Lake Erie returns to the friendly confines of Bob Jones Field where the team will host a Friday-afternoon twin bill against the Walsh Cavaliers. Call it the "North Canton Series" -- no two teams have played there more this season. Due to a slow thaw in March and early April, the Storm played eight straight games -- from March 22 to April 5 -- at Walsh's home diamond.
The Cavaliers head to Painesville, Ohio, looking to hang on to one of the top-eight places in the Great Lakes Intercollegiate Athletic Conference standings. (WU was in sixth place as of Wednesday.) The circuit's top eight will advance to the GLIAC Tournament which is slated to be held May 2-4 in Findlay, Ohio.
Perhaps the 2014 Storm squad represents a turning point toward the LEC program advancing to postseason play in the future. In Head Coach Stephanie Smith's first season at the helm, Lake Erie has made near-across-the-board improvements in most statistical categories. But to have those improvements turn into more victories, the Green & White will need to win more on their home turf. Lake Erie is 1-7 at home this season and 3-33 over its last 36 games at Bob Jones Field. One plus at home has been Lake Erie's pitching -- the Storm have been tagged with an 8.86 ERA in neutral-site games and a 7.65 mark in road games. But at home LEC hurlers own a 5.21 ERA.
On Friday Lake Erie pitchers and hitters alike will close out a campaign that has seen ups and downs. One last up is their goal.
SERIES: Lake Erie is 2-6 all-time against Walsh. The Cavaliers swept the Storm in two games last season.
MATCH-UP NUMBERS: Walsh is averaging 3.5 runs per game (10th GLIAC) and yielding 3.0 RPG (second). Cavalier batters own a .259/.316/.356 (batting/on-base/slugging) line on the season; they rank third in the GLIAC in doubles, with 58, and seventh in home runs, with 14. WU hurlers own a 2.35 ERA (third). The Cavaliers' .960 fielding percentage ranks seventh. ... Lake Erie is averaging 2.7 RPG (13th) while allowing 8.2 RPG (14th). The Storm is batting .270/.327/.374, and they rank fifth in the league in home runs, with 15. LEC owns a 7.71 ERA (14th) and .925 fielding mark (14th).
HOME BODIES:Elizabeth Karako has enjoyed playing at home this season. The freshman is batting .400/.500/.750 in 23 plate appearances in Painesville. Lindsay Valvoda (1.007 OPS) has also enjoyed playing in the home environs of Bob Jones Field. In the circle, Hannah Shevenell owns a 4.42 ERA in three home starts.
RAGING ON: Earlier this week, Lake Erie had its best offensive game of the season followed by its worst. On Tuesday at Northwestern Ohio, the Storm scored 11 runs on 17 hits in game two of a split against the Lady Racers. On Wednesday, LEC was no-hit by Wayne State's (Mich.) Lyndsay Butler in the first of two losses to the Warriors. ... Darrian Yanek had four doubles in Tuesday's twin bill. On the season, she has 10 two-baggers, a total that ranks sixth in the GLIAC. Since April 9, Yanek is batting .310 (13-of-42) with a .396 OBP, six doubles, three home runs and 12 RBIs. ... Friday's doubleheader will close out the collegiate careers of four LEC players: Amanda Anderson, Hannah Francis, Jeniffer Gratz, Maddi Klemp. Jeniffer Gratz needs just one base hit to become only the fifth LEC player since 2005 to record 100 career hits.