@LATechSB Faces Charlotte in North Carolina
April 6, 2018
CHARLOTTE, N.C. – Prior to Louisiana Tech winning the 2017 Conference USA Tournament in Hattiesburg last May, the Lady Techsters played a three-game regular season series against USM at the Southern Miss Softball Complex.
In addition to winning all three games in the series, the weekend allowed Head Coach Mark Montgomery and Co. to get a good feel for the complex, something that the sixth-year Tech coach felt was advantageous during the team’s run to the tournament title two months later.
Tech will have a similar opportunity this weekend when the Lady Techsters travel to North Carolina to face Charlotte in a three-game series at Sue M. Daughtridge Stadium, the site of this year’s Conference USA Tournament coming up in May.
Due to the forecast for the weekend, the schedule for the three-games has changed. Saturday will now be a single game at 5 p.m. CT while Sunday will be a doubleheader set for 11 a.m. All three games can be seen through a paid subscription to CUSATV.com. Fans can also hear a call of the games through the Louisiana Tech X mobile app.
“I think playing at these facilities in the regular season benefits a team come tournament time,” said Montgomery. “It provides a familiarity, a recent familiarity at that, as far as the different ins and out of the field and the environment. I think that always helps the players feel more comfortable. Obviously, success at that particular field matters too. It’s not nearly as good to go and do poorly in the regular season, but I feel like it allows us to feel comfortable in our surroundings.”
This will actually mark the third straight year that LA Tech will play at the facility that hosts the C-USA Tournament. In 2016, LA Tech swept a three-game series against North Texas in Denton.
Montgomery knows this weekend’s series will be one of the more challenging ones of the year despite Charlotte struggling through the first half of league play. Tech (20-17, 7-5) sits in third place in the West Division and fourth place overall – trailing league leaders North Texas and Florida Atlantic by just one game. Charlotte (11-23, 5-7) sits in sixth place in the East Division.
“Charlotte was picked high the preseason poll and not by accident,” said Montgomery. “Everyone knows how talented they are. It has just not all come together for them yet. They are certainly one of the most dangerous teams in this conference, and we certainly respect them. It should be a very competitive series.”
The top three teams in both the East and West Divisions will qualify for the C-USA Tournament plus the two teams with the next highest winning percentages in conference play. A total of eight of the 12 league teams will advance to the C-USA Tournament set for May 9-12.
Despite playing 19 of its 34 games at home this year, Charlotte has struggled offensively as the 49ers rank last in Conference USA in runs (93), home runs (5), RBI (79) and stolen bases (16). The lack of offense has offset the performance of senior pitcher Haley Wiseman in the circle. Wiseman enters this weekend with a record of 8-13 despite a 2.67 earned run average and an opponent batting average of .227.
LA Tech has started to find its offensive stride in recent weeks. The insertion of sophomore Kimmie Atienza in the leadoff role has sparked the top of the order as Atienza owns the fourth highest batting average and on-base percentage and the second highest slugging percentage.
Junior Morgan Turkoly enters the weekend with a streak of 23 straight games reaching base safely, ranking second in Conference USA in on-base percentage (.507). Taria Page leads all C-USA players with 16 RBI in league-only games and freshman Sloane Stewartson ranks in the top 10 in batting average (.387).
In the circle, Tech will turn to an arsenal of arms in Preslee Gallaway (10-6, 2.43), Krystal De La Cruz (2-7, 3.29), Bailey Allen (2-1, 3.65), Jenny Chapman (0-0, 3.04) and Erin McDonald (1-0, 3.71). Tech pitchers have combined to walk only 82 batters but have hit a league-high 29 batters.
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