April 9, 2010
Cullowhee, N.C. - Western Carolina welcomes Wofford to Childress Field / Hennon Stadium for a three-game Southern Conference baseball series beginning Friday night at 6:00 pm. It opens WCU Faculty / Staff Appreciation Weekend, presented by Vantage Pointe Homes (www.vantagepointehomes.com) with all faculty and staff members, as well as their families gaining free admission all weekend by presenting a valid University ID.
Also on Friday, there will be a Sonic Hotdog eating contest during Friday night's series opener, with the first 50 WCU students through the gates receiving vouchers for a free hotdog from Sonic of Sylva.
Prior to Saturday afternoon's game, author Bethany Bradsher and Lynn LeClair, the widow of former WCU player and coach the late Keith LeClair, will be on hand selling and signing copies of the new book, "Coaching Third: the Keith LeClair Story" which documents the baseball life and battle with ALS - otherwise known as Lou Gehrig's Disease. Bradsher and LeClair will be at the City Lights Bookstore in Sylva from 11 am until 1:30 pm, and at the stadium beginning at 2 pm.
Fans can follow all three games of the series online at CatamountSports.com with live GameTracker, presented by Carolina West Sports Medicine and the WestCare Health System.
On the diamond, Western Carolina (19-8-1, 3-5-1 SoCon) has won 21-straight games over Wofford - including 10-consecutive at home - dating back to the 2002 season. The Catamounts boast a 33-3 record against the Terriers since Wofford joined the SoCon for the 1998 baseball season.
Last year, rain washed out both Friday and Saturday of the scheduled three-game set, forcing the two teams into a Sunday twin bill. The Catamounts rallied from a six-run deficit en route to a 14-10 win in 10 innings in game one before pounding out 20 hits in a 19-2 romp in the night cap. WCU got off to a slow start as the Terriers outscored the Catamounts 10-to-4 through the first seven innings of the 19 played. However, over the final 12 frames, the Catamounts managed to outscore Wofford, 29-to-2.
Entering the weekend series, the Catamounts have won three-straight games - and six of their last seven overall. WCU took the final two games against New York Tech, plus Wednesday night's, 14-9, mid-week victory over the Tennessee Volunteers.
Senior Jason Sullivan, who has missed two of his last three schedule Friday starts, is slated to get the ball for the Catamounts to open the series. The right-hander from Shelbyville, Ill., won his first three starts including a complete game, three-hit shutout of West Virginia at the Keith LeClair Classic back on March 5. He tossed eight quality innings in a 4-0 loss in the Friday opener at The Citadel before missing the Appalachian State and New York Tech starts. He comes into his scheduled start Friday limiting opponents to a league-leading, .174 batting average on the year.
In his last appearance, Sullivan walked six against just one strikeout in four and a third against the College of Charleston. He did not factor in the decision, allowing just two runs on two hits.
Including Wednesday night's 14-hit performance - which included four home runs, three doubles and a triple - the Catamounts have raised their team batting average to .310, currently third in the SoCon. In addition to ranking third with 38 team home runs, the Catamounts also stand second with 58 stolen bases.
Overall on the mound, the Catamount pitching staff enters the weekend tied for second with a collective 4.68 ERA, with the three complete games tied for the league lead. The staff, which has been without it's previous K-leader, Sullivan, is fourth in the SoCon in strikeouts having fanned 221 batters, but leads the league by limiting opponents to a .262 batting average.
Individually, the Catamounts are being led by catcher Ollie Goulder, who ranks 10th in the SoCon in batting average with a team-leading .365 average, while also ranking third in slugging percentage at .741 thanks to his nine home runs - tied for third. WCU boasts four players with double-digit stolen bases to date, including senior Dylan de Graaf who is tied for the league lead with 16 thefts, one shy of tying his single-season career best set two seasons ago.
Wofford (9-19, 3-6 SoCon) has lost all three previous SoCon series this season, but have yet to be swept by a league foe. In each conference series to date, the Terriers have won the second game of the set, twice coming as a part of a double-header. Five of Wofford's nine league games have been decided by two runs or less with all three contests against SoCon-leader, The Citadel, played in Spartanburg decided by one run, including an extra inning affair in the series rubber match.
The Terriers come to Cullowhee having dropped eight of their last nine games overall. They are hitting .303 collectively as a team, with a combined pitching staff ERA of 7.26. James Foster and Mac Doyle lead the squad with similar batting averages of .417 and .416, respectively, with the latter having hit a dozen home runs.
First pitch Friday night is set for 6:00 pm, with Saturday's start at 3:00 pm. The series finale is slated for 2:00 pm on Sunday afternoon.
Weekend Projected Pitching Match-ups:
Friday: WCU - Jason Sullivan (3-1, 3.58 ERA) vs. RHP Tom Dolinak (0-1, 11.05 ERA)
Saturday: WCU - RHP Matt Benedict (3-0, 2.73 ERA) vs. LHP J.D. Osborne (3-0, 4.67 ERA)
Sunday: WCU - TBA vs. RHP John Cornely (1-5, 6.92 ERA)
Inside the Numbers:
Warren Nolan RPI - WCU (25) Wofford (204)
Boyd's World RPI - WCU (28) Wofford (206)
Additional WCU Team Notes:
* Western Carolina is currently sixth in the SoCon standings, percentage points ahead of both Appalachian State (4-7-1) and Wofford (3-6);
* Including his current team-leading, nine-game hitting streak, Catamount catcher Ollie Goulder has reached base safely in 24-straight games - or 24 of the 25 career games that he has played for the purple & gold this season;
* Sophomore Ross Heffley leads the team with 13 multi-hit games and has posted multiple RBIs in a team-best, nine games this season;
* Thanks to a current, eight-game hitting streak, junior Matt Johns has raised his batting average 171 points over the past 18 games ... He was hitting a season-low .147 back on March 9 - in one month, he has raised his mark to .318, currently fourth on the Catamount squad;
* This season, when the Catamounts score 10-or-more runs, they are a perfect 10-0 ... Under third-year head coach Bobby Moranda, WCU is 45-10 when scoring 10-or-more runs in a game.