13
2014 Postseason: None
Coach: David Deiros

Field Players:
Senior leftfielder Kelsey Carpenter (NFCA All-South, A-Sun First Team) is the low-flash, high production star of the team. The team leader in most offensive categories, she can hit anywhere in the lineup (and probably will) until the freshmen dust settles. A truly complete player, she may need to move from left to center for leadership. “Louie” Ross has played everywhere and is listed as shortstop/catcher, but seems most effective at the corners. Ross has occasional power and will likely find a home somewhere in the power slot whether it be trying to protect Carpenter, or driving her in. Jeanie Verderese is the high energy pulse of the squad, earning 52 starts at second base as a freshman. Makensie McAvoy is the fourth and final returning position player. McAvoy, a slapper, started every game in right field, but could be vulnerable with just one extra base hit and one stolen base. If the returners hold their positions, a slew of freshmen will vie for the four open spots. Departing leadoff hitter Jessica Barnes, Chelsea Zgrabik, Kirsten Bembnowski, Regan Knapik and Brittney Garabedian take with them 119 runs scored and 30 home runs.

Gone from last year are graduates Jackie Owen and Amanda Josie, who ate up nearly 200 innings between them. Senior Shelby Morgan has been up and down and injured the last two years following an A-Sun pitcher of the Year campaign as a freshman.  Morgan will need to return to form and stay healthy to lead the rest of the very young staff. Taylor Wade got her feet wet with 58 innings as a freshman, nearly all in relief, and should become a major part of the starting rotation. Challenging for innings will be freshmen Gabbee Dranee, a Miracle Sports First Team All-State selection from Gulliver Prep (Miami), and lefty Courtney Noonan from Stuart-Martin County High. Coach Deiros has tapped transfer Ashley Dobson from State Champion Tallahassee Community College, an Indiana native who may be the best initial option to back up Morgan against a tough non-conference schedule.

Who to Watch:
Carpenter will just need to play her game and hope she gets some help-trying to hit 5-run homers all season won’t get the Eagles a post-season bid. Ross is the kind of player who will likely excel if she can settle into one position. The incoming carousel will be interesting to watch with so many positions available.

Final Projection:
The Eagles will have their temperature taken early by taking on Alabama, Houston, Tennessee and USF all in the first 10 days of 2015, which should provide a set lineup by the time conference schedule rolls around. The Atlantic Sun (a non-football conference) has become a quality softball conference, earning three NCAA Tournament bids last year. To be invited this year, The Eagles will need to win the A-Sun or collect 40 wins and knock off at least one top ten team. That’s soaring in air possibly too rarefied for a team so young.

Projected Postseason: NCAA Softball Tournament

Returning Leaders:
At Bats: Makensie McAvoy, RF, 179
Hits: Kelsey Carpenter, OF, 76
Home Runs: Kelsey Carpenter, OF, 10
RBIs: Kelsey Carpenter, OF, 51
Runs: Kelsey Carpenter, OF, 47
Stolen Bases: Kelsey Carpenter, OF, 10

Wins: Shelby Morgan, 13
Innings Pitched: Shelby Morgan, 148
Strikeouts: Shelby Morgan, 52
Complete Games: Shelby Morgan, 13


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