Spartans head to WCU for first SoCon road series of season
UNCG (13-17, 4-2 SoCon) at Western Carolina Catamounts (14-19, 1-8 SoCon), April 2-3, Catamount Softball Complex, Cullowhee, N.C.
Video: CatamountSports.com (free Saturday, pay Sunday)
• UNCG will look for its third straight Southern Conference series win this weekend when it heads to Cullowhee, N.C., to take on Western Carolina for a three-game set.
• The Spartans dropped a doubleheader at Virginia Tech on Tuesday, falling 13-4 in 6 innings in game one and 11-3 in 5 in the nightcap. UNCG held a 3-0 lead in game two before the Hokies rallied for the win.
• Sophomore Eileen Horsmon is hitting a team-best .571 in SoCon contests, going 8-for-14 in UNCG's first six league games, while Alex Emeterio is batting .526 in league contests. The two are 2-3 in the league in batting in conference games. Cory Mattson is 3-1 with a 2.05 ERA in SoCon games, appearing all six of UNCG's contests so far.
• The Spartans took two of three from Furman last weekend to win their second straight Southern Conference series. UNCG grabbed a 7-3 win in the opener, while Furman evened the series with an 8-4 win in game two. The Spartans won Sunday's rubber game, 4-2. Horsmon hit .625 for the weekend with two home runs – both coming Saturday – and five RBI. Mattson was 2-0 with a 2.06 ERA against the Paladins, appearing in all three games.
• Emeterio, who has reached base in 26 straight contests, leads UNCG with a .371 average, while Kaitlin Merkt is hitting .337 with five homers and 22 RBI, both team bests. Jordan Jewett is hitting .333 and leads the team with seven doubles, while Horsmon checks in at .317. Freshman catchers Katelyn Bedwell and Toni MacReynolds are hitting .315 and .310, respectively.
• Since getting a hit in just one of UNCG's first five games, Emeterio has recorded at least one hit in 21 of the 25 games since. Overall, she has hit safely in 22 of UNCG's 30 games.
• Horsmon has recovered nicely after getting off to a slow start to the season. The sophomore from Dunkirk, Md., was hitting just .161 through her first 12 games but is batting a team-best .483 in the 11 games since then to nearly double her average. She has hit safely in 10 of her last 11 games with a pair of multi-hit games in that span.
• In the circle, Mattson is 7-9 with a 4.57 ERA and has won three of her last four decisions. She leads the SoCon in innings pitched at 107 1/3 and shares the league lead with 11 complete games. Freshman Josie Felix is 4-6 with a 4.81 ERA, while sophomore Raeanne Hanks is 2-2 with a 7.64 ERA. Emeterio has made six appearances but has yet to register a decision. She has a 9.33 ERA but is allowing opposing batters to hit just .263, the best mark on the staff.
• Western Carolina leads the all-time series 10-8 but UNCG has won five of the last seven, including a pair of record-setting victories last season. The Spartans claimed a 15-1 win in game one of a doubleheader on April 17, 2010, good for the largest SoCon win in school history. Amber Harrell set UNCG's career strikeout record and came just three outs from throwing a no-hitter, while Kaitlin Merkt just missed a school record of her own with six RBI in the contest. WCU rebounded with a 4-1 win in the second game of the doubleheader, highlighted by Haley Pace's three-run homer. The Spartans surpassed the short-lived record for their largest-ever SoCon win the following day, pounding out 14 hits in a 17-1 win. UNCG had two six-run innings and didn't allow a run until the fifth inning for the second straight day. Merkt and Whitney Sirois hit homers in the contest.
• After opening the season 12-6, Western Carolina has lost 13 of its last 15 coming into play this weekend, and its 8-7 win over Samford on March 27 snapped a nine-game losing streak. The Catamounts are 1-8 in league play thus far. WCU has won two tournaments this season, going 6-0 at North Carolina Central's Lady Eagles Invitational to open the season and going 4-0 at the Coastal Carolina Softball Tournament from March 4-5.
• Western has played just seven games at home so far, posting a 1-6 record. WCU's win came in game two of a doubleheader against UNC Wilmington on March 15.
• Against Samford last weekend, the Bulldogs took game one 12-5 and game two 4-3 on March 26 before the Catamounts grabbed an 8-7 win in the series finale the following day. Freshman Morgan Wyatt hit a first-inning grand slam as Western jumped out to a 5-0 lead and held on for the win.
• Western is the second-best hitting team in the SoCon with a team batting average of .290. Kelly Braman leads the club with a .368 average and three homers, while Wyatt is hitting .341 with two homers and a team-high 21 RBI. Jordan Fulton is hitting .340, while Robyn Burnette is batting .308 and Erin Foster is at .307.
• In the circle, Amber Steinhardt is 7-6 with a 3.14 ERA, while Katie King is 6-9 with a 3.38 mark. Bekah Burkett is 1-4 with a 5.39 ERA.
Saturday, April 2
UNCG at Western Carolina, 1 p.m.
UNCG at Western Carolina, 3 p.m.
Sunday, April 3
UNCG at Western Carolina, 1 p.m.
- UNCG -