CLINTON, S.C. (March 13, 2013) – The ETSU softball team hopes to shake off what was a rough start to the conference season, traveling to the PC Softball Complex on Thursday for a midweek doubleheader against Presbyterian.
First pitch for game one between ETSU (7-10, 0-3 A-Sun) and PC (10-10) is scheduled for 2 p.m. Game two starts at approximately 4 p.m., or 30 minutes after the conclusion of the opener.
The Buccaneer Breakdown
Junior third baseman/catcher Jackie Baird (Ooltewah, Tenn.) continues to be the Bucs top hitter. Baird carries an average of .449, has an OBP of .557 and is slugging .653 with four doubles to lead the Buccaneers in each category. Through the first 17 games, she also has seven runs, 11 RBIs and two homers. Baird’s average ranks among the top 25 in the nation while her OBP ranks among the top 50.
ETSU has four others above the .300 mark in Katie Wolff (LaGrange, Texas), Tara Hartnett (Snellville, Ga.), Nicole Fox (Peachtree City, Ga.) and Casey Horner (Whitesburg, Tenn.). Wolff has started all 17 contests and sits at .364 with seven runs, a homer and eight RBIs. Her long ball came this past Sunday, putting ETSU ahead, 3-0, in the first inning of the series finale at Mercer. Hartnett is hitting .350 with seven runs and six RBIs to go along with two doubles. Fox and Horner are each .348 on the year. Horner leads the team with 13 RBIs and Fox leads in stolen bases with six. Fox is also on a nine-game hitting streak entering Thursday, hitting .432 (16-37) with seven runs during the streak.
As a team, the Bucs hold a .297 average to rank No. 3 in the Atlantic Sun Conference. ETSU is also averaging 8.6 hits per game to rank second.
The struggles have come in the circle and on the field, where ETSU ranks near the bottom of the conference in many statistical categories. ERA hasn’t been a big issue, as Wolff and freshman Sam Harrell (Okeechobee, Fla.) sit at 2.37 and 2.72, respectively. Wolff (2-5) has made six starts and eight appearances to combine for 44.1 innings pitched with two complete games. Through 10 starts and 12 appearances, Harrell (4-4) has totaled 54.0 innings.
The fielding is what really has hurt ETSU. The Bucs have given up a total of 85 runs, but 34 (40 percent) have come unearned. In 17 games, ETSU has committed 26 errors to average 1.5 per contest and drop its fielding percentage to .952. Both those numbers rank ninth out of 10 in the A-Sun.
Last Time Out
ETSU opened its Atlantic Sun slate with a three-game series at Sikes Field against Mercer but was swept. The Saturday doubleheader saw ETSU fall by scores of 7-1 and 5-3, while the Sunday finale ended in 10th-inning heartbreak, 8-7.
Mercer’s Ashton Holt was the difference on day one. Holt went 3-for-5 at the plate with seven RBIs, including a go-ahead grand slam in the fourth inning of game two right after the Bucs had taken a three-run lead in the top half. All seven runs Holt drove in were unearned.
Harrell took the loss in game one, lasting 4.1 innings while giving up seven hits and three runs. She exited with ETSU down by just two, but a four-run Mercer sixth inning put the game out of reach. Wolff then went 5.0 innings in game two, surrendering five unearned runs including Holt’s slam. An error to lead off the inning allowed Holt to step up with the bases loaded and two outs.
ETSU looked as if it was going to salvage a game out of the series on Sunday as Wolff belted a three-run shot in the first to give the Buccaneers an early advantage. Unfortunately, Harrell gave up a go-ahead grand slam in the bottom half, but ETSU responded with Sam Lower (Sebring, Fla.) tying the game on a solo shot in the second. The Bucs retook the lead in the same inning on a sac fly, 5-4.
The fourth inning saw ETSU take its second three-run lead of the day, but Mercer came back once again courtesy of two runs in the bottom half and a game-tying solo shot from Victoria Hugghins in the fifth.
The game remained 7-7 all the way to the 10th where the international tiebreak rules came into effect. ETSU was unable to get its run across, making the job easy for Mercer in the bottom half for the series sweep.
Presbyterian went 2-1 at the North Carolina Central Tournament last weekend, defeating NC Central and splitting a pair with UNC Wilmington. The Blue Hose have played just two games at home which came in a doubleheader against Furman. PC split the games to hold a 1-1 record at its home field.
Erin Ruff enters Thursday as PC’s leading hitter. Ruff averages .383 in 20 games played with a homer, 14 RBIs and a team-leading 15 runs scored. Also above the .300 mark are Morga Durham and Cat Tarvin, who sit at .308 and .303, respectively. Durham shares the runs lead with Ruff, has 11 RBIs and has hit four home runs to share that lead with Shelby Petik. Tarvin has scored 14 times, has a homer, 11 RBIs and a team-leading four doubles to her credit.
As a team, PC is .271 at the plate with 13 home runs. The Blue Hose average 5.5 runs and strikeout 5.6 times per game.
In the circle, it’s Tarvin who leads the Blue Hose with a 3.82 ERA, but has only made three appearances and pitched 11.0 innings. PC’s primary pitcher is Kensley Loudermelk (6-5), who carries a 3.84 ERA with 11 starts and 13 appearances to total 58.1 innings of work.
ETSU leads the all-time series 5-3. The two teams split a doubleheader last year at Betty Basler Field as PC took game one 5-4 in nine innings, while ETSU bounced back to win the second by the same score. The series began in 2008.
Live stats for both games of the doubleheader 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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