Bucs make familiar trip to Chattanooga for this weekend’s Frost Classic

Thursday, February 23, 2012

CHATTANOOGA, Tenn. (Feb. 23, 2012) – For a fifth consecutive season, the ETSU softball team will make the trip to Chattanooga for the Frost Classic, which begins Friday morning at Frost Stadium and Warner Park.

The Bucs (1-7) open up the tournament with Valparaiso at 11 a.m. Friday, while taking on Troy at 1:15 p.m. On Saturday, ETSU will play both games inside Frost Stadium, as the Blue and Gold clash with UT-Martin at 11 a.m. and Chattanooga at 1:15 p.m. ETSU wraps up tournament play on Sunday against Niagara at 11 a.m.

This weekend marks a homecoming for two Buccaneer coaches and several players as head coach Brad Irwin graduated from Chattanooga was an assistant there from 2006-10, while assistant coach Tiffany Baker shattered both the UTC and SoCon career home run marks during her four-year playing career with the Mocs. Meanwhile, four players hail from the Chattanooga region as Amy Campbell (Chattanooga, Tenn.), Jackie Baird (Ooltewah, Tenn.), Alex Everett (Soddy Daisy, Tenn.), and Mariam Wood (Soddy Daisy, Tenn.) are ready to make the trip home.

Everett brings an eight-game hitting streak into Chattanooga as the freshman outfielder has hit safely in each game this season, while junior Sam Lower (Sebring, Fla.), sophomore Casey Horner (Whitesburg, Tenn.) and freshman Whitney Leon (Dandridge, Tenn.) all look to build off their strong efforts this past weekend at Troy. Lower and Horner were both named to the Quality Inn All-Tournament Team after combining for 10 hits in 23 at-bats, while collecting two doubles, two home runs, four runs scored, and seven RBI in the four-game tournament at Troy University. Leon pitched the Bucs to their first win of season after holding Nicholls State to one run on three hits in 4.2 innings of relief.

In their last four visits to Chattanooga, the Bucs have posted a 9-8 record at the Frost Classic.

Fans unable to make the trip to Chattanooga can follow all the action via live stats, courtesy of GoMocs.com, while live video will be available for the UT-Martin and UTC games.

Below is a breakdown of each opponent the Bucs face this weekend.

Valparaiso

Valparaiso has won three of its four games to start the year after defeating Nebraska-Omaha, Iowa State, and Drake at the Ramada Inn UNI Dome Tournament back on Feb. 10-12 … as a team, the Crusaders are hitting .290 (31-107), while four players are hitting over .400 with senior catcher/outfielder Jordan Rutkowski (two-time All-Horizon League recipient) leading the way with a .500 average … senior right-hander Alex Lagesse is 2-0 with a 2.33 ERA (6 ER/18.0 IP) and tossed a four-hit shutout with nine strikeouts against Nebraska-Omaha back on Feb. 11 … Valparaiso – who returns 15 letterwinners from the 2011 squad, including seven starting position players and both starting pitchers – was picked to finish fourth in the Horizon League Preseason Poll … Friday is the third ever meeting between the two programs as the Crusaders made the trip Johnson City in March of 2007 … the Bucs took the first game, 4-3, with Valparaiso forcing the split with a 4-1 win in the nightcap.

Troy

The 2012 Troy softball team features a well-balanced attack at the plate and in the circle … the Trojans (7-1) are hitting .282 (65-227) with 15 doubles and 11 home runs at the plate, while recording a 2.05 team ERA (17 ER/58.0 IP) … at the plate, senior infielder Hayden Gann leads the team with a .450 batting average as six of her nine hits have gone for extra bases (four doubles and two home runs) … freshmen Sara Thomas and Ashley Rainey are a combined 4-0 with a 0.76 ERA (4 ER/37.0 IP), while Thomas hasn’t allowed an earned run in 13.2 innings this season … after going 32-27 in 2011, Troy was picked to finish fifth in the Sun Belt preseason poll, and Gann and Nicki Hollett received preseason all-conference honors … this marks the first-ever meeting between the two schools.

UT-Martin

The Skyhawks currently sit 6-4 through their first 10 games of the season and have won four of their last six … junior utility player Leah Taylor – who transferred to UT-Martin from Tennessee - received Second Team All-OVC and OVC All-Newcomer Team honors in 2011 … Taylor is hitting .500 (17-34) with a double, two triples, eight RBI, and 10 runs scored in 2012, while senior right-hander Chelsea Jones is 5-1 with one shutout and 39 strikeouts in 39.1 innings this season … the Skyhawks were picked to finish third behind Jacksonville State and Eastern Illinois in the OVC Preseason Poll, while reigning OVC Co-Freshman of the Year Amanda Brandenburg returns for a second season … Brandenburg is hitting .379 (11-29), but is 0-3 with a 6.79 ERA (11 ER/11.1 IP) in four appearances (three starts) for UT-Martin … the Bucs are 1-2 lifetime against UT-Martin, but ETSU defeated the Skyhawks, 5-4, on Jackie Baird’s two-out walk-off RBI single last year at the Frost Classic.

Chattanooga

Chattanooga has played even ball (4-4) through its first eight games … despite losing six senior starters from last season’s team that finished 44-14 en route to capturing both the SoCon regular season and tournament titles, as well as advancing to the finals of the Tuscaloosa regional, the Mocs were tabbed the preseason favorite in 2012 … junior infielder Sara Poteat – who was named the 2011 SoCon Tournament Most Outstanding Player – leads UTC in hitting with a .483 average (14-29) … senior pitcher/infielder Michelle Fuzzard is batting .450 (9-20) with two doubles, three home runs, and 13 RBI, while going 1-2 with a 2.55 ERA (9 ER/24.2 IP) in six appearances (five starts) in the circle … Saturday marks the 20th meeting between ETSU and UTC, with the Mocs leading the all-time series, 16-3.

Niagara

The Purple Eagles are opening their 2012 season this weekend at the Frost Classic ... Niagara finished the 2011 campaign with an 18-18 mark and was picked to finish fourth in the Mid-American Athletic Conference preseason poll ... Becky Zill and Jennifer Hare were named to the preseason MAAC all-conference team … Zill posted a .344 batting average with seven doubles, 12 home runs and 35 RBI, while Hare compiled a .310 average with 39 hits, five doubles, six home runs and 23 RBI … Kim Bryson, who went 9-7, and Julie DiMatteo, who had a 4-8 mark, are returning in the circle for the Purple Eagles … Sunday marks the first-ever meeting between ETSU and Niagara.

For more information on Buccaneer softball, visit www.ETSUBucs.com.

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