By Thomas Corhern, TTU Sports Information
JOHNSON CITY, Tenn. – It'll be a busy weekend for the Tennessee Tech softball team over the next couple of days as they travel to Johnson City and back for the Buccaneer Classic at East Tennessee State, then open their home slate on Sunday.
Granted, that's all with weather permitting as the Cookeville forecast is looking like rain for Friday and Saturday, and the same in Johnson City.
But should everything progress as scheduled, the Golden Eagles will put their five-game winning streak on the line Friday with contests against Rutgers and East Tennessee State, while Tech gets a single game with Evansville.
Following the 9 a.m. contest on Saturday, the Golden Eagles will pack up their bags and head back to Cookeville to play Bradley in their first games in their home park on Sunday afternoon. The game was originally scheduled as a single game at 1 p.m., but, depending on weather conditions, could become a doubleheader on Sunday, starting at noon. Updates will be posted on TTUsports.com and Twitter once the details have been finalized.
But focusing back on the Buccaneer Classic, Tech opens the tournament on Friday with a 10 a.m. contest against the Scarlet Knights of Rutgers, who have a 10-9 record coming into this weekend and a four-game winning streak of its own, topping Robert Morris twice, Quinnipiac and Virginia.
Rutgers can definitely put runs on the board, outscoring its opponents 93-71 and have picked up 84 RBI, led by 23 from Anyssa Iliopoulos, who's batting .358 with eight doubles a triple and four home runs. Jess Hughes leads the team with a .381 average with 24 hits and 21 runs scored, while collecting three home runs and seven RBI. Katie Wingert (.276) and Aleah Marra (.226) each have 12 RBI.
Whitney Jones leads the Scarlet Knights in the circle in wins with a 6-5 record, touting a 3.48 earned run average. She has walked 27 and struck out 18 in 52 1/3 innings of work. Corah Jones (4-3) has a 3.05 ERA in 57 1/3 innings while walking 16 and striking out 43.
The homestanding Buccaneers are next up, entertaining the Golden Eagles at 2:30 p.m. ETSU has a 10-7-2 record on the year, losing its last three outings – a 4-3 loss at Tennessee State and a pair of 8-0 and 3-0 losses at USC Upstate.
ETSU also has the capabilities to provide a lot of offense as the Bucs have outscored opponents 126-90. East Tennessee State has four players with double-figure RBI totals, including Malloree Schurr (25), Nikki Grupp (24), Kylie Toler (12) and Tiffany Laughren (12). Grupp also has six home runs on the season.
Kelly Schmidt (3.42 ERA) leads ETSU in wins with a 4-4 record, while recording 34 walks and 45 strikeouts in 55 1/3 innings. Taylor Boling (4.77) and MacKenzie Dyson (6.62) both have three wins.
The Purple Aces from Evansville have a 7-8 record entering the weekend, going 1-2 last week at the Samford Tournament in Birmingham, falling to Western Kentucky and Houston Baptist before earning a 4-3 win over the host Bulldogs.
Evansville is led at the plate by Katie McLean has a .489 average in 45 at-bats, collecting 22 hits. Eryn Gould has a team-high 11 RBI with a .270 average. Emily Lockhart leads the team with a 4-3 record in the circle, posting a 2.46 ERA. Izzy Vetter has a 2-1 record with a 2.91 ERA.
Bradley enters the weekend with a 9-10 record, winning four of its last five, including a pair against South Alabama and run-ruled wins over Purdue and Savannah State.
Gabby Stoner leads the Braves at the plate with a .415 batting average, while driving in seven with a team-high 16 runs scored. Kealia Wysocki (.316) leads the team in runs driven in with 16.
As a team, Bradley has a 1.96 ERA, led by Grace French (2-2) with a 1.38 mark. Julie Kestas (5.50), Megan Mahaffy (5.95) and Emma Jackson (6.28) each have two wins, while Taise Thompson (1-2) has the team's second-best ERA with a 3.65.
Meanwhile, it has been a great last few days for the Golden Eagles, collecting a five-game winning streak, including a sweep over North Alabama, and has the best 13-game start for the program since 2006.
Beth McCulley leads the Golden Eagles (8-5) in batting average with a .364 mark. Gabby LaSala leads the Golden Eagles in RBI (10) and runs scored (10). Raleigh Lewis (.333), Kayla Hughes (.318) and Raegan Sparks (.308) are all hitting above .300.
In the circle, Alyssa Arden has come on strong in recent days, surging to a team-high four wins. She was named Pitcher of the Week by both the Ohio Valley Conference and the Tennessee Sports Writers Association this week after throwing a no-hitter at Alabama State on Saturday. She has a 4-2 record with a 2.37 ERA, while walking 21 and striking out 33. Kayla Hughes (4.20) and Haeli Bryson (4.76) both have picked up two wins as the Tech staff has a combined 3.43 ERA.
Updates on this weekend's schedule will be available on TTUsports.com and the team's Twitter feed -- @TTU_Softball.