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    Feb. 7, 2013

    CHICAGO - The UIC softball team returns to Las Cruces, N.M., to open its 2013 season Friday at1:30 p.m. (CT) against Nebraska in the Hotel Encanto Invitational. The event serves as the first of five tournaments before UIC opens conference play in mid-March.


    "We are so excited to start this season," head coach Michelle Venturella said. "The team has been training hard both physically and mentally and is in a great spot. We have had great leaders emerge this year and show the younger ones in the program what it means to be a part of UIC Softball both on and off of the field. I am excited about the competition during our first couple of weeks on the road as we face top teams in Division I softball."


    The Flames concluded the 2012 season with a 26-26 record ... they posted a 12-9 Horizon League record ... there are 10 returning players and seven newcomers ... among the top returners are seniors Melissa Preish and Coryn Schmit ... Preish led the Flames in batting average through most of the 2012 campaign, she concluded with a .391, posted 17 RBI, six doubles and 31 runs ... Schmit led the team in homeruns with nine and RBI with 39.


    The Huskers concluded the 2012 season with a 33-22 overall record ... they went 15-1 at home and 11-9 on neutral ground ... led the Big Ten in doubles and ranked second in on-base percentage ... seven players produced more than 20 RBI ... four players earned all-Big Ten honors ... finished third in the Big Ten standings ... Gabby Banda (senior), Brooke Thomason (senior), Tatum Edwards (junior) and sophomore Mattie Fowler (sophomore) are among key returners ... Banda posted a .352 batting average, 39 runs, 14 doubles, four homeruns and 30 RBI ... Thomason concluded the season with a .326 batting average (her third-straight .300 season), 33 runs, 14 doubles, seven homeruns, including two grand slams and 47 RBI.




    New Mexico State posted a 24-29 overall record ... 13-9 at home and 6-7 in neutral locations ... defeated UIC 5-2 on Feb. 12 at the 2012 Hotel Encanto Invitational ... returns Amber Olive (senior), Malena Padilla (sophomore) and Kristie Covarrubia (redshirt junior) ... Olive compiled a .374 batting average, 29 runs and 13 RBI ... Padilla posted a .315 average, 17 runs five doubles, two homeruns and 19 RBI ... Covarrubia claimed a .357 average, along with 22 runs, one triple, two homeruns and 12 RBI.


    Loyola received 48 points and six first-place votes to secure the top spot in the poll. ... UIC edged Valparaiso by two points to place the Crusaders third with 37 points and one first-place vote ... Youngstown State and Green Bay claimed fourth (30 points) and fifth place (22), respectively ... Cleveland State placed sixth with 20 points, while Wright State and Detroit rounded out the poll with 19 and 9 points, in that order.


    New Mexico State defeated UIC, 5-2 Feb. 12 at the Hotel Encanto Invitational ... Jacki Fletcher hit her first of two homeruns of the campaign in the top of the fourth inning ... Jenna Marsalli had two of the Flames' nine hits in the contest ... the Aggies posted five runs in the bottom of the second inning to create a hefty advantage over UIC ... in addition to Fletcher's solo homerun in the second, Melinda Macias hit a sac-fly ball to left field to score Marsalli.


    Jimmy Collins, UIC's all-time winningest coach with a 218-208 record over the span of 14 seasons, including three NCAA tournament berths (1998, 2002, 2004) averaged 20.1 points per game and was named an All-American during his senior season during his three-year playing stint at New Mexico State.


    Can't make it to every game? Social media makes it easy for fans to follow the Flames from anywhere! Twitter: @UICSoftball ... Facebook: UIC Flames Softball ... Live Stats can be accessed via through the schedule link on the softball page.