Annual Sunshine Trip Marks The Bulldogs' 2009 Season-Opening Action

Lynsay Weaver
Sophomore shortstop Lynsay Weaver and Ferris State are ready to open the 2009 season in Florida this weekend. (Photo by Sandy Gholston)
The nationally-ranked Ferris State University softball team will venture to the Sunshine State, starting this Thursday (March 5) to prepare for its annual Florida Rebel Spring Tournament appearance in Kissimmee, Fla.

Ferris State, which had its 2009 season-opening action at the Kentucky Wesleyan Challenge canceled last weekend (Feb. 27-28) due to the weather, will play a total of 14 contests over a seven-day span (March 7-14). FSU is scheduled to participate in two non-conference games per day.

For Ferris, the opportunity to play outdoors in a warm climate is one the 2009 Bulldogs has great anticipation for.

"We can't wait for the sun to hit our faces this Thursday," said 12th-year Ferris State head coach Keri Becker. "At this point in our season, it feels like our indoor facility is a shoe box. This team is excited to play and looking forward to the tough schedule our Florida trip always brings."

The Bulldogs, who are ranked sixth nationally in the 2009 National Fastpitch Coaches Association (NFCA) Division II Preseason Top 25 poll, will tangle with the likes of Indianapolis, Northern Kentucky, Minnesota Duluth, St. Cloud State, and Southern Indiana among others. Indianapolis was among those teams listed as others receiving votes in the 2009 NFCA Division II Top 25 Preseason Poll.

Ferris State sports a combined 27-35-0 (.435) mark versus the 12 opponents on its Rebel Spring Tourney slate. The Bulldogs compiled a 7-8 record at the Florida Rebel Spring Games Tournament last season (March 8-15, which included finishing the spring tourney with two straight wins.

"I have high expectations for this group as they do for themselves," said Becker, the winningest coach in FSU softball's history. "But we have to prove ourselves first and Florida is a great trip to get a measurement of just how good we are.

At this point, the strength of the team is our pitching as we have five quality starters. Our experience will serve us well in the long run and we will use Florida to allow returners to retain their spot and newcomers to earn their spots," added Becker.

Along with the sixth-place national preseason ranking, the Bulldogs were chosen as the preseason favorites to win the Great Lakes Intercollegiate Athletic Conference's (GLIAC) regular-season title.

A season ago, Ferris State went 35-18 overall while capturing a NCAA-II Great Lakes Regional Tournament Championship title. The Bulldogs would turn in a fifth-place tie showing at the 2008 NCAA-II Softball Championships in what represented the program's third national-tourney appearance ever. FSU also produced a first-place tying 16-4 conference ledger and wrapped up the 2008 season ranked fifth in the final NFCA national poll.

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