Bucs play two at WCU, return home for single game against Racers
CULLOWHEE, N.C. and JOHNSON CITY, Tenn. (March 19, 2013) – A trio of home-and-away midweek games compile the ETSU softball team’s midweek schedule as the Buccaneers play a doubleheader at Western Carolina on Wednesday before returning home for a single game on Thursday versus Murray State.
ETSU (7-15, 0-6 A-Sun) and Western Carolina (8-17, 1-5 SoCon) begin Wednesday’s doubleheader at 4 p.m., from the Catamount Softball Complex. Thursday’s home game with Murray State (7-12, 1-1 OVC) takes place from Betty Basler Field at 5 p.m.
The Buccaneer Breakdown
Over two weeks have passed since the Buccaneers last tasted victory, but the lack of results has not come from a lack of effort. During its current nine-game losing streak, ETSU has lost four games by one run, including three in Atlantic Sun play. The skid even started with a one-run, 1-0, defeat, which came in the back end of a twinbill on March 4 versus Bowling Green.
The conference games which saw the Bucs fall by a single run include the 10-inning series finale at Mercer, 8-7, and the final two games of last weekend’s series with Jacksonville, 9-8 and 3-2. The Mercer game witnessed ETSU surrender two separate three-run leads before falling in extras. The one-run losses to JU each ended with the Bucs having the tying and winning runs on base.
The leading cause to ETSU’s recent heartbreak has not been the lack of hitting, but more a lack of timely hitting. In its six conference games, ETSU is hitting just .206 with runners in scoring position and .231 with a runner on third and less than two outs. The Bucs have held their opponents to just a .217 average with runners in scoring position, but with a runner on third and less than two away ETSU opponents are hitting .667 (12-18). With the bases loaded, the Bucs are just 1-for-8 over their six conference games. Meanwhile, conference foes are 5-for-10.
The Bucs can get runners on and get runners over. Now, they just need to get them in.
Hoping to do so will be junior Jackie Baird (Ooltewah, Tenn.) who continues to lead ETSU in terms of offensive statistics. Baird heads or is tied for the team-lead in batting average (.385), doubles (4), home runs (3), total bases (38), slugging percentage (.585) and on-base percentage (.487). Right on Baird’s heels are Tara Hartnett (Snellville, Ga.) and Casey Horner (Whitesburg, Tenn.), each hitting .362 with 21 hits. Horner has had the bigger power numbers and larger offensive production with two homers and a team-leading 18 RBIs. Hartnett is one of four Bucs to boast double-digit runs and has six RBIs to her credit.
Redshirt sophomore Nicole Fox (Peachtree City, Ga.) and junior Katie Wolff (LaGrange, Texas) are also hitting for a high average. Fox sits at .345 heading into Wednesday while Wolff is just three points behind at .342. Fox’s 13-game hitting streak – second-longest all-time at ETSU – was snapped in the JU series finale and she has scored a team-leading 12 runs and stolen a team-leading eight bases. Wolff carries eight runs and RBIs.
As a team, the Bucs are hitting .293 to rank No. 3 in the A-Sun. Baird ranks No. 7 individually while Hartnett and Horner each tie for 12th.
In the circle, Wolff continues to roll to the tune of a 2.61 ERA, but her record has suffered due to unearned runs and ETSU’s lack of run production during her starts. Over Wolff’s last five starts, ETSU has backed her up with only six runs – 1.2 runs per game – pulling Wolff’s 2013 record to 2-8. The ace has tossed five complete games through a team-high 64.1 innings with 33 strikeouts and 27 walks. Sophomore Whitney Leon (Dandridge, Tenn.) has seen her amount of innings increase lately and boasts a 3.15 ERA, while a few poor starts have upped freshman Sam Harrell’s (Okeechobee, Fla.) ERA to 3.88.
As a staff, the Bucs hold a 3.55 ERA, but need to work on their strikeout-to-walk ratio which is nearly one-to-one with 77 strikeouts and 75 walks.
Last Time Out
ETSU had chances to take a win and potentially the series from Jacksonville last weekend at Betty Basler Field, but a pair of one-run defeats handed the Dolphins a three-game series sweep. The Bucs were shutout in game one, 4-0, before falling in the backend of the Saturday doubleheader, 9-8, and then in the Sunday series finale, 3-2.
The series opener saw ETSU fall victim to a complete-game, three-hit shutout by JU’s Cecile Gomez. Wolff had another solid start, going the distance and allowing just two earned runs, five hits, three walks and striking out a pair, but took the tough-luck loss. A solo homer in the third gave JU the lead and ETSU never plated a run. Sarah Simon added JU’s second solo shot of the game in the fifth.
A five-run Jacksonville second inning quickly erased a 3-0 ETSU lead in game two and the Buccaneers nearly overcame a 9-4 deficit in the final two innings. Baird crushed a three-run shot out to left in the sixth to bring the gap to just two and freshman Bethany Cowart (Ringgold, Ga.) gave ETSU a two-out spark in the last with her first collegiate home run, but 10 runners left on base ultimately cost the Bucs a split of the day.
Codi Kelly homered on the second pitch of the Sunday series finale to give Jacksonville a lead it never relinquished. Karson Tuck hit a second JU solo homer in the fourth, but ETSU fought to stay in the game. An error pushed ETSU’s first run across in the fifth and the freshman Cowart continued her hot weekend with an RBI double to left-center in the sixth to pull the score within one.
In each one-run loss, the Bucs left 10 runners on base. For the series, ETSU left 25 on base.
Scouting Western Carolina
The Catamounts have lost their last three and nine of their last 11 games heading into the Wednesday twinbill. Over the weekend, it hosted UNC Greensboro in Southern Conference play and was swept by scores of 5-1, 7-3 and 11-1.
Taylor Sigmon and Amelia Griffin share the team batting lead with .318 averages. Each also has 12 runs scored, while Sigmon has three homers to go along with 10 RBIs. Griffin leads the Catamounts in hits with 27 and has swiped seven bases to head that department. Heather Chastai is WCU’s other top hitter with a .313 average, three homers and 13 RBIs. Haley Pace has the most homers with four.
As a team, the Catamounts are hitting .255 while their opponents are hitting .272. WCU averages 3.5 runs per game.
In the circle, Jordan Garrett (6-8) boasts a team-best 3.08 ERA. She is credited with all but two of the Catamounts’ wins and has thrown eight complete games in 97.2 innings. Garrett also holds the team’s only save and has struck out an impressive total of 121 batters to just 53 walks. Mallory Broome (1-5) is the No. 2 option with a 4.80 ERA in 35.0 innings pitched. The WCU staff has an ERA of 3.90.
Scouting Murray State
The Racers enter the week 2-4 through their last two weekends of play. Two weeks ago, they went 1-3 at the Evansville Invitational. The Racers lost both contests to Evansville by scores of 3-1 and 8-2, and split with BGSU, winning 6-4 and losing 1-0. Last weekend, MSU split two games against Southeast Missouri State, losing the opener, 9-3, and winning game two, 8-1. The three-game series finale was cancelled due to weather.
Murray State will be on a tour of the state of Tennessee over the next three days. Tuesday night, MSU heads to Knoxville to take on the No. 8 Lady Vols. Wednesday, it visits Chattanooga before heading to Johnson City on Thursday.
Casey Castile leads the offense with a .350 average, 13 runs, eight doubles, three home runs and 14 RBIs. Castile is the lone Racer with double-digit RBIs. Shelbey Miller ranks second in hitting at .347 with a double, seven runs and four RBIs. Alexa Becker is hitting .298 with 12 runs, a team-leading four home runs and eight RBIs. All other Racers are hitting below .235.
As a team, Murray State averages .245 at the plate and 3.4 runs per game. MSU opponents are hitting .292.
Shelby Kosmecki has seen the most work in the circle with 64.2 innings and an ERA of 3.90. MSU’s ERA leader is CheyAnne Gaskey who boasts a 2.36 mark in 53.1 innings pitched. The two have combined for all 11 MSU’s complete games. As a staff, the Racers’ ERA is 3.73.
ETSU holds an 11-3 edge in the all-time series against Western Carolina; however, the two teams met four times in 2012 and split the contests. WCU won both meetings at the Georgia State First Pitch Classic by scores of 5-4 and 11-10, but ETSU avenged itself in late March at Betty Basler Field with a doubleheader sweep, 1-0 and 7-0. ETSU is 3-1 all-time when playing in Cullowhee.
Thursday’s meeting with Murray State will be ETSU’s first.
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