Panthers Take On Challenging Softball Schedule

By  //  January 19, 2013

FIT Opens With Three Straight Tournaments

BREVARD COUNTY • MELBOURNE, FLORIDA – Introducing a challenging 51-game slate, head coach Val Silvestrini released the 2013 schedule Tuesday. The schedule, which includes 20 home games, will feature 11 opponents who played in the 2012 NCAA Division II tournament.

Val Silvestrini is the head softball coach for for the Florida Tech Panthers. (Image courtesy of Florida Tech)

“[Regional games] and of course our conference games are the most important games for us,” Silvestrini said. “I really like our schedule this year. We’re going to face really tough competition. Everyone in the conference lost a lot of senior starters, so it’s going to be interesting to see who they are able to bring in. We’re looking forward to it.”

The Panthers begin the season with three straight tournaments.

The first comes in the first-ever Peach Belt Conference-Sunshine State Conference Challenge beginning Feb. 2.

The Crimson and Gray will match up against four PBC opponents in a two-day span, including three NCAA tournament teams from 2012 in Armstrong Atlantic State, Columbus State and North Georgia.

The following weekend, FIT will again hit the road, this time traveling to Clearwater, Fla. for the Eckerd College Tournament, which includes a contest against regional opponent Flagler. Flagler was a national championship participant last season after winning the Southeast Super Regional at 39-20 overall. The Panthers will finish the three-tournament opening slate with the UAH Charger Chillout, beginning Feb. 15 in Decatur, Ala.

In total, the Panthers will play on the road the first 15 games of the season.

“The first three tournaments are going to determine how strong we are,” she said. “We’re playing a lot of regional games during the early part of the season to get us ready for conference.”

The first home game will come more than 20 days into the season on Feb. 23, with a doubleheader against Webber International at Nancy Bottge Field. The squad will remain at home for a doubleheader the following day against Flagler. Three days later, the Panthers will again go on the road, this time to begin conference play against Tampa.

FIT will close out the schedule with a home series against Barry. The final game of the regular season, on April 21, will represent senior day for four seniors in KaraDickinson, Lindsy Dugan, Kyla Palaschak and Erica Tollett.

The four seniors represent a solid core for Silvestrini, all providing significant contributions. Dickinson and Dugan return as two of the top performers from last season as each started all 51 games. Tollett started 48 times and appeared in all 51 games, while Palaschak had 29 appearances.

“I’m really excited about the team,” Silvestrini said. “We have a great group of girls and we’re pretty solid all around. If we stay consistent through the spring, we’re going to have a good year.

“The girls are extremely close. I hope that the chemistry will transfer onto the field and we’ll be able to get big wins as a result of our chemistry.”

Silvestrini is now entering her fourth season at the helm of the Panthers. She is assisted by Jillian Lafrance, Caurie Miller and former Panther Sarah Oram.