ATLANTA (Feb. 14, 2014) – After opening the season at the Music City Classic in Nashville, Tenn., last week, the ETSU softball team will continue non-conference play this weekend as it travels to Atlanta to take part in the Panther Invitational at Georgia State.
ETSU will take on Georgia Tech and Bowling Green Saturday, Feb. 15 before facing off against Indiana and Georgia State Sunday, Feb. 16.
GETTING UP TO SPEED
The Buccaneers (2-2) will enter the Panther Invitational coming off a 6-2 win over Detroit in which four players enjoyed multi-hit games, including a 4-for-4 performance by freshman Kelsey Chernak (Ooltewah, Tenn.).
Through the first weekend of play, Chernak is pacing ETSU at the plate, batting .700 with seven hits and two doubles. She is one of five ETSU players with at least two RBI.
Senior Jackie Baird (Ooltewah, Tenn.) slugged a pair of home runs in the team’s opening weekend, batting .273 with three RBI in the squad’s four games. Meanwhile, junior Alex Everett (Soddy Daisy, Tenn.) drove in a team-high four RBI in the tournament.
In the Bucs’ two wins, the team scored a combined 14 runs, while allowing just four runs. ETSU also suffered narrow 3-2 setbacks to Tennessee State and Butler.
On the mound for ETSU, Taylor Carter (Brazil, Ind.), Whitney Leon (Dandridge, Tenn.), and Katie Wolff (LaGrange, Texas) have combined to post a 1.93 ERA.
Carter has pitched a team-best 15 and two-thirds innings, striking out eight while allowing just a single walk. The Brazil, Ind., native also batted .375 with a pair of RBI in ETSU’s opening four games.
First-year head coach Shelly Hoerner inherits a Georgia Tech team which returns eight starters from last season’s squad that finished 25-30. Prior to accepting the Georgia Tech job, Hoerner found success as a head coach at Valdosta State, Barry University, and College of Charleston, compiling an overall record of 458-326 over 14 seasons.
Georgia Tech played Missouri State three times last weekend, going 2-1.
Key returners for the Yellow Jackets (2-1) include reigning Atlantic Sun Player of the Year Ashley Thomas, and All-ACC First Team selection Alysha Rudnik. Last season, Thomas led the Yellow Jackets with a .417 batting average, 75 hits, and 57 runs scored. Meanwhile, Rudnik drove in 49 runs, while hitting .399.
The Yellow Jackets are looking to fill the void left by All-American pitcher Hope Rush. In her senior season at Georgia Tech, Rush belted a team-best 17 home runs and 52 RBI, batting .303, and going 13-15 atop the Yellow Jackets pitching rotation.
Last season, Georgia Tech posted a 13-10 record at home.
ETSU and Georgia Tech have only faced off once in the program’s histories, with the Yellow Jackets notching an 11-2 win in Marietta, Ga., March 3, 2006.
BOWLING GREEN – Saturday, Feb. 15 at 3:45 p.m. – Shirley Clements Mewborn Field – LIVE STATS
The Falcons (0-4), who finished fourth in the MAC’s East Division last season, were swept in their opening weekend of play in 2014, suffering setbacks to Cleveland State, Robert Morris, Bucknell, and Canisius.
Last season, the Falcons posted a 27-24 record, including a 13-14 record in road/neutral-site games.
Bowling Green graduated one of its leading batters, Katie Berger, who hit .364 with 37 runs and 23 RBI last season; however, the team returns Katie Yoho. Last season, Yoho hit eight home runs while driving in a team-best 29 runs.
The Falcons also return pitcher Jamie Kertes, who started a team-high 26 games on the mound in 2013, going 11-4 with a 2.19 while throwing for 108 strikeouts and just 39 walks.
In ETSU’s two meetings with Bowling Green, the Bucs have gone 2-2. Last season, the teams split games in non-conference play.
Indiana returns seven starters from last season’s squad that went 19-35, including 13-26 in road/neutral-site games.
The Hoosiers (1-4) began their 2014 campaign with a win over Bradley, before losing four consecutive games to Portland State, Standford, San Jose State, and Cal Poly, respectively.
This season, Indiana will be looking to replace the offensive firepower of 2013 Second Team All-B1G selection Amanda Wagner, who batted .423 with 16 doubles, 25 RBI, and a .654 slugging percentage.
The Hoosiers welcome back their entire pitching staff, including Meaghan Murphy, who went 12-16 in 2013, with a 3.03 ERA, 117 strikeouts, and 37 walks.
Sunday's meeting will be the first ever match-up between ETSU and Indiana.
GEORGIA STATE – Sunday, Feb. 16 at 2:30 p.m. – Robert E. Heck Softball Complex – LIVE STATS
Georgia State will open its 2014 campaign by hosting the Panther Invitational. Last season, the Panthers were 20-7 at home.
The Panthers return six starters from last season’s 36-19 squad, including NFCA All-Region First Team selection Kaitlyn Medlam. Last season, Medlam tossed the program’s third ever perfect game, striking out five batters in an 8-0 win over Georgia Southern.
Another key returner for Georgia State will be outfielder Jessica Clifton, who batted .331 with 31 runs and 31 RBI in 2013.
ETSU is 0-3 all-time versus Georgia State. The teams’ last meeting came Feb. 11, 2012 in which Georgia State picked up the win.
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