Players exchange high-fives after a win. Photo by Chris Crews

In high school, taking AP classes were used to test your knowledge, work ethic, build your GPA and  separate yourself from other students to make it to a prestigious college. That’s exactly what the Charlotte 49ers are doing on the diamond this year, but their AP classes have come in the form of nationally ranked teams, such as No.6 NC State, No.4 South Carolina and No.8 East Carolina to reach their goal of making it into postseason play. And in the midst of the hardest schedule in program history, Charlotte’s passed the test of being a serious contender in Conference USA with their 15-9 (4-2 C-USA) start to the season. Here are the grades for the two main aspects of the game:

Pitching (B)

Under the direction of first-year pitching coach Shohn Doty, the Niners are sixth in the conference with a 4.31 ERA. The pitching staff has bought in to the new coach’s tactics, issuing only 62 walks, which is good for second in C-USA.

Colton Laws has been a straight-A student for Charlotte through six starts, compiling a 1.31 ERA, which is good for second in the conference and first among starters. Through 41.1 innings the redshirt sophomore has struck out 38 batters while allowing just six runs all season long.

Sunday starter Zach Flanagan is being overlooked by many but has grinded through his six starts with a 2.37 ERA. The redshirt junior from Tyler, Texas has had two games with eight strikeouts, with one of those games coming against Rider where he only gave up one run on three hits through six innings.

Josh Maciejewski has been solid every Saturday for the Niners, as he is 3-1 in six starts with a 4.38 ERA, working around a team-high 14 walks through 37.0 innings. Maciejewski’s season is highlighted by his 11-strikeout performance through 8.0 innings against Xavier, only giving up one run on four hits.

Having to preserve the outings from the three weekend starters, the bullpen is a tough job and Jonah Patten, Jacob Craver and Matt Brooks have been making it look rather easy. Patten is a hard throwing right-handed pitcher who is currently tied for third in the conference in saves with four. The junior college transfer has recorded 12 strikeouts in nine appearances, with a lot of those punch outs coming via slider.

Jacob Craver has been a reliable arm out of the bullpen for Charlotte, riding a 1.46 ERA through 12.1 innings. The left-handed pitcher has only allowed two runs and eight hits, as opposing hitters are batting five points below the “Mendoza Line” against him.

Freshman Matt Brooks has been a big piece to the Charlotte pitching staff, striking out 19 batters while only issuing three walks with a 2.89 ERA. He is tied for first on the team in appearances with 10.

Hitting (A) 

The 49ers have compiled 16 double-digit hit games, leading to their .305 team batting average, which is good enough for second in the conference. Under the direction of Bo Robinson and head coach Loren Hibbs, the 49ers have the least amount of strikeouts in C-USA with 121.

Charlotte is currently being led by six players who are batting over .300, with Jackson Mims leading the way with a .413 average. The ECU transfer is first in conference with 43 hits, second in runs scored with 28 and fourth in slugging percentage with .654. He also has added in four home runs and nine doubles, which leads us to Nichting.

The senior from Hamilton, Ohio is second in the conference in batting average .410, third in runs scored with 27 and second in RBI with 25. Nichting has also added in four home runs, eight doubles and a team-high five stolen bases.

Brett Netzer continues to impress in his junior season, batting .327 with nine doubles and two triples. Netzer’s vision at the plate and ability to hit the ball to every piece of the field makes him a dangerous hitter at all times.

Freshman Zack Smith has come on to the scene and made an immediate impact for the Niners in the middle of the lineup, showing patience at the plate with a team-high 16 walks. The freshman is currently batting .320 with a team-high .485 on base percentage.

Zach Jarrett is hitting .314 with four home runs and 16 RBI, getting off to a hot start in his senior campaign. The Hickory, North Carolina native has provided big hits midway through the lineup for the Charlotte offense.


Trevor Wilt is the co-sports editor for the Niner Times from Concord, North Carolina. He is a communications major with a journalism minor. Trevor also works with the campus radio station, Radio Free Charlotte, where he host his own sports show and also does play-by-play commentating for the men's and women's basketball teams.