First of all, it's unfortunate that Charlotte must be labeled an enemy. The team's fans seem to be good people. But until Friday's 2 p.m. tilt in Raleigh is over, an enemy the 49ers are.
The South Carolina game notes give the Gamecocks a 22-8 edge against Charlotte all time, not the 22-7 number C&F previously pulled from Charlotte's Web site.
Charlotte's nickname is a tribute to an eternal truth that my NASA Explorers sponsor once taught me: Once created, a government program cannot be killed.
The nickname 49ers derives from the fact that the Charlotte Center for the University of North Carolina, a night school created to educate returning World War II veterans, was saved from closing in 1949 by Bonnie Cone. The school was rechristened Charlotte College that year and became UNC Charlotte in 1965.
Largesse-based mascot or not, the 49ers that take the field this year can hit. All but one of the team's position players with more than 100 ABs are hitting better than .300 -- and lonely Alex Burt is batting a not-shabby .278.
That said, their 53 home runs are the fewest in the regional.
Who should scare you? Corey Shaylor, batting .372. Rob Lyerly, with a 1.127 OPS. Brad McElroy is the 49ers biggest base-stealing threat (19-for-21), though he's been sidelined with an ankle injury. Their power hitter is Chris Taylor, he of the 19 home runs and Louisville Slugger/TPX third-team All-American honors. (Taylor hit two of those home runs when Charlotte beat South Carolina 11-2.)
The team isn't great when it comes to pitching. Nor is it terrible; the Niners staff has a 4.33 ERA. But the starter pegged to go up against the Gamecocks -- Joe Yermal (8-1, 3.81 ERA) -- is pretty good. He's yielded 82 hits and 20 walks over 82.2 innings while striking out 44 over that span. Yermal has given up just four home runs.
The winner, of course, will face the victor in the nightcap between James Madison (38-17) against regional host N.C. State (38-20), scheduled to start at 7 p.m.