After earning the third seed in Conference-USA, the softball team’s (33-20, 15-10 C-USA) season has come to an end, as they fall to the sixth seeded Eastern Carolina University Pirates (28-20, 14-10 C-USA) in the first round of the C-USA tournament.
The Panthers were able to put together the most wins since the 2010 season. FIU’s success could be largely attributed to their impressive recruiting class that was headlined by C-USA Freshmen of the Year, Stephanie Texeira.
“Our first ever high school All-American to come here and she showed out this weekend,” Head Coach Jake Schumann said previously to FIU Student Media. “Ten hits in her first college weekend it’s pretty impressive. I made a comment to coach [Sharon] Palma ‘I think there’s an alien in number 13’s jersey.’ I mean you just don’t do that, hitters like that come along every 20 years, that just doesn’t happen in your first weekend in division 1 against the quality pitching and the teams that we just played. If she continues to grow and understand the game and continues to learn, the sky’s the limit for her. She will be an All-American here one day if not a multi-year All-American.”
Texeira, the first All-American to ever commit to FIU, was impressive from the very start. In just her first week playing division-1 softball she was named C-USA player of the week. In her first five games as a Panther, Texeira accumulated 10 hits, four doubles, five RBI’s and scored four runs. Texeira’s .714 average during that stretch, was the highest in FIU history through the first five games, her 10 hits were only two shy of Tania Somoano’s 12 in 1998.
The freshman sensation would continue her tear throughout the entire year. Texeira finished the season with a .408 batting average, 11 home runs and 41 RBI. She would win the C-USA player of the week once more for the week of April 28. Her .408 AVG. is the second highest single season average in program history, one point behind Ashley McClain in 2009.
Another impressive freshman on the team was Gabby Spallone. Spallone also was name to the ALL-Conference freshman team. She posted a .319 AVG., with seven home runs and 33 RBI.
FIU also received valiant efforts from their two starting pitchers: sophomore Corrine Jenkins and junior Shelby Graves.
“Corinne is a workhorse,” Schumann said. “She busts her butt, she’s a student of the game, she understands the game, when you understand the game it comes a little easier to you, you’re able to relax in the moment, and she’s able to do that instead of pressing and doing some things that are going to prolong her and have her come out.”
FIU Ace, Jenkins, was able to improve on her impressive freshman season. She dropped her 3.01 ERA to 2.53 and won 17 games, four more than the previous year. Jenkins was a workhorse for the Panthers. She pitched 171.1 innings and threw 16 complete games, four of which were shutouts.
Graves provided solid production for the Panthers on both sides of the ball. As a hitter she was able to hit two home runs and knock in 23 RBI. As a pitcher, Graves was (15-7) with 3.37 ERA. Graves also had one of the most impressive weeks in FIU history after tossing her first career no-hitter and picking up a save in the Panthers’ final series of the regular season.
While losing in the first-round of the conference tournament is never a good thing, there are many positives to take from the season. With all of promising young talent on the team and head coach Jake Schumann’s ability to recruit, this team looks to be on the rise.