NASHVILLE, Tenn. -- Following an eight game home stand at Rose Park, Belmont will hit the road for eight games, beginning with four straight in Georgia this weekend against conference foes Mercer and Kennesaw State. The Bruins will open with Mercer on Friday, with the first game beginning at 3 p.m. CT.
At A Glance
Belmont comes into the weekend following an eight game home stand and most recently a split with Tennessee State. The Bruins came up short in their last two conference games to fall to 3-7 on the season in A-Sun play and will be looking for a big weekend to get back into the conference race. Last season, Belmont dropped both series against Mercer and Kennesaw State at Rose Park. The Bruins are paced by senior Ashley Byers, who leads the team in hits, RBIs, batting average, home runs, and on base percentage. Byers has seven home runs this season, including three in the last five games.
Mercer enters the games with Belmont on a five game losing skid after opening the conference season at the top of the league standings. Most recently, Mercer dropped two games each to Stetson and Florida Gulf Coast. Friday's doubleheader will be the first meeting of the season between the two teams but not the first time they've played at the same venue. Belmont and Mercer were both part of the field in the Tiger Classic hosted by Tennessee State earlier this season. The Bears are paced by McKenzie Woody, who leads the conference in on base percentage (.503) and hits (63) and ranks second in the league in runs scored (41).
The Owls enter the weekend tied for first place in the conference at 9-3 with a two game lead over third pace. Kennesaw State swept Stetson last week and enjoyed a restful midweek with no games. Kennesaw State is led by Sharon Swanson, who ranks in the top half of the conference standings in numerous categories, including slugging percentage (2nd, .738), runs scored (T4th, 31), hits (7th, 44), RBI (5th, 31), doubles (T3rd, 10) and home runs (1st, 13).
Belmont hosted Tennessee State for a pair of midweek games on Wednesday. The Bruins, who had been shut out for three consecutive games entering the series, broke out of their slump in a big way, recording four home runs in the first game against the Tigers. Byers, the school's career leader in that category, got things started with a three run home run that brough Belmont back within a run of TSU. Freshman Kat Hollingsworth tied the game with a solo shot the very next inning, while sophomore Ashley Hammer also recorded her first career home run with another solo homer in the very next at bat. Senior Stayci Cook added another home run later in the game, helping the Bruins secure a 9-4 victory.
Game two saw a completely different lineup take the field for Belmont, as everyone got a chance to play. The Bruins battled back late in the game to tie TSU, 3-3 and force extra innings. The Tigers scored in the top of the eighth following the international tiebreaker and Belmont was unable to match the run, falling 3-4.
Belmont will face Kennesaw State on Saturday, with the first game beginning at 12 p.m. Games at Kennesaw State will be available for viewing on ASun.TV, and free audio will also be available for the games. Links to audio, video, live stats, full recaps, and statistics are available online at www.belmontbruins.com. Fans can also follow the team on Twitter by searching @BelmontSoftball.