CHARLOTTE, N.C. (www.BigSouthSports.com) - For the fifth consecutive year, ESPNU, the 24-hour college sports network, is set to televise Big South baseball and softball, as the network will broadcast game two of the Liberty at Coastal Carolina baseball series on Saturday, April 2 at 4:00pm, and the series finale of the Liberty at Winthrop softball Conference match-up on Sunday, April 3 at 2:00pm.
In addition to the game action, Coastal Carolina will hand out mini-bat key chains to the first 200 people through the gate, while Winthrop and Liberty will conduct a postgame autograph session on the field for all youth softball players in attendance.
Sam Gore (play-by-play) and Morgan Ensberg (analyst) will call Saturday's Coastal Carolina-Liberty meeting live from Charles L. Watson Stadium/Vrooman Field. Four-time defending Big South champion Coastal Carolina, which was unanimously voted to win the Conference title again in 2011, enters the weekend series 1-2 in Big South play and 15-10 overall. Liberty, the Big South's preseason No. 2 team, currently leads the Conference with a 5-1 mark and is 15-11 overall. This weekend is the first meeting between the teams since last year's Big South title game, which was won by Coastal Carolina, 8-2.
Coastal Carolina's pitching staff is tops in the Conference in ERA (2.89), batting average allowed (.223) and strikeouts (205), while the Flames are first in the Conference in stolen bases with 57 and rank second in home runs and fielding percentage. In Conference games, Liberty owns a 2.17 earned run average, while Coastal is third at 2.76. Individually, Liberty's Matt Williams is among the League leaders in batting average (.385) and doubles (9). Coastal's Tommy La Stella is the reigning Big South Player of the Week and was voted the Conference's Preseason Player of the Year. He is batting .344 this season and has a League-leading three triples. The probable starting pitchers for Saturday's contest are John Niggli (Liberty) and Jim Birmingham (Coastal). Niggli is 3-2 this season with a 2.68 ERA and 17 strikeouts in 37 innings pitched. Birmingham is 2-2 with a 3.48 ERA and has 29 strikeouts in 33.2 innings on the hill.
On Sunday, Anne Marie Anderson (play-by-play) and Cheri Kempf (analyst) will call the Liberty-Winthrop softball game live from Terry Field. Liberty, which will make its first-ever softball appearance on ESPNU, was voted the Conference's preseason runner-up and is currently 10-13 overall and 1-1 in League play. Winthrop was the preseason No. 3 pick but has struggled to an 8-20 start to the season and is 0-2 in Big South action.
The Lady Flames are led by Kelly Strickland's .344 batting average, which ranks second in the Conference. She is also second in the League in slugging (.609), on-base percentage (.447) and home runs (5). Brittany Stoudemire leads Winthrop with a .311 batting average and 14 RBI. Expected to start in the circle on Sunday are Katrina Johnson (Liberty) and Chelsey Schoenfeldt (Winthrop). Johnson is 6-4 on the season with a 1.67 earned run average, 42 strikeouts and seven complete games. Schoenfeldt enters the weekend with a 3-6 record and 3.43 ERA.