Golden Eagle softball entertains East Tennessee State in Saturday twinbill

Golden Eagle softball entertains East Tennessee State in Saturday twinbill

By Thomas Corhern, TTU Sports Information

COOKEVILLE, Tenn. – With the tournament schedule winding down and another week before Ohio Valley Conference play commences, the Tennessee Tech softball team will host East Tennessee State in a non-conference doubleheader on Saturday.

First pitch is scheduled for 1 p.m. at the Tech Softball Field with the second game approximately 30 minutes after the conclusion of the first. Admission for all games at the Tech Softball Field is free to the public.

East Tennessee State comes into Cookeville with a 12-9-2 record in tow, falling twice to Evansville in its four games played in its Buccaneer Classic last weekend. Weather washed out the Buccaneers' games against Rutgers and Tech in the event, but ETSU earned an 11-5 win over Siena and a 5-1 victory over the Purple Aces, before falling 2-1 and 6-5 to Evansville in the final two games.

ETSU has scored 148 runs, 44 more than its opponents. In contrast, Tech has driven in 109 in 17 games (an average of 6.4 per game), while allowing 118 (6.9 avg.). With eight more games played than the Golden Eagles, however, the Buccaneers are averaging about the same mark -- 6.4 -- on offense, but less -- 4.5 – on defense.

The production on the lineup, which has compiled 132 RBI so far, is led by Nikki Grupp and Malloree Schurr, who have a combined 53 RBI between themselves. Grupp has a team-high seven home runs and nearly has the team lead in runs scored with 23. She has driven in 28 runs and is hitting .370 on the season. Schurr, with a .342 average, has 25 RBI with five doubles, four triples and two home runs.

Kelly Warren leads the team in runs scored with 24, and is ETSU's top stolen base threat with 12 swipes in 14 attempts. Schurr is 9-for-9 and Lauren Lee is 7-for-7.

As a team, ETSU is batting .292.

In the circle, Kelly Schmidt has made the most appearances and pitched the most innings, compiling a 3.47 ERA and a 4-5 record in 15 appearances – 13 starts – in 66 2/3 innings of work. Opponents are hitting .257 against her while walking 40 and striking out 57. She has three shutouts on the season.

Taylor Boling could also see a start. Boling has a 4.07 ERA with a team-best 5-2 record in six starts and 12 appearances. Opponents are hitting .276 against her while walking 29 and striking out 31.

For the Golden Eagles (9-8), they have won six of their last 10 games, but only two of their last five, including a 7-0 victory over Evansville on Tuesday. Tech's only losses in March have come against Rutgers (9-1) last Saturday and a pair of 7-6 and 11-5 defeats to Bradley on Sunday.

While weather has washed out eight of Tech's originally scheduled games thus far, the Golden Eagles' numbers are showing improvement. Through the first 15 of the 2018 campaign, Tech allowed 122 runs to cross while scoring 53. Through the first 17 in 2019, Tech has scored 72 and allowed 80.

The biggest change, however, is in the circle. In the first set of games of 2018, the Golden Eagles had a 3-12 record and a staff ERA of 7.31, walking 79 and striking out 55 with opponents hitting .334. So far in 2019, Tech has a staff ERA of 3.88, a 9-8 record, 56 walks and 74 strikeouts with opponents hitting .261.

Beth McCulley leads the Golden Eagles with a .375 batting average, while Gabby LaSala (.250), Raleigh Lewis (.306) and Sydney Love-Baker (.289) all have double-digit RBI totals with 13, 10 and 10 respectively.

For the pitchers, Alyssa Arden has a team-high five wins and a 2.78 ERA in 10 appearances and 55 1/3 innings of work. She has walked 24 and struck out 42 with opponents hitting .227 against her. Callie Piper has the team's lowest ERA with a 1.17 in five relief appearances over six innings.

Haeli Bryson (2-3, 5.13 ERA) and Kayla Hughes (2-2, 5.64 ERA) have also seen a good amount of innings of work, throwing a combined 52 1/3 innings with 26 walks and 29 strikeouts between them.

Photo by Thomas Corhern, TTU Sports Information