CHATTANOOGA, Tenn. (May 9, 2017) – The ETSU softball team opens a new season Wednesday afternoon as the Buccaneers begin their run to a first-ever Southern Conference Championship. The Blue and Gold earned the No. 3 seed and take on No. 6 seed Western Carolina at 3 p.m. at Chattanooga’s Frost Stadium.
ABOUT THE BUCS
ETSU wrapped up the regular season with a 25-24 overall record and 10-7 mark in conference play … The 25 wins are the most since 2009 when the Bucs totaled 27 … ETSU’s third-place regular season finish tied the Bucs’ highest placing in the conference standings in program history (The Bucs also finished third last year).
The Bucs had a program-record five players earn all-conference honors, including senior outfielder Danielle Knoetze (San Diego, Calif.) being named SoCon Player of the Year … Senior Taylor Carter (Brazil, Ind.) and sophomore Tiffany Laughren (Erwin, Tenn.) earned second team All-SoCon accolades, while Nikki Grupp (Jacksonville, Fla.) and Kylie Toler (Bradenton, Fla.) landed on the all-freshman team … Knoetze became the second player in ETSU history to receive Player of the Year honors as Janine Sprague won the award in 2005.
Senior Mykeah Johnson (Cohutta, Ga.) has reached base safely in her last 14 games … This marks Johnson’s second on-base streak of double-digits this season as she reached base in the first 10 games to start the season … During this streak, which began on April 9, Johnson has reached base 28 times – 12 hits, 14 walks and two hit by pitch and has scored 14 runs.
As a team, the Bucs lead the SoCon in doubles (75) and batting average (.286), while ranking second in slugging percentage (.426), on-base percentage (.374) and walks (166) … ETSU has struck out a SoCon-low 183 times … In the circle, ETSU leads the conference in saves (12), ranks second in strikeouts (236), and fewest earned runs allowed (164) … Individually, Knoetze leads the SoCon in home runs (10) and slugging percentage (.646), ranks third in doubles (15), fourth in RBI (37) and hits (57), fifth in average (.361), and seventh in runs (32) … Laughren leads the SoCon in doubles (17), ranks second in the SoCon in batting average (.393), on-base percentage (.497), ranks third in slugging percentage (.614), and fifth in hits (55) … Carter is tied for second in home runs (9), ranks fourth in slugging percentage (.579) and seventh in RBI (33) … Johnson leads the SoCon in walks (37), ranks fourth in runs (35) and ranks fifth in on-base percentage (.446).
Madison Ogle (Maryville, Tenn.) ranks fifth in the SoCon in wins (10), fourth in IP (128.2), eighth in ERA (3.75) and fourth strikeouts (89), and ninth opposing batting average (.280) … Fellow Buccaneer hurler Lindsey Fadnek (Coalfield, Tenn.) has allowed the third-fewest hits among SoCon pitchers (84) and fifth-fewest earned runs allowed (47), while ranking fourth in opposing batting average (.246), ninth in ERA (3.80) and ninth in strikeouts (73).
As a team, the Blue and Gold rank 16th in the country in doubles per game (1.53), while Laughren ranks 13th in doubles and Knoetze ranks 38th in doubles per game (0.31) … Johnson ranks 29th in walks per game (0.76), while Nikki Grupp is one of the top-50 toughest hitters to strikeout (1:23.0) … Rebecca Wahrmund (Morrilton, Ark.) and Sharlene Godoy (La Puente, Calif.) rank 44th in saves (3).
Twenty-eight of ETSU’s 49 games this season have been decided by two runs or less with the Bucs going 13-15 in those contests … ETSU is 8-6 in one-run games and 5-9 in two-run games this season … After dropping five of their first seven one-run decisions, the Bucs have won six of their last seven one-run games.
Offensively, the Bucs are eyeing several single-season program records … ETSU has tied its single-season record for doubles with 75 (set in 2002) … This season’s ETSU’s 166 walks and 16 sacrifice flies are the most in program history … In the circle, the Bucs have set a new single-season program record with 12 saves, which also ties the single-season SoCon record … Chattanooga accomplished the feat in 2010 … Carter needs two home runs to tie Jackie Baird’s all-time mark of 33, while Wahrumund needs two saves to tie the program record of five, which was set by Tiffany McVay in 2003.
BUCS IN CONFERENCE TOURNAMENTN PLAY
The Blue and Gold are searching for their first conference tournament title in program history and first trip to the NCAA Tournament ... ETSU’s top finish at a conference tournament came in 2003 when they finished runner-up.
The Bucs haven’t won a conference tournament game since 2008 when they went 2-2 in the Atlantic Sun Championship, while ETSU’s last SoCon Tournament win was a 5-4 eight-inning victory over Georgia Southern in 2004.
The Bucs are 7-14 all-time in the SoCon Championship, while Western Carolina is 7-19. Neither team has won a SoCon Championship title.
ABOUT WESTERN CAROLINA
Western Carolina ended the regular season by winning the series with Samford … The Catamounts sit 17-28 overall and 6-11 in conference play.
Four Catamount players earned all-conference honors as sophomore catcher Madison Armstrong and sophomore outfielder Hunter Gibbons were placed on the second all-conference team and infielders Ashlyn Long and Erica Hayes landed on the all-freshman team.
The Catamounts rank second in the conference in doubles (67) and boast the second-highest fielding percentage with ETSU at .962.
Despite totaling the lowest amount of innings pitched this season (288.0), Western Carolina has posted the third-highest strikeouts in the conference at 213.
Gibbons leads the team in average (.326), hits (45), runs (25), doubles (15), home runs (9), and RBI (39), while Armstrong is hitting .300 (39-for-130) with 11 doubles, five home runs, 24 runs and 27 RBI.
In the circle, Courtney Buchanan and Lily Hayes have totaled six wins each, while Buchanan as registered the Catamounts’ two saves … Buchanan leads the team with a 3.68 ERA and has made 27 appearances (14 stats).
Western Carolina is 15-3 when out-hitting its opponents, 11-3 when scoring in the first inning and 12-5 when scoring first.
ETSU leads the all-time series, 16-10; however, this is the first time these two programs are meeting in the SoCon Tournament.
The teams split a doubleheader in the regular season in Cullowhee on April 22, as Western Carolina won game one, 8-3, while the Bucs answered with a 3-1 victory in the nightcap … The rubber game was rained out.
Last season the Catamounts took two of three from ETSU in Johnson City … The teams combined for 40 runs on 60 hits in the series – including 13 home runs a year ago.
This season, Danielle Knoetze hit two home runs in the series, including the eventual game-winning two-run homer in the top of the seventh in game two … Overall, four of Knoetze’s five hits against the Catamounts have been home runs … Lindsey Fadnek is 1-0 with a 3.82 ERA (6 ER/11.0 IP) with 13 strikeouts in two starts against Western Carolina … This season, Fadnek earned the win in game two where she allowed an unearned run on five hits with nine strikeouts in a complete game effort.
The SoCon Championship will be video streamed on the SoCon Digital Network on Wednesday, Thursday and Friday, while the championship game(s) will be broadcast on ESPN3 on Saturday.
Live twitter updates will be available by following @ETSUSoftball.
The ETSU-Western Carolina winner takes on the No. 2 Furman-No. 7 Chattanooga winner Thursday at 3 p.m. Meanwhile, the loser of ETSU-WCU faces the loser of Furman-Chattanooga in an elimination game Thursday at 10 a.m.
For more information on Buccaneer softball, visit ETSUBucs.com and click on the softball link.