ANDERSON, S.C. – The 20th-ranked Anderson softball team returns home on Sunday, welcoming Chowan to Smethers Field for a nonconference doubleheader slated to start at noon.
Anderson is riding a four-game win streak after sweeping season-opening doubleheaders past Conference Carolinas opponents Lees-McRae and North Greenville, including three five-inning decisions.
Junior third baseman Bri Cason led the way offensively for the Trojans at NGU, going 3-for-5 on the afternoon, including a pair of home runs. The Lawrenceville, Ga., native drove in four runs and scored three times, while also adding a walk. Junior Jessica Neidigh, who enters Sunday’s doubleheader on a four-game hitting streak, added three hits and a pair of walks while also crossing the plate three times.
Senior first-baseman Danielle Swygert notched three hits, with freshman Courtney Czentnar tallying a pair of hits, an RBI and scored once. Senior Abby Child went 2-for-6 with a double and an RBI, and sophomore Molly Child posted a single, two walks and crossed the plate three times.
Freshman Lauren Rudesheim, the reigning South Atlantic Conference Pitcher of the Week, earned her second win of the young season after tossing four innings of relief and allowing two runs, striking out one Crusader and walking one. The Columbus, Ga. native owns a stellar 0.88 ERA on the season after surrendering just one earned run in eight innings of work. Fellow freshman Augie Pena collected her first win of the season with a complete-game five-inning victory at North Greenville, allowing three earned runs off six hits. She walked one, while striking out three.
Chowan, from the Central Intercollegiate Athletic Association, finished last season with a 26-23 overall record and won its second CIAA Tournament Championship in program history. The Hawks also earned their fifth-straight CIAA Northern Division title and made their second NCAA DII Atlantic Regional appearance.
Junior outfielder Leigh Ward earned First-Team North Carolina Sports Information Association (NCCSIA), First-Team NFCA Division II Atlantic All-Region, Daktronics All-Region Second-Team and Second-Team All-CIAA honors following her sophomore campaign. Ward was 29-for-36 in stolen base attempts last season and led the Hawks with a .461 batting average a year ago. The Oriental, N.C. native also led Chowan in at-bats (152), runs scored (48), hits (70), total bases (75) and on-base percentage (.529).
Liz Hipple and Courtney Baker returned for their senior year after batting .435 and .312, respectively, last season. Hipple was tabbed First-Team NCCSIA and First-Team All-Region while Baker earned the nod on the First-Team All-CIAA squad. In the circle, the Hawks returned sophomore Courtney Groce and junior Alora Lincoln, who combined for 25 of the team's 26 wins last season. Groce earned 10 wins as a rookie while Lincoln tallied 15 wins during her sophomore campaign and was honored as the CIAA Tournament Most Valuable Player.
Sunday afternoon’s twin bill is part of a 16-game season-opening road swing for the Hawks, who do not return to Murfreesboro, N.C. for a home contest until Feb. 28. Chowan dropped their season-opening doubleheader to Erskine, 6-2 and 6-4, on Friday and are slated to visit North Greenville this afternoon.
The Series vs. Chowan
The Trojans and Hawks have met five times over the past eight seasons, with Anderson holding a 3-2 edge in the overall series. The two teams met once during the 2006 campaign, with Chowan taking a 4-2 win. The two teams split a doubleheader in 2011, then AU swept a twin bill during the 2012 season.
The Trojans pounded out 28 hits in that sweep, with Swygert going 3-for-4 with a home run and five RBI in the first game. Trojan hurlers held Hawks to four hits in the 15-2 nightcap, as Neidigh went 5-for-5 and posted three RBI. Cason added a pair of hits, including a home run and recorded five RBI.