Baseball and Softball Host Furman This Weekend; Ross Blogs at Double-A Zone

CATAMOUNTSPORTSDOTCOM Jamie Swank will be honored at softball's senior day Saturday.
Jamie Swank will be honored at softball's senior day Saturday.

April 25, 2008



CULLOWHEE, N.C. - Western Carolina softball and baseball both host Furman this weekend. Baseball opens the series by hosting the Paladins at 7 p.m. Friday. It will be a busy day on the Catamount campus as the 2008 Southern Conference Track and Field Championships will also be going on Saturday and Sunday at the Catamount Sports Complex.

Western Carolina opens a three-game, Southern Conference set against the Furman Paladins (23-15, 9-6 SoCon) on Friday night at 7:00 pm at Childress Field / Hennon Stadium. The Catamounts took two-of-three from the Paladins in Greenville, S.C., last season, dropping Friday's game, 5-3, before pulling throttling Furman, 12-4 on Saturday and 8-5 in the rubber match on Sunday.

WCU leads the all-time series with the Paladins, 82-25 - including winning two-straight entering Friday's game - and 45-16 all-time in Cullowhee. Furman won two-of-three over the Catamounts in their last appearance at Childress Field/Hennon Stadium back in the 2006 season.

Furman has won six of its last eight, which includes sweeping then SoCon front-runner, the College of Charleston, at home. The Paladins also took three from upstate rival, Wofford, with its two losses coming to UNC Asheville (13-9 on April 16) and ninth-ranked South Carolina this past Tuesday, 5-3.

The Paladins are led by Reese Wade at the plate with a .468 batting average with 37 hits in 79 at bats. Wade is one of six Furman players hitting over .300 on the season. Joey Rodgers and Jay Jackson - who also pitches for the Paladins with a SoCon-leading, 2.72 ERA - both pace the team with seven home runs apiece. Speaking of the pitching staff, Furman boasts a 5.27 staff ERA, third in the league.



Since winning 9-of-10 from late March through April 6, Western Carolina has dropped six of its last 10, including splitting a pair of mid-week games by falling to Clemson, 6-0, but outlasting Mercer, 8-7, in 10 innings in Macon, Ga., on Wednesday.

Western enters the weekend having dropped back-to-back conference series, falling in two-of-three at both Elon and Appalachian State in SoCon action. It is the first-time since the 2006 season that WCU lost consecutive conference sets when it dropped two-of-three to the College of Charleston and The Citadel. Since 2007, WCU has won 10 of its 14 SoCon series.

Catamount senior Barrett Shaft continues his pursuit of a pair of school-records this weekend. Having been hit by 12 pitches this year, the Lilburn, Ga., native will overtake former teammate Jonathan Greene's career HBP record, currently tied with 41 on the season, the next time he is plunked. Shaft's 306 career base hits moved him ahead of former Catamount great, Matt Raleigh (1989-92), into second-place all-time and put him just five shy of the school's all-time record of 311 held by Chris Moore (1996-99).

Senior Blake Murphy leads WCU with 14 home runs, which ties him for third in the league while also ranking fourth in the league in both on-base (.508) and slugging percentage (.731). The duo of Shaft and Murphy were named to the Golden Spikes were named to the Golden Spikes Award watch list, an award given annually to the best amateur baseball player. It is awarded by USA Baseball and sponsored by the Major League Baseball Players Association.

Sophomore Nick Liles, who leads WCU and ranks second in the SoCon with 67hits, is also riding a 13-game hitting streak entering the weekend.

Pitching Match-ups: Friday: WCU RHP Mike Tavernier (3-2, 4.71 ERA) vs. FUR RHP Jay Jackson (8-1, 2.72 ERA) Saturday: WCU LHP Drew Saberhagen (3-5, 7.58 ERA) vs. FUR RHP Mason Smith (3-3, 4.21 ERA) Sunday: WCU RHP Corey Martin (1-1, 7.71 ERA) vs. FUR RHP Kevin Gaid (1-1, 5.22 ERA)

Western Carolina softball plays its final Southern Conference home series this weekend facing off against Furman at the Catamount Softball Complex. It is also senior day and lone senior Jamie Swank will be honored between games on Saturday. The doubleheader Saturday begins at 1 p.m. and the single game is slated for 1 p.m. Sunday.

The Catamounts took two of three games from Georgia Southern to win its second SoCon series of the season while Furman was swept by league-leading Chattanooga. Western Carolina is 15-33 overall and 5-13 in the SoCon while Furman is 20-26 overall and 7-8 in the SoCon.

Western Carolina is 6-2 against Furman all-time. The Catamounts lost to the Lady Paladins 4-2 in the semi-finals of the 2007 Southern Conference Tournament on May 11.

A pair of Catamounts is chasing milestones this weekend, as Lauren Ross and Stephanie Beatty are chasing the career RBI record, which is 78 set by former Catamount Savannah Filley. Beatty is two away from the record with 77 and Ross is three away with 76.

Hurler Ross is also trying to have back-to-back 100 plus strikeout season. Ross ended her sophomore campaign with 102 and currently has 94 this season. For her career, Ross has 201 strikeouts and ranks second on the career list.

Fellow pitcher Michelle Tating is also closing in on the century mark for strikeouts as well. The junior has 95 strikeouts this season and should she reach 100, would be the fourth different Catamount pitcher to go over 100 strikeouts in the club's three-year career.

Senior honoree this weekend Swank leads the Catamounts in batting average (.299) and hits (44). She ranks third on the team in doubles with five.

Redshirt sophomore Mollie Fowler leads the team in homeruns (7) and RBI (27). She has 12 homeruns in her career and is currently tied for fourth place in the career record books. Ross holds the record with 24 homeruns in her career.

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