TUCSON, Ariz. - The College of Charleston softball team descends on Tucson, Ariz., for a three-game series against No. 15 Arizona at Hillenbrand Stadium on Friday, March 2, Saturday March 3 and Sunday March 4. The Cougars arrived in Arizona on Thursday afternoon to prepare for the test against the perennial World Series-appearing Wildcats.
First pitch for the three games is scheduled 8 p.m., 6:30 p.m. and 3 p.m., respectively. All times are Eastern Standard Time.
A GLANCE AT THE COUGARS
CofC comes into the game with a 9-4 record after winning three of their last four contests. Most recently, the Cougars swept South Carolina State by 5-3 and 6-1 counts with a combined 25 hits between the two games.
Sophomore third baseman Kelsey Hodgson (Woodstock, Ga.) is off to another productive season and leads the Cougars' offense with a .500 (23-for-46) batting average and nine RBIs. Junior second baseman Ashton Jarrett (Hanahan, S.C.) is enjoying her first upperclassmen campaign with a .452 (14-for-31) batting average this year.
CofC has benefited from production up and down the lineup and has 10 different hitters who have driven in runs on the year and 12 different players who have crossed the plate.
Junior Stephanie Saylors (Easley, S.C.) has been dominant in the pitching circle with a 0.86 ERA in 40.2 innings pitched. She has struck out 53 batters and kept her opponents to a .148 batting average on the year. Saylors has already tossed a perfect game and a career-high 12 strikeout performance this season.
Youngster Hope Klicker (Walla Walla, Wash.) has already demonstrated her potential as a freshman pitcher with a 1.81 ERA and 4-2 record in 31.0 innings of work.
SCOUTING THE WILDCATS
Arizona brings the 15th national ranking into the series as winners of 11 of their last 12 games. The Wildcats boast a 13-4 record with three of four losses coming against top-20 teams.
Shelby Babcock has shouldered the bulk of the innings in the pitching circle for Arizona and holds a deceiving 6-4 record after taking the decisions in Arizona's bouts with top competition. Kenzie Fowler holds a 5-0 record in the circle with a 1.98 ERA through 42.1 innings of work. Fowler has struck out 55 batters and holds her opponents to a .174 average.
Sitting down the Wildcats is no small task as Arizona has two hitters batting over .400 and four over .300. Lini Koria leads the way with her .432 average. Speedster Bridgette Del Ponte bats .426 on the year and has stolen four bases.
Arizona is known for hitting for power and has knocked 24 homeruns on the season. Shelby Pendley leads that category with six of her own followed by Del Ponte and Jessica Spigner who each have five.
The Tucson weather forecast looks to be pleasant for the weekend and should not hinder the schedule of play. Friday should provide nothing but clear skies with the sun setting right around first pitch and temperatures in the high 50s. Saturday and Sunday's games should be played under sunny skies with temperatures in the mid to upper 60s.
Fans who made the trip or who are in the Tucson area and are not on the players' pass list can purchase general admission tickets at the gate to Hillenbrand Stadium. Tickets are $8 for adults and $5 for seniors and youths. Fans should be advised to arrive early as the Wildcats have averaged close to 2,500 fans at their home games.
FOLLOW THE COUGARS
Fans unable to make the long trip out west can follow the team every step of the way on Twitter (@CofCSoftball). The account keeps fans posted as to the team activities as well as in-game thoughts and occurrences.
MULTIMEDIA AVAILABITY AT ARIZONA
Arizona will provide live statistics as well as live audio for fans who are unable to make the trek to Tucson. The links can be found through arizonawildcats.com as well as here:
Audio (subscription may be required)
The competition doesn't get a lot lighter for CofC which returns home to host NC State of the ACC in a doubleheader at Patriots Point on Wednesday, March 7. The first pitch of the twinbill is scheduled for 2 p.m.