After a week of rainy weather and schedule changes, the Francis Marion University Patriot athletic teams will be competing this weekend with some on the road and two at home.
The FMU men's and women's tennis teams will play host to Columbus State University on Sunday (Feb.24) starting at 11 a.m. on the Kassab Courts. Admission to the match is free. The match was originally scheduled for Saturday, but pushed back a day due to wet weather. Subsequently, the men's match against Gardner-Webb University set for Sunday has been cancelled.
The 20th-ranked Patriot men are 5-1 overall and 1-1 in the Peach Belt Conference, while the seventh-ranked CSU men lead the conference at 5-0 and 2-0. The 10th-ranked FMU women's team (7-0, 3-0) sit atop the PBC standings and are looking for their third consecutive 8-0 start, while the seventh-ranked Cougar women (4-0, 2-0) are tied for second.
The FMU baseball team will travel across Interstate 20 to take on in-state rival and sixth-ranked USC Aiken (8-1) in a three-game Peach Belt Conference series that will start on Saturday due to the threat of inclement weather Friday evening. This is the first game that will be played by the Patriots (4-3) since Feb. 10, when they defeated the College of Saint Rose 3-2 in 11 innings. A single game will be played on Saturday at 4 p.m., followed by a doubleheader on Sunday at 1 p.m. at USCA's Roberto Hernandez Stadium.
The FMU basketball teams are also on the road this weekend, as they travel to Georgia to do battle with Augusta State University on Saturday. The women's game will start at 1:30 p.m. followed by the men's contest at 3:30 p.m. The FMU women (11-11, 5-10) currently occupy fourth place (and the final berth for the Peach Belt Conference Tournament), while Augusta State (18-5, 11-5) is second in the East Division and has clinched a tournament berth. There are three teams all at 5-11 in conference play that trail FMU by a half-game. Ironically, the Patriots will face those three squads (Lander, UNCP, Armstrong) next week.
The Patriot men (11-11, 6-9) have come on strong late in the season winning three of their last four, and seven of 11. ASU (12-11, 7-9) is on a different path, have lost six of eight. The East Division in the PBC is coming down to the wire, as the Jaguars hold the fourth spot by a half-game over Flagler College and the Patriots. FMU holds the tie-breaker with Flagler having swept the season series from the Saints.
The Patriot softball team (10-4) is in the Sunshine State where they play in the Saint Leo University Challenge on Saturday and Sunday. On Saturday, FMU will face Florida Southern College (2-9) at 1:30 p.m. and the host school (10-5) at 6 p.m. Sunday's slate has the Patriots facing Barry University (5-5) at 1:30 p.m. and sixth-ranked University of Tampa (8-1) at 3:45 p.m.
FMU head softball coach Stacey Vallee is a graduate of Barry, where she was a four-year starter at third base and was later an assistant coach at Saint Leo for four seasons.