Bucs hoping to ride momentum, end 10-game slide against Lady Bisons
JOHNSON CITY, Tenn. (April 5, 2013) – Coming off a doubleheader sweep of Tennessee Tech, the ETSU softball team will look to keep the momentum going into Atlantic Sun play as it hosts Lipscomb for a three-game set this weekend from Betty Basler Field.
ETSU (10-21, 0-11 A-Sun) and Lipscomb (17-18, 6-6 A-Sun) get the series underway Saturday with a doubleheader beginning at 1 p.m. The series finale is scheduled for Sunday at 1 p.m.
The Buccaneers are 6-6 within the confines of Betty Basler Field. Lipscomb is a game below .500 on the road at 7-8.
The Buccaneer Breakdown
With a .353 batting average, redshirt sophomore Nicole Fox (Peachtree City, Ga.) enters the weekend as ETSU’s top hitter. Fox has a team-leading 41 hits, 18 runs scored and 11 stolen bases on the 2013 campaign and ranks among the A-Sun leaders at No. 13 in batting average, No. 7 in stolen bases and No. 3 in hits.
Junior Jackie Baird (Ooltewah, Tenn.) has upped her team lead in RBIs with a total of 21 to go along with an impressive .333 batting average. The third baseman/catcher also boasts a .531 slugging percentage and .418 OBP to head the Buccaneers and holds the most home runs with four.
Three other Bucs boast above-.300 averages, including Katie Wolff (LaGrange, Texas), Casey Horner (Whitesburg, Tenn.) and Tara Hartnett (Snellville, Ga.). Wolff is hitting .324 with 10 runs and 13 RBIs, Horner stands at .313 with 19 RBIs and two homers, while Hartnett has climbed to .307 with double-digit figures in both runs (10) and RBIs (11).
ETSU’s hottest hitter over the last four series has been senior catcher Whitley Hensley (Erwin, Tenn.), who is 6-for-13 over the stretch to average .462. Over the nine-game period, Hensley has four doubles, two runs and has driven in two.
As a team, the Bucs are hitting .284 to rank fourth in the A-Sun.
In the circle, Wolff (4-11) continues to be the stronghold with a 2.63 ERA in 98.1 innings pitched. The junior has made 14 starts and tossed 10 complete games, going the distance in her last eight outings. In her most recent start, Wolff struck out seven to increase her team-leading total to 50 on the season. Freshman Sam Harrell (Okeechobee, Fla.) has totaled the most wins (5-8), starting 13 games and combining for 72.1 innings of work. Harrell has struck out 43.
The ETSU pitching staff carries a 3.82 ERA. Wolff and Harrell have combined for 93 of the staff’s 107 strikeouts.
Last Time Out
ETSU ended a six-game losing streak in dramatic fashion, sweeping a home doubleheader over Tennessee Tech by scores of 9-7 (8) and 6-5.
Down 7-1 heading into the final inning of game one, the Buccaneers rallied for six runs to tie the ball game and won in the extras on a walk-off, two-run home run by freshman Bethany Cowart (Ringgold, Ga.). Overcoming a half-dozen runs in the final inning to win marked ETSU’s largest such comeback in program history.
The momentum carried into game two as the Bucs struck for four runs over the first three innings, including another homer by Cowart. TTU came roaring back and scored five runs over the fourth and fifth innings to take a lead, but senior Sam Lower (Sebring, Fla.) got it right back and Harrell held the Golden Eagles down for the one-run win.
Cowart finished the day 4-for-7 at the plate with four runs and four RBIs, including the two deep shots. Her second homer came during the second inning of game two in her first at-bat since the walk-off. Wolff’s bat lit up Tuesday as well, going 4-for-7 with a double, run and two RBIs. Baird had a good day at the plate, totaling three hits, including her seventh double, a run and two driven in. The double came with two outs in the seventh inning of game one to bring across the tying runs.
Wolff went the distance for her eighth consecutive start, pitching eight innings in the opener and striking out seven while walking four. Wolff was charged with just four earned runs of the seven that crossed. Sophomore Whitney Leon (Dandridge, Tenn.) worked into the fifth inning of game two and was charged with all five TTU runs. Harrell earned the win by shutting the door the final three innings.
After sweeping defending Atlantic Sun Tournament champion Florida Gulf Coast in a three-game series last weekend, the Lady Bisons dropped two games at UAB on Tuesday, 8-1 and 1-0. Still, the sweep of the Eagles has Lipscomb in seventh place in the A-Sun and just a game back of Kennesaw State for the final qualifying spot in the A-Sun Championship.
Brittany Elmore is Lipscomb’s leading hitter at .331 and the only Lady Bison hitting above .300. Elmore leads LU in runs (24), hits (40), triples (2) and is the A-Sun leader in stolen bases with 22. The freshman also has one homer and 11 RBIs.
The big power threat is Kristen Sturdivant who has a team-leading eight home runs and 19 RBIs. Sturdivant is hitting .291 entering the series with ETSU, slugging a team-best .616 and leading in OBP at .390.
In the circle, Lipscomb’s two primary starters are Heather Parker (6-9) and Tanner Sanders (10-7). Sanders has gotten the majority of the starts, making 19 with 11 complete games and three shutouts while carrying a 3.18 ERA. Parker holds a better ERA of 2.57, having made 12 starts and tossed eight complete games with one shutout. Sanders has 89 strikeouts to Parker’s 85.
A series which started with ETSU’s first season in the Atlantic Sun Conference in 2006 favors the Lady Bisons, 10-6. The first six games were won by ETSU and Lipscomb has taken the last 10 since. Last year, LU won a doubleheader in Nashville by scores of 4-0 and 7-5.
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