TROY, Ala. (Feb. 16, 2012) – After opening its season last weekend in Georgia, the ETSU softball team returns to the diamond on Friday as the Bucs head to Troy, Ala. for the Quality Inn Classic.
The Bucs – who dropped their first four games of the season last weekend at the Georgia State First Pitch Classic – will play two games on Friday and Saturday and one game on Sunday. ETSU begins play Friday morning at 10 a.m. with Ball State, while wrapping up the day with Eastern Kentucky at 5:30 p.m. On Saturday, the Blue and Gold face Nicholls State (Noon) and sixth-ranked Missouri at 10 p.m. The tournament concludes Sunday with the Bucs facing host Troy at 3 p.m. Please note all game times listed are in Eastern Time.
ETSU received strong efforts from a pair of freshmen last weekend in Panthersville, as Alex Everett (Soddy Daisy, Tenn.) and Haley Thompson (Nicholson, Ga.) both registered six hits in 12 at-bats for the Blue and Gold. Everett hit safely in all four games and reached base nine times in 15 plate appearances. Meanwhile, Thompson became the first Buccaneer player to record five hits in a single game after going 5-of-6 with two runs scored and two RBI against Western Carolina on Feb. 12. Along with Everett, sophomore Katie Wolff (LaGrange, Texas) also reached base in all four games last weekend after hitting safely in three of the games, while earning a walk against Longwood.
As a team, the Bucs hit .296 and recorded 37 hits on the weekend; however, suffered three one-run setbacks.
Fans unable to make the trip to Troy can follow all the action online via live stats, courtesy of TroyTrojans.com. Click here for the tournament homepage.
Below is a breakdown of each team in the tournament.
The Cardinals are making their 2012 season debut this weekend in Alabama … Ball State finished the 2011 season with a record of 34-24, with one of those wins being a 5-0 victory over ETSU … the Cardinals have won two of the last three Mid-American Conference regular season championships (2008 & 2010), and return 15 letterwinners from a year ago … of the 15 letterwinners returning, five are position starters, while four are pitchers … sophomore pitcher/outfielder Jennifer Gilbert returns for a second season after belting a single-season record 15 home runs along with ranking second on the team with her .361 batting average in 2011 … joining Gilbert is fellow slugger Amanda Montalto – who became Ball State’s all-time leading home run leader after hitting 12 of her 23 round-trippers as a junior … as a team, Ball State hit .320 with 92 doubles, 11 triples, and 44 home runs in 2011, and the Cardinals were picked to finish second in the MAC West this upcoming season.
Like the Cardinals, Eastern Kentucky is also making its season debut this weekend … the Colonels went 24-27 in 2011 and were picked to finish eighth in the Ohio Valley Conference … EKU returns 14 players from last season’s squad, including six starters; however, one key piece to the puzzle graduated in 2011 – Shyenne Hussey … Hussey hit .412 last season and set program records for home runs, RBIs, and on-base percentage … despite the loss of Hussey, the Colonels return some pop and speed in Raquel Howes and Diane Gallagher … Howes hit .309 with 11 doubles, 13 home runs and 48 RBI in 2011, while Gallagher – who is the team’s top returning hitter (.366 average) – swiped 29 of EKU’s 67 bases … like the Bucs, EKU’s pitching staff is filled with more underclassmen than upperclassmen … the top returner in the circle is junior right-hander Kristin Perry … Perry went 10-10 with a 5.13 ERA in 128.1 innings of work last year, while a pair of freshman look to bolster the rotation in 2012.
Nicholls State dropped four of its five games last weekend at the Southeastern Louisiana Lion Classic in Hammond, La. … the Colonels faced North Illinois, UT-Martin, Troy, Akron, and Jackson State last weekend, with their lone win being a 5-1 victory over Akron … reigning Southland Conference Player and Newcomer of the Year, Ashley Ray, enjoyed a solid weekend … the senior infielder/catcher hit .538 with three home runs and five RBI, while sophomore utility player Kat Angeles hit .500 (6-12) … after finishing last in the Southland in 2011, the Colonels were picked 11th out of 11 teams in the preseason coaches poll.
After making its third consecutive trip to the Women’s College World Series in 2011, Missouri was pegged as the No. 5 team in the country in the preseason polls … after being idle in the opening weekend of play, the Tigers dropped one spot in the polls … the Big 12 preseason favorite returns 10 players from last season’s squad that posted a 53-10 mark … senior outfielder Ashley Fleming and redshirt junior pitcher Chelsea Thomas were both selected to USA Softball’s Collegiate Player of the Year Top-50 Watch List … Fleming led the Tigers in hitting (.356), doubles (16), home runs (14), RBI (62), slugging percentage (.701), and on-base percentage (.452), while Thomas went 32-8 with a 0.95 ERA (37 ER/271.1 IP) and struck out 397 hitters while tossing 13 shutouts … as a team, Missouri returns 98.1 percent of its wins in the circle (52 of 53), 99.5 of its innings pitched (423.2 of 425.2) and 99.6 percent of its strikeouts (537 of 539) … offensively, the Tigers return 51.4 percent of their run production (168 of 327), 53.7 percent of their home run power (36 of 67), and 56.2 percent of their runs scored (204 of 363).
The Trojans went a perfect 5-0 last weekend after defeating Akron, Northern Illinois, Nicholls State, Kansas, and Jackson State at the Southeastern Louisiana Lion Classic … freshman right-hander Ashley Rainey was named Sun Belt Pitcher of the Week after going 2-0, while tossing 16.2 scoreless innings with 15 strikeouts … meanwhile, senior infielder Hayden Gann hit .538 with two doubles, two home runs, and five RBI in her first weekend of play … as a team, the Trojans hit .298 with 11 doubles, seven home runs, 31 RBI and 39 runs scored, while in the circle Troy allowed 11 runs (seven earned) in 35 innings of play … after going 32-27 in 2011, Troy was picked to finish fifth in the Sun Belt preseason poll, while Gann and Nicki Hollett received preseason all-conference honors.
For more information on Buccaneer softball, visit www.ETSUBucs.com.