Stephanie Smith

Thank you for reading my article! Here is some quick information about myself. I am a Communication Studies major with an emphasis in Mass Media. I am a Journalism minor and my goal one day is to work for ESPN or Fox Sports 1. Jesus Christ is number one in my life and I love my family with all my heart. I am a sports fanatic and I enjoy writing articles with a positive flare. Stay tuned for more of my posts and feel free to comment.

Roll. dip. fry. eat! French toast with a twist

Photo by Stephanie Smith
Photo by Stephanie Smith

There is an epic breakfast showdown between pancakes and French toast and today French toast won. This is French toast with a spin. Who would have guessed flattening bread and rolling it up with Nutella and bananas would be such a simple yet scrumptious treat? You do not even have to make it for breakfast. You could eat these roll-ups as a mid-night snack or even if you are craving something sweet.


  • 6 slices fresh white sandwich bread, crusts removed
  • ½ punnet strawberries, diced small
  • 4½ tbsp Nutella
  • ¼ cup caster sugar (Note 1)
  • 1 tbsp butter

Egg Mixture

  • 1 egg (large)
  • 2 tbsp milk (full cream or low fat)
  • Pinch of salt


  1. Combine Egg Mixture in a bowl with a flat base large enough to lie the roll up in. Whisk to combine.
  2. Spread sugar out in a small dish.
  3. Use a rolling pin to roll the bread flat. This makes them easier to roll up (and stay rolled up).
  4. Spread each piece of bread with around ¾ tbsp of Nutella.
  5. Sprinkle strawberries along the bottom of each piece of bread.
  6. Roll up bread. The Nutella will keep it sealed.
  7. Melt butter in pan over medium high heat.
  8. Roll each roll up in the Egg Mixture, shake off excess then place in the pan. Repeat with remaining roll ups.
  9. Cook for around four minutes until each side is golden, rotating every one minute or so.
  10. Remove from pan and immediately place in the sugar. Roll to coat in sugar, then remove. Repeat with remaining roll ups.
  11. Serve immediately, while warm.

Recipe: Strawberry cheesecake bites

Photo by Stephanie Smith
Photo by Stephanie Smith

Spring is in the air and that means strawberry season is right around the corner.  I love biting into a fresh juicy strawberry.  The explosion of sweet strawberry juice sends my taste buds wild. These little bites are great for a light and healthy snack. Just be careful, because they are addicting.


1 lb. fresh strawberries, rinsed and pat dry

8 oz. cream cheese, softened

1/2 cup powdered sugar

1 teaspoon vanilla extract

Optional: Graham cracker crumbs


  1. With a paring knife, cut off the strawberry stems. Cut around the inside of the strawberry, hollowing out slightly and creating a well for the cheesecake. You can also do this with a small melon baller.
  2. Cut off a small portion of the pointy strawberry tip, so that each strawberry can stand. Place each on a large baking sheet.
  3. In a medium bowl, with a standing or handheld electric mixer, beat cream cheese, sugar, and vanilla until fluffy, about 2 minutes on medium speed.
  4. Place mixture in a pastry bag and pipe into each strawberry, adding a little extra to the top.
  5. Refrigerate until thoroughly chilled.

Optionally, sprinkle graham cracker crumbs on top of each stuffed strawberry.


Amazing oven recipe: Root vegetable medley

Courtesy of Cooking on the Weekends
Courtesy of Cooking on the Weekends

When I was growing up I hated vegetables. Literally, if it even looked like a vegetable I did not touch it. Then somewhere along the way my taste buds changed. How it happened I have no clue but one day I tried a some vegetables for like the hundredth time thinking that I was going to gag and spit it back out. That is when it happened, boom! I was hooked. These veggies were amazing. I thought where on earth have these been my entire life? Why am I just now starting to like these? Now that I live on my own, I have to find good and easy recipes that I can make in my apartment. This oven recipe is full of flavor and has a balsamic ginger sauce that adds a little sweetness to the mix.


  • 1 parsnip, peeled and chopped into ½” cubes
  • 1 Yellow gold potato, chopped into ½” cubes
  • 2 medium-sized sweet potato, chopped into ½” cubes
  • 4 carrots, peeled and chopped into ¼” rounds
  • 1 yellow onion, diced
  • 1 red pepper
  • 6 cloves garlic, minced
  • 2 tablespoons grated ginger
  • 2 tablespoons olive oil
  • 3 tablespoons balsamic vinegar
  • 1 teaspoon salt (or to taste)
  • ¼ teaspoon ground cayenne pepper
  • 2 teaspoons ground cumin


  1. Preheat oven to 375 degrees Fahrenheit.
  2. Put all chopped veggies into a large, deep casserole dish (this may require 2 casserole dishes).
  3. Whisk together the olive oil, balsamic vinegar and grated ginger. Pour over the vegetables and mix using a fork.
  4. Sprinkle the salt, cayenne pepper and cumin over the veggies and mix again with a fork to be sure everything is coated.
  5. Bake 25 minutes and then remove casserole dish from oven to stir the vegetables well.
  6. Increase heat to 415 degrees Fahrenheit, place vegetables back in the oven and bake an additional 20 to 25 minutes until the sweet potato is softened and al dente, but not mushy.

Black and blue Super Bowl review

Carolina Panthers quarterback Cam Newton looks pained as he walks the sideline. Courtesy Tribune News Service
Carolina Panthers quarterback Cam Newton looks pained as he walks the sideline. Courtesy Tribune News Service

It’s a black and blue day for Panther nation. Black and blue from the hurt of losing in the biggest game of the season.

It is not just from the loss but from the way they lost. The Panthers did not look like the energetic, passionate and confident team that people grew accustomed to seeing all season long. While watching the game there were three elements to look for: Cam Newton’s smile, Thomas Davis and Jared Allen’s play in reaction to their injuries and the Panther’s swagger.  

There was something about this game that did not feel right. Newton was focused but he was not having fun. Multiple times when the camera zoomed in on him he was not smiling, he was not chatting on the sidelines or butt-slapping his teammates.  

The defense made some mistakes that they do not normally make. They gave up a couple of runs for big chunks of yardage that set the Broncos up to score. Davis was not able to use both of his arms and hit as hard as he normally does. Even on a couple of plays Davis tried to use his shoulder to take down a defender instead of completely wrapping him up. If he would have been 100 percent healthy he might have been able to make those tackles. Carolina’s special teams also made some mistakes in the first quarter that allowed the Broncos to capitalize on and score. Ultimately, the Panthers made a lot of mistakes that they do not normally make and they just happened to be on the biggest stage.

Whether it be all the media and festivities that knocked the Panthers off their game or the fact that last night they just fell apart, this season was cannot be defined by one game. This season should be marked by the excitement and enthusiasm the Panthers brought to the Carolinas and all across the world.

Every football analyst discounted the Panthers at some point during the season but the Panthers proved them wrong. Newton stole the show on offense. Remember the time Newton superman flipped into the endzone or when he dabbed and it took the nation by storm. Now everyone is dabbing, even 90-year-old grandmas.

The defense created an identity for themselves as well. Remember when Davis intercepted Green Bay Packers quarterback Aaron Rodgers with only a few seconds to spare sealing a win or when Josh Norman and Giants wide receiver Odell Beckham Jr. faced off in a brutal wide receiver-cornerback battle? What about when Luke Kuechly intercepted a pass from Arizona Cardinals quarterback Carson Palmer and dashed into the end-zone to electrify the crowd.  

This season was definitely not a bust. The Panthers accomplished great feats, they overcame the odds and they have proven that they are an elite caliber team in the league. This is not a setback. This is a set up for greatness. Next year the Panthers will get their swagger back, they will improve their offensive weapons and will lock in their defense. Carolina is too good of a team to not be back in Super Bowl contention.  

Today is a dark and gloomy day for Panther fans but there are brighter days on the horizon.

Healthy breakfast on the go: PB&J protein shake

PB&J protein shake. Photo taken by Stephanie Smith
PB&J protein shake. Photo taken by Stephanie Smith

When I wake up in the morning my stomach is roaring, not just a little kitty meow but like a roaring lion. My first thought is what should I eat? I need something healthy and let’s be honest, living on campus makes it difficult to do. Most students go to Crown Commons and indulge in the all-you-can eat breakfast buffet or they go to one of the restaurants like Chick-fila or Bojangles and get a biscuit with hashbrowns. The struggle is real, but my simple protein shake recipe will fill your belly in a healthy way while also giving you a little extra sleep since you do not have to get up early to wait in line for your biscuit and hashbrowns. The great part about making your own shake is that you can do it within your own dorm. There is only one gadget you will need and that is a blender.  


I am a peanut butter and jelly type of girl so when I make my protein shakes I load it up with bananas, strawberries and peanut butter. Instead of using regular milk, I use vanilla almond milk.  It has a hint of sweetness with the vanilla, and it is also less fattening than regular milk.  


PB&J Protein Shake


1 Scoop of whey protein

½ Cup of  vanilla almond milk or milk of your choice

½ Cup of water or handful of ice-cubes

½ Cup of frozen strawberries or blueberries

1 Frozen banana

2 tsp. of Natural peanut butter  



  1. Pour ½ cup of milk into the blender
  2. Add frozen fruit
  3. Add 1 scoop of protein
  4. Add 2 tsp. of natural peanut butter
  5. Add ½ cup of water or ice
  6. Blend


What to watch for on Super Bowl Sunday

Carolina Panthers defensive end Jared Allen during a news conference. Photo courtesy Tribune News Service
Carolina Panthers defensive end Jared Allen during a news conference. Photo courtesy Tribune News Service

Everyone wants to talk about what the Panthers need to do on offense and defense in order to win the Super Bowl; however, let’s go beyond the numbers and look at three intangible elements that will affect the game.

Cam Newton’s smile

Cam Newton has a huge smile and he has the potential to set an atmosphere of excitement and energy or negativity and frustration. When he is smiling, so is the rest of the team. Everyone feeds off of his energy whether it be negative or positive. Newton wears his emotions on his chest therefore, while watching the game pay close attention to the aura Newton is setting on the sidelines. Is he smiling, high-fiving his teammates and cheering them on or is he sulking on the bench in disappointment? All eyes are on Newton not only on the field but on sidelines as well.

Thomas Davis’s arm and Jared Allen’s foot

After breaking his arm in the NFC Championship game against the Cardinals, Thomas Davis will be itching to get back on the field. The question is not of willpower or determination because we have seen Davis come back from three ACL tears. However, the question is if his broken arm can handle the constant pounding and incredible force that Davis applies when he hits a player? One thing is for sure, if Davis has to come out of the game, his presence will certainly be felt from the sidelines.  

Jared Allen on the other hand is a 12 year veteran who has been selected to five Pro-Bowl games but has yet to win a Super Bowl. Allen broke his foot during the NFC Divisional game against the Seattle Seahawks. Coach Ron Rivera ruled Allen ineligible in the NFC Championship game despite Allen believing he could play. Many people questioned Rivera’s judgement but now looking back the delay that he suffered might actually be a set up for deliverance. Nobody wants to win the Super Bowl more than Allen. He knows opportunities like this do not come very often, after 12 years in the league this is his first Super Bowl appearance. Both Davis and Allen are lethal threats on the field but watch the way in which they lead the defensive unit.  

Panther’s swagger

Throughout the entire season Coach Rivera has instilled in his team to “keep their personalities.” It is the eclectic blend of Newton and his dancing or Luke Kuechly in his quiet leadership that has kept the Panthers confident but yet humble.  

The Panthers walk, talk and dab with swagger. When Carolina oozes with confidence they are unstoppable. Winning the Super Bowl is not about what happens just on the field. It is a culmination of elusive characteristics that have been cultivated over time.  


Five recipes for Super Bowl success

When you are having a party, the food makes it or breaks it.  In order to ensure that your Super Bowl party is a success try these five essential recipes that will leave your friends coming back for more.

First things first, you are going to need chips and dip.  Most parties have typical store bought salsa but not your Super Bowl party.  This is a bean salsa that is fresh, light and has a hint of sweetness.  

1. Bean Salsa


Tasty bean salsa! Photo by Stephanie Smith
Tasty bean salsa! Photo by Stephanie Smith
  • 1/4 cup extra virgin olive oil
  • 1/2 cup apple cider vinegar
  • 1/2 cup sugar
  • Hot sauce to taste

Bring oil to slight boil and turn off to add vinegar and sugar.  Oil can catch fire when sugar is added so remove oil from heat.

Drain all vegetables before combining…

  • 1 can black-eyed peas
  • 1 can black beans
  • 1 can shoe peg corn
  • 1 medium onion diced small
  • 1 yellow pepper

Combine dressing with veggies and let it rest for a couple of hours.


2. Meatball Sliders

BBQ meatball sliders
BBQ meatball sliders

Prep Time: 5 minutes

Cook Time: 3 hours


  • Frozen meatballs
  • 1 Jar Smucker’s Concord Grape Jelly {18 oz.}
  • 1 Bottle of Heinz Chili Sauce {12 oz.}
  • Sweet Hawaiian rolls
  • Slices of Cheese


  1. Combine the Grape Jelly and Chili Sauce in a bowl, then stir.
  2. Add frozen meatballs to crockpot, cover with sauce mixture.
  3. Heat on HIGH for 3 hours, stirring occasionally. Let simmer on low.
  4. Transfer meatball to a slider bun, then top with your favorite type of cheese.

3. Pizza Roll-Ups

Every party needs some pizza.  I am not talking about Dominos or Toppers, I am talking about pizza roll-ups where you can have as much pepperoni and cheese free of charge.



Pizza Roll-Ups
Pizza Roll-Ups
  • 1 (8 ounce) package refrigerated crescent roll dough
  • 4 cheese sticks, halved
  • 1 (3.5 ounce) package sliced pepperoni
  • optional – marinara or ranch sauce for dipping

Garlic Butter Glaze:

  • 2 tablespoons butter, melted
  • ½ teaspoon Italian seasonings
  • ¼ teaspoon garlic powder
  • 1 Tablespoon grated Parmesan cheese


Preheat oven to 350 degrees Fahrenheit.

  1. Take each triangle of crescent roll dough and place about 6 pepperoni on the bottom of the triangle. Place half of a cheese stick on top and roll up. Place seam side down on a cookie sheet and bake for 10-14 minutes or until golden brown.
  2. While rolls are cooking, combine the melted butter, Italian seasonings, garlic powder and Parmesan cheese in a small bowl.
  3. When rolls are done remove from the oven and brush with the garlic butter glaze. Serve with marinara or ranch for dipping.   

4. Buckeye Bites

Buckeye Bites
Buckeye Bites



Whatcha gonna do for dessert?  Most people go the easy way and buy a brownie mix and call dessert a done deal.  But remember, your Super Bowl party is going to be one your friends will not forget. In order to send it over the top, you are going to need some buckeye bites.  These peanut butter bites are covered in milk chocolate and will send your taste buds into flavor town. 


  • 1 (18 oz.) jar creamy peanut butter
  • 1/2 cup butter (softened) or 1/2 cup margarine (softened)
  • 1 lb. confectioners’ sugar (about 3.5 cups)
  • 1 tbsp. vanilla
  • 18 oz. chocolate chips (milk or semi-sweet)
Cream peanut butter and butter. Add sugar and vanilla and mix well.

Form into 1 inch balls and refrigerate for 30 minutes.

Melt chocolate chips in a double boiler or in a microwave-safe cup, stirring frequently. Using a toothpick, dip balls into chocolate so they are about 3/4 of the way covered.  Place chocolate side down on waxed paper.

Let set at room temperature or refrigerate until set.

The last essential ingredient to making your Super Bowl party a success is a strawberry limeade punch.  Tangy and sweet with a hint of lime this punch is easy to make and your friends will love it.  Don’t believe me? Try it, you will not be disappointed.

5. Strawberry Limeade Punch

  • 2 liter ginger ale
  • 12 ounces frozen limeade
  • 10 ounces frozen Bacardi strawberry Daiquiri (freezer section)
  • 2½ cups rum
  • lemon, lime and strawberries (Sliced. I used 1 lemon, 2 limes and most of a carton of strawberries… you could also use frozen berries)


Thaw frozen concentrates and then mix all ingredients together in a punch bowl or other beverage dispenser. Add ice and serve.  



Give one or all of my recipes a try. They are game changers!

Carolina Panthers’ 3 keys to a Super Bowl run

Carolina Panthers' Jonathan Stewart heads toward the end zone. Photo courtesy Tribune News Service
Carolina Panthers’ Jonathan Stewart heads toward the end zone. Photo courtesy Tribune News Service

The Carolina Panthers are having a magical season. Sparked by the play and leadership of Cam Newton, the Panthers have their eyes not only on the NFC divisional game, but the Super Bowl as well. Here are three keys to Panthers bringing home the Lombardi trophy: 

Keeping the momentum

The Carolina Panthers started the game against Seattle with a load of momentum. They scored on their first four drives resulting in 24 points while also receiving some help from a Luke Kuechly pick-6. However, after halftime the roles were reversed and the Seattle Seahawks stole the momentum and came within one play of tying the game in the final seconds.  

Momentum without direction is useless. In order to keep their winning streak alive, the Panthers need to leverage their momentum and direct it to both the offense and defense. This will suck the life out of their opponent while allowing the Panthers to build upon the success they have already had. If the Panthers can keep pounding and keep the momentum that they have, the Super Bowl might not be too far out of reach.

Fixing the holes in the defense

The cliche saying, “defense wins championships” has been proven true time and time again. If the Panthers want to reach the goals they set out to accomplish, they need to tighten up their defense. In the second half alone the Panther defense gave up 24 points and 231 yards. As the Panthers go deeper into the playoffs, the teams get tougher and the mistakes a team can make become less and less. Linebackers Kuechly and Thomas Davis set the tone for the defense; however, the rest of the team must pull their weight so that there are no holes. The defense is only as good as its weakest player therefore everyone must step up and fill the gaps.

Sustaining the offense

With Newton having an MVP caliber season it is hard to stop a weapon with multiple targets. Tight end Greg Olsen, running back Jonathan Stewart and a slew of receivers makes it challenging for the defense to stop. They can try to stop Newton from passing but then he has Stewart in the backfield who can pound it up the middle.  If they try to stop the run, Newton can hit the Olsen for a quick gain. The key to winning offensively is making sure that every facet of the Panthers offense is in rhythm and that they are not relying too heavily on Newton to make the big plays. They do this by keeping the defense guessing for what will come next. Ultimately forcing the defense to spread out and cover every yard of the field.

The Carolina Panthers have a long way to go but if they can leverage their momentum, tighten up their defense and continue to utilize their multi-threat offense the Panthers may well be on their way to Super Bowl 50.

The 49ers fall short against the Catamounts

Lexi Betancourt pitching against the Catamounts.
Lexi Betancourt pitching against the Catamounts. Photo by Varun Joshi. 

The Charlotte 49ers softball team faced Western Carolina University for a doubleheader on Wednesday, March 25 at D.L. Phillips Complex. Charlotte came into the match having scored 26 runs in their four wins last week and looked to continue their hot hitting; however, they were held to only one run in a 5-1 Catamount victory in the first game.

Lexi Betancourt (9-9) was in the circle for the 49ers. Betancourt dominated her last two appearances posting an 0.50 ERA, but on Wednesday Western Carolina was able to etch across five runs. Despite tossing a complete game and only allowing five hits with seven strikeouts, Betancourt took the loss.

Charlotte was plagued by a lack of timely hitting as they were 2-5 with runners in scoring position. In the fourth inning Charlotte scored their lone run when Jessica Plemmons led off the inning with a single and then moved to second on a sacrifice bunt by Haley Pace. Chelsea Lisikatos zipped a single into center field allowing Plemmons to score giving Charlotte an early 1-0 advantage.

In the fifth inning the Catamounts went to work. They were able to string together five runs putting them ahead 5-1 with only two innings left to play. The 49ers were not able to counter the Catamount attack as Charlotte lost the first game.

In the nightcap of the doubleheader WCU continued their hot hitting. They scored four runs on seven hits, outdueling the 49ers 4-3 in extra innings.

The Catamounts got on the board early when they scored three runs in the first inning against Charlotte’s Bailey Rhoney (1-1). This time the 49ers roared back with three runs of their own to tie the game 3-3 in the fifth inning.

After two scoreless innings the 49ers were forced into extra innings and the Catamounts jumped on the board by stringing together two hits pushing across the tie-breaker. Charlotte threatened to score in the bottom of the eighth inning but a ground out to third base ended the 49ers comeback hopes.

Plemmons continued her dominance at the plate throughout both games as she recorded four hits, including a double, two RBIs and two runs, improving her average to a team-high .319.

Charlotte will travel to Lousianna Tech on Saturday, Mar. 28 for a Conference USA three game series. The 49ers will start play on Saturday starting at 3 p.m.

Niners blast 17 runs against Maryland Eastern Shore

Logan Sherer crosses home plate after his first home run of the season. Photo by Aleena Oliveria.
Logan Sherer crosses home plate after his first home run of the season. Photo by Aleena Oliveria.

The Charlotte 49ers baseball team ended a seven game losing skid with a 17-5 victory over Maryland Eastern Shore (5-11) on Tuesday, March 17 at Hayes Stadium. Brandon Vogler (0-0, 2.40 ERA) took the mound for his second start of the season but was replaced by Matt Horkey (1-1, 8.44 ERA) after three innings. The Niners’ bats came alive against UMES putting up 17 runs on 18 hits giving Horkey all the support he needed to earn his first win of the season. Horkey gave up three runs on four hits in five innings of action.

Right handed pitcher Chris Melrath (0-0, 18.00 ERA) anchored the Hawks squad; however, he only pitched one inning after being pulled by interim head coach John O’Neil.

The first inning featured an offensive explosion by the Niners. Charlotte sent 11 batters to the plate resulting in seven runs on six hits including a Logan Sherer’s first home run of the season.

“We got off to a really good start. I wish every game was like this,” said Charlotte head coach Loren Hibbs on the early seven run lead.

Maryland Eastern Shore answered the Niners by stringing together four hits scoring two runs narrowing the Niners lead 7-2. After Melrath got roughed up in the first inning the Hawks turned to a series of pitchers including J.P Black, Travis Carden, Kameron Raison and Mike Epps.

In only two innings of play, seven out of nine batters for the 49ers had earned at least one hit. They continued their blazing start by scoring four more runs in the second inning to extend their lead to 11-2.

In the fifth inning the Hawks etched across one run on a Greg Turlik single to left field scoring Mike Escanilla. The Niners answered with a run of their own when Derek Gallello tripled to right field putting him in scoring position for Zach Jarrett who hit a sacrifice fly to center field.

Freshman Brett Netzer continued his hot start at the plate by going 3-5 with a triple and two RBIs. Through 14 games Netzer leads the team with a .404 batting average, 21 hits and 11 RBIs.

The Niners (5-9) were able to tack on two more runs on in the seventh inning behind the timely hitting of Netzer and T.J Nichting. The Hawks continued to battle and were able to get two quick runs when Jamison Trower hammered a homerun to deep left field.

The Charlotte 49ers ended their offensive explosion in the eighth inning by scoring three more runs giving them a 17-5 lead over the Hawks.

The Niners will play Wednesday, March 18 at 5 p.m. against Presbyterian at Hayes Stadium. Right hander Trevor Gay is the probable starter for the Niners.


Niners bats go cold in a loss to No. 10 Rice

The Charlotte 49ers (4-3, 0-1) fell short in a 4-2 loss in their Conference-USA opener against the No. 10 Rice Owls (9-6, 1-0) on Friday afternoon at Hayes Stadium. The Niners had opportunities to put more runs on the board but a lack of timely hitting resulted in a tough loss against a great opponent.

“We had several opportunities but didn’t capitalize on them tonight like you need to against a really elite level team. Rice is good and we knew they were coming in,” said Charlotte head coach Loren Hibbs.

Sean Geoghegan (1-1) took the mound for the 49ers and battled against Kevin McCanna of the Owls. Despite the lack of offensive support Geoghegan shined from the mound pitching 5.2 innings allowing only two runs on five hits with four strikeouts.

McCanna tossed 6.2 innings allowing five hits and one run. McCanna pounded the strike zone the entire afternoon forcing the Niners to swing the bat. McCanna earned his second win of the season.

Sean Geoghegan allowed just two runs in 5.2 innings on Friday. Photo by Chris Crews.
Sean Geoghegan allowed just two runs in 5.2 innings on Friday. Photo by Chris Crews.

The Owls scratched across two runs in the first inning by stringing together a series of hits to right field to score Ford Stainback and Leon Byrd.

After four innings of play Geoghegan started to settle in by only allowing two runs on four hits. The Niners were given a spark to their offense when Brett Netzer knocked a double to deep right field and then moved to third on a passed ball. Charlotte failed to score Netzer after Brad Elwood popped out to McCanna ending the scoring threat. This was just one of the opportunities Charlotte failed to cash in on.

In the sixth inning Geoghegan got in a jam allowing two runners on base. He was replaced by Brandon Vogler who retired the side by getting Trevor Gray to ground out to the catcher. Charlotte’s offense was brought to life in the bottom of the sixth inning when Netzer and Nichting both singled to the shortstop Byrd. Netzer and Nichting then were given the sign for a double steal and both slid in safely putting themselves in scoring position. Zach Jarrett then grounded to third scoring Nichting for the Niners’ first run of the game. After six innings of play Rice led 2-1 but Charlotte was looking for a comeback.

Late in the game Charlotte’s offense still had life as the seventh inning got underway. Nick Daddio walked and then was bunted over to second by Luke Gibbs. The next batter, Derek Gallello, scorched a high fly ball to left field which was dropped by Kirby Taylor moving Daddio to third base. The Niners scoring threat was eventually put out when the Owls retired Sherer with the bases loaded for the third out.

In the eighth inning Rice scratched across two more insurance runs putting them ahead 4-1 but the Niners would not be denied. Netzer singled to right field and then moved to second on a wild pitch. Brad Elwood came through in the clutch and dropped a bloop hit into left field scoring Netzer to bring the 49ers within two runs.

The Owls shut down the 49ers comeback hopes in the ninth inning when Matt Ditman retired the 49ers in order to seal the 4-2 victory.

The Charlotte 49ers will play Rice again on Saturday, March 7 with first pitch scheduled at 2 p.m. Charlotte will send southpaw J.D. Prochaska (1-0, 0.00) to the mound against fellow lefty Blake Fox (1-0, 3.57).

49ers drop an overtime thriller against Western Kentucky

Terrence Williams led the team with 27 points. Photo by Chris Crews.
Senior Terrence Williams scored a career-high 27 points against the Hilltoppers. Photo by Chris Crews.

The Charlotte 49ers (13-17, 6-11) were defeated 88-84 in an overtime thriller by Western Kentucky (19-10, 12-5) on Thursday evening inside Halton Arena. The Hilltoppers had four players in double digits and they attacked the 49ers from all facets of the floor.

Charlotte won the tip and started to lock down defensively when they forced three turnovers early to ignite their offense as they were 5-5 from the field leading up to the first media timeout.

Western Kentucky tried to slow down the 49ers high octane offense by getting into a full court press; however, Charlotte easily broke down the Hilltoppers to score multiple layups.

With eight minutes remaining in the half, Charlotte was getting into their offensive rhythm by swinging the ball around the key when Terrence Williams gave a pump fake to get his man in the air. He then slashed his way through the lane and slammed the ball home with a two-handed dunk over Justin Johnson forcing Western Kentucky to burn a timeout.

The Hilltoppers would not go down easy as they came out of the timeout and hit three consecutive 3-pointers to spark their own offense. Western Kentucky went on a 14-2 scoring run, giving them a 31-26 advantage over Charlotte. The 49ers went on a four minute scoring drought which only fueled the Hilltoppers’ run.

At the half Western Kentucky led 39-33. Chris Harrison-Dock was the leading scoring with 11 points and two assists. Western Kentucky shot 50 percent from the field and 67 percent from the 3-point line. Charlotte was led by Braxton Obueze with 10 points and Pierriá Henry with four rebounds. As a team Charlotte shot 52 percent from the field and out-rebounded the Hilltoppers 16-13.

Western Kentucky was able to score 12 points off turnovers which proved to be a difference maker in the first half.

As the second half got under way, both teams continued to battle back and forth; however, it was Western Kentucky who commanded the lead. Charlotte tried to stall the Hilltoppers momentum by setting up in a full-court press with Henry at the helm. Henry set the tone for the Charlotte defense by putting his heart and soul on line. His aggressive hard-nosed defense forced multiple turnovers and steals resulting in a momentum swing for the 49ers.

At the 12:30 minute mark DJ Clayton drove hard to the basket but missed the layup. Henry, who was guarding Clayton, was brought down to the floor by Clayton on the drive. When Henry started to get up, he was pulled back by Clayton ultimately resulting in a technical foul. This play was the turning point in the second half. After the Clayton technical, Charlotte took their intensity to another level and started to mount a comeback.

The 49ers were able to pull within one point of the Hilltoppers with 10 minutes remaining when their revamped full-court press forced a steal and two free throws by Williams.

With seven minutes remaining Henry’s aggressive defense came back to bite him as he was forced to the bench with four fouls. Charlotte was only down 56-53 but their senior leader was on the bench. In Henry’s absence the 49ers relied on Williams to carry the load.

Henry entered the game at the 4:42 mark but his time on the court was short lived as he picked up his fifth foul with three minutes remaining.

Western Kentucky took advantage of Charlotte’s lack of low post presence and started to feed George Fant, a 6’6″ senior. Fant dominated the paint both offensively and defensively.

With one minute left in regulation Williams sank two free throws pulling the 49ers within four points. As time dwindled down, Keyshawn Woods found Williams at the top of the key leading to a deep 3-pointer with 25 seconds remaining.

“It was a great find by Keyshawn. He drove baseline and then kicked it back out to me. He had the confidence in me to knock it down. I made it and just tried to get us back in the game,” said Williams on his clutch 3-point shot at the end of regulation.

After fouling Western Kentucky again Charlotte was able to get the ball back for what would be the game tying jump hook basket by Mike Thorpe Jr. The scoreboard read 74-74 as the game was forced into overtime.

Charlotte won the overtime tip but fatigue from their full-court press started to show. Western Kentucky was able to pound the ball down low to Fant resulting in quick layups. Charlotte would not go down without a fight as Williams sank another 3-pointer and Willie Clayton added a short jumper to pull the 49ers within two points with 18 seconds left. Western Kentucky then hit four free throws down the stretch sealing the game with an 88-84 victory over the 49ers.

Charlotte was led by Williams who scored 27 points and added three assists. Western Kentucky was led by Fant who ended the night with 28 points and three steals.

The last home game of the 2014-15 season will be played Saturday, March 7 at 7 p.m. against Marshall. Charlotte will honor seniors Henry and Williams as they conclude their careers as 49ers.

Photos by Chris Crews.

Women’s basketball comeback falls short at Louisiana Tech

The Charlotte 49ers (10-15) women’s basketball team traveled to Louisiana Tech (13-12) on Thursday, Feb. 19 to take on the Lady Techsters. The 49ers had a stellar first half, but the Lady Techsters stormed from behind to capture their 13th win of the season as the 49ers fell 71-61.

At the start of the game Charlotte was ignited by Kira Gordon who sank her first three shots giving her six points in the first five minutes of play. Louisiana Tech tried to counter the 49ers hot start by pushing the tempo to score all of their baskets in transition. Going into the first media timeout, Charlotte led 8-7.

The Lady Techsters started to gain momentum from their fast paced offensive attack when they went on an 8-0 run giving them a 15-11 lead. The 49ers weathered a scoring drought and regained the lead when Gordon sank a jumper and then Cierra Gregory nailed a 3-pointer putting Charlotte up three at 20-17.

As time dwindled down in the first half, Kenya Olley hit a clutch jump shot to fend off a surging Louisiana Tech run.

Both teams battled tooth and nail; however the 49ers went into the break with a 28-26 lead. Charlotte was led by Gordon with nine points, Kendra Olley with eight points and Ayanna Holmes who dished out four assists. As a team Charlotte shot 46 percent from the field and had 14 rebounds.

Louisiana Tech was led by Whitney Frazier who had eight points, six rebounds and one assist. The Lady Techsters shot 44 percent from the field and had 16 rebounds, just narrowly out-rebounding the 49ers.

The highlight of the first half was the play of Charlotte’s Gordon and Olley. Both players provided a spark to the 49ers lineup in the absence of Lefty Webster and Alexis Alexander.

The second half started in the same fashion as the first. Hillary Sigmon hit her second 3-pointer of the game and Louisiana Tech answered with a transition layup by Chrisstasia Walter. Walter’s quick bucket triggered a Lady Techsters 12-0 run which was eventually stopped by a Holmes jump shot at the 15-minute mark.

Over a five minute span the 49ers only scored four points as Louisiana Tech continued on a 23-4 run. The Lady Techsters dominated the boards which translated to easy baskets. Charlotte’s scoring drought was compounded by over 20 turnovers as they tried to claw their way back into the game.

Despite the scoring efforts by Gordon and Olley, the 49ers could not handle the offensive attack of Louisiana Tech. With eight minutes remaining Charlotte was down 20 points and their comeback hopes were diminishing as the Lady Techsters tallied four players in double digits.

At the four minute mark Olley’s jump shot gave her 12 points which topped her previous career high of 10 points against Western Kentucky.

With 2:06 remaining Charlotte trailed 66-54 and was eyeing a comeback victory. The 49ers were able to cut the lead to 10 points on a Gregory 3-pointer; however, there was only one minute remaining. As the final buzzer sounded Charlotte’s comeback came up short as Louisiana Tech was able to close out the game with a 71-61 victory.

The Lady Techsters leading scorer was Frazier with 20 points and eight rebounds and Walter ended with 13 points and 10 assists.

The 49ers were led by Gordon who finished with 16 points and Olley who had a career-high 14 points.

“She was tremendous in so many aspects. We knew this was coming. It has been a build up over the past three weeks in practice. I told her after the game that she needs to attack every game with the same mentality,” said Charlotte head coach Cara Consuegra on Olley’s outstanding performance.

Charlotte will take on Southern Miss. on Saturday, Feb. 21 at 5 p.m. as they look to bounce back and get a much needed win.

The 49ers cruise to their third straight victory

Jessica Weber looking for a pitch to hit. Photo by Ben Coon.
Jessica Weber looking for a pitch to hit. Photo by Ben Coon.

After drilling 15 runs against Ohio in the opening game of the First Pitch Classic, Charlotte (3-1) faced Army (2-5) in their second game of the tournament. Charlotte dominated the game from the pitchers circle to the batter’s box winning 8-3 over the Black Knights.

Charlotte’s starting pitcher was Mackenzie Hauser and she dueled Army’s Caroline Smith the entire afternoon; however it was Hauser who emerged victorious. Hauser finished the game with six strikeouts and only allowing three runs on eight hits.

In the third inning Natalie Capone singled to right field setting the table for Sam Slade to drop a shallow fly ball over the head of Alee Rashenskas scoring Capone for the first run of the game. Jessica Plemmons also chipped in on the action when she lined an RBI triple to left field. Charlotte continued to sprinkle the softball to all parts of the field as they finished the inning with four runs on six hits.

Army tried to counter the 49ers offensive attack but they were shut down by a solid inning by Hauser. Through three innings of play, Hauser only allowed four hits and had two strikeouts. Her dominance in the circle set the tone for Charlotte’s defense the rest of the game.

In the bottom of the fourth inning the Black Knights were able to string together two quick runs on a homerun by Alex Gaff narrowing the lead to 4-2. Hauser did not let the two runs rattle her. The next inning she pounded the strike zone halting any momentum the Black Knights could muster together.

The game was stuck at 4-2 until the 49ers tacked on four more runs in the seventh inning to extend their lead to 8-2.

Army tried to claw back into the game late in the seventh inning when they scored one more run but they were shut down by Hauser who went the distance striking out the final batter of the game, sealing a Charlotte victory.

The 49ers went 2-0 on Friday earning wins against Ohio and Army. It was a combination of stellar defense and timely hitting for Charlotte. As a team over the course of two games Charlotte had 23 runs and 32 hits.

Plemmons is off to a scalding hot start to the season as she is riding a four-game hitting streak. She has a team high batting average of .600 and had six RBIs against Army. Plemmons is one of the key components to Charlotte’s explosive offensive attack.

The 49ers next game will be at noon against Quinnipiac on Saturday, Feb. 14.