March 21, 2014
Elon, N.C. - Western Carolina, the defending Southern Conference regular season champion - and the preseason pick to repeat in 2014 - opens its title defense on the road this weekend at perennial conference title challenger, Elon. The three-game league series at Latham Park gets underway Friday at 6 pm, before continuing with a 4 pm first pitch on Saturday and 1:30 pm on Sunday.
All three games are slated to be broadcast on the Catamount Sports Network with coverage online through CatamountSports.com. Air time of the pregame show is 15 minute prior to the scheduled first pitch.
Western Carolina (11-8) dropped its most recent outing, falling at home for the first time in nearly a year, 12-9, to East Tennessee State back on Wednesday night. The Catamounts coming off a three-game weekend sweep of Rider, last year's regular season champion from the Metro Atlantic Athletic Conference.
This weekend's three-game series against the Phoenix are the first in SoCon play for WCU since last spring. It represents the sixth time in head coach Bobby Moranda's seven years in Cullowhee -and the fifth-straight season - that the Catamounts will open league play on the road. WCU has won back-to-back conference-opening road series, taking 2-of-3 the last two seasons at Davidson (2013) and The Citadel (2012).
Western Carolina is riding a two-game losing skid in the series with Elon, dropping two of the three games played in Cullowhee a season ago. In the most recent games at Elon, the Catamounts pulled out two victories in the three-game set. This weekend marks the final regular season conference meeting between WCU and Elon, which leaves the SoCon at the end of the year to join the Colonial Athletic Association (CAA).
Dating back to last season, WCU has won seven-straight SoCon series since dropping those two against the Phoenix in Cullowhee. The Catamounts have won 16 of their last 17 SoCon games, winning a record 16-straigh against league foes last spring before dropping the regular season finale at Appalachian State.
Projected Pitching Match-Ups:
Friday - WCU - RHP Jeremy Null (2-0, 1.45 ERA) vs. Elon - RHP Lucas Bakker (3-1, 1.27 ERA)
Saturday - WCU - LHP Bryan Sammons (4-1, 6.35 ERA) vs. Elon - LHP Jake Stalzer (3-2, 1.65 ERA)
Sunday - WCU - RHP Jordan Smith (2-2, 5.17 ERA) vs. Elon - RHP Michael Elefante (4-0, 1.63 ERA)