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March 2011 Archives

Spring Practice #8 - March 31, 2011

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The Tigers were out in shells today for more of a pass-oriented game plan as they prepare for their first full-scale scrimmage this weekend. Coach Porter talked a little bit about the scrimmage after practice and said that he won't be able to get in the neighborhood of 100 plays because of the lack of depth, particularly in the offensive line. He wants to get as much quality work out of the team as possible.

Coach Porter has spoken highly of the offensive line after just about every practice, commending them for continuing to fight though each day and each play. With only two returning players with extensive game experience, the group is working with junior college transfers, freshmen and converted defensive linemen to build a strong front. Redshirt freshman Al Bond continues to work extensively at center and is working hard on gaining consistency in snapping the ball to Andy Summerlin and Will Gilchrist.

Coach Porter mentioned that he has been impressed this spring with the cornerbacks, particularly Lonnie Ballentine, Mohammed Seisay, Taurean Nixon and Lavaris Edwards. He likes the competiveness that these guys have had and also spoke about Seisay getting some work at safety.

"The last two days I have been really excited about what I am seeing out of our defense," said Porter. "We are seeing more chemistry and continuity with that group. I still think the offense in general is a little sloppy, so we need to clean that up. We will have a much better feel for it on Saturday because we are going to scrimmage over here and put it out there and let them play."

The defensive line is one of the positions that has the most talent, experience and depth. The line is led by preseason honors candidates Dontari Poe and Frank Trotter. Also seeing many reps in the line this spring are returnees Dasmine Cathey, Daniel Thomas, Johnnie Farms and Tommy Walker and junior college transfer Zach Gholson. Corey Jones, who played as a true freshman last season, has been out so far this spring with an injury, while redshirt freshmen Martin Ifedi and Devin Clark are working their way into the rotation.

"I am finally starting to see what I have been expecting to see out of our defensive front," added Porter. "They have been very productive as a unit."

The Tigers are at the half-way point in spring practice. They will have six more practices in the next two weeks, and close out the spring with the Blue-Gray Game at the Liberty Bowl on Saturday, April 16. Festivities surrounding the spring game have been announced and can be found HERE.

See below for a video interview with quarterback Will Gilchrist. Will talks about his role this spring and how he looks forward to the opportunity to guide the Tigers as well as how he and Andy Summerlin push each other every day to create a competitive environment.

Spring Practice #7 - March 29, 2011

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A steady rain fell during the first half-hour of practice as the Tigers were again forced to the turf field because the grass fields were too wet to practice on.

Today was more of a run-oriented practice with the Tigers in full pads. Jerrell Rhodes, who is being held from contact this spring, made several solid plays today. He and Jamere Valentine are getting a majority of the reps, while Billy Foster and Brandon Hayes are also adding much-needed depth. Hayes is back on the field after missing all of last season with a knee injury. Foster is getting a couple of reps in the run game, but is still working heavily with the receiving corps.

"I thought the defense was ahead of the offense today," said Coach Larry Porter after practice. "Several defensive players had flashes of doing some good things out there in terms of making plays. I am happy that the defense is becoming more consistent."

Coach Porter talked specifically about some of the defensive players that he is seeing consistency with, including defensive linemen Frank Trotter and Dontari Poe as well as Kenyata Johnson and Fred Harvey at linebacker. He also again singled out Mohammed Seisay for continuing to make plays in the secondary, and recalled a play on third down situation today when Lonnie Ballentine came in and made a big stop.

Porter is having to have patience with the offense as the group is battling through depth issues in the offensive line and at running back, as well as incorporating more of a spread offense into the mix.

"Offensively, we still have to overcome some of the little nuances that are involved with us doing some spread things, so that can be frustrating at times," said Porter.

The Tigers will be back out on the field Thursday, and Coach Porter said they will work heavily on the passing game with the squad in shells instead of full pads.

Check out the video below as defensive back Mitch Huelsing talks about the Tiger defense through the first two weeks of spring practice.

2011 Softball Blog #6 -- Senior Heather Mott

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March 27, 2011

Quote of the weekend came from Janelle after completing our first conference sweep of the season over UTEP. "We just did some Spring cleaning this weekend!" And that's exactly what we did. Swept 'em up and cleaned 'em up!

Great weekend! A conference sweep is always fun to accomplish, but when you sweep a team on its home turf it is even more fun! Coming into the series, we knew UTEP had been struggling and had no real momentum going into the games. Our motto for the weekend: "Kick 'em while their down!"

All aspects of the game this weekend were solid, but the one aspect that stood out above the rest was our offense. To say our bats got hot this weekend is an understatement. We were on fire! We got hits from top to bottom in our line-up. This is what we need to do to be champions. To have so many players contributing at the plate and seeing the ball so well at the same point in the season is rare. However, this team is everything but normal. There has been something special about this team from day 1, so it's no surprise that we are continuing to get better individually and as a team with every passing week. With continued growth and focus we will be right where we need to be when May comes around.

Game 1 ended up being the closest contest all weekend. After a 5-3 win in game 1, we outscored UTEP in the remaining two games 28-9. Jessica (Phillips) and Maddie (McKinley) accounted for 50% of our runs by combining for 14 RBI's in games 2 and 3! If that's not impressive enough, they also combined for 5 of the 8 home runs that we hit this weekend!

My favorite part of the weekend was how game 3 ended. Before the game, the coaches and umpires agreed that game 3 would have a drop dead time of 2:30, so we would have plenty of time to catch our flight back to Memphis. With about two minutes left in the game, Jessica stepped up to the plate with the bases loaded. She smoked a home run and ended the game with a grand slam! I don't know a better way to end any game!

It's amazing the kind of influence one aspect of the game has on the others. Our pitching staff was in "Pitcher's Heaven" with the kind of run support our hitters gave this weekend. All our pitchers seemed relaxed and confident on the mound and were solid all weekend. As a result of our pitcher's doing their job, our defense remained confident and produced outs. When all three aspects of the game link together and catch fire from one another as they did this weekend, success is evident.

Next victim: Tulsa. This week we will prepare to win our 3rd conference series of the season. And we will achieve this at home! Spring is officially here. Typically that means warmer weather and allergies. But to us, Spring means hot hitters, dominating pitchers, perfect defense, and a CUSA championship ring!

Go Tigers!

Heather Mott #10

Help Support The Tigers With An Athlon Sports Custom Cover

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Come on Tiger fans ... Help support the Tigers and reserve your copy of the Athlon Sports College Football Preview magazine.

With the online purchase of the 2011 College Football Preview magazine, Memphis fans will have the opportunity to select a limited-edition "Custom Cover" featuring a Tiger Football stand-out. Athlon Sports will then donate one dollar from each magazine sold to the U of M's general scholarship fund.

If 1,000 pre-orders are received by the April 13 deadline, a custom cover will be produced to feature a Tiger Football star.

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Spring Practice #6 - March 25, 2011

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The Tigers completed their second week of spring practice on Friday. With the team practicing on Friday instead of Saturday, they will have additional days to break down the practice film over the weekend to continue to make progress when they come back out on Tuesday.

Coach Larry Porter singled out a couple of guys after practice when talking with the media, including receivers Billy Foster and Jamere Valentine on the offense, and Mohammed Seisay on the defense. He also commended the secondary for their progress and again noted how the offensive line has fought through every day of practice despite being low in numbers.

"We are starting to have guys identify themselves as playmakers on both sides of the ball," said Porter. "Billy Foster has had a tremendous week and a productive week in terms of just making plays. On the defensive side of the ball, Mo Seisay is a guy who stands out as improved, and so again, there are a lot of different guys who are starting to step up and prove that they are better."

The offensive line only returns two players with extensive playing time including Ronald Leary and Michael Antonescu. This week the line appears to be shaping up with Leary and Antonescu, along with redshirt freshman Al Bond, junior college transfer Jordan Devey and former defensive lineman DeAngelo McCray. Bond and Antonescu have been working at center, as the Tigers look to replace Brad Paul, who was on the Rimington Watch list both his junior and senior years. A.J. Antonescu, who also redshirted last season, is getting a lot of reps, and has handled some of the center duties as well. Taylor Fallin, a true freshman who came in early from Hargrave Military, has great size and is expected to add depth to the line early on. The group also gained another previous member of the defensive line as Jimmy Robinson is learning the other side of the ball now.

"Although we are thin at offensive line, they continue to improve," said Porter. "They are taking a lot of reps and they aren't feeling sorry for themselves, and because of it, you are starting to see these guys improve and become more of a cohesive unit."

Coach Porter also answered a couple of questions about the progress of quarterback Andy Summerlin. He spoke about how Andy has stepped in as a leader and that he is making progress. Andy talked early in the week about how he needs to knock some of the rust off his arm, and that is something that Coach Porter touched on too as far as him continuing to get his arm in good throwing shape. But Coach Porter said he is confident that he will continue to get better throughout the course of the spring.

Before practice, Ron Leary spoke about how different the line feels this spring. As the veteran, he is looked to for leadership and he was candid about how much different the adjustment has been with the guys next to him being so unfamiliar. Check out the video below and how Ron is ready for the challenge of leading this line.

Spring Practice #5 - March 24, 2011

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Today was the first day in full pads for the Tigers and the squad practiced for about two hours on the grass fields at the Murphy Complex.

There was a lot of live action during the workout and the defense appeared to have the edge today, though Coach Larry Porter did commend the offense, particularly the line, for not giving in and continuing to fight to the end. He was pleased with the final period of action of the two minute drill, which saw the offense reach the endzone on a pass from Andy Summerlin to Tannar Rehrer.

"Today was a tough day for the offensive line," said Porter. "They fought to the end, and because of it, the offense finished this practice very, very strong. That is a compliment to the guys up front battling and staying with it."

There were a few nice offensive plays today during the various periods of live team work, including a couple of 15-yard receptions by Curtis Johnson and about a 20-yard reception by Tannar Rehrer. Junior college transfer Jamere Valentine seems to be getting adjusted well, and he made some nice offensive gains today. He had about a 15-yard reception and a couple of solid runs. Billy Foster also had a productive run that showed his sheer speed.

Darius Davis, who completed his eligibility this fall can't seem to get enough of practice and has been here the last couple of sessions to encourage the secondary. Another former Tiger came out today to check out the squad as former defensive lineman Clinton McDonald watched from the sidelines for a while. McDonald, who was drafted by the Cincinnati Bengals in 2009, is in school this semester completing his degree requirements. He is expected to earn his degree from the U of M in May.

The Tigers will practice tomorrow afternoon at the complex instead of their usual Saturday morning workout, and are nearly halfway through the spring practice session.

See below for a photo gallery of shots from practice, as well as the post-practice interview with Coach Porter.

Click Here for the Photo Gallery of today's practice

Spring Practice #4 - March 22, 2011

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The Tigers put on shoulder pads today for the fourth practice of the spring. The team worked out on the grass fields at the Murphy Athletic Complex and several fans came out to watch practice as Coach Larry Porter again opened the workout.

Before practice, Andy Summerlin talked about how he felt his first week of practice went and how his shoulder was doing. He said that he felt he was still a little rusty but that he felt comfortable out there right now. See the video below for a few comments from Andy today.

The Tigers went through 24 periods of team work, and ended the day with the two minute session for the last couple of periods. Andy Summerlin took the snaps during that drill, and Jerrell Rhodes had a couple of power runs during the series. Linebacker Fred Harvey came up with a nice pick in the center of the field while Cam Baker had a reception just before a strong hit by linebacker Khiry Battle.

Coach Porter talked after practice about how he felt there were too many mistakes and that they need to improve in several areas.

"There were too many mistakes by the offense today," said Porter. "I thought the defense did a pretty good job of getting some takeaways, but I do think we need to be better in third-down situations. There were some guys that showed some signs of improvement but overall, it was a hot and cold kind of day. We must be better come Thursday."

The Tigers will practice again on Thursday and will be in full pads for that workout.

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2011 Softball Blog #5 -- Senior Heather Mott

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March 21, 2011

This week marks the half-way point of the season and a perfect time for us to start catching fire! So much of a team's success depends on their ability to peek at the right time in the season. We are starting to figure out some things with our swings and working on the adjustments we need to make to be consistently successful at the plate. Once a week, we sit down with Coach Nick on an individual basis and review film of our at bats from the previous week's games. Although I strongly dislike how slow motion has a way of revealing just about every flaw in your swing, it helps to see what you're doing wrong and gives you a focus for the upcoming week. The coaching staff has told us from day 1 that this is a process and continues to encourage us to trust the process. We continue the journey and continue to trust that the work we have put in this far will pay off in the end. I am excited to see what the second half of the season will bring!

St. Patrick's Day was this past week and we celebrated with a very GREEN St. Patrick's Day Practice. Instead of wearing our practice uniforms, Coach Thees told us to wear something green. If someone failed to do so, the punishment was to get a bucket full of tennis balls thrown at them! Fortunately, everyone showed up to practice in something green and we all escaped Coach's St. Patty's Punishment! We ended practice with a competitive game of "non-contact" football. Non-contact=healthy players! I like that! The girls who wore green t-shirts were on one team and the girls who wore green accents (hand band, ribbon, socks, etc.) were on the other. The green shirts pulled ahead early but the green accents came back at the end to take the victory. It was a fun practice, while still keeping the competitive fire!

In our first home series against Houston, we struggled on Saturday but came out Sunday ready to play. We remained a step behind Houston all day Saturday and could never catch fire to put enough runs on the board. However, one thing we did really well was turning the page from Saturday to Sunday. We knew we didn't play to the best of our ability on Saturday, so our goal for Sunday was to get our confidence back and play for pride. We didn't win the series but the adjustments we made from day 1 to day 2 were a success and showed us we can bounce back from adversity. Small bumps like this will only motivate us to become a better team.

This weekend we travel to El Paso, Texas, to take on UTEP. Everything up to this point in the season doesn't matter. The only thing that matters is what we do from here on out. We are eager to start the second half of the season with a series win over UTEP and finish out the rest of the season strong!

Go Tigers!

Heather Mott #10

Head coach Larry Porter threw out the first pitch prior to the Tigers' baseball game against Eastern Illinois on Sunday at FedExPark. The team may want him back to throw out the first pitch at more games after the U of M went on to beat the Panthers 11-7 and avoid the sweep in the three-game series.

Spring Practice #3, March 19, 2011

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The Tigers had their third practice of the spring today, and again, practice was open to the public. The squad was out in helmets and shorts, and this was the first practice on the grass fields, which had finally dried out enough for the team to use. In addition to the fans that came out to watch practice, a couple of the players that Coach Larry Porter signed in February attended practice, including quarterback Taylor Reed out of El Dorado High in Arkansas. Also spotted was Wooddale linebacker Kevin Green.

The team utilized 24 periods for practice and both sides of the ball did some good things during the team periods. Andy Summerlin continued to show signs that his shoulder is not hindering his progress as he made many crisp throws both inside and down the field. He hit Curtis Johnson and Billy Foster for some nice tosses down the field, and also had a couple of quick screens to running back Jerrell Rhodes and solid throws to tight ends Andrew Ene-Ita and Justin Henderson. Will Gilchrist is also making strides within this offense and continuing to compete at that position. He hit some on-target throws to redshirt freshmen Reggie Travis and Kevin Wright, who are both working hard and competing this spring. The defense appears to have some much-needed speed and the line is continuing to apply pressure. Akeem Davis picked off a pass to give the defense one of their turnovers, and the young players in the secondary such as Lonnie Ballentine, Mohammed Seisay and Taurean Nixon continue to learn and compete and make plays.

Porter again was pleased with the effort and the energy in practice.

"This was a very productive practice," said Porter. "I thought there were a lot of things that we can learn from and go off of from this practice. There is a lot of good stuff on this practice film. I am looking forward to getting into the meeting room on Monday and allowing these guys to see this film because I think they will be proud of their progress."

The Tigers did also have a special guest return to his alma mater and speak to the team after practice. DeAngelo Williams watched as a true fan of the school he represents, and then spoke to the team about how much he loves this university and even spoke some about the reason he came to Memphis in the first place. He ended his talk by saying that every player should take pride in the helmet. He is a true ambassador of this university and it is obvious that he "bleeds Blue and Gray," as he said. Williams also had a chance to see the new Tiger Football weight room while he was here.

"It's always a privilege and a great pleasure to have some of your own come back, but to have the most productive player in Memphis history show his face and support us in a very strong and encouraging way, I think that signifies that things are headed in the right direction in terms of getting our own back involved," said Porter. "I look forward to having many more do the same as we go forward."

While it was tough to handle the wonderful aroma of the grill during practice, it was a nice treat to have the Highland Hundred and M Club grill burgers and hot dogs for the fans and team after practice. The players really enjoyed the food and it was a nice touch for the end of the first week of spring practice.

The Tigers will be back on the field Tuesday afternoon, and are also scheduled to practice Thursday and Saturday next week. The next chance for fans to see the progress that the Tigers are making will be at the Blue-Gray Game on April 16. The game is set for 1 p.m. at Liberty Bowl Memorial Stadium.

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Spring Practice #2 - March 17, 2011

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What a great day for practice today. The Tigers were out in shorts and helmets again today for their second of 15 practice sessions. It was sunny and nearly 80 degrees and the Tigers went through another two-hour workout on the turf field. A few fans came out again to watch practice, and it appeared some high school coaches and players took advantage of some time off from school for spring break to come out and watch practice. Some of the high school coaches looked to be studying the structure of the practice and drills.

Coach Larry Porter continued to talk about how he is pleased with the progress his team is making in just two days on the field.

"I thought there was improvement today," said Porter. "We are not there, by any means, but if you look at the way that the quarterbacks managed the offense, I thought they did a much better job today. Defensively, we are starting to have some discipline in our technique, and that is encouraging. Special team was even better from a footwork standpoint, and those are the things we are trying to stress."

Porter spoke briefly about some individuals today, including receivers Kevin Wright and Reggie Travis, who both redshirted last year. He also spoke of the young secondary, which including Lonnie Ballentine, Taurean Nixon and Mohammed Seisay, who all played as freshmen in 2010.

"I thought some of the young receivers looked good today and I also liked some of our young secondary guys as well, just in the competitive nature that they are showing," said Porter. "I thought that it was a step up from what I am used to seeing. And then, when you look at guys like Jordan Devey and D'Angelo McCray, you look at where they were yesterday and where they were today and it is a night and day difference. It is progress, and that is what spring is all about."

The squad will have Friday off from practice and will come back again Saturday morning at 10:30 a.m. That practice is also open to Tiger Nation. The Highland Hundred and the M Club will be grilling out on Saturday for the fans. Special thanks to former Tiger Pete Scatamacchia of Hardin's Sysco, who is providing the food Saturday.

A big Tiger congratulations goes out to Darby Dunnagan, who was named the C-USA Video Coordinator of the Year as voted on by her peers. Dunnagan has been with the athletic department since 2007. She will now be placed on the ballot for National Video Coordinator of the Year.

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Photo Gallery From Practice

Spring Practice #1, March 16, 2011

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The Tiger Football team opened spring practice Wednesday afternoon at the Murphy Athletic Complex. The squad is allowed 15-practice sessions, which will conclude with the Blue-Gray Game on April 16 at Liberty Bowl Memorial Stadium.

The Tigers utilized the turf field, and about 50 fans came out to view practice as Coach Larry Porter has opened the first three practices to the public. The squad will practice at 3:30 on Thursday and 10:30 a.m. on Saturday. The team practiced for about two hours in helmets and shorts today.

For the full release about practice, including comments from Coach Larry Porter, click HERE.

Larry Porter Spring Kickoff Presser

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Memphis head football coach Larry Porter met with the media on Tuesday to discuss the beginning of spring camp. Watch an archive video of the press conference above as well as read a transcript of Coach Porter's presser here.

Spring Football Kickoff Luncheon

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Coach Larry Porter is holding a Spring Football Kickoff luncheon with the local media on Tuesday afternoon. He will talk about his plans for the 15-practice sessions and members of the media will have an opportunity to ask him questions about the various position battles out there.

The Tigers begin practice on Wednesday, and fans are invited to come out and get an up-close look at their hometown Tigers as Coach Porter has opened Wednesday (3:30 pm), Thursday (3:30 pm) and Saturday (10:30 am) practices to Tiger Nation.

If you want to watch Coach's media press conference on Tuesday at noon, go to: http://www.gotigersgo.com/allaccess/?media=235531

2011 Spring Football Blog

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The 2011 Spring Football session begins on Wednesday. During the spring, the Memphis athletic media relations staff will post blog updates with information, photos and videos as the Tigers prepare for the 2012 season.

Check back regularly for updates.

2011 Memphis Spring Football Prospectus

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2011 Softball Blog #4 -- Senior Heather Mott

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March 13, 2011

Motto of the weekend: "Make the Pirates walk the plank!"

We did just that in the opening weekend of Conference play as we won the series against ECU. All season we have been talking about pulling together and winning games in a full team effort. This weekend was one of the best all-around team efforts we have had thus far. Not only did we have stellar pitching performances, but our defense was solid and our hitters won the battle in games 2 and 3 by making timely adjustments against one of the top pitchers in CUSA.

ECU sparked a fire in us without even knowing it before game 1 even started. After introducing the starting line-up, we all toed the 3rd base foul line only to watch a highlight video of ECU winning the 2010 conference championship. We were already fired up to win the series prior to this, but afterwards we were fired up to make a statement: It's 2011, and it's our year! Out with the old, in with the new!

We failed the first game to get runners on and score any runs. The Pirates came up with a few timely hits and were able to push enough runs across the board to take the win. Tough loss but we knew we weren't out. We talked about the adjustments we needed to make at the plate and we were ready to come out the second game with a new mind set.

In games 2 and 3, our bats came back to life. Jessica (Phillips) and Ashleigh (King) were our clutch hitters this weekend as they both picked up a pair of RBI's. They combined for all 4 of our RBI's this weekend. It's good to see not only an upperclassman but a freshman step up for us and get the job done! This depth in our hitting line-up will win a lot of games for us.

As expected, Game 3 was a nail-biter. With no surprise, their ace who shut us down in Game 1 was back on the mound. We matched her up with our senior secret weapon Janelle "Nelly" Valle! As a ritual before every Valle start, the infield huddled and opened play with a loud and proud, "It's Nelly time!" Our weapon was loaded and ready to fire! Janelle owned ECU's hitters as she threw an impressive 1-hitter. Senior leader Maddie (McKinley) was the spark that proved to be the game winning run. She smoked a triple to put herself in scoring position for Jessica (Phillips) to once again step up for us and pick up the RBI. Although this is all we needed to take the win, we continued to collect hits off of ECU. In Game 3 we tallied 5 hits. We collected more hits in this game alone, than we have in the past 3 games combined!

This week we take on Mississippi Valley State at home and then gear up for our first home series against Houston. After being on the road for the past 5 weeks, we are eager to get back on our own turf and win some games at home! I think the girls would agree that it will feel good to be back in our own beds for a couple of weeks, as well! Hotel beds get old pretty quick! Looking forward to "Taking It to the Jungle" this week!

Go Tigers!

Heather Mott #10

2011 Softball Blog #3 -- Senior Heather Mott

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We closed out our 4-week tournament stretch in Starkville, Mississippi in the Bulldog Classic hosted by Mississippi State. Once again, bad weather came through the area and interfered with game times. Every player enjoys the occasional PRACTICE rainout, but a GAME DAY rainout just makes you mad!

Friday and Saturday games were both canceled. We arrived to the field on Friday and started our usual warm-up routine, but had to run for cover two stretches before our warm-up was complete. A few of us entertained ourselves with a game of hacky-sac. Coach Thees and Julie got into the action but Nick wanted nothing to do with it! They canceled the game shortly after, so we loaded up the bus and headed back to the hotel. However, one positive thing that did come from the day was that Coach Thees took us to a steak house for dinner. It was Jay's (our manager) birthday so we celebrated on Coach's tab. I'm not sure what it is, but it seems like dinner always taste so much better when Coach pays!

On Saturday, we once again attempted to get our games in, but the weather was worse than it was the previous day. We actually got through our whole warm-up this time, but no such luck with playing the game. We went to plan B: 6 pm game time. Our thought was that the weather would pass over by then and we would be able to get the field playable. Again, no such luck. We arrived to a down pour of cats and dogs! Mississippi State's field is well designed with a great drainage system, but the outfield looked to have reached its limit. In an effort to keep all players injury free, the coaches decided to call off the game and hope that Sunday would bring better weather. We once again found ourselves back on the bus and back at the hotel.

Our hotel was located in West Point, Mississippi, which is probably the worst city to stay in during a rainout due to the very limited options for entertainment. Thank goodness our hotel was located right across from West Point's lone Wal-Mart and a Mossy Oak, that Jay was the most excited about!

Sunday came and the weather left...finally! We faced Texas A&M and Mississippi Valley State. The stars of the tournament were without a doubt Janelle (Valle) and Carly (Hummel) who both threw incredible games for us. Both of them broke their season high record in strikeouts. Carly dominated the Texas A&M hitters, but our hitters were not able to put a run on the board. In game two, we put the ball in play a little more and made Mississippi Valley make errors. Janelle kept their hitters off balance and never gave them a chance to score more than one run.

This week we head to the Carolina's. North Carolina is up first then we start conference play at East Carolina. I am personally extremely excited to get into conference play! It's the start of a new chapter in the season and a chance to move up in the C-USA ranks.

Go Tigers!

Heather Mott #10

2011 Softball Blog #2 -- Senior Heather Mott

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Back to Memphis and back to work. We leave the beautiful state of California with 3 wins, new goals, a renewed focus and another nationally ranked carcass to add to our resume.

Things didn't look too promising on the first day of the tournament. Bad weather came through the Palo Alto area and resulted in the Kentucky game being canceled. All our focus immediately shifted to Stanford.

We came out focused and hungry to upset another nationally ranked team. We stayed in the game from the first to last pitch and never let the thought of defeat enter our minds. Carly (Hummel) pitched a solid game and did what she does best...dominate hitters. She was confident, relaxed and wanted to defeat Stanford with everything she had.

Saturday we took on North Dakota State and UC Davis. Our game against North Dakota State gave us a few challenges. After a few miscues early in the game, they put a couple of runs on the board and we never could answer back. Janelle (Valle) and Lauren (Carley) split the game and both did a great job of keeping their hitters off balance as both of their runs were unearned. Our offense just didn't provide any run support. This is a game that we learn from, then turn the page and keep pushing forward.

We came out completely refocused for our second game against UC Davis. We weren't going to let the same thing happen twice. Our hitters were hungry and determined to provide the run support for our pitching staff. We were a completely different team than from earlier in the day. It was good to see our team be able to bounce back from a defeat and refocus for game two.

On Sunday, we played Colorado State. Even though Colorado hit two home runs, we didn't give in. Their pitcher kept us scoreless till the seventh when we finally strung some hits together and pushed runs across to tie the game. It took us an extra inning to steal the win, but we got it! That "never give in" attitude is what will make us great team this year. We need to bring that every game, no matter who our opponent is.

After our game on Sunday, we got cleaned up and headed to San Francisco to spend the rest of the day. It was a lot of fun. It gave the team an opportunity away from the softball field to bond and to enjoy the state of California. The Moreno family (parents of Nikki) planned a fun afternoon for the team and our families. The first activity of the night: a boat ride on a San Francisco Fireboat. The first challenge of the night: getting onto the boat. The fireboat was docked at the fire station with only one way to get on board...swinging from a hanging rope from the dock onto the boat. I must admit, I was a little nervous. Not for the current athletes (the players), but for the "athletes of the past" (coaches and parents)!  I just knew someone was bound to get a taste of California saltwater! However, I guess I underestimated our retirees. I learned valuable lesson: once an athlete, always an athlete! Everyone successfully made it safely to the boat, even my sister (Sondra) who was in a boot and on crutches from a torn Achilles! The fireboat took us for a ride by Alcatraz, then past Pier 39 to see a bunch of seals sun bathing, and then on to the San Francisco Giant's stadium. We docked back at the Station and spent the rest of the night at Pier 39 where we ate and shopped. It was a great way to end a great weekend in Cali!

We had a successful outing in the West Coast and now our focus is to keep climbing the ladder. We won't settle and won't be contempt with where we are. Twenty-five percent of the season is over, and the foundation is set for a championship season. The second 25 percent starts conference play and a chance to make a name for ourselves in C-USA.

We continue our season at Mississippi State this weekend and are looking to improve on our record. We will continue to work hard and perfect the little things at the three practices we have this week and then gear up and trust the work we've put in.

Go Tigers!

Heather Mott #10

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