Sun Belt Conference Softball Weekend Preview
There are five big series on the schedule for the third week of the 2017 Sun Belt Conference softball season.
Louisiana at Georgia Southern:
These two are meeting in Statesboro, Georgia for a second-consecutive year, with Louisiana winning 2-of-3 a season ago.
The Cajuns have won a school and conference record 31-consecutive conference series', having not dropped 2 games in a league series since 2013.
Georgia Southern has played fairly well in league play, winning 2-of-3 from both Troy and UTA, while dropping 2-of-3 to UTA.
UL is 23-5, overall, and 6-0 in league play, while the Eagles will enter at 15-16, and 5-4, respectively.
The Cajuns will bring in the top offense in the league, including shortstop DJ Sanders, who leads the league in both homers (16) and runs batted in (37), to face Georgia Southern pitcher in Dixie Raley, who shutout Louisiana last year.
Georgia Southern is going to have to find a way to get Louisiana out, however. The Cajuns lead the league in runs scored (230),while the Eagles have the worst team ERA. in the conference (4.20).
South Alabama at Appalachian St:
South Alabama is off to a slow start at conference play, at 2-7, but have a favorable schedule the rest of the season, and should pick-up their share of victories.
The Jaguars have two solid pitchers, in right-handers Devin Brown and Destin Vicknair, but need to get more offense if they plan to finish in the upper division of the conference.
Appalachian St. got off to a decent start, going 12-10 in non-conference play, but have dropped their first 6 league games.
If they want to finish in the top 8 of the conference standings, and qualify for the postseason conference tournament, the Mountaineers can ill-afford to get swept this weekend.
Georgia St. at Texas St.
This may be the most interesting series of the weekend.
Georgia St. is having a fine year, at 21-11, which includes a 7-2 conference mark.
The Panthers swept South Alabama in their first league series, before dropping 2-of-3 to Troy, prior to sweeping a series from Appalachian St. last weekend.
If Georgia St. is going to make a run at the regular season title, they almost have to win this series.
The Panthers feature one of the league’s top offenses, with the likes of Ivie Drake, Megan Litumbe, and Kensey Caldwell.
Texas St. is an impressive 24-5, overall, and 7-1 in league play, one game behind Louisiana in the loss column.
The Bobcats feature pitcher Randi Rupp, who leads the conference with 15 wins and a 0.97 ERA.
This an intriguing series, with the power bats of Georgia St. meeting the outstanding pitching of Texas St.
Troy at UTA:
Despite the records, this is an important series, with both teams jockeying for position in the league standings.
Again, only 8 of the 10 teams qualify for the postseason tournament, so a sweep could prove disasterous for the loser.
Both teams are 3-6, and tied for 7th place, but both could easily have better records.
UTA has lost two games by one run, while Troy has dropped 5 one-run conference games, including three last week to Coastal Carolina.
This may be the most underrated series of the weekend.
ULM at Coastal Carolina:
Coastal Carolina is 24-8, overall, but only 4-4 in league play, even after a three-game sweep of Troy last weekend.
The Chanticleers still have the time, and the talent, to make a run, but they need this series, especially playing at home.
ULM will enter the weekend at 19-12, overall, and 4-5 in conference play.
The Warhawks have made strides however, and have played some of the better teams really tough. Just last week, they won one game from Texas St., and lost the rubber game of the series, 2-1.
ULM has an extremely underrated pitcher, in right-hander Melanie Coyne, who ranks second in the league with a 1.33 ERA.
Coastal Carolina, who features the top hitter in the league in Taty Forbes, who is hitting a .467, need to win this series, and need to protect their home turf, to become a factor in the conference race.