MISENHEIMER — Following last year’s 35-10 campaign in which the Pfeiffer softball team took home the USA South East Division regular season title, the Falcons have had their share of ups and downs this season.
USA South Athletic Conference play begins later this month for eighth-year coach Monte Sherrill and the Falcons (10-8), who are aiming to establish a consistent rhythm with the heart of their schedule approaching.
A ninth straight winning season hangs in the balance.
Behind the efforts of sophomore pitcher Kenzi Lyall, Pfeiffer recently recorded a complete game shutout in a 1-0 win over No. 1 ranked Christopher Newport — the defending NCAA Division III champion — but the Falcons have since dropped four of their past five game contests.
Third-ranked Salisbury defeated Pfeiffer twice in a March 10 double-header, while second-ranked Trine logged a 9-1 home win over the Falcons the following day.
Pfeiffer then went on to claim a 6-5 road win over seventh-ranked Virginia Wesleyan before falling to Transylvania in a 2-1 finish.
While the Falcons haven’t played a matchup in Misenheimer since March 1, they are returning next week with a four-game homestand split between No. 21 Lenoir-Rhyne on March 21 and N.C. Wesleyan on March 25.
The latter date will serve as Pfeiffer’s conference opener as the team attempts to recapture the magic that led to a 16-2 conference record in 2022.
So far this season, outfielder Caiti Mickles has been the Falcons’ anchor on offense. Leading the roster in home runs (4) and RBIs (10), Mickles also has a team-high .359 batting average. Lyall leads the Falcons with 19 hits, while sophomore pitcher and infielder Emma Bullin has notched a .327 batting average.
Through a team-high 58.2 innings pitched, Lyall (5-6) has been the Falcons’ primary pitcher and recorded a 2.51 ERA with a 53-28 strikeout-to-walk ratio. Junior Kali Morton (4-2) has a similar 2.60 ERA through 35 innings and has held batters to a .267 average at the plate.
Pfeiffer’s regular season ends April 29 and the first round of the USA South Tournament will begin on May 4.