May 12, 2011
Cullowhee, N.C. -
In its next-to-last Southern Conference series of the regular season, Western Carolina opens its push for post-season play this weekend as it begins a crucial series against the Furman Paladins on Friday night at Latham Stadium. First pitch of the three-game set is scheduled for 7 pm with the series continuing Saturday at 4 pm and concluding with a 1 pm first pitch on Sunday.
All three games will be broadcast on the Catamount Sports Network and can be heard online at www.CatamountSports.com. Air time is 15 minutes prior to the scheduled first pitch time each day.
The Catamounts enter the final two weeks of the regular season amidst a three-way tie for eighth place in the SoCon standings - the final cut-off spot for the conference championship tournament scheduled for May 25-29 at Joseph P. Riley Park in Charleston, S.C. WCU faces seventh-place Furman this weekend before hosting The Citadel, with which it is currently tied for eighth, next Thursday through Saturday in Cullowhee.
WCU, The Citadel and Wofford all hold identical 8-16 records in league play entering the week. While the Catamounts face seventh-place Furman this week, The Citadel travels to second-place UNC Greensboro for a three-game series. Wofford, fresh off taking 2-of-3 from Georgia Southern, visits Samford which stands tied for fourth with GSU with matching 14-10 records.
The Catamounts conclude the regular season next week by hosting The Citadel for a three-game series in Cullowhee, May 19-21.
Western Carolina (18-27-1, 8-16 SoCon) leads the all-time series with Furman 87-30 overall, including three-straight wins a season ago in games played in Cullowhee. All told, the Catamounts have won five of the last seven over the Paladins, but have lost five of the last nine played in Greenville including a three-game sweep back in 2005.
Under head coach Bobby Moranda, WCU is 5-5 against the Paladins since 2008, winning two of the three games played on the road in the series.
Furman (20-28, 10-13 SoCon) has dropped 10 of its last 11 games overall on the season - four of the losses by just one run - since winning two of the three games at home against The Citadel back on April 15-17. The Paladins were swept by league-foe College of Charleston on the road and dropped 2-of-3 at home against Samford.
WCU, which enters the weekend having dropped seven of its last eight games overall, ranks second in the SoCon in team batting average at .299 collectively - including 102 doubles to rank second in the league - while Furman is hitting just .265 as a team on the year. The Catamounts have scored 310 runs on the season, fourth in the league, while the Paladins rank 10th with 235 runs.
The two squads rank at the bottom of the SoCon in team pitching as Furman is 10th with a 5.25 ERA while the Catamounts have a 5.81 combined ERA while ranking third with 368 strikeouts as a staff.
Projected Starting Pitching Match-ups:
Friday: WCU - Matt Benedict, Sr., RHP (2-4, 3.96) vs. FUR - Bobby Lyne, Jr., RHP (2-4, 3.92)
Saturday: WCU - Jordan Smith, Fr., RHP (5-6, 5.82) vs. FUR - Daniel Stallsmith, Jr., LHP (4-2, 4.11)
Sunday: WCU - Taylor Sandefur, Soph., RHP (1-3, 8.55) vs. FUR - Tyler Wood, Fr., RHP (2-3, 5.10)
Catamount Tracks - Current Catamount Baseball Players in WCU Career Record Books:
- Junior Ross Heffley moved into 15th on WCU's career base hits chart with 256 over the past three seasons ... He currently stands just 80 hits shy of all-time leader, Barrett Shaft who had 336 hits from 2005-08;
- Heffley also ranks 10th on WCU's career runs batted in (RBI) charts with 166 career runs driven in, 88 shy of first-place Chris Moore;
- Senior RHP Brandon Johnson moved into a tie for second with former hurler Joe Camac (2000-03) with his 93rd career appearance against Kennesaw State ... Johnson stands 28 appearances shy of all-time leader, Ryan Foster who had 121 appearances from 2000-03;
- Johnson also moved into 14th in the WCU record books with 18 career wins, tied with former pitcher Ryan Basner (2000-03);
- Redshirt junior Cameron Dullnig ranks tied for fifth with former Catamount Blake Murphy (2004-08) by being hit by 34 pitches in his WCU career, 10 shy of Barrett Shaft who holds the career record with 44 from 2005-08 ... Dullnig set the single-season record with 25 HBP's a season ago;
- Senior Matt Johns and Heffley both rank on WCU's top 15 for doubles in a career ... Johns has 52 doubles to stand tied with former Catamounts Nick Liles (2007-09) and Todd Buchanan (2000-03) while Heffley is tied with Todd Roper (2001-04) with 50 career doubles ... Rod Goldston holds the WCU record with 70 doubles from 2000-03;
- Johns also ranks tied for sixth with 57 career stolen bases, matching Chuck Koone (1997-98) ... Dullnig ranks just outside the top 25 with 27 thefts;
- Senior Matt Benedict ranks just outside the school's top 20 for career strikeouts with 160, five shy of matching Ken Hare (1980, '82-84).