BUIES CREEK, N.C. – Campbell's softball team (15-15) will do something this week that the program hasn't done since 1994 when the team opens Big South Conference regular season play in Rock Hill, S.C. at Terry Field against Winthrop on Thursday, March 22, at 6 p.m. Campbell's athletic department left the Big South Conference at the start of the 1995 season and just returned in the fall of 2011.
The Camels last played a regular season game in the Big South Conference against UNC Greensboro on April 16, 1994 in the team's 8-5 win over the Spartans. CU's last overall game in the Big South also came against UNCG in a 1-0 loss in the annual conference tournament.
CU had great success in the Big South in its final four seasons with an overall regular season mark of 48-30 and a winning conference records in each of those years. The team won the regular season championship in 1994 with an overall record of 12-2. The program was able to win the conference tournament in 1993. Former Campbell softball head coach Julia Brzezinski was named the Big South's Coach of the Year in both 1990 and 1993.
The Camels also were able to place 14 individuals on Big South All-Conference teams 21 times during the nine-year tenure in the league led by Joanne Holliday's three selections (1991-93) and Denise Simmons' four selections (1991-94).
The Camels went 3-1 last week at Camel Stampede with two wins over North Carolina Central and a win at Drexel. The Camels and Drexel both earned a 3-1 mark at the tournament, but Campbell was able to win the tie breaker based on head-to-head run differential. Freshman Ericka Nesbitt, for outstanding efforts throughout the tournament, was named the Co-Most Outstanding Player at the Camel Stampede along with Drexel's Paige Collings. Nesbitt led all players at the tournament with 10 hits, six runs scored, 14 total bases and four stolen bases. She hit at a .667 clip with a slugging percentage of .933 and had an on-base percentage of .667. Nesbitt also capture weekly honors in the Big South Conference and became the first Campbell player to ever be honored with weekly recognition by the league office as weekly awards weren't previously handed out until 1995.
The Camels were able to place five players on the Camel Stampede's All-Tournament Team. Other Campbell players to be honored besides Nesbitt include freshman outfielder Kailey Farmer, senior catcher Taylor McGee, sophomore pitcher Olivia Scarborough and junior pitcher Brittany Arnn.
CU enters the seventh week of the year ranking highly in Big South in numerous categories. Junior Sarah Forgacs leads the league in doubles (9) and triples (2). She is tied for second in runs (17), fourth in the conference in hits (29), ninth in on-base percentage (.396) and 10th in stolen bases (6). Freshman Ericka Nesbitt leads the conference in hits (35) and is seventh in total bases (40). She is third in stolen bases (10), fourth in batting average (.385), tied for fourth in sacrifice bunts (6) and fifth in on-base percentage (.434). Senior Taylor McGee is tied for the league lead in RBIs (24). She is tied for second in home runs (6), second in total bases (48), third in doubles (6), tied for third in slugging percentage (.600) and 10th in hits (24) and walks (11). Freshman Stephanie Jones is second in doubles (8), tied for second in runs scored (17) plus third in RBIs (23) and total bases (46). Jones is also fifth in slugging percentage (.500) and tied for fifth in stolen bases (8). Sophomore Raven Lee is tied for second in home runs (6), third in walks (16), tied for fourth in RBIs (16) and fifth in total bases (43). Freshman Kailey Farmer ranks tied for fifth in the conference in home runs (4). Senior Christina Melton is sixth in the league in home runs (3) and has the seventh most strikeouts among pitchers (37). Freshman Kerstine Womack is tied for seventh in the league in runs scored (15). Junior Brittany Arnn is tied for third in the league in wins (6), shutouts (2) and complete games (9). She is fourth in innings pitched (74.2), strikeouts (47) and games started (12). Freshman Julia Callicutt is third in opponent batting average (.201) and shutouts (2). She is tied for fifth in wins (5) and eighth in strikeouts (35).
Winthrop (11-16) has lost six games in a row, but played five ranked teams on the trip to Hawai'i last week. The Eagles are led by junior outfielder Chelsey Schoenfeldt. Schoenfeldt has already been named the Big South's Player of the Week twice this season. She is currently hitting .367 with three home runs and 19 RBIs. She leads the squad with five doubles and is tied for the team lead with 29 hits. Schoenfeldt also has won five games and thrown 59.2 innings in the circle. Senior Megan Chapman also has 29 hits and adds 10 stolen bases plus 13 walks. Natalie Becker leads the conference with her 92 strikeouts and has won five games. The Camels haven't faced off with Winthrop since the 2005 season. CU did play in the Winthrop/Adidas Invitational in Rock Hill, S.C. earlier this season.
Next week the Camels briefly get out of conference play with a game against No. 24 North Carolina on Wednesday, March 28 in Chapel Hill, N.C. The Camels then welcome in the league's preseason pick to win the conference in Radford from March 30-31 at the Eakes Athletic Complex. CU and the Highlanders are scheduled to play a doubleheader on March 30 starting at 4 p.m. and wrap up the series on Saturday afternoon, March 31, with a 2 p.m. game.