NASHVILLE, Tenn. –Belmont Softball returns to the road for its final non-conference tournament of the season. This weekend, the Bruins (18-5) travel to Macon, Ga. to participate in the Bears Classic, hosted by Mercer.
Also competing at the Mercer Bear Classic are Eastern Michigan, Savannah State, and host-Mercer as well as OVC foe Eastern Illinois, who Belmont will not see action against.
Eastern Michigan comes to the tournament with an 8-9 mark after falling into a three-game skid. At the plate, the Eagles are led by Taylor Wagner, who is batting .442 with a home run and five RBI. Michelle Kriegshauser is batting .400 with 12 runs, five doubles, two home runs and 13 RBI. Inside the circle, Trisha Trujillo is the workhorse throwing 40.2 innings with a 3.10 ERA, 19 strikeouts, and a 5-4 record. Abbie Minsker has the top ERA at 1.57 with 13 strikeouts and two wins while Nicolle Miranda has a 5.69 ERA after 35.2 innings of work with 15 strikeouts.
These will mark the first meetings between Belmont and Eastern Michigan.
Mercer has lost five of its last six contests to now stand at 12-16 overall. MU is led at the plate by Taylor Miller, who is batting .426 with 23 runs and two RBI. Meghan Rud is batting .408 with three doubles, two triples and a home run. Inside the circle, three of the Bears are splitting time. Megan Bilgri has the top ERA at 3.02 with a 5-2 record over 46.1 innings while Stella Preston has tossed 57.1 innings with a 4.03 ERA and 42 strikeouts for three wins.
Mercer owns a 17-10 advantage in the all-time series with Belmont. The programs last met in 2012 with BU sweeping the doubleheader, 4-3 and 7-6, in Macon, Ga.
Savannah State comes to Macon looking for its first wins of the season, after going 0-16 to this point. At the plate, the Tigers are led by Chelsea Malcom, who is batting .385 with five hits, a double and an RBI. Inside the circle, work is being split mostly between Faith Dickerson and Amanda McDowell, who have ERAs of 14.06 and 14.08, respectively. McDowell leads the corps in strikeouts with 28.
This will also be the first time Belmont and Savannah State have faced off.
As a team, the Bruins, who are on the cusp of breaking program's the NCAA-era mark for wins, enter the week with the 23rd-best team batting average in the nation at .330. At the plate, BU is led by senior Kayla Wells (Bonney Lake, Wash.), who is batting .390 with 11 runs, four doubles and 11 RBI. Classmate Chelsey Deloney (Gardendale, Ala.) and junior Lexi Rouse (Macon, Ga.) are batting .369 and .351, respectively. Deloney's OVC-leading nine home runs currently stands sixth nationally. Junior Jess Andree (Darien, Ill.) leads the team in doubles with a total of eight, which stands 30th nationally.
Work is almost being split evenly inside the circle for the Bruins. Freshman Brooklin Lee (Burns, Tenn.) leads the corps in wins with a total of seven over 48.2 innings and a 2.01 ERA while sophomore Ashley Johnson (Kingwood, Texas) has 5-1 mark over 54.1 innings of work in 14 appearances for a 2.58 ERA. Rouse sports an ERA of 3.35 over 31.1 innings. Lee leads in strikeouts with 58, good for 48th nationally per seven innings. Rouse is ranked 17th nationally in saves with two under her belt so far.
Belmont's first game at the Mercer Bears Classic is Friday at 11:15 a.m. CT versus Eastern Michigan. Live stats will be available for all of BU's contests over the three days.