NASHVILLE, Tenn. – Belmont Softball will hit the road for the first time during the 2020 campaign this weekend. The Bruins (1-3) will travel to Baton Rouge to compete in the Purple & Gold Challenge hosted by No. 6 LSU (8-1). Also playing in the two-day tournament is Sam Houston State (4-6).
Host LSU enters its home tournament with a nearly perfect 8-1 record that has vaulted the team to No. 6 nationally in the latest USA Today/NFCA poll. The Tigers, who are a first-time opponent for BU, are led at the plate by Taylor Pleasants, who is batting .522 with a blistering .913 slugging percentage and 12 hits, three doubles, two homeruns and seven RBI. Inside the circle, LSU has a pitching staff of six led by Ali Kilponen. She has a 3-0 record with a pair of saves, 14 strikeouts and a 0.00 ERA after 13.2 innings thrown.
First-time opponent Sam Houston State has dropped three of its last five outings to stand at 4-6 overall. Megan McDonald leads the Bearkats the plate, batting .457 with 16 hits, a pair of doubles, and eight RBI. Tiffany Thompson has rang up five stolen bases. Inside the circle, Regan Dunn has logged seven appearances to lead the pitching corps. She has a 2-2 record with 24 strikeouts logged over 22.1 innings of work.
Belmont opened the 2020 campaign with its own tournament, the Bruin Challenge, emerging with a 1-3 record under first year head coach Megan Smith. BU is led at the plate by junior Cheyenne Cavanaugh (Spring, Texas), who is batting .533 with eight hits, a pair of doubles and an RBI. Classmate Elison Ollinger (Robins, Iowa) is right behind her batting .500 with five hits and a pair of RBI. Inside the circle, senior Brittany Kennett (Melbourne, Australia) leads the way with a team-high 24 strikeouts, including a career-high 14 against Marist. She has a record of 1-1 with two complete games under her belt and 14.1 innings tossed.
Nationally, BU hits the road with several players making an appearance in NCAA statistics. Most notably, Cavanaugh standing as the hardest player among all NCAA D1 batters to strikeout and 26th in batting average, senior Brooklin Lee (Burns, Tenn.) stands 17th in walks and 18th in stolen bases per game, and Ollinger ranked 22nd in runs per game.
Live stats will be available for all contests during the Purple & Gold Challenge. Both contests versus LSU can be seen live on SEC Network+.