BUIES CREEK, N.C. – Campbell's softball team (3-5) has its busiest weeks of the season with seven games on tap on the road this week. The Camels are slated to start the week with a doubleheader against North Carolina Central on Tuesday afternoon, Feb. 21, starting at 4 p.m. at Thomas Brooks Park (Field 5). CU then travels to the Woodstock, Ga. to participate in the Phyllis Rafter Memorial at the Twin Creeks Softball Complex in a tournament that is hosted by Kennesaw State. The Camels are slated to take on St. Louis (Feb. 24 – 10:30 a.m.), Alabama State (Feb. 24 – 1 p.m.), Eastern Kentucky (Feb. 25 – 10:30 a.m.), Georgia State (Feb. 25 – 3:30 p.m.) and Southeastern Louisiana (Feb. 26 – 10:30 a.m.) during the tournament.
The Camels went 2-2 at the Hampton Inn Invitational last weekend. The Camels lost the team's opening game 5-1 to Robert Morris (2/17). CU was able to outhit the Colonials by a 7-3 count in the game, but allowed eight walks with four of those walks scoring runs. Freshman Ericka Nesbitt had her first career three-hit game in the contest. CU rebounded in its second game of the day to defeat Ohio (2/17) by a 6-4 count. Junior Brittany Arnn threw a complete game and struck out a career-high nine in the contest. Sophomore Raven Lee had two hits including a home run in the game. The Camels then fell to Saint Joseph's by a 1-0 score in the first game on Saturday, Feb. 18. Christina Melton only allowed one hit in the game in taking the loss. CU rebounded in the second game of the day on Saturday, Feb, 18, to defeat Towson by a 5-3 score. Arnn was steady for Campbell in throwing her second consecutive complete game and earning her second straight victory. Senior Taylor McGee had two RBIs to lead the offensive charge. Following the completion of the tournament the Camels had three players earn All-Tournament honors in Nesbitt, Lee and McGee. Junior Sarah Forgacs has also played well this season and is carrying a six-game hitting streak into this week's action.
North Carolina Central has started the season with a 1-7. The Eagles were able to split the team's games against UNC Wilmington to start the season, but have lost six in a row since then. NCCU is led by Shakemia Edwards. Edwards is hitting .421 with eight hits, a home run and seven RBIs. She also has walked five times and has 12 total bases. Cember Carmichael is hitting .300 with six hits and six runs scored. Amanda Bullock is hitting .389 with seven hits and five RBIs. The Eagles are coached by former Campbell assistant coach Theresa Stephens, who is in her first year in charge of the program. The Camels own a 7-0 all-time lead in the series and have outscored NCCU by an 87-12 score in the games. Olivia Scarborough threw her first career no-hitter in the last meeting between the clubs. She struck out nine in the 10-0 victory. Taylor McGee has had incredible success against the Eagles with 13 hits in 19 at bats (.684 batting average), four home runs and 16 RBIs.
St. Louis has already played 11 games this season after only two weekends of action. The Billikens are 7-4. Among the team's wins is a pair of victories over Jacksonville, who won both the Atlantic Sun Regular Season and Tournament Title last season, and a win over Florida Gulf Coast. Jessica Buschjost leads the squad with her .325 batting average, 13 hits and seven runs. She is tied for the team lead with seven stolen bases. Katie Kroger also has reached double figures in hits with 10 singles. Alyson Brand provides the power with three home runs and 10 RBIs. Three of her four hits this season have left the yard. The Billikens use three pitchers with all having already thrown 20 innings this season. Hannah Huebbe leads the team with three wins. Kelcie Matesa has struck out 31 in 28 innings pitched with a 1.75 ERA. Julian Austin has two wins, a 1.64 ERA and has fanned 20 in 25.2 innings thrown. St. Louis is an impressive 5-1 in one-run games this season. Campbell leads the all-time series with St. Louis 1-0, but the teams haven't met since 1994.
Alabama State has a record of 1-6 on the season, but won the team's last game in the series finale against Nebraska-Omaha on Feb. 18 by a 4-0 count. Sophomore Megan Dixon has been the top hitter and is hitting .350 with seven hits and two RBIs. Sosefina Toilolo leads the team with a home run and four RBIs. Bailey Patt has the team's win and has thrown a team-high 27 innings. This is the first time that Campbell has faced off with the Hornets. This is also the first time that Campbell has ever faced a school from the Southwestern Athletic Conference.
Eastern Kentucky is off to a fast start at 3-1. The Colonels defeated No. 5 Missouri by a 6-5 score. Katie Tackett is hitting .429 with six hits, a home run and five RBIs. She has also walked three times. Carissa Reisinger is hitting .412 with five runs and seven hits. Raquel Howes has five hits, a home run and four RBIs. She also has stolen a pair of bases. Shaylon Robb is 2-0 with 15 strikeouts in 21 innings pitched. Robb also has a 1.67 ERA. Leanna Pittsenberger is 1-1 with a 2.69 ERA. The Colonels' pitchers have only walked six batters in the team's first four games. The Camels lead the all-time series 1-0. The teams last played in 2002 with CU walking away with a 5-2 victory.
Georgia State has won seven of the team's first nine games this year. GSU will take on Auburn on Tuesday before making the trip to the tournament. The Panthers have already hit 11 home runs and have four players with multiple home runs. Emily Althafer has three home runs and six RBIs among her four hits on the season. She also has 13 total bases. Callie Alford is hitting .380 with nine hits, two doubles, two home runs and six RBIs. She also has 17 total bases and five walks. Lauren Coleman is hitting .357 with 10 hits, two home runs and four RBIs. Carrie Williams is the other serious power threat with two home runs and five RBIs. Alana Thomas is the top pitcher with a 3-0 record, 1.11 ERA and is limiting opponents to a .197 batting average. Kaitlyn Medlam is 2-0 with a 1.45 ERA and 21 strikeouts in 19.1 innings thrown. The Panthers were an NCAA Tournament participant last season. GSU leads the all-time series with Campbell by an 11-6 count. The teams used to meet regularly when GSU and Campbell were both part of the Atlantic Sun Conference. The two teams last met in 2005 with Georgia State winning 3-2.
Southeastern Louisiana has played a tough early season schedule and is 1-7. Among the early opponents for Lions are Kansas, South Alabama, Southern Illinois and Jacksonville State. Ariell Van Hook has three home runs and seven RBIs plus 20 total bases, four walks and is hitting .409. Meghan Gomez has three home runs and eight RBIs. Trish Bliss has three doubles among her six hits this season. Kenna Terry has thrown a team-high 22.1 innings and struck out 10 this season. The Camels lead the series with Southeastern Louisiana 2-0, but the schools haven't met since 1996. Former Campbell assistant coach Julie Kennedy is in her first year on the staff with the Lions.
After this weekend's action, the Camels head down to Gainesville, Fla. to participate in the Lipton Invitational from March 2-4. Among the teams at the tournament are Tennessee State, Eastern Michigan and Florida.