May 6, 2011
Cullowhee, N.C. -
Western Carolina returns to the diamond for a three-game Southern Conference series against arch-rival Appalachian State beginning on Saturday evening and continuing through Monday afternoon. First pitch on Saturday is scheduled for 6:00 pm with the final two games slated for 1:00 pm starts at Beaver Field / Smith Stadium.
All three games of the series will be broadcast on the Catamount Sports Network and can be heard online at www.CatamountSports.com. Air time is slated for 15 minutes prior to first pitch.
Due to a change in the conference scheduling, it is the second-consecutive year that WCU travels to Smith Stadium in Boone to face the Mountaineers. The two mountain-rivals split the five regular season meetings a year ago with both teams securing a win, loss and tie in the three meetings in Boone. ASU took the first game on semifinal Saturday in the SoCon tournament before the Catamounts eventually bounced the Mountaineers from the championship event - both of the latter wins coming on ninth-inning, walk-off hits.
Western Carolina (17-24-1, 7-14 SoCon) is looking to snap a four-game losing skid that matches the longest winless drought of the season. The Catamounts dropped three, midweek nonconference home games to No. 18 Clemson and San Diego State in Cullowhee a week ago.
Junior Ross Heffley continues to lead the Catamounts with a .427 batting average - a mark which ranks him second in the SoCon and 10th nationally. The Snellville, Ga., native hit .468 during the month of April with 10 extra base hits for WCU.
Appalachian State (26-19, 10-11 SoCon) lost its lone mid-week action against East Tennessee State, but have won five of their last seven games overall. Coming off a three-game sweep of Davidson in their last league match-up, the Mountaineers currently sit in sixth place in the conference standings, posting a 14-5 record during the month of April.
ASU's strength has been its pitching staff as Mountaineer hurlers surrendered just two earned runs and 20 hits with 41 strikeouts - holding the Wildcats to a .190 collective batting average - during the three-game sweep of Davidson. Appalachian State ranks second in the league in earned run average at 4.01, while also ranking second in overall fielding percentage (.970).
This weekend, WCU will see a familiar face in the opposing dugout. Current Appalachian State assistant coach Chris Moore is a WCU baseball alum - and whose name factors prevalently amidst the WCU Baseball record books. Moore, who was the Catamounts' all-time leader in base hits up until 2008, continues to rank on the top 10 career charts in 17 different categories including remaining as WCU's leader in career RBI (254) and second in games started (220), hits (311), runs scored (240) and doubles (68), while his 50 career home runs remains fourth on the career charts.
Western Carolina leads the all-time series on the diamond with mountain-rival, Appalachian State, 72-41-1, including a 34-18-1 mark in games played in Boone all-time.
Projected Pitching Match-Ups:
Friday: WCU - Matt Benedict, Sr., RHP (2-3, 3.75) vs. ASU - Ryan Arrowood, Jr. RHP(6-1, 2.12)
Saturday: WCU - Jordan Smith, Fr., RHP (5-5, 4.85) vs. ASU - Nathan Hyatt, Soph., RHP (4-5, 3.22)
Sunday: WCU - Taylor Sandefur, Soph. RHP (1-3, 8.10) vs. ASU - Seth Grant, Jr., RHP (4-6, 4.75)