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Catamounts Set to Host League-Leading Samford



Daniel Hooker

Associate Athletics Director for Media Relations


Western Carolina baseball wraps up a seven-game homestand this weekend by hosting the Southern Conference-leading Samford Bulldogs for three games at Childress Field / Hennon Stadium. The series opens with a scheduled 5 p.m. first pitch on Friday, 2 p.m. on Saturday, and the finale slated for a 1 p.m. start.

 

Games one and three on Friday and Sunday are scheduled to be broadcast on ESPN+ (paid subscription required) with Saturday's game slated for an audio broadcast through the Catamount Sports NetworkLive stats and links to both the audio and video coverage of the series are available online at CatamountSports.com.

 

Tickets to WCU's home games can be purchased online at CatamountSports.com/BuyTickets.

 

Game dates and times are subject to change – check CatamountSports.com and social media (@catamounts, @catamountbsb) for any weather-related schedule alterations.

 

About Western Carolina:

Western Carolina enters the weekend riding a two-game home win streak after claiming last Sunday’s extra-inning affair with UNCG, 7-6 in 10 innings, and upending rival Appalachian State 10-5 on Tuesday evening. The Catamounts have victories in 16 of their last 21 games.

 

WCU enters the week ranked fifth in the SoCon with a .295 collective batting average with 277 runs (5th) coming on 352 hits (5th). The Catamounts have 144 extra-base hits including a SoCon-leading 89 doubles, five triples, and 50 home runs – fourth-most among the league’s offenses. Western Carolina is averaging 8.1 runs coming on 10.4 hits per game while surrendering.

 

The Catamounts continue to pace the Southern Conference with 38 combined double-plays turned – tied for fifth nationally – while the team’s 1.12 double-plays per game average is second in the NCAA, just behind national leader Purdue (1.14).

 

Seven of WCU’s regulars enter the week batting .300 or better. Riding an eight-game hitting streak that includes six multi-hit games, senior infielder Zach Ketterman has moved atop the heap with a .347 batting average with 18 extra-base hits – 10 of which came during the current hit streak. Hayden Friese is batting .333 and Mason Holton has raised his seasonal average to .330. Boasting the fourth-best slugging percentage in the SoCon at .719, Nate Stocum is batting .319 with 43 hits including 26 for extra-base hits – 12 doubles, and a team-best 14 home runs, second in the conference.

 

Ketterman gave WCU its second weekly player award with his second career honor on Monday, joining Stocum and pitcher Jonathan Todd to earn plaudits from the conference this season.

 

Rounding out WCU’s .300 hitters are Kyle Riesselmann (.315), Trent Turner (.307), and Jack Spyke (.302). Five Catamounts have double-digit doubles with Stocum and Riesselmann pacing the team with 12, Holton with 11, and both Turner and Hinson with 10 apiece.

 

WCU’s projected Friday starter Gavin Mortenson ranks sixth in the SoCon with a 3.82 ERA while boasting the second-lowest opposing batting average in limiting foes to .211 on the year. Dusty Revis is tied for third in the SoCon with a team-best five victories entering the weekend. Todd is tied for third with six saves while also ranking ninth in the league with 35 combined strikeouts.

 

WCU’s Active Hitting Streaks:

Nate Stocum – 9 gms

Zach Ketterman – 8 gms

Kyle Harbison – 5 gms

Kyle Riesselmann – 4 gms

James Hinson – 4 gms

Jack Spyke – 3 gms

 

WCU’s Active Reached Base Safely Streaks:

Kyle Riesselmann – 18 gms

Jack Spyke – 18 gms

Hayden Friese – 9 gms

Nate Stocum – 9 gms

Zach Ketterman – 8 gms

James Hinson – 5 gms

Kyle Harbison – 5 gms

 

About Samford:

The Bulldogs head to Cullowhee after suffering their first SoCon defeat last Sunday at home to ETSU, snapping a six-game win streak. The Buccaneers jumped out to a 10-0 lead in the top of the first inning only to see Samford rally back to within a run at 10-9 through the fifth inning. ETSU managed to outscore Samford 3-0 over the final four frames for the 13-9 victory.

 

Samford enters the week having dropped back-to-back games for just the fourth time this season, falling to ETSU to close its league series before dropping a 10-8 midweek matchup with instate foe, Troy. Samford has won 18 of its 24 home games this season (18-6) – but is just .500 over 12 road contests with six wins over six losses.

 

Seven Bulldogs enter the week batting over the .300 threshold including two batting .400-plus led by John Anderson with a .419 seasonal average, the second-best mark in the SoCon to date. Anderson has 21 extra-base hits including a team-high tying 11 doubles, a triple, and nine home runs with 43 RBI. Garrett Howe (.389) has 51 base hits including 17 for extra bases with 10 doubles, while Garrett Staton (.309) has 22 extra-base hits among his 47 on the year including 11 doubles and a team-leading 10 homers.

 

Howe and outfielder Andrew Bennett have won SoCon Player of the Week honors this season.

 

As a team, Samford is batting .316 to rank third in the conference with 319 runs on 378 hits including 139 for extra-bases – 78 doubles, six triples, and a SoCon-high tying 55 home runs. The ‘Dogs are averaging 8.9 runs on 10.5 hits per game while allowing just 6.4 runs on 8.6 hits per game. Samford is also second to WCU with 26 double-plays.

 

On the mound, Samford ranks fourth in both team ERA at 5.75 and strikeouts with 283 collectively, while opponents have managed just a .270 batting average against – third in the league.

 

Starter Michael Ross (8-0) boasts the second-lowest ERA in the SoCon this season at 2.88 over nine starts and 56.1 innings while limiting foes to the third-lowest batting average against at .214. Ross – a two-time SoCon Pitcher of the Week – is third in the conference with 57 strikeouts, and 15 Ks looking. With four saves on the year, Carson Lore leads the Bulldogs – and gave Samford the SoCon Pitcher of the Week honors for a third-straight week – Alex Flood (April 1), Ross (April 8), and Lore (April 15).

 

Western Carolina vs. Samford – Series History:

The Catamounts and Bulldogs have met 52 times on the baseball diamond in a series that dates back just to 2009. WCU currently trails in the series, 22-30 – though the Catamounts have won 13 of the 21 meetings held in Cullowhee, leading 13-8. The last six games played at Childress Field / Hennon Stadium have been split down the middle with Samford taking 2-of-3 most recently in 2022.

 

Samford won the three-game series a year ago in Birmingham, winning the first two games of the set to stretch its win streak to five in a row before the Catamounts claimed the finale 7-5 to halt the skid. The Bulldogs have won seven of the last nine series meetings dating back to the conference tournament in 2021 – and Samford has victories in 17 of the last 23 meetings back to 2017.

 

On Deck for the Catamounts:

Following the home weekend SoCon series against Samford, Western Carolina plays four straight away from home beginning on Tuesday (April 23) with a nonconference midweek matchup with nationally-ranked Tennessee at Lindsey Nelson Stadium in Knoxville.

 

The Catamounts then hit the road in conference play, traveling to Spartanburg, S.C., to face the Wofford Terriers April 26-28. WCU dropped 2-of-3 to Wofford a season ago in Cullowhee after evenly splitting the series in the most recent meetings in Spartanburg – one win, one loss, and the series finale that ended in a 2-2 tie.

Keep track of everything related to WCU Athletics and Catamount baseball including any game day schedule changes through our social media outlets on Facebook (fb.com/CatamountSports), Twitter (@Catamounts, @CatamountBSB), and Instagram (wcu_catamounts, catamountbsb).

 

2024 Catamount Baseball – Western Carolina (20-14, 5-4) vs. Samford (24-12, 8-1) Game 1: Friday, April 19  |  5 p.m.  |  Coverage: ESPN+  |  LiveStatsSAM: Sr. RHP Michael Ross (9 app., 9 GS – 8-0, 2.88 ERA, 56.1 IP, 57 K, 13 BB)WCU: Sr. RHP Gavin Mortenson (14 app., 7 GS – 2-2, 3.82 ERA, 35.1 IP, 34 K, 23 BB) Game 2: Saturday, April 20  |  2 p.m.  |  Coverage: Listen Live (CSN)  |  LiveStatsSAM: Jr. RHP Brooks Rice (9 app., 9 GS – 4-3, 5.26 ERA, 39.1 IP, 35 K, 24 BB)WCU: Sr. Dante Visconti (15 app., 3 GS – 2-0, 6.67 ERA, 28.1, 24 K, 15 BB)Game 3: Sunday, April 21  |  1 p.m.  |  Coverage: ESPN+  |  LiveStatsSAM: TBDWCU: Fr. Davis Budd (10 app., 4 GS – 1-1, 7.03 ERA, 24.1 IP, 24 K, 11 BB)

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