Photo Courtesy of Jake Miller
BANNER ELK, N.C. – The Lees-McRae College softball team will close out the month of March with a pair of Conference Carolinas doubleheaders this weekend on the road. First, the Bobcats will take on Erskine Saturday before heading to Emmanuel (GA) on Sunday. First pitch for Saturday's twin bill is set for 2 p.m., while Sunday's is scheduled to get underway at 1 p.m.
Last time out – Lees-McRae split a pair of games last Sunday at Barton. The Bobcats won the first game 3-0 before dropping game two by a score of 8-7. With Sunday's results, Lees-McRae's 2019 record moves to 10-12 overall and 4-4 within league play.
Cunningham continues to move up the all-time record book – Senior Kara Cunningham continues to move her way up in several statistical categories during final season as a Bobcat. Cunningham is third all-time in at-bats (514), fifth in hits (143), second in doubles (35) in offensive categories. On the pitching side, Cunningham is fourth in career ERA (2.71), tied for third in appearances (99), starts (62) and complete games (46), second in wins (33), second in shutouts (9), second in innings pitched (498.2) and second in strikeouts (415).
Boost from the bats – One major difference for the Bobcats this season has been their improvement offensively. In 2018, the Bobcats hit .249 as a team with 14 home runs in 43 games. Through 22 games this season, Lees-McRae is hitting a combined .292 with 16 home runs. Furthermore, the Bobcats have seven players batting .286 or higher and four that are hitting above .360 this spring.
About Erskine & Emmanuel – Both Erskine and Emmanuel have enjoyed solid starts to their respective seasons this spring. The Flying Fleet are 18-9 overall and 4-2 within the league, while the Lions are 15-16 overall and 4-4 in conference play.
Some players to watch this weekend for Lees-McRae's opponents come from different sides of the ball. Erskine's strength is its pitching staff as the duo of Morgan Hendrix (9-4, 2.05 ERA) and Hannah Hogue (8-4, 1.60) not only rank first and second in the league in victories but also rank in the top five in the conference in terms of ERA. Emmanuel, meanwhile, is paced by Caitlin Parks. Parks has slugged eight home runs this spring, which is tied for the conference lead to go along with a .295 batting average.
Series Histories vs. Erskine and Emmanuel – The Bobcats and Flying Fleet have matched up a total of 28 times since 2006 with the latter coming out on top in 22 of those contests. However, Lees-McRae won two of the three games between the programs last season, including a victory in conference tournament. As for the series against Emmanuel, the Lions and Bobcats have each won six games since 2006. Additionally, Lees-McRae has won three of the last four games, including a doubleheader sweep of the Lions in its last trip to Franklin Springs back in 2017.