Bucs look to get in the win column
MT. PLEASANT, S.C. (Feb. 14, 2013) – The ETSU softball team is slated for five games this weekend, taking part in the College of Charleston Classic at the Patriots Point Athletics Complex.
Tournament play begins Friday for ETSU (0-4), scheduled to play Towson (4-1) at noon followed by Syracuse (0-0) around 2 p.m. Saturday, the Bucs get the early game against James Madison (0-0) at 10 a.m., and wrap up day two around 2 p.m., against host CofC (0-0). The final day puts ETSU up against Akron (2-2) at noon.
Leading the Bucs offensively to this point is junior Jackie Baird (Ooltewah, Tenn.), who hit .444 with an RBI and run scored at last weekend’s Plainsmen Invitational. This week’s Tennessee Lottery Scholar-Athlete of the Week reached base in every plate appearance on day two, and leads the team with an OBP of .583. Freshman Sam Carpenter (Forest City, N.C.) opened the eyes of head coach Brad Irwin in her first collegiate tournament, smacking a pair of home runs in the opening day evening game against Kent State. Carpenter finished the weekend with a .333 average, three runs and four RBIs.
While the Bucs put a lot of runners on base, the Achilles’ heel was getting them to cross the plate, which head coach Brad Irwin addressed this week in practice.
“We left 28 runners on base in four games,” stated Irwin at Wednesday’s softball media day. “We’ve got to change our approach at the plate and narrow our focus when we have runners in scoring position. We’ve got to drive the ball up the middle and convert on some of those opportunities.”
In the circle, freshman Samantha Harrell (Okeechobee, Fla.) will look to build on her first weekend. Harrell struck out 10 in 12.2 innings pitched to the tune of a 2.76 ERA at the Plainsmen Invite, but walked seven and allowed 13 hits for a WHIP of 1.58.
“She’s got better control than that,” said Irwin, referencing Harrell’s seven walks allowed. “There was a definite deer-in-the-headlight look a couple times. At one point she threw six balls in row and the last one hit somebody. She will be good for us, but just has to mature a little more on the field.”
Junior Katie Wolff (LaGrance, Texas) also expects to see some action in the circle. Wolff only threw five innings over the weekend, but Irwin has noted she will be a vital part to the staff.
“Katie threw well enough to win toward the end of last year, but at the time we were struggling at the plate,” Irwin said. “She didn’t pitch quite as much last weekend, but she’ll be a steady performer for us in the circle.”
ETSU’s Last Outing
The 2013 season got underway in Auburn, Ala., last weekend at the Plainsmen Invitational, where ETSU took on the host Tigers, Kent State, Austin Peay and Army over the course of two days. While there were some bright spots, poor defense and a lack of driving in runners doomed the Bucs to an 0-4 start.
Friday, ETSU battled Auburn and KSU. The Bucs came out swinging with two runs in the top of the first against the Tigers, but errors in the bottom half led to six runs for the home side and ultimately an 11-3 Auburn win. Carpenter’s two homers against the Golden Flashes drove in all four ETSU runs – the first giving the Bucs a 3-2 lead in the top of the second, but Kent State held on for a 5-4 win.
Saturday, ETSU began the day at 11 a.m., ET against Austin Peay. Lauren de Castro went the whole seven innings for the Governors, allowing just five hits and striking out two en route to the complete game shutout and a 5-0 ASU win. The Governor pitcher also went 3-for-3 at the plate with an RBI triple in the third and later scored to put her squad up by three.
Game two – a game which started at 9:40 p.m., ET, was all Army, jumping on ETSU from the get-go with two runs in the first. The Black Knights went on to score in five of the seven innings, chalking up crooked figures on four occasions, en route to downing the Bucs, 10-1. The lone ETSU run came in the bottom of the first off an RBI single from sophomore Alex Everett (Soddy Daisy, Tenn.) to drive in Carpenter.
Towson got off to a good start last weekend at the ECU Pirate Classic, going 4-1 through the three-day tournament. The Tigers earned doubleheader sweeps on Friday – beating Cleveland State and Ohio – and Saturday – beating Cleveland State and Rider – before falling to host Eastern Carolina in six innings, 10-2, Sunday afternoon.
Delanie Dunham is Towson’s biggest offensive threat thus far. The third baseman hit .500 in five starts last weekend, scoring six runs and driving in four with the help of her first home run. Bina Abbott and Hailey Balk were also impressive, with Abbott hitting .429 with two runs and a team-leading seven RBIs, while Balk’s average stands at .412 with three runs scored and four RBIs.
Ambar Hickman and Katie Lingmai have combined for four of Towson’s five starts in the circle. Hickman’s record stands at 1-0 with a 2.10 ERA, while Lingmai is 1-1 allowing 5.56 runs per seven innings.
Syracuse makes its season debut this weekend, coming off an impressive 43-16, 17-5 BIG EAST, year that saw the Orange make their deepest postseason run in school history. After falling to St. John’s in the conference tournament, Syracuse went on to win three games in the NCAA Regionals, ultimately falling a game shy of the Super Regionals.
The Orange return five starters, three of whom each hit 10 home runs or more last year. The most impressive of the bunch is first baseman Jasmine Watson who hit 10 long balls to go along with 49 runs and 32 RBIs. Shortstop Nandin Morgan belted 12 but only hit .194, while Julie Wambold hit 11 over the wall to a .260 average.
Returning in the circle is Stacy Kuwik, who went 14-3 last season in 29 appearances with a 1.60 ERA and 140 strikeouts.
Scouting James Madison
James Madison puts the 2013 season in gear this weekend, coming off a 30-26, 15-5 CAA, campaign that saw the Dukes finish second in the regular season. This year’s JMU squad returns its top hitter in Morgan Heath, who had a .355 average with 33 runs and 14 RBIs. Sarah Mooney also returns with the third-best average from a season ago, where she hit .322 with nine homers, 29 RBIs and 25 runs.
JMU returns its top pitcher as well in Heather Kiefer. In her freshman season, Kiefer made 21 starts with a 14-6 record and 1.96 ERA. Kiefer also stuck out a team-leading 96 batters. Mooney is another returning pitcher, having gone 8-10 with a 3.56 ERA last year in 29 total appearances.
The College of Charleston is the third of ETSU’s opponents to begin the 2013 season over the weekend. The Cougars went 37-23, 14-9 SoCon, last year, advancing to the championship game of the conference tournament before being eliminated by top-seeded Georgia Southern, 6-2.
Returning for CofC is last year’s top hitter, second baseman Ashton Jarrett, who averaged .342 in 60 starts, scoring a team-high 34 runs and stealing 13 bases. Mackenize Maples also returns from a .315 season. The Cougars’ catcher homered four times, driving in 31 runs and scoring 18. Outfielder Carly Corthell hit over .300 last year with three home runs, 17 RBis and 28 runs scored.
In the circle, the Cougars return top pitcher Stephanie Saylors who held a record of 16-13 with a 1.84 ERA. Saylors pitched 19 complete games in 34 starts last year, striking out a team-high 170 batters. Last year’s No. 2 starter, Hope Klicker, returns from a 19-9 season, making 13 starts and 31 total appearances with a 2.16 ERA.
Akron is 2-2 through its four games, opening the season last weekend at the Georgia Southern Tournament in Statesboro, Ga. The Zips got the tournament started with a, 9-2, win against Tennessee Tech and closed out play defeating St. John’s, 4-2. The two losses came to host GSU, 6-4, and in a second meeting with TTU, 3-1.
Second baseman Kellie Roudabush went 5-for-10 at the plate to enter this weekend as Akron’s top hitter. Roudabush hit all singles in the GSU tournament, driving in two runs and scoring three. Alissa Birkhimer went 5-for-13 for a .385 average, also hitting all singles and scoring three runs. The power threats are Rachel Ratcliffe and Cassie Gleisner, who have each already tallied their first four-baggers of the season.
The Bucs have taken on all five weekend opponents at least once in school history. ETSU leads the Towson series, 2-0, most recently winning in 2011 by a score of 7-5. The other day-one opponent, Syracuse, has also never beaten ETSU, with the Bucs winning exactly three years ago Friday, 1-0, on Feb. 15, 2009.
ETSU has just a one-game history with day-two opponent, James Madison, with the Dukes winning, 1-0, on Feb. 13, 2009. A more familiar opponent awaits the Bucs later Saturday. ETSU and the College of Charleston have met 25 times – the majority of their meetings coming from when the Bucs were in the SoCon – with the Cougars leading the series 15-10.
On the final day, ETSU will look to jump ahead of Akron in the all-time series. The Bucs and Zips are currently tied at two wins apiece, with the Zips winning the most recent contest on Feb. 19, 2011.
Live stats will be available for each game of the College of Charleston Classic and be provided by CofCSports.com. Buccaneer fans can also get updates by following @ETSUAthletics on Twitter.
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