ETSU on a six-game slide, Fox hoping to make history
JOHNSON CITY, Tenn. (March 15, 2013) – The ETSU softball team plays seven of its next nine games from the friendly confines of Betty Basler Field, beginning this weekend in Atlantic Sun action with a three-game series against Jacksonville.
ETSU (7-12, 0-3 A-Sun) and Jacksonville (16-8, 2-1 A-Sun) get the weekend started Saturday with a doubleheader scheduled to begin at 1 p.m. The series finale is scheduled for Sunday at 1 p.m.
The Bucs are 4-1 at home this season while Jacksonville is 2-2 on the road.
The Buccaneer Breakdown
A trio of streaks highlights this weekend’s action. On the positive end, redshirt sophomore Nicole Fox (Peachtree City, Ga.) hopes to continue her 11-game hitting streak which currently ties for the second-longest in ETSU history. Fellow classmate Alex Everett (Soddy Daisy, Tenn.) strung 11 games together last season and Danielle Spetar did the same in 2004. The current record is held by Stephanie Gaynord at 14 consecutive games from the end of 2006 season through the beginning of ’07.
The negatives are two losing streaks for the Bucs. The first is ETSU’s six-game losing streak, dipping its record to five games below .500. After defeating Bowling Green in the front end of a doubleheader two weeks ago, the Bucs lost game two, were swept in a three-game series at Mercer and most recently lost a twinbill to Presbyterian on Thursday. The second losing streak is in the all-time series against Jacksonville. Dating back to 2008, the Buccaneers have lost 10 straight to the Dolphins.
The Bucs hope to put an end to both skids and Fox keeping the hitting streak alive will certainly help the cause, but she isn’t the only Buc with a string of hits.
Junior pitcher Katie Wolff (LaGrange, Texas) has been a force at the plate and has her batting average up to .371 to rank second on the team. A reason Wolff’s average continues to climb is a seven-game hitting streak where she is 9-24 (.375) at the plate with a homer, two doubles, a run and four RBIs. Seniors Tara Hartnett (Snellville, Ga.) and Sam Lower (Sebring, Fla.) each boast five-game hitting streaks.
Continuing to lead the way offensively is junior Jackie Baird (Ooltewah, Tenn.), who entered the week ranked among the nation’s top 25 in on-base percentage and top 50 in batting average. Those stats suffered from a 0-for-6 outing on Thursday at PC, but Baird still leads the Bucs with a .400 batting average, .582 slugging percentage and .507 on-base percentage.
Sophomore Casey Horner (Whitesburg, Tenn.) has 15 RBIs to lead in that department and ranks third on the team with a .365 average. Baird and Lower have each driven in 11 runs to rank second. Lower also shares the home run lead with freshman Sam Carpenter (Forest City, N.C.) after Carpenter hit out her third of the season in game two of Thursday’s action.
As a team, ETSU is hitting .296 to rank third in the A-Sun.
In the circle, Wolff (2-6) holds the team-best ERA of 2.64. The junior has gone 50.1 innings for the Bucs with seven starts and nine appearances, striking out 29 batters to average four per game. Sam Harrell (Okeechobee, Fla.) has seen her ERA fall to 3.24 after a few rough outings. The freshman lasted just a third of an inning last weekend against Mercer and was charged with four runs. In Thursday’s second game she hadn’t given up a hit through three, but had a final line of 4.1 innings, six earned runs, six hits and six walks to take the loss.
The ETSU staff holds a 3.42 ERA and hasn’t been helped much on defense as the Bucs have surrendered 34 unearned runs – nearly two per game.
Last Time Out
A midweek doubleheader against Presbyterian had the Buccaneers in Clinton, S.C., on Thursday. The results wound up unfavorable as the Blue Hose used the deep ball to take game one by a score of 4-1 and game two 8-4.
Shelby Petik had two of the PC blows, belting a solo shot in game one and a three-run dagger in game two. The two homers were Petik’s only two hits on the day as she finished 2-for-5 with two runs and four RBIs.
Carpenter put a three-run shot over the centerfield fence in game two and was 2-for-6 on the day. Horner went 3-for-6 on the afternoon with a run and two RBIs. Fox was 1-for-2 in the first and 1-for-4 in the second game to extend her hitting streak to 11 games. Wolff and Lower were each 3-for-7.
It wasn’t enough to salvage a game. The Buccaneers outhit PC 8-6 in the opener and 9-7 in the back end, but PC’s hits were damaging and put a stop to any momentum. Wolff was strong through the first five innings of game one before surrendering three in the sixth. Harrell was solid until the fourth of game two when the Blue Hose bats lit up for four runs.
The Dolphins opened Atlantic Sun play last weekend in a three-game set against Lipscomb, taking two for the series win. Games one and two were traded by scores of 4-3 and JU won the Sunday finale, 3-1.
Prior to the start of conference play, the Dolphins had some marquee wins. JU took down two schools from the Big Ten Conference, defeating Ohio State, 4-2, and Michigan State, 5-2. A BIG EAST win also stands on the JU schedule over Seton Hall, 10-2.
Sarah Simon leads the way offensively. Simon is hitting a team-best .406 with other team-highs of eight home runs, 15 runs scored and 21 RBIs. Emily Sanchez and Ashley Simon are .351 and .348, respectively. A. Simon has 18 RBIs to trail S. Simon – unrelated – by three. Codi Kelly is JU’s other .300 hitter at .306 with 11 runs, a homer and seven RBIs.
As a team, the JU offense is hitting .281 with 21 homers and 98 runs to average 4.1 runs per game.
JU’s top three pitchers all boast ERA’s under 3.00. Victoria Brown is the No. 1 option with 61.1 innings to her credit and a 2.17 ERA. Brown is 7-3 on the year and has made eight starts with five complete games. Cecile Gomez carries a team-best 2.15 ERA and is a perfect 5-0. Gomez has made six starts, thrown three complete games in 45.2 innings of work. Dale Tillman is 3-2 with a 2.51 ERA, six starts, two complete games and 39.0 innings. The staff’s ERA as a whole is 2.98.
As mentioned, the Dolphins have won the last 10 games in the series and are 11-3 against the Bucs all-time. ETSU won three of the first four meetings, but it has been all JU since. Last year, the Dolphins took two in their home state by scores of 9-1 and 5-1.
Live stats for all three games of the weekend series will be available through Stat Broadcast by logging onto ETSUBucs.com. ETSU’s latest partner in live statistics allows fans to access all the stats they need, keep up with the scores around the conference with a built-in scoreboard and even interact with the action. Fans who Tweet using the hashtags #ETSUsb or #BucYeah will have their Tweets shown at the bottom interface and will be able to interact with @ETSUSoftball and @ETSUAthletics.
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