Softball facing big A-Sun challenge at Upstate
Friday, April 17, 2015
By Mark McGee
Softball facing big A-Sun challenge at Upstate

SPARTANBURG, S.C. – The Lipscomb Lady Bisons will be facing the top team in the Atlantic Sun Conference this weekend when they travel to Cyrill Stadium for a three-game series with USC Upstate.

Upstate, 35-7 overall, 14-1 in the conference, has already qualified for one of the six berths in the A-Sun Tournament. The outcomes of the games this weekend will possibly help determine some of the seeding.

The Spartans lead the conference in both pitching (2.32 earned run average) and hitting (.351).

The Lady Bisons are third in the conference. They are 22-22 overall, 7-5 in the A-Sun.

Three Lady Bisons are batting in the .300 range overall. Paige Neely leads the way with a .380 average followed by Brittany Elmore at .352 and Baylee Williams at .301.

Brianne Welch leads the team in home runs with seven. Gracey Aguirre tops the list in triples with three. Neely has 17 doubles. Williams is the RBI leader with 34.

In the circle Kelly Young is 12-12 with a 2.90 earned run average. She has struck out 175 batters in 154.1 innings.

Tanner Sanders is 10-10 with a 3.26 ERA. She has recorded 111 strikeouts in 126.2 innings.

The Lady Bisons hold a 14-10 record overall in the series, but have lost the past six dating back to May 11. 2013.

Both games in the doubleheader can be seen live on ESPN3.

SCOUTING USC UPSTATE:

Upstate is coming off a 4-3 mid-week win over No. 11-ranked Georgia in Athens. They enter the series with a nine-game winning streak against A-Sun opponents and a six-game winning streak overall.

Three Spartans are batting in the .400-range. Hayley Reinfeld leads the way with a .416 average. Aly Schneider is hitting at a .412 clip and Shelia Robinson is batting .406.

Robinson. Kendell Settlemyre and Cheyenne Griffin have combined for 46 home runs. Robinson is the RBI-leader with 51.

Lexi Shubert dominates the pitching stats with a 25-5 record and a 1.57 ERA. She has struck out 161 batters and is holding opponents to a .203 batting average.

Amanda Storch is 9-2 with a 3.36 ERA. She has struck out 66 batters.

QUICK HITS:

It takes a thief: Elmore, a junior center fielder, stole one base against Tennessee Tech Wednesday night. She has set a new personal and team record with her 37th steal of the season. She broke her own mark of 36 set in 2013 as a freshman.

Every time she steals as base she sets a new school career record. She needs one more to reach the 100 thefts mark.

Doubles no trouble: Neely hit her 17th double of the season against Tennessee Tech, a new personal season career high.

She is tied with Kellie Sirus on the school’s all-time list for doubles in a season. Sirus hit 17 in 2009.

Neely needs one more to time the all-time season high for doubles. Courtney Billington hit 18 in 2010.

Can you see me now? Abby Fenichel was hit for the 16th time this season in the Tennessee Tech game, a new program record.

She is tied for first in the conference in the category. Each time she gets hit she sets a new season record in the category.

Mimi Cartwright is third in the A-Sun. She has been hit by a pitch 10 times.

It’s getting very streaky: Elmore has a 12-game hitting streak. She also has reached base in her last 23 games. Both are season highs for the team.

 Neely has reached base in her last 10 games. Fenichel as a nine-game streak of reaching base in a game.

Adjustments on the field: Fenichel started in right field in the Tennessee Tech game. It was only her second time this season to start in that position.

With Fenichel in right field Laura Dukes has returned to catcher. She started behind the plate against Tennessee Tech, her first start since being injured at UAB March 3.

In a weekend series with North Florida April 11-12 Dukes served as a pinch-hitter.

Since her return Dukes is batting .500 with two hits in four trips to the plate. She has one home run and three runs batted in four games.

National rankings:  Elmore is fifth nationally in stolen bases with an average of .84 per game.

Paige Neely is 20th in doubles with .37 per game. She leads the A-Sun with 16.

Kelly Young is 29th in strikeouts with 162.

Abby Fenichel is 19th nationally having been hit by pitches an average of .35 times per game. Mimi Cartwright is 46th in the same category having been hit an average of .27 times per game.

As a team the Lady Bisons are 19th in stolen bases with 1.74 per game.

They are 69th in fielding with a .966 percentage.

RPI watch: The Lady Bisons are rated 81st in this week’s RPI.

USC Upstate, at 39, is the highest rated A-Sun team. Kennesaw State is 67th and Stetson is 84th. North Florida is just outside the top 100 at 101. 

ON DECK:

The Lady Bisons play at home at Draper Diamond at Smith Stadium for the last time this season when Kennesaw State visits for an A-Sun series.

Game time for Saturday’s doubleheader is 4 p.m. Sunday’s final game in the series will start at 2.