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  • Daniel Hooker

WCU Baseball Travels to Rocky Top, Faces Third-Ranked Tennessee



Western Carolina baseball opens a four-game road swing on Tuesday evening with its toughest challenge of the season as the Catamounts travel to Lindsey Nelson Stadium to face the third-ranked Tennessee in Knoxville. The first pitch against the Volunteers is scheduled for 6 p.m.

 

Tuesday’s game will be broadcast on the SEC Network+ (paid subscription required) and through the Watch ESPN app with live stats available online at CatamountSports.com.

 

Leading Off for the Catamounts:

  • Western Carolina enters the week 7-5 in games played in April that includes four victories away from Cullowhee – midweek road wins at Big South foes Gardner-Webb (6-4) and Presbyterian (9-5) with a pair of neutral field victories (7-3 and 10-5) over Akron at Prasco Park in Mason, Ohio;

  • WCU is 5-5 over its last 10 games played;

  • Senior Zach Ketterman repeated as the Southern Conference Baseball Player of the Week on Monday, the third honor of his WCU career … Ketterman led WCU last week with a .571 average including two home runs and eight RBI;

  • Western Carolina is 16-1 when leading after both six and seven innings this season and is 16-0 when leading after eight innings … the Catamounts have just five victories when either trailing or standing tied after six frames, three wins after seven, and just two when tied or trailing after eight innings;

  • WCU has hit 2-or-more home runs in 17 games this season, carrying an 11-6 record;

 

About Western Carolina:

The Catamounts are coming off a week where they finished 2-2, downing Sun Belt Conference foe Appalachian State in the midweek before dropping 2-of-3 to SoCon-leading Samford. WCU’s lone victory over the Bulldogs came in game one of a Saturday doubleheader with a 12-2 run-ruled victory in seven innings. The Catamounts batted .326 (45-of-138) last week with 16 extra-base hits – nine doubles and seven home runs – while outscoring its competition 33-to-21.

 

On the season, WCU is batting .297 collectively as a team to rank fifth in the Southern Conference with 158 extra-base hits – a SoCon-leading 96 doubles, five triples, and 57 home runs which is the third-most in the conference. The 96 two-base hits rank WCU tied with Kansas for 12th nationally. WCU has scored 300 runs on 385 hits, averaging 8.1 runs on 10.4 hits per game.

 

As a team, the Catamounts have turned 43 double plays, tied with Purdue for the second-most in the NCAA this season though WCU leads the nation in double plays per game at 1.16.

 

Western Carolina has six regulars batting above the .300 threshold to date, led by Zach Ketterman who has raised his seasonal average nearly 100 points during his current 11-game hitting streak. Nate Stocum (.327) enters the week second in the SoCon with 16 home runs and tied for the league lead with 14 doubles. His .748 slugging percentage is fourth in the SoCon.

 

WCU’s Active Hitting Streaks:

Nate Stocum – 12 games

Zach Ketterman – 11 games

Kyle Harbison – 7 games

Drew Needham – 3 games

Five players tied – 2 games

 

WCU’s Active Reached Base Safely Streaks:

Nate Stocum – 12 games

Zach Ketterman – 11 games

James Hinson – 8 games

Kyle Harbison – 7 games

Drew Needham – 3 games

 

About No. 3 Tennessee:

Through 40 games this season, the Volunteers are 33-7 and enter the week riding a huge road SEC series win over another Top 10 squad at Kentucky – who is led by Nick Mingione, a former assistant coach at WCU in Bobby Moranda’s first season in Cullowhee. The Vols have won nine of their last 10 games overall and have not lost a mid-week game this season (10-0) – in fact, Tennessee has scored 20 runs in its last two nonconference midweek home dates.

 

The Volunteers enter the week ranked in the polls – and ranked among the Top 10 in numerous offensive categories. The NCAA’s top-scoring team (415 runs), Tennessee leads the NCAA with 111 home runs hit this season, averaging a nation-leading 2.78 homers per game while adding 105 doubles, the third-most in the nation. UT’s .330 team collective batting average is ranked fourth with the .435 on-base percentage tipping the scale eighth.

 

Western Carolina vs. Tennessee – All-Time Series:

The Catamounts and Volunteers meet for the 34th time in the all-time series on Tuesday night with WCU trailing in the series, 7-26, including a 4-19 all-time mark in games played in Knoxville. Tennessee has won the last nine series meetings dating back to 2010 since WCU won three straight in 2008, 2009, and in Knoxville in 2010.

 

WCU faced Tennessee with the Vols ranked No. 3 back in the 2021 season – and gave UT all it wanted in a 14-12 defeat at Childress Field / Hennon Stadium in Cullowhee.

 

WCU vs. Nationally Ranked:

The Catamounts face their first nationally-ranked opponent of this season – and the first since a three-game set last year to conclude the regular season at then No. 10 Oregon State which was the third-ranked foe in 2023. WCU has not won a game against a nationally-ranked opponent since upsetting No. 20 NC State in Raleigh back in the 2017 season. The last Top 10 upset victory for the Catamounts came in the 2014 season opener with a road win at then-No. 2 Mississippi State.


Western Carolina vs. The SEC:Western Carolina has faced 11 of the current 14 members of the Southeastern Conference all-time with Georgia representing WCU's most-played SEC foe (57 meetings), followed by South Carolina (34) and Tennessee (32). The Catamounts have never faced Alabama, Arkansas, or Ole Miss on the baseball diamond. Combined, the Catamounts are just 46-126-1 all-time against the SEC.


On Deck for Western Carolina:

Following Tuesday’s trip to Rocky Top, the Catamounts head to the Palmetto State in Southern Conference play to face the Wofford Terriers. The three-game league set gets underway at Russell C. King Field on Friday at 5:30 p.m. and continues Saturday at 2 p.m. before concluding Sunday at 1 p.m. Each game is slated to be broadcast on ESPN+ (paid subscription required) with live stats available online at CatamountSports.com.

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