May 9, 2013
Cullowhee, N.C. - Western Carolina returns to the diamond following final exams - and its longest extended break of the season - as the Southern Conference-leading Catamounts host the Wofford College Terriers for a three-game series, Friday through Sunday at Childress Field / Hennon Stadium.
Fans will want to be in the stadium early as WCU kicks off 2013 Senior Weekend on Friday night as a trio of men's and women's golfers will be honored in a special pregame ceremony. Seniors Steven Smith and Kyle Wilson from the men's squad and Michelle Bello from the women's team will be recognized prior to the series opener.
Saturday's game two has a special start time of 6:30 pm to accommodate the University's graduation ceremonies on-campus in the Liston B. Ramsey Regional Activity Center. The weekend culminates with game three on Sunday afternoon with first pitch at 1:00 pm. WCU's seven senior student-athletes and team director of baseball operations will all be honored before first pitch.
All three weekend games are available online through CatamountSports.com with GameTracker (free) and streaming video (subscription) through Catamount All-Access.
Western Carolina (33-17, 18-6 SoCon) enters the weekend riding a six-game winning streak and having won 16 of their last 18 games over the past month. The Catamounts have also won 11-straight SoCon games including three-straight series sweeps over UNCG, Georgia Southern and Samford - the latter two coming at home.
WCU has been idle since taking two games from Ohio Valley Conference front-runner, Tennessee Tech, last weekend in Cullowhee. WCU out-hit Tennessee Tech - which came into the weekend hitting .304 as a team - 24-to-14 in a two-game series sweep. The Catamounts posted a .343 batting average in the series win over TTU, limiting the Golden Eagles to just .209.
All told, the Catamounts have climbed to third overall in the SoCon with an even .300 collective batting average. WCU leads the conference in base hits (536), slugging percentage (.468) and doubles with 122 - a mark which was tied for second nationally.
With just six SoCon games remaining on the year, the Catamounts carry a three-game lead into the weekend over second-place, The Citadel, which hosts cross-town rival, the College of Charleston, at Riley Park. If the Catamounts are able to win three of their final six conference games, they would secure at least a share of the 2013 SoCon Championship as WCU has the head-to-head tiebreaker over The Citadel after taking the three-game series in Cullowhee back in late March.
Wofford (20-31, 10-17 SoCon) comes to Cullowhee having dropped three of its last four games, splitting a doubleheader last Saturday with the College of Charleston before falling in the series finale, 3-0. The Terriers held a lead on nationally-ranked South Carolina in midweek action on Wednesday before a six-run seventh inning led the Gamecocks to a 9-3 win.
The Terriers are hitting .267 collectively as a team. Junior Josh Hyman leads a trio of regulars in batting average at .345 with 13 doubles, three triples, six home runs and a team-leading 35 RBI. Earlier this season, Hyman hit for the cycle against East Tennessee State. Seth Neely is batting .323 with 34 RBI while Alec Paradowski is second on the squad with 10 doubles.
The strength of the Wofford squad lies on the base paths. The Terriers lead the SoCon - and the entire NCAA - with 157 stolen bases on 194 attempts, an average of 3.1 stolen bags per game and 72 ahead of the second-place team in the SoCon. Wofford enters the weekend ranked second in SoCon history for stolen bases in a single-season, just 41 shy of the all-time record holder in The Citadel's 2000 squad which tallied 198 thefts.
Western Carolina leads the all-time series with Wofford, 58-17, including a 36-6 all-time mark in games played in Cullowhee. The Terriers took the series a season ago, winning 2-0 in the opener and 6-5 in the back-end of a Saturday doubleheader. It was the first-time since Wofford joined the SoCon in 1998 that the Terriers had won a three-game series over the Catamounts. WCU has won all eight league series meetings at Childress Field / Hennon Stadium including four series sweeps.
First pitch on Friday is scheduled for 6:00 pm.
Projected Starting Pitching Match-up:
Friday, May 10
WCU: RHP Jeremy Null (6-2, 3.88 ERA) vs. WOF: RHP Luke Leftwich (2-4, 7.88 ERA)
Saturday, May 11
WCU: LHP Morgan McKinney (3-2, 4.06 ERA) vs. WOF: RHP Jesse Morris (7-4, 4.28 ERA)
Sunday, May 12
WCU: RHP Jordan Smith (5-3, 3.66 ERA) vs. WOF: TBA