March 21, 2013
Cullowhee, N.C. - In a showdown of the top two teams in the Southern Conference Coaches' preseason polls, Western Carolina returns to the friendly confines of Childress Field / Hennon Stadium to host the Elon Phoenix for a three-game weekend league series.
Due to the threat of impending inclement weather later Friday evening and as a precaution for potential schedule changes on Saturday, officials at WCU have moved first pitch of Friday's series opener up an hour to 4:00 pm.
Fans can follow all three games with live streaming video (subscription required) through Catamount All-Access, with live GameTracker (free) through CatamountSports.com. Local radio affiliate 540 AM WRGC of Sylva (www.wrgc.com) is scheduled to carry Friday afternoon's game over the air with streaming audio through their website.
Western Carolina (12-9, 4-2 SoCon) comes into the weekend having won its first two SoCon Series on the road, taking 2-of-3 from both Davidson and the College of Charleston. All told, the Catamounts have won eight of their last 11 games on the season and hold a 7-3 record in home games.
Elon (12-8, 5-4 SoCon) comes to Cullowhee riding a five-game win streak including mid-week victories over Virginia Tech and Princeton with a weekend SoCon-series sweep of UNCG last weekend. The three wins over the Spartans marked the first conference series win for Elon this season which also dropped two to the Furman Paladins.
The Catamounts and Phoenix have one common opponent on the season in the College of Charleston Cougars. WCU won the series by taking two in Mt. Pleasant, S.C., while Elon dropped two at home to CofC two weeks ago.
Looking back to last season, the Catamounts took two of the three series meetings with the Phoenix on the road a year ago, winning the first two games, 6-5 and 11-9, before dropping the finale, 11-4. Senior Jon Nadale scored the victory in both games out of the bullpen for WCU.
Western Carolina has dropped six-straight games to the Phoenix in games played in Cullowhee as Elon swept both series in 2011 and 2009. The two teams also locked up in the SoCon Tournament in 2011 with WCU pulling out a 10-7 win in an epic 20-inning affair in Charleston, S.C. WCU's six-game drought against the Phoenix at home comes on the heels of a six-game home winning streak in the 2005 and '07 seasons.
First pitch on Friday is scheduled for 4:00 pm.
Projected Starting Pitchers:
Friday, March 22
WCU: RHP Jeremy Null (1-1, 2.84 ERA) vs. Elon: LHP Dylan Clark (2-1, 2.97 ERA)
Saturday, March 23
WCU: LH Morgan McKinney (1-1, 1.47 ERA) vs. Elon: RH Kyle Webb (1-0, 2.51 ERA)
Sunday, March 24
WCU: RHP Jordan Smith (1-2, 5.72 ERA) vs. Elon: LHP Spencer Medick (2-1, 2.55 ERA)
Western Carolina Baseball Diamond Notes:
- Western Carolina has raised its seasonal batting average to .292, sixth in the SoCon just percentage points behind this weekend opponent, Elon ... WCU raised its average nearly 10 full points against the top pitching staff in the SoCon at the College of Charleston;
- WCU's pitching staff ranks third in the SoCon in two categories - ERA at 3.87 and opposing batting average, limiting its foes to .268 on the season ... the Catamount pitchers have posted a SoCon-leading 168 strikeouts on the season;
- In the field, WCU ranks second in the SoCon with 19 double plays on the year, turning seven last week including five in the series with the Cougars;
- Western Carolina has three pitchers with 100-or-more career strikeouts with a fourth closing in on the century mark ... Sunday starter Jordan Smith has a team-high 160 career strikeouts in his first three seasons with Preston Hatcher (102) and Friday starter Jeremy Null (100) at-or-above the 100-mark ... Saturday's scheduled starter Morgan McKinney has 96 career K's in his three seasons for the Purple & Gold.