BOONE, N.C. – Appalachian State University softball will roll back down the Mountain to Greensboro, N.C. to play four ballgames at the Aggie Invitational on Feb. 18-19.
On Saturday, the Mountaineers will battle against the UMBC Retrievers at 9 a.m. and then go head-to-head against the Howard Bison at 1 p.m. On Sunday, App will face off against Valparaiso at 11 a.m. and will wrap up the Aggie Invitational playing the Retrievers for a second time at 1 p.m.
Appalachian enters this weekend with an overall 2-3 record and is coming off of two straight victories, one against George Mason and the other against North Carolina A&T. In their recent bout against the Aggies, the Mountaineers trounced A&T 11-3 and administered 18 hits. Three ladies smashed out three hits, and Cara Parker recorded her first home run of the season.
After five games, Natalie Orcutt owns the best batting average of .375 (6-of-16), and behind her is Alisha Josey at .368 (7-of-19) and Haley Stewart at .357 (5-of-14). The freshman A. Josey is also responsible for the most RBI (five), total bases (ten) and is tied with Parker for home runs (one).
The Apps look to snatch four more victories in Greensboro to end the weekend with an overall winning record.
SCOUTING THE RETRIEVERS
• App State has only seen UMBC on the field once, and in that first meeting in 2002, the Mountaineers edged the Retrievers 4-3. Despite only playing against UMBC once before this weekend, the Mountaineers will duke it out with the Retrievers three times this spring (Feb. 18, Feb. 19 and Feb. 24).
• UMBC enters this weekend with a 1-3 overall record. Their sole win came against UMKC on Feb. 12 where the Retrievers outlasted UMKC 7-4.
• The Retrievers swept the first America East awards of the season with Kaelin Jackson earning America East Player of the Week from both the conference and College Sports Madness, Kim Puccio winning Pitcher of the Week and Evvie Buehlman grabbing Rookie of the Week honors.
• After four games, Jackson has hit .533 (8-for-15) with two RBI, three doubles, three runs and has a .733 slugging percentage.
• The Retrievers ended last year’s season with a 25-31 overall record, went 5-11 in conference play and finished in fifth in the final ECAC standings. UMBC welcomes back 17 letterwinner and seven starters and adds four fresh faces to the 2017 roster.
• 2017’s softball squad is led by first-year head coach Heather Gelbard and her assistants Carla Shepherd and Colin Christiansen.
SCOUTING THE BISON
• Saturday marks the fist time the Mountaineers and the Bison will face-off in the dirt.
• Howard wrapped up the 2016 season 9-32 and ended MEAC play with a 5-12 record grabbing their last two conference wins against Maryland Eastern Shore in a doubleheader.
• The Bison welcome six freshmen to the 2017 squad and brings back ten from last year’s team including hitters Milan Poindexter, Imani Ballard and Jasmine Gibson. Poindexter batted .285 with 20 runs, 31 hits, eight doubles, one triple, four homeruns and 21 RBI, Ballard turned in a .283 average and amassed 13 runs, 28 hits, seven doubles, two triples, three homeruns and 20 RBI, and Gibson concluded 2016 with a .276 average.
• Howard enters 2017 without batters Al’Asia Davis and Jasmine Gibson, who were responsible for 43 runs, 93 hits, 25 doubles, nine homers and 42 RBI, and leading pitcher Janessa Flynn, who posted the highest ERA of 2016 (4.63) and had the best record at 6-15.
• The Bison look for freshman Monica Thompson and senior Alex Flynn to fill in the void in the circle left by Flynn’s sister. A. Flynn appeared in 27 games and registered an 8.02 ERA with 29 strikeouts.
• The Bison are led by eight-year head coach Lauren McCoy and her assistant volunteer coach Frank Trujillo. McCoy was inducted into the Bethune-Cookman Athletic Hall of Fame in 2016 due to her outstanding career as a Wildcat. McCoy was a three-time All-MEAC pitcher, pitched three 20-win seasons and helped B-CU become the first-ever Historically Black College or University to earn a berth to the NCAA Softball Super Regionals in 2005.
SCOUTING THE CRUSADERS
• Sunday will mark the first meeting between Appalachian State and Valparaiso.
• Last year, the Crusaders brought home the Horizon League Tournament title, made a NCAA Tournament appearance, registered an 18-34 overall record and went 8-14 in conference play.
• Valpo returns three of their top hitters from last year’s roster including Second Team All-League infielder Carly Trepanier, league tournament MVP Sam Stewart and league tournament batting champion Lanie Callaghan. Returning in the circle is junior pitcher Ashlyn Montgomery who posted a 2.15 ERA.
• Carly Trepanier had a breakout freshman campaign recording the highest batting average on the team of .331 that included 20 runs, 46 hits, four doubles, two home runs and 13 RBI.
• Head Coach Kate Stake enters her third season at the helm of Valpo’s softball program, and she is assisted by coach Monica Wright and grad assistants Taylor Williams and Tarah McShane.