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Softball Eagles begin tourney play Wednesday

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    The quest for the 2008 Southern Conference Tournament championship starts today when the Eagles take on Appalachian State in the first round.
    The tournament will be held at the Patriots Point Athletic Complex in Mt. Pleasant, S.C.
    Georgia Southern (34-28, 11-7) earned the second seed with a win on Sunday, the program’s highest seed since 2002.
    “I feel like we’re playing well,” said head coach Natalie Poole. “I think that offensively we’re not getting bogged down with too many things mentally at the plate. We’re trying to keep clear minds at the plate and hack away and make good adjustments. Pitching-wise we’ve been pretty steady and in the tournament it’ll be different – we’ll be able to keep someone who’s doing well in there. Defensively we periodically make some mistakes but we’re not making them back-to-back so we’re able to recover well.”
    GSU met their first-round opponent just over a week ago in Boone, N.C., taking two out of three. The Mountaineers won the opener 1-0 in 10 innings, but the Eagles outscored them 14-1 over the last two games.
    “I’m glad (we played them recently) because I can recall those games pretty vividly,” said Poole. “It was nice to finish up the weekend getting a few hits off of their number one pitcher [Kayla Richardson] so that helps quite a bit. Hopefully our kids will feel confident going into the first game.”
    Senior Melissa Laliberte won both games against Chattanooga to move into a tie for second place in school history for victories in a season. Laliberte’s 17th win is a new personal best and the most by a GSU player since 1999.
    “I expect her to rise to the occasion,” said Poole. “If she was a little bit shaky going in, I would feel different, but she’s been pitching pretty steady and she’s been steady all year. My hope is that she’ll carry that confidence into the tournament, she’ll recall that she’s pitched well against this team and she’ll pitch like it.”
    The top of the order has been the key to the team’s success of late, led by sophomore Nina Iduate, the SoCon’s player of the month for April. Iduate hit .490 in April and bettered that against Chattanooga with a .500 average and scored a team-high three runs.
    “Our slappers have really been steady for us,” said Poole. “They’re the ones who are scoring for us so I’m proud of them. I know that if they don’t get on the first time around, they’ll make the adjustment, and Nina has. She sees the ball well and periodically might not make good contact, but overall she’s hitting the ball hard. She’s making things happen and she’s hard to stop right now.”
    First pitch Wednesday is scheduled for 3 p.m.

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