Charlotte softball hosts Marshall for a four-game series to conclude the 2021 season, starting Friday at Sue M. Daughtridge Stadium. Both teams are atop the Conference USA East Division, with Charlotte two games ahead for the first place position.
Following the series, both teams will have a quick turnaround, with the C-USA tournament scheduled to begin on Wednesday, May 12.
With this being the final home series of the season, the team will recognize three seniors on Friday in Spenser Gray, Nicole Bowman and Logan Wood. Gray has been a starter for the program her entire 49er career while Bowman and Wood transferred in from other programs this season in Rutgers and East Carolina.
The 49ers enter the series 27-16 and are six games above .500 in conference games. This season, the team has hit 84 doubles in 43 games, marking the most in program history and ranks third in the nation. Despite the successful 2021 campaign, the team has been on a losing skid, falling in their last five matchups, and haven't won in 12 days.
Charlotte lost the season finale against Western Kentucky before dropping a midweek matchup against UNC Greensboro. Last weekend, Charlotte traveled to South Bend to play a doubleheader against Notre Dame but fell in both games. On Wednesday, the 49ers faced off against No. 22 James Madison and played valiantly but were shutout 3-0 in a close battle.
Meanwhile, Marshall has only played 27 games but is 18-9 in those contests, including a 7-5 record in the conference. The Herd haven't taken the field since April 25 but are coming off back-to-back series victories over FAU and FIU, going 6-2 during that stretch.
Friday's contest will take place at 5 p.m., with Saturday's doubleheader set for 1 and 4 p.m. The series concludes at noon on Sunday.
Players to Watch:
Bailey Vannoy has been a security blanket for the team all year with her consistent and reliable play. She bats the best on the team (.412), has the highest OPS (1.294), most homeruns (12) and hits (58). Of those, 58 hits include 21 doubles, which ties the most in program history, a record previously set in 1996. With this being a four-game series, Vannoy will look to break the record at home, where she's hit 14 doubles.
Aly Harrell was voted C-USA Preseason Player of the Year and has lived up to the hype, leading the team in batting average (.405), OPS (1.381), homeruns (9) and RBIs (25). In the last series, she went 4-for-11 with two doubles and a pair of RBIs. More often than not, she'll at least get contact on the ball as in 74 at-bats this season, Harrell has been hit by a pitch four times while only striking out three times.
Both Vannoy and Harrell are potential conference player of the year candidates and will play a key role in their team's success in this series.