Fort Mill Times

Knights jump out to strong start in opening series

Wes Whisler
Wes Whisler

The Charlotte Knights opened the 2008 season with a bang.

The team started 3-1 in its opening series with Columbus. The team will have a four-game stand against Toledo before taking on Columbus and Scranton in an eight-game home stand starting April 11.

Knights pitcher Lance Broadway got his first win of the year going seven strong innings and allowing just two his and striking out four to get a 3-0 win against Columbus.

Broadway went 8-9 last year with the Knights in 26 starts. The 24-year-old Texas native has 4.65 ERA and was a first round selection by the Chicago White Sox in 2005 draft.

He also went 1-1 last year in Chicago with a 0.87 ERA in four games.

Lefty Wes Whisler also picked up his first win Sunday going six innings allowing eight hits and two earned runs. The win was his first in Triple A. He spent all of the 2007 season in Double-A Birmingham going 6-13 with a 5.00 ERA in 27 starts.

The Indianapolis native went to UCLA and was selected by the White Sox in the second round of the 2004 draft.

At the plate, first baseman/ designated hitter Jeff Liefer is hitting .545 in three games to lead the Knights. He has a home run and three RBIs in 11 at-bats.

Liefer has spend the past two season in Japan with he Seibu. He had played in Charlotte 1999-2001, splitting time between there and Chicago. He played solely with the White Sox in 2002 and with Montreal and Tampa Bay in 2003, Milwaukee in parts of 2004 and Cleveland in parts of 2005 before going to Japan.

He signed as a free agent with Chicago in January.

The Knights finished last year at 63-80 overall and struggled from the opening week.

In the month of April, they were 9-12 and didn't put together a winning month until July when they went 16-11.

The Knights 32 home runs during the month of July was the fifth highest total of any International League team during any month last season.

But that one month, certainly didn't make the Knights season.

Charlotte's 63-80 record last year was 17 games behind International League South Division champions Durham.

The Knights fared slightly better at home going 35-37 at Knights Stadium, compared to just 28-43 on the road.

The team struggled against a very good South Division going a combined 17-31 against Durham, Norfolk and Richmond.

The 63 wins were the Knights' lowest total since 1996, when they won 62 games.

One thing the Knights are hoping to do is keep attendance up.

The Knights finished last year with its highest total attendance in six years. The drew 311,119 people, an increase of 8,033 from 2006.

Despite the increase, the Knights finished second to last in the league in attendance ahead of only Ottawa, who has since move to Pennsylvania.

Charlotte set its attendance record last season at its July 4th game bringing home 15,427 people against South Division rival Durham.

Charlotte Knights upcoming games and last week's results

• April 9 at Toledo, 6:30 p.m.

• April 10 at Toledo, 6:30 p.m.

• April 11 vs. Columbus, 7:15 p.m.

• April 12 vs. Columbus, 7:15 p.m.

• April 13 vs. Columbus, 2:15 p.m.

• April 14 vs. Columbus, 7:15 p.m.

• April 15 vs. Scranton, 7:15 p.m.

• April 6

Charlotte6Columbus4

The Knights hold off a Columbus rally as DH Jeff Liefer goes 3-4 in the win.

• April 5

Charlotte3Columbus0

Pitcher Lance Broadway picked up his first win of the year allowing just two hits.

• April 4

Charlotte8Columbus3

Charlotte scatters 14 hits to pick up its first win of the year.

• April 3

Charlotte1Columbus5

The Knights get off to a slow start falling in the opener and only collecting four hits.

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