UNCG to host Western Carolina, honor Csernecky this weekend
UNCG (18-29, 7-10 SoCon) vs. Western Carolina (21-29, 6-12 SoCon), April 28-29, UNCG Softball Stadium
Live stats: UNCGSpartans.com
Video: Spartan All Access (all three games, free)
• UNCG's softball team opens its season-ending six-game homestand Saturday when it welcomes Western Carolina for a three-game Southern Conference set. Prior to Saturday's first game, UNCG will honor former player and coach Tara Csernecky, who died of a heart attack in December at age 40.
• UNCG will dedicate a memorial garden with a plaque in Csernecky's honor at 12:30 p.m. Saturday. The garden is located behind the home bullpen next to the left field entrance to the field. Csernecky played at UNCG from 1992-94 after transferring from Greensboro College. A first baseman and pitcher, the West Haverstraw, N.Y., native went from walk-on to starter by the time her collegiate career was finished. After graduating, she returned as an assistant coach from 1997-98. She went on to become the head coach at Austin Peay from 1999-2004.
• The Spartans split a doubleheader at College of Charleston last weekend, winning Saturday's first game 5-2 before dropping the second 2-0. Sunday's contest was rained out and will not be rescheduled. Junior Eileen Horsmon was 5-for-7 on the day, falling a triple shy of the cycle in game one.
• UNCG is 10-11 against Western Carolina all-time in a series that began in 2006, WCU's inaugural season. The Catamounts had the run of play early in the series, winning nine of the first 13 contests, but UNCG has answered with six wins in the last eight meetings. The Spartans have won two-of-three in each of the last two seasons, setting school records for runs in a SoCon game each year. After a 17-1 win over the Catamounts in 2010, UNCG topped that with an 18-3 victory last season. Both record-setting wins were in five innings.
• Aisha Figueroa hit .750 in three games against the Catamounts last year, going 6-for-8 with seven stolen bases. Heather Robb hit .556 with two homers and five RBI against WCU. Cory Mattson was 1-0 and a 0.00 ERA, allowing just one unearned run in 10 innings of work.
• Senior Alex Emeterio is in the top 10 in school history in career batting average, hits, doubles, triples, runs, RBI and walks. With 220 hits to her credit, the school record of 227, shared by Karyn Thompson (1993-96) and Jennifer Bonilla (2004-07), is well within Emeterio's reach. Emeterio could also challenge the school record of 11 triples held by Susan Carter (1986-88), as she has eight to her credit.
• Emeterio leads the Spartans with a .328 average and a .406 on-base percentage and has struck out just six times in 145 plate appearances. Horsmon raised her average 21 points at CofC last weekend to .319, the second-best mark on the squad. She has 10 home runs and 43 RBI, more than double her previous career high of 21. Sophomore Katelyn Bedwell is hitting .319 and shares the team lead with Horsmon with 10 homers, tying them for fourth-most in the SoCon. Horsmon, who also leads UNCG with eight doubles and two triples, has a team-best .623 slugging percentage. She leads the SoCon and is second nationally with five sacrifice flies, while Bedwell is second in the league and eighth nationally with four.
• UNCG has hit 33 home runs in 47 games this season, good for sixth-most in school history with at least eight games left on the schedule. Bedwell and Horsmon have combined for 20 of them, while Robb has six, Emeterio has four and Tatiana Alcala, Dominique Madruga and Toni MacReynolds have one each. The Spartans' home run totals have soared under coach Jennifer Herzig, as seven of the top 10 home run totals in school history have come during Herzig's tenure (2006-present).
• Mattson, a senior, leads UNCG with a 3.63 ERA and is 12-14 on the season for her third straight season with at least 10 wins. Freshman Erica Navarette owns a 4.45 ERA and is 5-12 with three saves and sophomore Josie Felix is 1-3 with an 8.13 ERA.
• UNCG (18-29, 7-10 SoCon) enters play this weekend in sixth place in the league, a game and a half ahead of WCU and Furman, who are both 6-12 in league play. That, combined with UNCG's three-game series against second-place Chattanooga next weekend, make this weekend's games against Western Carolina crucial toward determining UNCG's seeding at the SoCon Championship. The Spartans are trying to finish seventh or higher to avoid playing in the single-elimination game between the Nos. 8 and 9 seeds in the first round of the tournament. The rest of the tournament is double elimination.
• Western Carolina brings a 21-29 overall mark to go with its 6-12 SoCon record into this weekend's contests. The Catamounts have won five straight after sweeping a three-game series from Elon last weekend and taking both ends of a doubleheader at North Carolina A&T on Thursday. Western is 0-9 on the road in SoCon play.
• WCU buried the Aggies across town Thursday, pounding out 27 hits in winning 18-6 and 9-0, both in five innings. In game one, the Catamounts scored seven runs each in the first and third innings to cruise to the win. Amber Steinhardt and Jordan Fulton had three hits each. Jordan Garrett, the reigning SoCon Pitcher of the Week, tossed a four-hit shutout in game two. Haley Pace was 2-for-3 with five RBI, including a bases-clearing triple.
• Senior Erin Foster leads Western Carolina with a healthy .378 batting average and leads the SoCon in home runs (17), triples (three), total bases (125) and runs scored (42). A two-time SoCon Player of the Week this season, her homer total is eighth nationally. Three other WCU regulars are hitting over .300, with Shemekia Scotton checking in at .330, Kelly Braman at .326 and Amelia Griffin at .315. As a team, Western Carolina is hitting .281, the third-best mark in the SoCon.
• Conversely, the Catamounts are eighth in the SoCon in pitching with a 4.50 team ERA. Garrett is 9-15 with a 3.83 mark, while Steinhardt is 8-6 with a 5.31 ERA. Garrett leads the league with 39 appearances and has struck out 129 batters, fourth-most in the conference.
• Base-runners have stolen 62 bases against WCU catcher Heather Chastain, the most in the SoCon.
Saturday, April 28
Dedication of Tara Csernecky memorial garden, 12:30 p.m.
Western Carolina at UNCG (DH), 1 p.m.
Sunday, April 29
Western Carolina at UNCG, 1 p.m.
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