Photo Courtesy of Jacob Turner
BANNER ELK, N.C. – After opening its 2019 season last Sunday at Anderson (S.C.), the Lees-McRae College softball team will compete in six games this week. First, the Bobcats will travel to Greeneville, Tennessee for a twin bill at Tusculum Wednesday beginning at 2 p.m. Following those games, Lees-McRae will head to Hickory, North Carolina to take part in the Lenoir-Rhyne Bear Bash on Saturday and Sunday. The Bobcats face Fairmont State and Virginia Wise on Saturday and then Lenoir-Rhyne and Virginia Wise again on Sunday. Saturday's games are set to be played at 4:30 and 6:30 p.m., while Sunday's contests are set to begin at 1 and 3 p.m.
Last time out – As mentioned earlier, the Bobcats began its 2019 season last Sunday. Lees-McRae dropped both games at Anderson by scores of 6-1 and 11-3 in five innings.
Highlight from Sunday – A highlight from Lees-McRae's 2019 debut was the play of the trio of Caitlyn Ray, Noel Cassidy and Kara Cunningham. These three players, who were named players to watch for the team this spring, combined to go 8-for-14 at the plate in the doubleheader which translates to a .571 batting average.
Fine start by a freshman – Another highlight for the Bobcats Sunday came from freshman shortstop Julie Gast. Gast, who went 0-for-3 in game one, rebounded to go 2-for-3 with two RBI in the second game of the day.
About the Opponents – The Bobcats will not have an easy road this week with the four schools they will be competing against boasting a combined record of 10-5 so far. Tusculum comes into Wednesday's twin bill with a record of 3-1. After dropping an extra-inning game at Southern Wesleyan, the Pioneers have outscored their opponents 26-6 in their other three games.
Lees-McRae's two opponents on Saturday, Fairmont State and Virginia-Wise, have not lost a game this spring. FSU has yet to open its 2019 season as this weekend will be the first time it has hit the diamond this spring. Virginia-Wise, meanwhile, is 4-0 coming into the tournament in Hickory outscoring opponents 32-15 in the process.
Finally, the host school Lenoir-Rhyne enters this week's play with a record of 3-4. The Bears' sub-.500 record is somewhat deceiving with two of those losses coming to ranked opponents. The strength of Lenoir-Rhyne's team has been from the circle. As a pitching staff, the Bears have a 2.30 ERA in their seven games.
Series History vs. Opponents – There is no shortage of prior history between the Bobcats and their four opponents this week. Since 2006, Lees-McRae has met the quartet of Tusculum, Fairmont State, Lenoir-Rhyne and Virginia-Wise a total of 38 times. With that being said, the Bobcats only have a winning record against one of those programs and that is against Farimont State when they upended Falcons 10-2 last season. As for the other three teams, Lees-McRae is 4-7 against UVa-Wise, 0-8 against Lenoir-Rhyne and 2-16 against Tusculum.