ANDERSON, S.C. – After capping a seven-day layoff with a sweep past NCAA Division I opponent South Carolina State two days ago, the 21st-ranked Anderson softball team gets back in action on Thursday by traveling to Peach Belt Conference-foe Lander for a twinbill starting at 5 p.m.
Anderson will be looking to snap a four-game skid at the hands of the Bearcats, while Lander is hoping to get back on track after dropping a pair of one-run decisions to Lincoln Memorial last Sunday. Thursday’s opener will mark the Bearcats’ ninth consecutive home contest.
Anderson has opened the season with eight consecutive wins, marking the Trojans’ best start in school history after eclipsing the 2010 squad’s 7-0 start.
Senior Abby Child ranks fourth in the SAC and has paced the Trojans’ offense through the early season, batting .542 and has three doubles and a pair of home runs among her 13 hits. The shortstop also has 13 RBI and leads the league by crossing the plate 11 times so far, while also drawing five walks. The LaGrange, Ga. native has a .917 slugging percentage. Fellow senior Danielle Swygert is batting .520 and has an on-base percentage of .556, while notching eight RBI and two doubles.
After a stellar performance at S.C. State, freshman Courtney Czentnar is third on the team with a .438 batting average and has driven in eight runs. Second baseman Jessica Neidigh boasts a .351 batting average and is fourth on the team with a .406 on-base percentage. The left-handed leadoff hitter had her season-opening seven-game hitting streak snapped in Monday’s nightcap, but is tied for the team lead with three doubles. She is also a perfect 5-for-5 in stolen bases on the season.
Senior outfielder Charlotte Sieber is also among eight Trojans batting above .300, as she is 6-for-17 (.353) on the season with three doubles and seven RBI. Center fielder Molly Child has nine hits in 27 at-bats, including two home runs and a pair of doubles, and has walked four times. The sophomore is tied with Abby Child for the team lead in runs scored (11). Catcher Laura Jansky is hitting .333 through the eight games and has driven in nine runs, while newcomer Augie Pena is 3-for-5 at the plate on the season.
In the circle, freshman hurler Lauren Rudesheim (4-0) is tied for second in the conference with her four victories and is tied for fourth in ERA (0.74), while holding opponents to a .123 batting average. Pena and junior Katelynn Howser are both 2-0 on the season and the trio of hurlers are tied for the league lead with 46 strikeouts in 47 innings of work.
Lander was picked to finish eighth in the 2014 Peach Belt Conference preseason poll, according to a vote of the league's coaches. The Bearcats were predicted to finish ahead of Georgia Southwestern, GRU Augusta, Young Harris and UNC Pembroke after posting an 18-31 mark a year ago, including a 6-16 mark and a 12th-place finish in the PBC. The Bearcats suffered six one-run losses in conference action a year ago.
Second-year Head Coach Tina Plew-Whitlock returned seven seniors and 12 new players on this year’s roster and the Bearcats are 2-8 on the young season, including a pair of losses to South Atlantic Conference members Catawba and Lincoln Memorial, while sweeping a double from Coker. LU is coming off losses to the Lady Railsplitters, as LMU claimed a pair of one-run victories, 4-3 and 3-2, over the Bearcats last Sunday in Greenwood.
Senior first baseman Taylor Donson and junior Aubrey Lamar lead the Bearcats at the plate, batting .290 and .286, respectively and rank 41st and 42nd in the PBC. In the circle, freshman Taylor Crawford is 1-3 on the season, but boasts a sparkling 1.84 ERA and is averaging more than six strikeouts per contest.
The Series vs. Lander
The Trojans and Bearcats have met 29 times, with Lander holding a decisive 22-7 advantage in the overall series. The Bearcats have swept both doubleheaders over the past two seasons, including three one-run decisions. The two teams split the 2010 meetings in Greenwood, with Anderson sweeping the 2011 twinbill at Smethers Field. LU claimed the first 10 meetings between the two programs, including five straight during the 1998 campaign.
Last year’s twinbill saw Lander escape with a pair of one-run victories, including an extra-inning affair in the opener. The Bearcats capitalized on six Trojan miscues in the two games, posting five unearned runs. Swygert, Jansky and Neidigh combined for 12 hits on the day.
Swygert was 4-for-6 on the afternoon, including a double and added two walks. Neidigh finished with five hits, including a triple in game one and drew a walk. Jansky added three singles and drove in two runs