SMITHFIELD, R.I. – The Bryant University softball team faces Rhode Island in its final non-conference road contest of the season in a single game on Wednesday, April 26, at 3:30 p.m.
At 5-7 in the Northeast Conference, the Bulldogs are tied in fifth with Mount St. Mary's. The Black and Gold will face the Mount on Saturday. The only team to clinch a place in the conference postseason, is league-leading Saint Francis U. who sits 12-0 in NEC play. Robert Morris holds the second spot, having swept the Bulldogs in early April, while third-ranked Wagner and fourth-ranked Sacred Heart have split with the Bulldogs this spring.
BREAKING THE STREAK
The Bulldogs are on a four-game losing streak, giving up doubleheaders to Providence and Saint Francis U. last week. Game two against the Friars went to extra innings, but the Red Flash dominated in Smithfield, holding the Black and Gold to no runs off two hits in the two games combined.
KEAST THE BEAST
Senior Lauren Keast (Holliston, Mass.) has recorded a hit in nine of the last 11 games, including three doubles. Coupled with a .382 batting average, .471 slugging percentage and .389 on base percentage, the left fielder has remained perfect in the field, totaling 25 putouts and one assist in the last 11 games. Keast ranks second in the conference in sacrifice hits per game and 51st in the country with 0.23 per game.
The Bulldogs have been more successful against NEC competitors, batting just .195, while holding a 5-26 record against non-league opponents. Situationally, the Black and Gold have found the most success at leadoff, batting .338, while averaging.189 with the bases empty, .201 with runners on and .107 with the bases loaded. Bryant's pitching staff has given up an average of 10.37 hits per game against non-conference foes.
SCOUTING THE RAMS
The Rams (8-30, 5-12 A10) enter Wednesday's game on a two-game winning streak, most recently defeating Dayton, 5-4, 5-2, on the road. Rhode Island is 3-7 in Kingston, defeating Saint Louis in all three games. URI bats .242 as a team with a .317 on base percentage and .351 slugging percentage. The Rams have totaled 51 doubles, including 18 in conference play, placing them fifth in the Atlantic 10 and 70th nationally in doubles per game.
Helping the team rank 70th in the nation in doubles per game, Paige Julich and Kylie Shivery rank fourth and fifth in the conference and 101 and 134 in the country, averaging 0.28 and 0.26 doubles per game, respectively. Julich bats .221 on the season, while Shivery averages .342, totaling a team-high 39 hits, five home runs and 22 RBI. Sarah Gunderson has seen the majority of the time on the mound, posting a 3-12 record and 5.29 ERA. The freshman has totaled 32 strikeouts in 92 innings.
The Rams control the Division I series, 4-1, with the Bulldogs earning their only win, 5-3, in 2015 in Smithfield.