MT. PLEASANT, S.C. – The College of Charleston softball team returns home for a non-conference doubleheader against Mississippi State on Thursday, March 14 at Patriots Point. First pitch for the twinbill is scheduled for 4 p.m.
The Cougars come into the doubleheader as winners of three straight and four of their last five after starting the Southern Conference season with a three-game sweep of Furman on the road last weekend.
The Cougars swept the Saturday doubleheader by 3-0 and 4-1 counts and sealed the sweep with a 3-2, eight-inning victory on Sunday.
Sophomore Hope Klicker (Walla Walla, Wash.) threw two complete games and senior Stephanie Saylors (Easley, S.C.) went the distance in her outing as well as the pair combined to strike out 15 while limiting the Paladins to 13 hits and just two walks in the series.
Klicker and Saylors have now combined to throw nine complete games this season. Klicker has keyed in on her location and is throwing 71.1 percent of her pitches for strikes this season and has struck out over four times as many hitters as she has walked.
Against Furman, junior Kelsey Hodgson (Woodstock, Ga.) led the way offensively in going 5-for-11 (.455) with two homers and three RBIs in the series. The Cougars also continued to receive production from the freshmen bats with Rebecca Mueller (Fair Oaks, Calif.) hitting two doubles and driving in three runs.
Kristy Giragosian (Charlotte, N.C.) also hit her first long ball on the year on Saturday as the Cougars outscored the Paladins by a 10-3 aggregate score on the weekend.
On the season, freshman Chandler Frisbie (Lawrenceville, Ga.) leads the Cougars offensively with a .354 batting average which is tenth-best in the league. Hodgson is the Cougar RBI leader with 16 and the junior power hitter ranks third in the league with a .680 slugging percentage after four homers and nine extra-base hits on the season.
Frisbie and her freshman classmates have stepped up to make immediate contributions for head coach Shelly Hoerner and the Cougars this season. The class accounts for 22 RBIs and 15 runs scored already this season.
SCOUTING THE BULLDOGS
Mississippi State comes into the games with a 17-6 record and has nearly doubled its opponents’ run output (101-56) this season. The Bulldogs have alternated wins and losses in their last five contests and strung together nine straight victories prior to lasts weekend’s Southeastern Conference opener against No. 12 LSU.
The Bulldogs and Tigers battled out a couple of pitchers’ duels and split one-run decisions on Friday and Saturday, but the LSU bats came to life as the Bulldogs were thumped with a 9-2 loss in the series finale.
The series started with an epic clash between MSU’s reining two-time SEC Pitcher of the Week and College Sports Madness' National Pitcher of the Week Alison Owen, and LSU’s All-American Rachele Fico each hurling 14 innings of scoreless softball until A.J. Andrews hit a solo homerun in the 14th to give LSU the 1-0 victory. The two pitchers combined to strikeout 32 while limiting the offenses to 11 total hits.
The Bulldogs came from behind in game two to avenge Friday’s loss behind a game-tying Logan Foulks homer in the sixth, and then Shelby Fisher’s game-winning RBI single two batters later.
The finale wouldn’t provide the same drama as its predecessors; however, as the Tigers would make their case for their top-15 ranking with four homeruns and a 9-2 statement win on Sunday.
The Bulldogs bounced back when they descended on Jacksonville, Fla., to take on Jacksonville State in the first leg of their four-game road stretch. Senior left-handed pitcher Stephanie Becker, who leads the SEC in strikeouts per seven innings, fanned 11 batters in a 7-2 Bulldog victory on Tuesday night.
From the top of the lineup, leadoff hitter Jessica Offutt and two-hole hitter Heidi Shape both recorded multiple hits. Offutt set the table with two base knocks and a run scored, while Shape went 2-for-3 with two runs and a walk. Junior Sam Lenahan also had multiple hits, finishing 2-for-3 at the dish with a double, RBI and a walk.
Of the regular hitters in the lineup, Lenahan leads the team with a .362 batting average and 19 RBIs on the season. She is one of five every-day players hitting over .300 for the Maroon and White, joined by Logan Foulks (.329), Heidi Shape (.319), Erin Nesbit (.308) and Jessica Offutt (.302).
The Bulldogs have a deep pitching staff which is ranked 24th in the nation in ERA at 1.68. Three pitchers have thrown significant innings this season with Alison Owen at the head of the pack as the ace. She posts a 9-3 record after 85.0 innings thrown with a 1.07 ERA, the 17th-best individual ERA in the nation. Becker is ranked 17th in the country in strikeouts per seven innings as she averages over 9.5 per seven innings.
MULTIMEDIA AVAILABLE FOR THE DOUBLEHEADER
The production team will be back in action on Thursday with a full web-based broadcast of the games. The production will be available through CofCSports.com as well as live stats with animated play-by-play.
The broadcast requires a subscription but offers a multiple-camera broadcast with play-by-play commentary and analysis. The live stats are available at no charge.
FOLLOW THE COUGARS
Another great way of keeping up with the CofC softball team is through the team's own Twitter account (@CofCSoftball). The account provides pictures, team activities, statuses when the team is on the road and in-game thoughts and updates.
The Cougars stay home and get back to SoCon play with a three-game set against Elon at Patriots Point over the weekend. The teams will play a doubleheader on Saturday followed by a single-game finale on Sunday. First pitch is scheduled for 1 p.m. on both days.
Last season, the Cougars took two out of three from the Phoenix in the last series of the regular season, and then bounced them from the SoCon Championships with a 4-2 win in Boone, N.C.