JEFFERSON CITY, Tenn. – After playing eight of nine games at home, the Carson-Newman Eagles (12-12, 7-8 South Atlantic Conference) travel to Hartsville, S.C. to take on the Coker Cobras (12-8, 5-6 SAC) for a three-game series beginning at 2 p.m. Friday afternoon.
Coker is its first season in the SAC after winning Conference Carolinas league championship in 2013. The Cobras lost to eventual national champion Tampa 12-4 after winning the Southeast Regional title.
"They play energized baseball," head coach Tom Griffin said of Coker. "They want to put pressure on you. They have upperclassmen that know how to win."
The Eagles are coming off of their worst loss in nearly two seasons with a 13-1 defeat to Young Harris on Tuesday. Over the last three games, each opposing starting pitcher has hurled a complete game against the Eagle offense. In that span, Carson-Newman is hitting .205 (17-83) with 23 strikeouts and two walks.
During a 3-8 stretch, the Eagles have been left searching for a slump-buster. The coaching staff has changed a couple things and will approach the weekend with a change in regiment based on what the captains believe is best for the team.
"I think it's sticking with the process," Griffin said of his responsibility as a coach when his team goes through a rough patch. "I think it's not changing your demeanor and not changing who you are because you're not having success on the field. I want them to see we are the same people and same coaches through the good and bad times."
This weekend marks the first ever meeting between the Eagles and Cobras. Coker is 8-2 at home this season and is coming off of a 28-0 victory over Clafin University that saw the Cobras crank out 19 hits and plate 13 runs in the opening frame of the contest.
The Cobras have four players in the top five in steals in the league led by Fico Kondla's 17 swiped bags which ranks in the top five nationally. The Cobras rank fourth in the conference in on-base percentage at .377. Senior outfielder Ernie Kirkwood leads the roster in batting average at .375 with a team-best 17 RBI and five triples.
Coker boasts the top earned run average in the conference with a 3.14 ERA despite the fewest strikeouts in the SAC with 99 punch outs this season. Sophomore right-hander Matt Prosser leads the pitching staff with a 1.73 ERA with 32 strikeouts and 12 walks in 36.1 innings this year.
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