Coach Val James Ragan Photography

For the first time in school history, Florida Tech Panthers will host the South Region II tournament at Nancy Bottge Field. The top-seeded Panthers (39-10) led by Sunshine State Conference Coach of the Year Val Silvestrini, will play seventh-ranked Mississippi College (38-14) in game one of the tournament on Thursday, May 9 at 1:00 p.m.

This is a double-elimination tournament and will include third-ranked Alabama-Huntsville playing sixth-seeded Saint Leo in the other game at 3:30 p.m. on Thursday.

The winners of those two games will play on Friday, May 10 at 10:00 a.m. with the losing teams squaring off at 12:30.

Mississippi College is out of the Gulf South Conference and went 13-2 in the month of April, while Florida Tech went 10-1 in April, with their only loss coming to Rollins on April 7, by the score of 4-3. Offensively, the Choctaws are hitting .299 as a team, and had a season-high nine-game winning streak in February, while the Panthers had a program-record 14-game winning streak in the same month.

The Choctaws are led by pitcher Cori Cooper who was named GSC Pitcher of the Year, boasting a 1.58 ERA with 173 strikeouts.and had a team ERA of 2.04.

Cooper will face Panthers ace Melanie Murphy (22-5), who had an ERA of 1.52. She had 18 complete games and 129 strikeouts in 189 innings pitched. She also registered four saves, which was tied for the top spot in the conference. The Panthers team ERA was an impressive 1.71

Offensively, the Panthers are hitting .278 as a team. Mikayla Wessel is hitting .364 in 39 games, while Shanysse Emerenciana played in all 49 games, hitting .328 and was tied with Cheyenne Nelson for the lead in triples, with four. Nelson was one of three Panthers with 11 doubles, joining Tina Velazquez and Vanessa Rubio.

Florida Tech has never had to rely on one or two players this season. It has been a team in every sense of the word in 2019, and that has been the key to this teams’ success.

“We’re playing truly as a team, and everyone is contributing,” said coach Silvestrini recently. “I am very proud of this team.”

For more info: Regional Brackets

Be sure to follow us on Twitter @sports_lowdown for inning-by-inning coverage of Thursday’s opening game.

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