UNCG hosts Samford to wrap up home portion of 2011 schedule
UNCG (21-27, 7-11 SoCon) vs. Samford (11-34, 7-11 SoCon), April 30-May 1, UNCG Softball Stadium
Video: Spartan All Access (Sunday only)
• UNCG wraps up the home portion of its schedule this weekend when it hosts Samford for a three-game Southern Conference series. The teams will play a doubleheader Saturday followed by Sunday's Senior Day contest.
• Seniors Kristen Gabel, Kayla Hensley, April Langley, Kaitlin Merkt and Katie Stripling will be honored prior to Sunday's game. In the last four years, that group has won nearly 100 games and reached the Southern Conference Championship title game for the first time in school history, doing so last season.
• Both teams come into this weekend looking to get back on track in SoCon play. The Spartans are 1-8 in their last three league series – all against the top three teams in the SoCon standings – suffering sweeps at the hands of Chattanooga and Georgia Southern and dropping two of three to Appalachian State. Samford is 3-6 in its last nine SoCon games, getting swept by the Apps last weekend, dropping two of three to GSU and taking two of three from Elon.
• UNCG swept a doubleheader from North Carolina A&T on Wednesday, taking both games by 11-3 scores. Merkt was a combined 4-for-6 with five RBI in the two games, while Langley was 4-for-8 with five runs scored. Alex Emeterio fell a home run short of the cycle in game one. Cory Mattson and Raeanne Hanks picked up the wins in the circle for UNCG, with Mattson setting a new career high with her 11th win of the season in game one and Hanks throwing 4 2/3 innings of three-hit relief in game two.
• The Spartans used big innings in both games against the crosstown Aggies. UNCG scored eight runs in the second inning of game one, then broke a 3-all tie with five runs in the fifth of game two. The eight-run outburst in game one was UNCG's second-largest of the season, second only to an 11-run fourth against St. John's on Feb. 12.
• Merkt's big day pushed her into the team batting lead with a .333 average. The redshirt senior also leads UNCG with nine home runs and 36 RBI, both marks just two shy of her career highs in those categories, and 28 runs. Emeterio is just off Merkt's pace with a .331 average, while Katelyn Bedwell has seen her average jump up to .329 after hitting .379 in her last 10 games. Jordan Jewett is also hitting over .300 at .322 and has a team-best 11 doubles on the year. Freshman Aisha Figueroa leads the team with 19 stolen bases in 21 attempts.
• In the circle, Mattson is 11-12 with a 3.96 ERA and a career-best three saves. Freshman Josie Felix is 5-12 with a 4.87 ERA, while Hanks is 5-3 with a 5.62 ERA. Emeterio has made six appearances but has yet to register a decision. She has a 9.33 ERA but is allowing opposing batters to hit just .263, the best mark on the staff.
• The brief series between the two squads is tied at three games apiece. UNCG took two of three from the Bulldogs in 2009, their first season in the league, while Samford returned the favor by taking two of three last season.
• Merkt terrorized the Bulldogs last season, hitting .556 with three homers and seven RBI in the three-game series, including a pair of longballs in the finale for her first career multi-homer game. Samford pitcher Kayla Burris also had an outstanding series, as she appeared in all three games and turned in a 0.91 ERA, allowing just two hits over 7 2/3 innings. She did not record a decision.
• The Spartans came into the series – which ended the regular season for both squads – knowing they could clinch a spot in the SoCon tourney with two wins. After winning the first contest 5-3 on May 8, UNCG fell 7-1 in game two. UNCG was a strike away from winning game three the following day, but Amanda Jordan hit a walk-off three-run home run to give the Bulldogs a 5-4 comeback victory. UNCG still made it into the SoCon tournament because of other results around the league.
• Samford's Robyn Harmon and Nicole Bobrowski share the team batting league with .297 averages. Jordan leads the team with seven homers and 17 RBI but is hitting just .210 on the season. In the circle, Burris is 8-14 with a 4.45 ERA, while Harmon is 1-10 with decisions in all 11 of her appearances and has an ERA of 9.00. Bobrowski is 2-8 with a 4.72 ERA and Emily Waters is 0-2 with a 4.48 mark.
• Samford is last in the SoCon in both team batting average (.236) and team ERA (5.32).
• The Bulldogs have been idle for the last week after their scheduled doubleheader with Mississippi Valley State was canceled because of inclement weather on Tuesday. Last time out, Samford dropped three road games at Appalachian State, falling 9-0 and 8-4 in a doubleheader on April 23 and 2-1 in the series finale on April 24.
• Samford started the season just 3-21, but has rebounded a bit since then, going 8-13 in its last 21 contests.
Saturday, April 30
UNCG vs. Samford, 1 p.m.
UNCG vs. Samford, 3 p.m.
Sunday, May 1 (Senior Day)
UNCG vs. Samford, 1 p.m. (Spartan All Access)
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