Newly ranked Spartans head NCAA with .358 batting average
SPARTANBURG, S.C. (April 9, 2013) – From April 10-21, the ETSU softball team is slated for 12 games away from Johnson City. It begins the stretch with its biggest challenge of the season on Wednesday, as it travels to Cyrill Softball Stadium for two games against the newly ranked No. 24 USC Upstate Spartans. First pitch is scheduled for 4 p.m.
The USA Today/NFCA Division I rankings were released on Tuesday with USC Upstate (32-3, 13-1 A-Sun) at No. 24. The Spartans impressive season has them at No. 37 in the RPI to best all Atlantic Sun teams. A large part to Upstate’s success is its .358 team batting average which leads the country. Its 1.84 team ERA ranks a measly 18th in comparison.
ETSU (10-24, 0-14 A-Sun) will be in search of its first conference win, having suffered multiple one-run and other close defeats along the way. In four of its five A-Sun series, ETSU has suffered a one-run loss at least once, totaling five for the conference season. Two more of the Bucs’ setbacks have been by just two runs, while a 5-1 loss to UNF saw ETSU lead by one heading to the sixth.
It has just been that sort of season, but 12 conference games still remain for the Bucs and, with it, 12 chances to turn it around.
The Buccaneer Breakdown
Hitting a team-best .339 with other highs of 18 runs scored, 42 hits and 12 stolen bases, redshirt sophomore Nicole Fox (Peachtree City, Ga.) continues to head the ETSU offense. The sophomore slapper went on a 13-game hitting streak earlier in the season which ranks second-longest in ETSU history.
Three other Bucs in Jackie Baird (Ooltewah, Tenn.), Tara Hartnett (Snellville, Ga.) and Katie Wolff (LaGrange, Texas) also boast .300-or-better averages. Baird is hitting .314 to go along with 11 runs scored, four homers and a team-high 21 RBIs – 16 coming with two outs. Hartnett is at .302 with 11 runs and 10 RBIs, while Wolff sits at .301 with 10 runs and 13 driven in.
ETSU’s other leaders in power statistics are sophomore Casey Horner (Whitesburg, Tenn.) and senior shortstop Sam Lower (Sebring, Fla.). Horner has 19 RBIs to rank second behind Baird and a .297 average with two long balls. Lower has driven in 14 runs and scored 11 while hitting .234.
Freshmen Sam Carpenter (Forest City, N.C.) and Bethany Cowart (Ringgold, Ga.) have each hit three homers.
The Buccaneers have seen its batting average dip to .272, tying for sixth in the A-Sun.
In the circle, Wolff (4-13) boasts a team-best 2.87 ERA. The junior right-hander has tossed 10 consecutive complete games to total 12 on the season. Wolff’s strikeout total is up to 57 to lead all Bucs.
The ETSU staff holds a 3.96 ERA with 118 strikeouts to 120 walks allowed.
Scouting USC Upstate
Numbers don’t lie, and according to the stats the Spartans present ETSU’s toughest task of the season. Upstate has won its last 11 games, dropping just three of the 35 it has played so far this year. Its three losses have come to No. 3 Florida, No. 18 Kentucky and a 1-0 decision against North Florida.
Leading the nation’s top offense is Maddison Kieffer with a .447 batting average, five home runs, 27 runs scored and 33 RBIs. Ericka Harris is Upstate’s other above-.400 starter at .411 with 24 runs and 16 driven in. Mellena Helms is hitting .471 in 17 at-bats.
Seven other starters are hitting above .300, led in the power department by Shellie Robinson who has a team-high eight home runs, 39 runs scored and 36 RBIs. Robinson’s batting average is .356, which ranks sixth among the starting lineup.
It doesn’t get any easier in the circle. The one-two punch of Jamie Ujvari (14-0) and Hannah Alexander (14-2) boasts 1.45 and 1.79 ERAs, respectively, and each has over 100 strikeouts in less than 100 innings of work. Ujarvi has four shutouts to Alexander’s five, with Alexander making 16 starts to Ujarvi’s 12.
USC Upstate and ETSU have met 10 times in series history. The Spartans have won seven of those meetings, including the last six. ETSU’s last win came in 2009, sweeping a doubleheader in Johnson City by scores of 3-1 and 1-0. Last year, Upstate won 4-0 and 8-3 in Spartanburg.
Free live video of Wednesday’s doubleheader will be available online at ASun.TV. New for the 2012-13 season, all games streamed on ASun.TV are provided free of charge.
Live stats for both games 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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