Photo Courtesy of Sammy Croft
BANNER ELK, N.C. – After playing the first two months of its season away from Banner Elk, the Lees-McRae College softball team will make its long-awaited home debut with three home doubleheaders scheduled for this week. LMC will kick off the week by hosting Brevard College in non-conference action on Wednesday before stepping back into league action Saturday and Sunday with matchups against Mount Olive and Barton. Wednesday's and Saturday's games are scheduled to get underway at 2 p.m., while Sunday's twin bill is set for a noon first pitch.
Last Time Out – The Bobcats picked up a pair of wins on the road at Converse last Thursday. Lees-McRae shut out the Valkyries 6-0 in game one before notching a 7-2 victory to complete the sweep. With the victories, the Bobcats improved to 10-16 overall and 5-1 in conference action.
Confidence in Conference – LMC's 5-1 record to begin this season's conference schedule marks one of the best starts in program history. To put this season's record in perspective, the Bobcats won six league games total in 2017. Lees-McRae has 14 games to go in the conference schedule to further that win total.
Kara continues to pitch well – Junior pitcher Kara Cunningham logged both wins for the Bobcats in the circle last Thursday at Converse. Cunningham has been one of the top pitchers in the Conference Carolinas this season as she ranks in the top 10 in wins (3rd – 10), complete games (5th – 10), innings pitched (3rd – 103.2), strikeouts (5th – 88) and ERA (1.42).
Coming through in Clutch Situations – A key for the Bobcats this season has been their ability to get hits in key moments. With runners on base and two outs, the team is collectively hitting .315 with 51 hits. The trio of Katie Robinson, Sarah Tucker and Noel Cassidy have been especially good in these situations with all three players hitting .588, .545 and .500, respectively.
About the Opponents – Brevard enters Wednesday's twin bill in Banner Elk with an 8-14 record on the spring. The Tornados are a balanced team boasting a team batting average of .284 and a team ERA of 3.85. Individually, Brevard has four players hitting .300 or better, including Teegan Bullock with a team-high mark of .382.
Mount Olive comes into this week's play with a 14-20 record overall and a 5-5 mark in conference games. UMO has one of the better offenses in the conference in 2018 ranking second in the league with 188 runs scored. A major part of that Trojan offense has been their ability to run the bases. UMO has swiped 72 bases and has been caught just 12 times.
As good as UMO is offensively, Barton has been even better this spring on its way to a 17-19 record overall and a 3-7 mark in league games. No team within the Conference Carolinas has scored more runs than the Bulldogs (257). One similarity Barton and Mount Olive have is ability to run. Barton has stolen 90 bases with the trio of Taylor Martin (16 stolen bases), Hayley Grizzle (14 stolen bases) and Kelsey Carroll (10 stolen bases) leading these efforts.
Series Rewind – The Bobcats have not seen Brevard since the 2015 season. LMC will look to snap a four-game losing skid against the Tornados with its last win in the series coming 2013. As for Mount Olive and Barton, the Bobcats went 2-3 against those two programs in 2017. One of those victories came over UMO in last season's conference tournament.