UNCG at the Wingate by Wyndham Opening Weekend Tournament, Feb. 10-12, Jacksonville, Fla.
(Tournament field: UNCG, Buffalo, Jacksonville, Saint Louis, Virginia Tech)
LiveStats: UNCGSpartans.com (Virginia Tech games only, via HokieSports.com)
Video: ASun.tv (Friday's game vs. Jacksonville only; $5.99)
• UNCG coach Jennifer Herzig's team opens its 2012 campaign at Jacksonville University's Wingate by Wyndham Opening Weekend Tournament in Jacksonville, Fla., this weekend.
• Joining UNCG and JU in the field this weekend are Buffalo, Saint Louis and Virginia Tech.
• The Spartans will be opening their season in Florida for the sixth straight season. UNCG opened in tournaments at JU in 2007, 2008 and 2010, was in South Florida's tournament in Tampa in 2009 and opened last season at Florida State's Seminole Kick Off Classic in Tallahassee.
• UNCG is 12-8 in season-openers at the Division I level (since 1992) and 3-3 under Herzig. Last season, UNCG's Cory Mattson no-hit No. 23 Florida State 1-0 in nine innings to open the season.
• The Spartans are coming off a season in which they went 26-32 overall and 10-14 in the Southern Conference. UNCG finished sixth in the league and fell one win shy of reaching the tournament championship game for the second straight year.
• UNCG was picked fifth in the preseason Southern Conference poll. The Spartans put three players on the preseason all-conference first team, the most of any school in the league. Senior Alex Emeterio got the nod at first base, sophomore Katelyn Bedwell was the first-team catcher and Aisha Figueroa was the first-team shortstop. Emeterio has earned All-SoCon honors twice in her career, while Bedwell and Figueroa were SoCon All-Freshman selections last year.
• Emeterio led UNCG in batting average (.339), hits (58), walks (20) and on-base percentage (.415) for the third straight season last year. Bedwell is UNCG's second-leading returning hitter, as she hit .324 as a rookie, while Figueroa, who played third base for the Spartans last year, led the squad in stolen bases with 21 in 23 tries.
• Emeterio enters her senior season fourth in school history in career batting average (.350) and is also in the top 10 in career hits, doubles, triples, RBI, slugging percentage and walks.
• Figueroa played on Puerto Rico's full national team at the Pan American Games in Guadalajara, Mexico, in October. Figueroa hit .409, the fourth-best mark at the tournament, and was 5-for-5 in stolen bases. She played second base for Puerto Rico.
• In her first season as the No. 1 starter, Mattson came roaring out of the gates by firing just the 11th no-hitter in UNCG history and the first against a ranked squad or in extra innings. She posted 14 wins and three saves last season, both career highs. Mattson needs three strikeouts to become just the ninth pitcher in school history to reach 300 for her career. The senior from Everett, Wash., is ninth in school history with 27 career wins.
• Raeanne Hanks went 7-3 as a sophomore last season, pushing her career record to 9-4. She also recorded two saves and was the SoCon's Pitcher of the Week on May 2.
• Herzig becomes the longest-tenured coach in UNCG's softball history this season, as she is entering her seventh year at the helm. Herzig owns an overall record of 151-207 and is the only coach in program history to win two games at the SoCon tournament in multiple years. She has done it in each of the last five.
• The Spartans have a tough schedule ahead of them this year. In addition to the Southern Conference slate that features five-time defending champion Chattanooga, UNCG has six contests against Atlantic Coast Conference teams scheduled (four vs. Virginia Tech and two vs. North Carolina). In addition to JU's tournament, UNCG is also competing in a tournament hosted by East Carolina and Georgia Tech's Buzz Classic.
• Louisville, which UNCG will face at ECU's Pirate Clash on Feb. 18, is ranked 25th in the preseason USA Today/NFCA Division I Top 25 poll, while ECU, Hofstra and Fordham – also in the ECU tournament – are all receiving votes in the poll. North Carolina, which will come to Greensboro for a doubleheader on April 11, is also receiving votes in the poll. North Carolina, Louisville and Fordham are all receiving votes in the ESPN.com/USA Today preseason poll.
• Of the four teams UNCG will face at this weekend's tournament, the Spartans have faced Virginia Tech the most and are 4-15 all-time against the Hokies. UNCG is 1-0 against Buffalo, 1-2 against Jacksonville and 2-0 against Saint Louis.
• Buffalo went 12-35 overall last season with a 7-13 mark in the Mid-American Conference, good for fifth in the East Division. The Bulls were picked fifth in the East this preseason. Kristin Waldron earned a spot on the All-MAC Second Team as a junior last season in the utility/non-pitcher spot, while Holly Luciano was a MAC All-Freshman selection.
• UNCG and Buffalo last met on March 9, 2002, with UNCG taking a 6-0 win in Pleasanton, Calif.
• The reigning Atlantic Sun Conference regular-season and tournament champion, Jacksonville was picked to win both again this year in the league's preseason poll after a school-record 44-win campaign last year. The Dolphins return seven starters from last year's team, including reigning A-Sun Pitcher of the Year Sarah Sigrest. Sigrest, catcher Sarah Simon and infielder Amanda Schmidt were all preseason all-conference selections this season, with Sigrest and Schmidt earning unanimous selections. Battery-mates Sigrest and Simon were the preseason pitcher and player of the year, respectively.
• JU won the last meeting against UNCG, 10-2 in six innings on Feb. 14, 2010, in Jacksonville.
• Saint Louis went 29-24 overall last season with a 10-8 record in the Atlantic 10. The Billikens were predicted to finish seventh in this year's A-10 preseason poll, mirroring their 2011 finish. Last year, coach Christy Connoyer became the first coach in school history to lead the program to a winning record in her first season and fell just one win shy of the school record.
• In the last meeting between the two sides, UNCG topped Saint Louis 4-0 on March 11, 1994, at the Rebel Games in Orlando, Fla.
• Virginia Tech was 37-20 last year with a 9-12 ACC mark, good for fifth place in the league. Catcher Betty Rose was a second-team Louisville Slugger/NFCA All-Mid Atlantic Region selection last season, while shortstop Dani Anderson took first-team honors as a freshman. First baseman Courtney Liddle was also a first-team selection as a sophomore last season. The Hokies were picked sixth in this year's preseason ACC poll.
• UNCG and Virginia Tech met twice last season, with the Hokies sweeping a doubleheader in Blacksburg, Va., on March 29. Virginia Tech won the opener 13-4 in six innings and completed the sweep with an 11-3 win in five innings in game two.
Wingate by Wyndham Opening Weekend Tournament schedule
Friday: vs. Virginia Tech, 2 p.m.; at Jacksonville, 6:30 p.m.
Saturday: vs. Buffalo, 9:30 a.m.; vs. Saint Louis, 2 p.m.
Sunday: vs. Virginia Tech, 11:15 a.m.
- UNCG -