The Eagles were 32-27 in 2016 and played their best during Atlantic Sun Conference play, taking first place there with a 13-5 mark. But an upset loss to fifth-seeded USC Upstate in the tournament championships kept FGCU from reaching the NCAA tournament.
Head coach David Deiros (the only coach in the program’s 14-year history) will have an experienced group back in hopes of making that next jump, with five returning starters and three returning pitchers. Priming the offense will be junior Kelsey Huff, who hit .366 last year with a .434 OBP – she added 25 stolen bases and scored 46 runs. Sophomore Racquel Fournet provided reliable punch with 45 RBI a year ago, hitting .354 and posting a .429 OBP.
Sophomore pitcher Riley Randolph had an eye-opening debut for the Eagles, going 16-5 with a 1.39 ERA. Getting some help behind her will be a key for FGCU, as the other pitchers in 2016 closed with a 16-22 record.
NOTE: Thanks to tournaments and the non-conference schedule, FGCU plays the vast majority of its games at home in Fort Myers, but there’s one stretch in April when the Eagles play 10 straight on the road.