Tiger Softball Kicks Off Inaugural Campaign with Trio of Victories
Oct. 16, 2005
KNOXVILLE, Tenn. - The Memphis softball team got its inaugural season off to a fast start Saturday at the University of Tennessee's Tyson Park, as the Tigers used a solid combination of pitching, hitting, and defense to pick up three victories against Lee University, Milligan College and Tusculum College.
Memphis picked up a 7-3 win over Lee in game one with junior Jenna Kubesch picking up the win on the mound. Kimberly Hayden, who went 2-3 with a double and a single and two RBI and Cara Stiles, who was 2-4 one RBI and two runs scored paced the Tiger offense in game one.
In game two, the Tigers claimed a 5-4 decision over Milligan as freshman Leila Dolfo claimed the victory, going five strong innings and giving up just three runs on six hits, while striking out five. Juniors Kara Ross and Bridgette McNulty led the offense in game two, with Ross picking up a single and a double and one run scored, and McNulty recording a towering homerun and two runs scored.
In the final game of the day, Memphis took a 9-1 win over Tusculum. Junior Nicki Johnson took the win, going six innings and allowing just one run and two hits, while striking out seven. McNulty went two for three with two runs and three RBIs and hit her second homerun to pace the offensive attack.
"Of course getting the three wins under out belts was a great feeling," said Coach Windy Thees. "We had some outstanding play at different points in all three games. If I had to say one thing about today, I would say we played solid ball all around."
Memphis pitchers combined to strike out 18 opponent batters on the day, while the defense committed just two errors.
The U of M offense hit .417 in the three games, with 35 hits in 84 at bats. Six Tigers had at least four hits and hit .400, with Ross leading the way, going six for ten for a .600 clip. McNulty led Memphis with six RBIs and five runs scored.
Dolfo and Stiles got Memphis off to a quick start in game one with back-to-back singles in the top of the first. After Ross moved the runners to second and third, Hayden came up with a two-out single to right center to plate Dolfo and Stiles and give the Tigers a 2-0 advantage.
After Kubesch shut Lee down in the home half of the first, Memphis piled on four more runs in the top of the second. Tori Gross got things started with a one-out single to right center before Brittany Gooch reached on an error to put runners at first and second. After a Dolfo groundout moved the runners to second and third, Stiles reached on an error, bringing Gross plateward. McNulty then provided the biggest blow of the inning with a two-run double to right center, to score Stiles and Gooch. Ross then added a double to left center to score McNulty and complete the four-run rally.
Lee tried to mount a comeback in the bottom of the second as they used three walks and back-to-back-to-back singles to put up three runs on the board, but Kubesch shut the door picking up one of her six strikeouts before enticing a pair of groundouts to end the threat.
From there Memphis put it on cruise control, adding a final run in the fifth when Hayden doubled and scored on a Kubesh single to give the Tigers their final margin of 7-3
Kubesh took the game-one victory, giving up three runs, on six hits and picking up six strikeouts before the game was stopped because of a time limit after the fifth inning.
In game two the Tigers fell behind early as Milligan put up a run in the top of the first and two in the top of the second to take and early 3-0 lead.
Memphis stormed back to tie the game in the bottom half of the second, plating three runs on four hits. McNulty lead off the inning with a towering homerun that ended up on the freeway behind the left field fence. A Johnson double to right center then brought home two more runs, scoring Ross, who had doubled and Hayden, who had reached on an error.
The Lady Buffs reclaimed the lead in the third, using three singles to plate their fourth run. However, the U of M would not be denied as the Tigers countered with two runs in the bottom half with McNulty scoring when Kubesch reached on an error and Leandra Hines, who pinch ran after a Ross single, coming home on a groundout by Gross.
From there, the Tiger offense was stymied, but Dolfo, who replaced starting pitcher Lindsey Sterling in the second, was up to the task, as she held Milligan to just one hit and no runs over the final three frames. Dolfo finished the game giving up just two earned runs and six hits in five innings of work, while registering five strikeouts.
After a two game break, Memphis came back fired up for their final tilt of the day against Tusculum as the Tigers batted around in the top half of the first to take a 4-0 advantage. McNulty recorded her second homerun of the day, a three-run bomb to centerfield, to bring home Stiles, who had reached on a fielder's choice and Ross, who had singled. Kubesch then singled and scored on a Hines one-bagger to add the fourth tally.
The Lady Pioneers countered with their lone run in the bottom of the first, but Johnson shut the door from there from there as she struck out seven, while giving up just two hits in six innings of work.
The Memphis offense added two runs in the third when Kubesch doubled and scored on a Gooch single before Gooch stole a base and scored on a Dolfo single. The Tigers then put up one run in the fifth and two in the sixth to give them a 9-1 victory.
Ross, McNulty and Gross paced the offense in game three, combining to go seven for 11 with four runs and five RBIs.
Memphis will return to action Sunday as they face host Tennessee, who placed third in the 2004 College World Series. Game time is set for 1:00 p.m. EST at Tyson Park.