JOHNSON CITY, Tenn. (April 19, 2012) – After having their games at Furman washed out on Wednesday, the ETSU softball team returns home for the first time this month when the Bucs host Florida Gulf Coast and Stetson this weekend at Betty Basler Field.
The Bucs host Florida Gulf Coast Friday at 4 and 6 p.m., while the Blue and Gold face Stetson Saturday in a doubleheader beginning at 1 p.m.
In addition to the action on the diamond, the Bucs will raise money for breast cancer awareness on Friday in conjunction with the National Fastpitch Coaches Association (NFCA) “Strikeout Cancer” initiative. The initiative, which began over ten years ago, has seen NFCA membership teams raise tens of thousands of dollars to support the fight against cancer. In addition to fundraised dollars, this initiative has provided a platform to raise awareness for breast cancer as well as support for women's cancer research.
On Friday, the Bucs will be accepting donations throughout the game and fans who make a donation will receive either a pink bracelet or pom-pom, while an autographed pink helmet will be auctioned off to the highest bidder.
Then, on Saturday, four Buccaneer seniors will be honored with a special ceremony prior to game two, as Amy Campbell (Chattanooga, Tenn.), Marlina Delisa (Tucson, Ariz.), Annie Martin (Centerville, Tenn.), and Shelby Morris (Mt. Juliet, Tenn.) begin the final stretch of their collegiate careers in the Blue and Gold. The four standout players have contributed both on and off the field as they all have landed A-Sun Academic honors, given back to the community, and have created lasting memories for the Buccaneer faithful.
Morris – who had back-to-back strong outings in the circle down in Jacksonville – looks to build off those efforts and help the Bucs snap their 11-game losing skid. The Mt. Juliet, Tenn. native allowed one run on two hits in the 1-0 heartbreaking loss to UNF in game two last Friday, while she was out-dueled by Jacksonville’s Brittany Eppley the following day at the JU Softball Complex.
Meanwhile, at the plate, ETSU (10-27, 0-10) has been led by junior outfielder Tara Hartnett (Snellville, Ga.) and sophomore catcher/infielder Jackie Baird (Ooltewah, Tenn.). Hartnett had a successful stint in Jacksonville as she reached base in three of the four games, while hitting .385 with a double, an RBI, and two multi-hit games. Baird provided the most pop for the Bucs during their seven-game road swing as she registered a double, home run, two runs scored, and five RBI for the Blue and Gold.
Florida Gulf Coast (29-21, 9-3) has won six straight A-Sun games to pull into a tie for first-place with Kennesaw State. The Eagles are coming off thrilling come-from-behind walk-off wins over Jacksonville on Tuesday night in Ft. Myers as Gulf Coast won game one, 3-2, on Tori Williams’ single in the 11th inning, while Jessica Barnes registered the game-winning single with two outs in the seventh for another 3-2 victory.
Barnes brings a great mix of speed and power to the field, as she has five doubles, a triple, six home runs, and is 23-for-26 in stolen bases. In the circle, the Eagles are led by freshman right-hander Shelby Morgan as she is 17-5 with a 1.47 ERA (31 ER/147.1 IP) and holding opponents to a .216 batting average.
The Bucs are searching for their first win over FGCU as the Eagles have won all eight games in the series, which dates back to the 2008 season.
Stetson (21-16, 6-6) returns to action for the first time since being swept at home by Kennesaw State last Saturday in DeLand. The Hatters are one of four teams with a .500 winning percentage in league play and are looking to become one of the six teams to make next month’s A-Sun Championship.
As a team the Hatters are hitting .277, while sophomore pitcher/outfielder Meredith Owen is the lone Stetson player with a clip over .300 as she’s batting .307 with nine doubles, three home runs, and 20 RBI. Owen is also the team-leader in wins with 12 and has also tossed three shutouts on the season. In addition to Owen, freshman righty Courtney Brandt has also helped the Hatters with her hitting and pitching as she is 9-7 with a 1.98 ERA (27 ER/95.2 IP) and has totaled six doubles along with six home runs in 104 at-bats.
ETSU has won three of the last four games in the series and are 5-1 against the Hatters in games played in Johnson City. Overall, Stetson holds a slight lead all-time in the series, 8-7.
Fans unable to make the trip to Johnson City can watch the games online through A-Sun.TV, while live stats will be offered via Gametracker. Twitter updates will also be available by following @ETSUAthletics.
For more information on Buccaneer softball, visit www.ETSUBucs.com.