Ashley has a Graeter week

Published 3:23 pm Friday, April 22, 2011

What a week it was for Poplarville’s Ashley Graeter.

Seven days ago, the Southern Mississippi junior infielder entered a home weekend series with the University of New Orleans trying to find his stroke at the plate and perhaps his place in the Golden Eagles’ line-up.

The former Hornets and Pearl River Community College standout exploded with the bat as well as re-enforcing his reputation as a defensive standout in a four game stretch in which the Golden Eagles went 3-1.

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Graeter started his fourth straight game at shortstop against LSU here at Zephyr Field Wednesday night, in place of the injured B.A. Vollmuth, and had yet another solid performance as he went four-for-five with one RBI in the game.

That outing, in an 8-6 loss to the Tigers, came on the heels of several impressive outings against the Privateers.

The junior transfer from PRCC went 5-for-12 at the plate with a grand slam and seven RBIs in the three game sweep of UNO. He was also error-free at shortstop, showing good range and making strong throws.

He smacked the grand slam in Friday’s 11-0 win, which was also Parrothead Night at Pete Taylor Park in Hattiesburg.

Then, on Sunday, not only did he make several key plays at shortstop defensively in the close game, but drove in the only run of the contest as well.

USM head coach Scott Berry is trying to determine what Graeter’s role will be once Vollmuth, who leads Conference USA with 10 home runs, is healthy enough to return to the field. Vollmuth served as the designated hitter against LSU.

“I think time will tell us,” Berry said. “What it certainly did was it gave us some new options we can use, if need be.”

Graeter raised his batting average almost 75 points in the past four games, and is now hitting .304 on the season with two home runs and 12 RBI’s. He has played in 21 games, starting 11. He has also seen some time at third base and DH this season.

The Golden Eagles, now 27-9 overall and ranked 21st in the nation, return to Conference USA play tonight at home as Marshall comes calling for a three game set.