UNCG heads down to Charlotte for First Pitch Classic
UNCG at the First Pitch Classic, Feb. 18-20, Charlotte, N.C.
LiveStats: UNCGSpartans.com (via Charlotte49ers.com)
• UNCG's softball team returns to the field this weekend at Charlotte's First Pitch Classic in Charlotte, N.C. The Spartans will face Charlotte, Eastern Kentucky and St. Francis (Pa.) at the three-day tournament.
• UNCG will meet tournament host Charlotte at 2 p.m. Friday, followed by a 4 p.m. bout with Eastern Kentucky. The Spartans face St. Francis at 10 a.m. Saturday before the teams enter bracket play that afternoon. The consolation and championship games will be Sunday.
• The Spartans turned in mixed results in their first weekend of play, going 2-3 at the Seminole Kick Off Classic in Tallahassee, Fla., last weekend. UNCG opened the season in spectacular fashion with a 1-0, 9-inning win over No. 23 Florida State on Feb. 11, with Cory Mattson pitching her first collegiate no-hitter and Kaitlin Merkt knocking in the winning run in the top half of the ninth over the tournament hosts. The tables were turned as UNCG was no-hit by eventual tournament champion Hofstra in game two. UNCG split a pair of games the following day, beating St. John's before falling to Florida State, both by 13-3 scores in five innings. UNCG dropped a 13-7 contest to St. John's in the consolation game on Feb. 13.
• Mattson's no-hitter was just the 11th in school history and the first to go extra innings or come over a ranked opponent.
• After a tough opening day, UNCG's bats came alive in the next three games, as the Spartans scored 23 runs in the three combined. Seven Spartans are currently hitting .300 or better, with Jordan Jewett and April Langley leading the way with identical .500 averages. Of players with eight at-bats or more, Merkt leads the way with a .467 mark and has UNCG's lone home run on the season, a solo blast against FSU.
• Freshman Aisha Figueroa had an outstanding debut weekend, hitting .462 (6-for-13) with five RBI and four runs, both team bests. Classmate Katelyn Bedwell, a member of the Canadian Junior Women's National Team, hit .375 with three RBI, while freshman Ashley Reetz was 3-for-10 with a stolen base. Freshman Toni MacReynolds earned the start behind the plate in the opener and caught Mattson's no-hitter in her collegiate debut.
• Mattson and sophomore Raeanne Hanks are the only two pitchers to earn decisions thus far, with Mattson sitting at 1-2 and Hanks at 1-1. Hanks has a team-best 3.32 ERA after the opening weekend.
• UNCG is 26-34 all-time against Charlotte, which is the alma mater of UNCG coach Jennifer Herzig. The 49ers topped UNCG 9-2 in last season's lone meeting. Game two of the scheduled doubleheader was rained out. The Spartans are 4-0 against Eastern Kentucky, but have not met the Colonels since 1998. The teams met three times during the 1997 season. UNCG is 6-1 against St. Francis but the teams have not met since the 2007 campaign. UNCG downed the Red Flash three times that season, and has not lost to SFU since a 1-0 loss at the Rebel Games in Florida in 1999.
• Charlotte is off to a 2-2 start to the season, having beaten UNC Wilmington twice and lost to Virginia Tech and Iona at its own 49er Round Robin last weekend. Kendra McCall leads the team with a .400 mark through four games, as she is 4-for-10. Tenaya Tucker is one of three 49ers hitting .333, and leads the team with seven RBI. In the circle, Katy Hackett is 2-0 with a 1.93 ERA.
• Eastern Kentucky is opening its season at the First Pitch Classic. The Colonels suffered through an injury-plagued 2010 season that saw them go 15-34. EKU, which was picked ninth in the Preseason Ohio Valley Conference Coaches Poll, return three-time All-OVC selection Shyenne Hussey, who played in just five games last season because of injuries. She hit .349 in 2009. Two-time All-OVC selection Diane Gallagher returns after hitting .325 and leading the OVC with 34 stolen bases last season. Sophomore Kristin Perry went 7-14 with a 3.38 ERA as a freshman last season, striking out 142 batters and leading the OVC in opponents' batting average (.193).
• St. Francis is also opening its season this weekend. The Red Flash went 14-36 last season, including a 5-14 mark in the Northeast Conference. St. Francis tied for ninth in the Preseason NEC Coaches Poll and is led at the plate by Taylor Darneille, who led the team with a .317 average and 20 RBI as a freshman last season. Darneille is the only returner to hit over .300 last season. Junior Megan Layne was the Red Flash's top pitcher last year, as she was 11-20 with a 3.57 ERA. She struck out 149.
First Pitch Classic schedule
Friday: at Charlotte, 2 p.m.; vs. Eastern Kentucky, 4 p.m.
Saturday: vs. St. Francis, 10 a.m.; #4 seed vs. #1 seed, 2 p.m.; #3 seed vs. #2 seed, 4 p.m.
Sunday: Consolation game, 11 a.m.; Championship game, 1 p.m.
- UNCG -