NASHVILLE, Tenn.— Belmont Softball returns to the friendly confines of E.S. Rose Park for its final non-conference tournament of the season. The Bruins (14-4) host the Belmont/TSU Invitational with crosstown rival Tennessee State, March 16-18. Competing in the three-day tournament are Ball State (15-8), Samford (5-21), St. Bonaventure (3-9) and Rhode Island (1-13) while Tennessee State's (3-19) Tiger Field will serve as the other field of play.
The Cardinals come to Nashville having won three of their last five outings to stand at 15-8 on the season. At the plate, Ball State is led by Haley Dominique, who is batting .387 with 29 hits, six doubles, one triple, two homeruns and 19 RBI. Janae Hogg has posted 22 RBI with eight homeruns, six doubles and 22 hits to the tune of a .344 batting average.
Inside the circle, BSU is led by Aeshia Miles, who has a 1.85 ERA with 68 strikeouts over 75.2 innings pitched for an 8-4 record.
Ball State leads the all-time series 3-0. The teams last met in 2012 with the Cardinals winning, 5-1.
The Bulldogs hope to snap a six-game skid when they come to Nashville this weekend. The losses have Samford entering the weekend at 5-21. Shelby Maze leads the team at the plate, batting .299 with 23 hits, three doubles and three RBI.
SU has four seeing time inside the circle, led by Taylor DeCelles, who has thrown 68.0 innings with 22 strikeouts, 5.66 ERA and a 3-8 record. Annalyn Yantis has a 5.25 ERA with 21 strikeouts over 49.1 innings and a 2-5 record.
Samford leads the all-time series, 11-4. The teams last faced off two years ago with the Bulldogs winning, 10-1 in five innings.
Rhode Island has struggled to pick up wins in the non-conference portion of its schedule, dropping 13 straight to stand at 1-13 heading into this weekend's tournament. Kylie Shivery leads URI at the plate, batting .311 with 14 hits, three doubles, two homeruns and seven RBI. Inside the circle, the Rams have seen six different pitchers. Becca Rogers, Sarah Gunderson and Riley Kernan have all thrown at least 25 innings. Gunderson has an 8.53 ERA with 17 strikeouts, Kernan has posted the team's lone win and has a 6.12 ERA, while Rogers has a 3.94 ERA and 26 strikeouts.
This is the first meeting between Belmont and Rhode Island.
The Bonnies travel to Nashville looking to snap a two-game skid after winning three of the previous four contests. SBU stands at 3-9 on the season and is led at the plate by Elizabeth Enovitch, who is batting .345 with 10 hits.
Five are in the pitching corps for the Bonnies with Rylee Hehir logging the most innings at 28.0. She has a 2-3 record with a 5.50 ERA and 32 strikeouts.
Belmont and St. Bonaventure have only met once before in 2012. The Bonnies won the game, 7-1.
BU heads into the final non-conference tournament of the season after going 2-1 at last week's Rafter Memorial Tournament, hosted by Kennesaw State. The Bruins now stand at 14-4 on the season.
Belmont has seven batters hitting over .300 so far this season. Senior Lexi Rouse (Macon, Ga.) leads the team at the plate, batting .365 with seven homeruns, 19 hits, five doubles and a triple. She also shattered the NCAA Division I record for most consecutive homeruns hit in consecutive at-bats, logging five last week. Classmate Jess Andree (Darien, Ill.) follows, batting .352 with 19 hits, one triple, and three homeruns, and sophomore Bailey Sims (Flowery Branch, Ga.) is right behind her batting .349 with 22 hits, four doubles and six RBI.
Inside the circle, sophomore Brooklin Lee (Burns, Tenn.) remains the Bruins' ace, tossing 67.2 innings, recording a whopping 86 strikeouts to the tune of a 1.03 ERA and a 8-1 record. Rouse sports a 4-1 record and a 1.63 ERA after tossing 30.0 innings with 11 strikeouts.
Several players have distinguished themselves in national statistical categories, led by Sims, who is currently tied for first as the hardest to strike out among all NCAA Division I players. Also sporting impressive rankings are Lee, who is No. 7 in shutouts and 34th in strikeouts per seven innings; and Rouse stands 16th in homeruns per game and 26th in total homeruns.
Friday's first game is set for 3:30 p.m. against Ball State and 5:45 p.m. is the approximate start time versus Samford. Live stats will be available for all contests during the three-day tournament.