ANDERSON, S.C. – With the 21st-ranked Trojans off to their fastest start in school history with a 10-game season-opening win streak, Anderson is slated to host Peach Belt Conference-foe Georgia College on Saturday, then welcome Conference Carolinas-opponent Limestone to Smethers Field on Sunday afternoon. First-pitch versus the Bobcats is set for 1 p.m.
Anderson has opened the season with 10 consecutive wins, eclipsing the 2010 Trojan squad’s seven consecutive victories after having its first five games washed out due to inclement weather. The 2012 edition of Anderson softball posted a school-record 15 consecutive victories after dropping two decisions to Lander to open that season.
Senior shortstop Abby Child and freshman pitcher Lauren Rudesheim have already earned SAC Player of the Week accolades as a result of the Trojans’ hot start.
Child leads the league with 18 hits, six doubles, four home runs and ranks second in batting average (.600), on-base percentage (.658), RBI (19) and runs scored (14). First baseman Danielle Swygert is tied for ninth in the conference with her .467 batting average and ranks 11th with a .543 on-base percentage. The left-hander has a slugging percentage of .700 and has scored nine runs on the season. Freshman Courtney Czentnar is batting .429 on the season and has seven RBI on the strength of a pair of home runs.
Second baseman Jessica Neidigh is hitting .375 on the season, with three doubles and is a perfect 7-for-7 in stolen bases, which is second in the SAC. Center fielder Molly Child has 11 hits in 33 at-bats, including two home runs and a pair of doubles on the season. The sophomore also has drawn six walks on the season. Senior Charlotte Sieber adds to the potent offense with her .333 batting average (11-for-33) and has driven in seven runs.
In the circle, Rudesheim (5-0) is tied for first in the conference with her five victories and is third with a stellar 0.54 ERA. The right-hander has recorded 19 strikeouts and issued just two walks in 26 innings of work. Junior hurler Katelynn Howser is 3-0 on the season with 17 strikeouts in 19 2/3 innings of work and is limiting opposing hitters to just a .154 batting average. Freshman right-hander Augie Pena (2-0) is third in the conference, averaging 8.92 strikeouts per contest, and has issued just two free passes in 13 1/3 innings.
Georgia College was picked to finish fourth in the 2014 Peach Belt Conference preseason poll, according to a vote of the league's coaches. The Bobcats were predicted to finish behind Armstrong Atlantic State, North Georgia and Columbus State after earning a runner-up finish in the PBC Tournament Championship as the No. 2 seed a year ago.
The Bobcats finished tied for second with North Georgia with a 16-6 conference record last season, while posting a 37-17 overall record and advanced to the 2013 PBC Tournament Championship game. GC earned a berth in the NCAA Southeast Regional Tournament and was ranked nationally as high as No. 16 in the National Fastpitch Coaches Association (NFCA) Division II Top-25 Poll.
The team returned All-PBC First-Team selection senior Whitney Okvist, who led the squad in runs scored at 39, and her PBC-leading 43 stolen bases helped Georgia College set a league stolen-bases record in a season with 63. Sophomores Abi LeRoy and Marisa Boyette were both recognized as PBC Freshmen of the Week twice apiece, and head coach Jamie Grodecki was named PBC Coach of the Year last season.
Freshman Faith Flanders was named the Peach Belt Conference Freshman of the Week earlier this month, after tossing tossed seven shutout innings for the Bobcats against Queens University, allowing only three hits and no walks. She picked up her first win as the Bobcats defeated the Royals, 3-0.
The Bobcats are 7-3 overall and are coming off a 9-5 loss at Carson-Newman, but have won six of their last seven outings.
Limestone was a preseason selection to finish third in the Conference Carolinas’ preseason coaches’ poll, following Mount Olive and King. The Saints earned an appearance in the Conference Carolinas Tournament a year ago and posted a 22-22 overall record, including 14-6 in the league.
The Saints returned All-Conference Carolinas First-Team catcher Erika Hansen, as well as six other starting position players. Hansen led the team with a .330 batting average and 18 RBIs. Senior centerfielder Amanda Hayes had a team-best .391 on-base percentage and compiled a team-best .984 fielding percentage, while swiping 16 bases in 17 attempts. Senior shortstop Ashley Cox finished last season with a .308 batting average, which included a team-leading 45 hits, 32 runs scored and a second-best 13 stolen bases.
Junior Kelly Shearer and senior Chelsea Smith are expected to lead the Saints in the circle in 2014. Shearer appeared in 10 games, starting three with a team-best 2.15 earned run average. She had one complete game as she compiled a 3-1 overall record. Smith finished the 2013 season with a 1-1 overall record with one complete game.
Senior first baseman Leea Polin was named the Conference Carolinas Softball Player of Week earlier this month, after opening the season at the Hampton Jordan Classic. She started all four games at first base and batted .600 (6-for-10) with two home runs and seven RBIs to help the Saints to a 4-0 start.
Limestone enters the weekend with a 6-2 record and is slated to square off against Emmanuel on Saturday.
The Series vs. Georgia College
The Trojans and Bobcats have met on just three occasions in school history, with Anderson defeating the Bobcats three times last season. AU swept the regular-season doubleheader in Milledgeville, Ga., then knocked off GC, 7-5, in the NCAA’s Hickory Regional.
Bri Cason was 3-for-6 with a double in the three contests versus the Bobcats a year ago, while adding three walks. Molly Child was 4-for-9 with three walks and Laura Jansky posted three RBI in the matchups. Swygert also drove in three runs in the three matchups.
The Series vs. Limestone
Sunday’s doubleheader marks the first meetings between the two programs since the Trojans joined the South Atlantic Conference for the 2011 campaign. Both schools were members of the Conference Carolinas until that season and the teams have met 26 times overall, with the Saints holding a 15-11 advantage in the all-time series.
Limestone has claimed five of the last six matchups.