Bucs and Norse set for first-ever meeting
HIGHLAND HEIGHTS, Ky. (April 12, 2013) – The ETSU softball team takes on the Atlantic Sun’s newest member, Northern Kentucky, in a three-game series this weekend from NKU’s Frank Ignatius Grein Softball Field.
ETSU (10-26, 0-16 A-Sun) and NKU (7-30, 1-14 A-Sun) have never met and will begin the all-time series with a doubleheader on Saturday beginning at noon. The three-game finale is set for Sunday at 1 p.m.
The Buccaneers enter the contest hoping to end a streak of 20 consecutive Atlantic Sun losses dating back to the last four games of the 2012 season. NKU got its first A-Sun victory March 29 in the front end of a doubleheader at Stetson, 3-1. The Hatters are also the last team ETSU beat in conference play, winning by the same score as the Norse last April 21.
Two other ugly, but note-worthy, streaks ETSU will look to cease are its stretch of 30 consecutive scoreless innings, along with being held scoreless in its last seven A-Sun contests. From the last inning of ETSU’s, 6-5, win over Tennessee Tech until this point, the Bucs have been unable to put up a run. The last time a Buccaneer crossed home safely in conference play came two weeks ago in the series opener at UNF as part of a, 5-1, loss.
ETSU has been one-hit three times in its past four games. Lipscomb’s Heather Parker tossed two one-hit shutouts last weekend en route to being named A-Sun Pitcher of the Week, while USC Upstate threw a combined one-hitter in the front end of Wednesday’s doubleheader.
The Buccaneer Breakdown
Redshirt sophomore Nicole Fox (Peachtree City, Ga.) heads the pack with a .333 average. Fox leads the Bucs with 43 hits, 18 runs scored and 12 stolen bases, also ranking among the A-Sun’s top 10 in hits and steals. Junior Jackie Baird (Ooltewah, Tenn.) is ETSU’s other above-.300 hitter, boasting a .311 mark along with a team-leading four home runs, seven doubles, 21 RBIs, slugging percentage of .491 and OBP of .402.
The lack of offense in the Bucs’ last five games has dropped all other averages below the .300 mark. Junior Katie Wolff (LaGrange, Texas) ranks third in batting average at .291, followed by Tara Hartnett (Snellville, Ga.) at .287 and Casey Horner (Whitesburg, Tenn.) rounding out the top five at .284. All three boast double-digit RBIs with Horner ranking second on the team behind Baird at 19.
As a team, the Bucs have dropped to seventh in the A-Sun with a .268 batting average, and score 3.3 runs per game to rank ninth.
In the circle, Wolff (4-14) ranks No. 1 on the ETSU staff with a 2.91 ERA, but has seen her record suffer due to a lack of run support and unearned runs. Wolff has allowed just 48 earned runs in 115.1 innings pitched, but 26 unearned runs have crossed the plate as well. The junior ace boasts a team-leading 58 strike outs, but has a near one-to-one ratio of punch outs to walks with 57 free passes.
The ETSU pitching staff carries a 4.18 team ERA, ranking eighth in the conference.
Last Time Out
ETSU traveled to Spartanburg, S.C. for a midweek A-Sun doubleheader against newly nationally ranked No. 24 USC Upstate. The Spartans showed why they earned their ranking, scoring 23 runs in two shortened games to win by scores of 11-0 and 12-0.
ETSU held Upstate off the scoreboard in the day’s first inning, but the Spartans plated at least one run in its seven other turns at-bat, including three five-spots. Shellie Robinson increased her team-leading home run total to 10, blasting a long ball in each game and finishing the day 3-for-6 with three runs and five RBIs.
Upstate pitcher Jamie Ujvari (16-0) got the win in each game, starting and tossing three innings of one-hit ball in game one, while allowing just one more hit in two innings of the latter. Ujarvi struck out four in her five innings of work.
It was not all bad for ETSU offensively. Senior shortstop Sam Lower (Sebring, Fla.) completed the afternoon 2-for-2 with a walk, reaching base in all three of her plate appearances. Lower came to bat just once in the first game and scratched out the Bucs’ only hit of the ball game, following that up with a hit in her very first at bat of the twilight. In her final turn at the plate, she worked a 13-pitch walk.
The Norse could be the perfect opponent to get ETSU back on the winning track. NKU has dropped its last nine games and its last five in A-Sun play. Its last victory was the lone conference win over Stetson, ending another nine-game losing streak to make the Norse 1-18 in their last 19 games.
While ETSU has been struggling to score lately, the problem has been a season-long one for NKU who averages 2.6 runs per game. As a team, Northern Kentucky hits just .207 with an average of 5.3 hits per game. It also is one of the two teams in the A-Sun to carry a higher team ERA than ETSU at 4.61.
Dee Dee Davis has been the biggest offensive threat with a team-leading .278 batting average to go along with NKU’s highest output in hits (32), doubles (8), triples (2), RBIs (13) and slugging percentage (.435). Emily Schwaeble and Natalie Papi tie for second in hitting at .241, but are the power threats with 10 home runs combined. Schwaeble leads the team with six.
Scwaeble is the dual threat as NKU’s top pitcher with a 3.69 ERA, holding a record of 2-16. In her 19 starts, she’s tossed 11 complete games. Schwaeble is a big strikeout threat to the opposition with 114 Ks in 127.0 innings of work. Keily Benhase (5-11) is the likely game-two starter with a 4.18 ERA in 83.2 innings and 15 starts to her credit.
Free video coverage with play-by-play commentary will be available by logging onto ASun.TV. New for the 2012-13 season, all games streamed via ASun.TV are provided free of charge.
Live stats for all three 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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