UNCG (24-27, 10-11 SoCon) at Elon (26-22, 9-12 SoCon), May 7-8, Elon, N.C., East Field
LiveStats: UNCGSpartans.com (via ElonPhoenix.com)
Video: UNCGSpartans.com (via ElonPhoenix.com, Sunday only)
• UNCG will put the finishing touches on the 2011 regular season and try to improve its seed at the upcoming Southern Conference Championship with a three-game set at league rival Elon this weekend.
• The Spartans and Phoenix met in last season's SoCon tournament title game on May 14, with Elon rallying for a 6-3 win with five runs in the seventh inning for its first-ever league title. The teams met twice in the tournament, with Elon also picking up a 6-4 win the previous day. The Spartans own a slim lead in the all-time series (29-26-2), but Elon has won five of the last six. UNCG took two of the three games the last time the teams played at Elon.
• This season's tournament will take place from May 11-14 at Georgia Southern in Statesboro, Ga.
• Saturday will serve as Elon's "Strike Out Breast Cancer" day, with money raised going to the Susan G. Komen Breast Cancer Foundation.
• Elon will have its Senior Day on Sunday, marking the third straight weekend that UNCG will partake in Senior Day festivities. Georgia Southern feted its seniors on April 24, while the Spartans honored seniors Kristen Gabel, Kayla Hensley, April Langley, Kaitlin Merkt and Katie Stripling on May 1. The Phoenix will be recognizing Hannah Shelton, Jackie Gonzalez, Caitlin McGowan, Emerald Graham, Lauren Taylor and Pam DelPizzo.
• Both teams are coming in on a roll. UNCG has won five straight after a doubleheader sweep of North Carolina A&T on April 27 and a three-game sweep of Samford last weekend. The Phoenix has won six of its last eight and seven straight at home. UNCG enters play this weekend fifth in the league standings behind College of Charleston, but could leapfrog the Cougars depending on this weekend's results against Elon. The Phoenix comes into the series sixth in the league standings, a game back of the Spartans.
• UNCG's sweep of Samford was its first three-game sweep since taking three straight from Furman on May 3-4, 2008. The sweep also moved the Spartans' record at the UNCG Softball Stadium to 12-9, marking the first time since 2003 that UNCG had had a winning record at home. It was also UNCG's first winning record at the UNCG Softball Stadium, which opened in 2006.
• The Spartans swept the SoCon weekly awards this week, with Alex Emeterio taking SoCon Player of the Week honors and Raeanne Hanks earned SoCon Pitcher of the Week laurels. Emeterio hit .588 with a 1.059 slugging percentage and a .632 on-base percentage for the week, while Hanks was 3-0 with a save and a 0.00 ERA and allowed just four hits in four appearances.
• Emeterio raised her average 24 points to a team-best .355 over the weekend, no easy feat this late in the season. Emeterio also leads the Spartans in hits (54), walks (18) and on-base percentage (.430) and has just seven strikeouts in 172 plate appearances on the season. Merkt is second on the squad with a career-best .347 average and leads the team in runs (31), home runs (nine), RBI (39) and slugging percentage (.599), all career highs except for homers. Jordan Jewett (.333) and Katelyn Bedwell (.322) are also hitting over .300 and Jewett leads the SoCon with 14 doubles. Freshman Aisha Figueroa leads the team with 20 stolen bases in 22 attempts.
• In the circle, Cory Mattson is 12-12 with a 3.99 ERA and a career-best three saves. Freshman Josie Felix is 5-12 with a 4.73 ERA, while Hanks is 7-3 with a 4.86 ERA and a save. 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.
• Last time out, Elon swept a doubleheader from Radford on April 30, taking game one 5-1 and winning a slugfest in game two, 11-10. The Phoenix scored four runs in the bottom of the seventh in game two, with DelPizzo's sacrifice fly lifting Elon to the walk-off win. Graham had a homer and five RBI in the second game. Erin O'Shea pitched a three-hitter in game one.
• Elon is in the top of half of the league in both batting and pitching, as the Phoenix is second in the SoCon with a .303 team batting average and fourth with a 3.34 ERA.
• Camille Hill leads the Phoenix with a .382 batting average, while Carleigh Nester is hitting .364 and Tomeka Watson is hitting .352. Gonzalez (.350), Kaitlyn Piazzolla (.312) and Danielle Lafferty (.308) are also hitting over .300. Graham leads Elon with 12 homers and 42 RBI and Watson paces the team with 23 stolen bases in 25 attempts.
• Taylor is 12-9 with a 3.51 ERA and 119 strikeouts for the Phoenix, while O'Shea is 10-11 with a 3.21 ERA and a staff-best 129 strikeouts. Opponents are hitting just .221 off of O'Shea.
Saturday, May 7
UNCG at Elon, 1 p.m.
UNCG at Elon, 3 p.m.
Sunday, May 8
UNCG at Elon, 1 p.m.
- UNCG -