ANDERSON, S.C. – The Anderson University softball team opens a four-game South Atlantic Conference homestand on Saturday, as Newberry invades Smethers Field for a 2 p.m. doubleheader.
Between games of the twin bill, the softball team will host Military Appreciation Day, recognizing veterans who are in attendance.
AU has dropped three of its last four outings, while the Wolves have suffered losses in five of their last seven decisions.
Sophomore Molly Child enters the weekend twin bill riding a team-best 14-game hitting streak and has boosted her team-high batting average (.440) by 76 points over the four-week span. The center fielder ranks second in the league with seven home runs and is third in the conference in hitting, slugging percentage (.769), runs scored (34), hits (40) and RBI (29) and is also fourth with her .519 on-base percentage. Junior second baseman Jessica Neidigh is close behind in fourth with a .427 batting average. The Lawrenceville, Ga. native has hit safely in 11 consecutive games and 17 of the last 18 contests.
Senior Abby Child is third on the team with a .398 batting average and ranks seventh in the conference in that category, while leading the league in home runs (8), RBI (38), walks (21) and slugging percentage (.795). The veteran also ranks in the league’s top seven in four additional offensive categories.
Junior outfielder Rebecca Martin continues to post career numbers at the plate, boasting a .385 batting average and has a career-high six home runs on the season. The outfielder would rank 12th in the conference in hitting, but does not own enough at-bats to qualify. The six round-trippers are tied for third in the SAC. Senior Danielle Swygert is fifth on the team and ranks 13th in the league with her .371 batting average and is in the top-10 in five additional offensive categories. Freshman outfielder Courtney Czentnar is hitting .342 and is currently on a six-game hitting streak.
In the circle, junior hurler Katelynn Howser (8-2) has a 1.86 ERA, which ranks seventh in the conference and has recorded 66 strikeouts in 71 1/3 innings of work. Freshman Lauren Rudesheim (9-4) leads the pitching staff with 18 appearances and has tossed a pair of shutouts on the season. Fellow freshman Augie Pena is 4-1 on the season in 14 appearances and recorded the Trojans’ lone win in their last four outings with her relief effort in the win past Mars Hill on Thursday. She has 48 strikeouts in 35 1/3 innings of work on the season and ranks second in the conference with her 9.51 strikeouts per contest.
Newberry was a preseason pick to finish 11th in the South Atlantic Conference in a poll of the league's coaches after finishing ninth in last season’s league standings with a 16-24 overall record and a 4-14 mark in the SAC a year ago.
Junior outfielder Gabby Bedard was named to the preseason all-conference second team after playing in all 40 games during the 2013 season. A starter in each of Newberry’s games a year ago, Bedard was second on the team in hitting with a .329 clip. Sitting atop the Newberry lineup, Bedard posted a .382 on-base percentage, while leading the team in hits with 46 and runs with 25.
Bedard currently ranks sixth in the league with her .416 batting average and her .489 on-base percentage is ninth in the conference. The Winder, Ga. native has four triples on the season, which ties her for second in the SAC.
The Wolves, who are currently 15-11 overall and 2-2 in the conference, enter Saturday’s twin bill alone in sixth place in the conference standings. Newberry stands one game ahead of Anderson, Mars Hill, Coker and Tusculum, all of whom have posted one conference victory through the first week of conference action.
Newberry ranks fourth in the conference with a .374 on-base percentage and behind the efforts of Bedard and teammate Danielle Basch, who have combined to swipe 16 stolen bases, the Wolves are tops in the conference with 39 stolen bases on the season.
The Wolves dropped a twin bill, 9-1 and 3-0, at home to 21st-ranked Lenoir-Rhyne two days ago after sweeping a SAC doubleheader from Brevard last Wednesday. The Wolves have dropped five of their last seven decisions and open a four-game home stand following Saturday afternoon’s matchups at Smethers Field.
The Series vs. Newberry
The Trojans and Wolves have met 28 times in a series that dates back to the 1998 season, with six of the meetings occurring since Anderson joined the South Atlantic Conference for the 2011 campaign. Anderson leads the all-time series, 16-12, and has won five of the last six matchups, including three straight. The early 2000s saw the Trojans win nine straight in the series, while Newberry countered with five consecutive victories from 2004 through 2007. Following the 2007 campaign the series lapsed for three years before AU joined the SAC.
In the regular-season doubleheader last season, the Trojans ripped 24 hits, including four home runs, with Abby Child leading the way. The shortstop was 4-for-6 at the plate with a home run, a double and three walks, while scoring four times and driving in four runs. Molly Child added three hits on the afternoon, including a home run and a triple. She also drew three free passes, scored three times and knocked in three runs. Neidigh chipped in four singles and scored three runs in 10 at-bats, with Swygert belting two home runs, scoring four times and recording seven RBI. Laura Jansky added a pair of doubles and a single in eight trips to the plate.