Mott Returns From Injury to Lead Middle Infield
Jan. 15, 2010
MEMPHIS, Tenn. - The University of Memphis returns two players to anchor its middle infield in Heather Mott and Alyssa Palmieri. Newcomers Shanna Brown and Morgan Mosby look to add depth to Coach Wendy Thees' infield.
"I love our middle infield," Thees said. "Both Ashley (Blanton) and I played middle infield, so we have a special place in our hearts for the position. They have to be passionate and gritty. A little bit more of dirt balls and getting out there and making sure nothing gets through."
These Tigers have their work cut out for them to replace four-year starter Tori Gross. Gross anchored the middle infield from the inception of the Tiger Softball program until last season. Gross is third all-time in games played (161) and tied for fourth in most games started (157). She is also fourth in the program's history in runs scored (57) and first in most times hit by pitch (14). During her time at Memphis, Gross compiled an impressive list of accolades including: Tiger Offensive POY (2008), CoSIDA/ESPN The Magazine All-District Third Team (2008) and NFCA Scholar Athlete (2005-06, 2007-08).
Last season, Palmieri played in 24 games, including seven starts (four at shortstop and three and second base). She had 12 appearances as a pinch runner and scored four runs in those situations. Palmieri also tallied six runs scored, an RBI, three walks and two stolen bases.
"Alyssa Palmieri gets after it," Thees said. "She loves to make big plays. She's consistent and can play short or at second. Second has been good for her this year. She's attacked it with an aggressive vigor. So she's ready to play no matter where she plays."
Palmieri looks to build off the experience she gained last year and improve even more this season. She is also a standout in the classroom, making the 2008-09 C-USA Commissioner's Honor Roll awarded to student-athletes who carry a 3.0 GPA or higher for the academic school year.
Mott, a redshirt junior from Pensacola, Fla., has fought through several injuries during her three years at Memphis. As a freshman in 2007, Mott started the first 10 games of the season at shortstop before tearing her ACL in practice and missing the remainder of the season.
The next season, Mott was named the Tigers' most inspirational player after competing in 48 games and making 46 starts at shortstop. That season, she led the team in assists (101), was third in runs (25), RBI's (25) and total bases (56).
Last season, Mott started the first 16 games before having season ending shoulder surgery in March. Mott is finally healthy again this season and is anxious to get back into the swing of things.
"We're excited to have her back this season, and finally she's going to be able to show what a tremendous athlete she is," Thees said. "She really is a super talented kid. We're excited to have her at shortstop. She's got an amazing glove. Her arm strength is almost all the way back."
Brown, a freshman from Cortlandt Manor, N.Y., is a feisty middle infielder with a desire to win and compete. She was a five-year letter winner at Hendrick Hudson High School. She hit .393 as a senior and finished her career with a .388 batting average, seven home runs, 67 RBI, and 11 runs scored. She also carried a .420 on-base percentage and a .646 slugging percentage in high school. Brown is expected to compete with Alyssa Palmieri at second base. Coach Thees also says that Brown is working with the outfield in order to shore up a lack of depth at that position.
"Shanna Brown has been a great surprise for us," Thees said. "She has been stroking the ball all fall. She is an intense and gritty little ballplayer."
Mosby is a utility/pitcher from Hernando, Miss. She lettered for four years at SBEC under coach Mark Duggin. Mosby was a three-time all-region pitcher/shortstop and earned all-state honors as a junior and senior. Coach Thees expects Mosby to help out in several areas this season, including middle infield, pitching, and outfield.
On Monday, the Memphis softball team will volunteer its time at the National Civil Rights Museum to help the over 20,000 expected visitors to the museum commemorate Martin Luther King, Jr. Day at the location of his death on April 4, 1968. The National Civil Rights Museum is located on the grounds of the Lorraine Motel where Martin Luther King, Jr., was shot by James Earl Ray. The softball team went through a training session last week to help them get ready for their duties at the National Civil Right Museum. The team will help the visitors through lines and the various stations, as well as help radio and TV personalities visiting the museum, as needed.