Cullowhee, N.C. – Winners of five straight games, Western Carolina faces its biggest test of the season on Tuesday night as the Catamounts welcome the third-ranked Tennessee Volunteers to Childress Field / Hennon Stadium in the backend of a nonconference home-and-home. The first pitch is scheduled for 5 p.m. in a game that will be broadcast on ESPN+ (paid subscription required).
With an overall season record of 18-7 overall, the Catamounts are 13-1 on the year inside the friendly confines of Childress Field / Hennon Stadium that includes a current nine-game home winning streak. WCU’s 13 home victories are the most for the Catamounts since winning 14 in the 2017 season. WCU is currently amidst a season-long eight-game homestand that opened over the weekend with a three-game sweep of VMI in Southern Conference play.
Tennessee (27-6) had a five-game winning streak halted on Sunday afternoon as it dropped the series finale against ninth-ranked Florida in Knoxville, 7-6. Despite the loss, the Vols claimed their fourth-consecutive SEC series of the season, upending the Gators 6-4 and 5-4 in the first two games on the weekend.
Second-year freshman RHP Carson Lowder from Albemarle, N.C., is scheduled to make his first collegiate start on Tuesday while Tennessee counters with freshman LHP Jake Fitzgibbons who earned his first career victory in a 3.1 inning relief effort against the Catamounts back on March 30.
Projected Starting Pitchers:
WCU – Fr. RHP #44 Carson Lowder (0-0, 4.15) vs. TENN – Fr. LHP Jake Fitzgibbons (1-0, 6.14)
Did You Know…?
- WCU’s last home game against a nationally ranked team came on April 11, 2018, a 7-5 loss against #11 Kentucky … the last home win over a ranked team was on March 4, 2014, an 18-10 victory over #15 Clemson.
- Western Carolina has scored seasonal victories against Power Five competition in 11 of head coach Bobby Moranda‘s 14 seasons on the bench in Cullowhee … WCU has 36 wins over P-5 teams dating back to 2008
- WCU has scored FOUR wins over Top 10 opponents under Moranda – most recently defeating the defending national champion, then-No. 9 Coastal Carolina in Conway in 2017 … WCU also upended No. 2 Mississippi State in the 2014 season-opener with wins over No. 8 Georgia (2013) and No. 4 Georgia Tech (2009).
Ticketing Note at Childress Field / Hennon Stadium:
Pursuant to current state of North Carolina Executive Orders for outdoor venue attendance and using physical distancing guidelines through university standards, a very limited number of seats have been made available for spectators at Childress Field / Hennon Stadium this spring with priority given to the parents of competing student-athletes. At this time, there are no additional single-game ticket sales for home games available.
Western Carolina vs. Tennessee – All-Time Series:
- Western Carolina trails in the all-time series with Tennessee, 7-22, including six-consecutive losses to the Volunteers dating back to the 2010 season when the two squads split the two seasonal meetings;
- Tuesday marks just the eighth meeting between WCU and Tennessee played in Cullowhee with the Catamounts trailing, 2-5 … the Vols have won the last four meetings between the two at Childress Field / Hennon Stadium including a 17-3 victory over the Catamounts back in 2018.
Last Time We Met – Vols 9, Catamounts 2 (March 30):
- Luke Robinson belted a third-inning, two-run shot to give Western Carolina a 2-1 advantage against sixth-ranked Tennessee. However, the Volunteers’ pitching staff stymied the potent Catamount offense, limiting WCU to a season-low three base hits while striking out 11 in snapping WCU’s eight-game winning streak with a 9-2 loss in nonconference action at Lindsey Nelson Stadium;
- WCU junior Justice Bigbie saw his 26-game reached base safely streak that dated back to the abbreviated 2020 season end in the road loss … Bigbie was hitless in four trips to the plate;
- Tennessee’s Korey Booker finished 2-for-4 with his first collegiate home run on a solo shot in the bottom of the third inning that tied the game at three a third of the way through … Booker finished with three RBI and three runs scored while Jake Rucker drove in four in a 1-for-4 performance;
Additional Catamount Diamond Notes:
- Western Carolina enters the week ranked a SoCon-leading 31st in the most recent NCAA RPI … Tennessee is ranked fifth overall in the same rating … Five of WCU’s opponents to date are among the top 100 nationally in RPI: Charlotte (22), Gardner-Webb (76), St. John’s (80), UNCW (98) and Wofford (100) … Three of WCU’s upcoming opponents are also among the top 100: Wake Forest (58), Mercer (69), Samford (93);
- Western Carolina enters the week LEADING the nation in scoring, averaging 9.3 runs per game (232 runs in 25 games played) … Batting a SoCon-leading .307 collectively as a team, the Catamounts rank 10th nationally while also ranking second in the country in on-base percentage (.433);
- WCU ranks tied for sixth in the nation in being hit by pitch … WCU has been plunked 56 times over 25 games played … Immanuel Wilder has 10 HBPs this season giving him 42 in his Western Carolina career, tied with two others for the second-most in the SoCon … Wilder currently ranks SECOND in the WCU career record books, just TWO HBP’s shy of matching record-holder Barrett Shaft (44, 2005-08);
- WCU is 15-0 this season when leading after seven innings – and 16-0 when leading after eight innings;
- Junior Daylan Nanny carries a team-best 25-game reached base safely streak into Tuesday night’s game against the Volunteers … the streak includes a team-long 13-game hitting streak … It’s the team’s second 20+ RBS streak this year as Justice Bigbie reached in 26-straight games dating back to the abbreviated 2020 season;
- In three career games against Tennessee, fifth-year senior Luke Robinson is 4-for-12 (.333) with three singles, a home run, and two RBI;
- Junior Will Prater has reached base safely in 10-straight games while Luke Robinson has been aboard in nine consecutive games … Prater’s SoCon-leading .426 batting average ranks 16th in the country … WCU boasts FIVE of the top 10 batting averages in the SoCon this season: Prater (1st, .426), Daniel Walsh (2nd, .385), Daylan Nanny (5th, .367), Luke Robinson (7th, .363), and Justice Bigbie (10th, .354).
On Deck for the Catamounts:
Western Carolina continues its current homestand this weekend, hosting SoCon-leading Samford for a three-game Southern Conference series. Games are scheduled for a 5 p.m. start on Friday, April 16 with a Saturday doubleheader slated to begin at 1 p.m. Each game is set to be broadcast on ESPN+ (paid subscription required) with live stats available online at CatamountSports.com. Game times and broadcast plans are subject to change.
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