Tigers Ready For Challenging 2010 Schedule
Jan. 28, 2010
The University of Memphis softball program boasts a challenging schedule in 2010 that includes four teams who competed in the 2009 NCAA Softball Championship, including Super Regional participant North Dakota State. The Tigers will also face NCAA tournament teams, Tulsa, UT Martin and Mississippi Valley State. All four NCAA tournament participants were their respective conference tournament champions in 2009.
On top of the four NCAA participants, North Dakota State, Tulsa and Houston are currently receiving votes in the USA Today/NFCA Division I Top 25 preseason poll. The Bison of North Dakota State are currently receiving the most votes of any team not in the top 25.
The Tigers will compete in four tournaments to open the non-conference portion of the season. Memphis will compete in tournaments in Shreveport, La., their home tournament at the Tiger Softball Complex in Memphis, UC Santa Barbara's tournament and the USF Under Armour Invitational in Tampa, Fla. Included in the tournament portion of the schedule are several games against teams that either won their conference or finished in the top 3 of the final standings (Centenary, Southern, Appalachian State, McNeese State and North Dakota State).
Memphis will also face Drexel and Wisconsin, two teams that were on their schedule in 2009. The Tigers faced Drexel last season at the K Club Classic in Kennesaw, Ga. Memphis was scheduled to play Wisconsin last season at the Chevron Spring Fling Tournament in Honolulu, Hawai'i, but the game was cancelled due to rain. 2010 will also be the first season that the Tigers don't open the season against a top 25 opponent in their first tournament. The Tigers faced a top 25 opponent in each of previous four seasons.
The Tigers trip to California will be a homecoming of sorts for California-natives Lelani Bernardino, Carly Hummel, Cheyenne Mascarenas and Janelle Valle. The Florida trip will also serve as a homecoming for several Memphis players. Alyssa Palmieri and Heather Mott are both originally from the Sunshine State.
"I love this schedule," said Memphis junior Heather Mott. "The first month of our schedule we will be travelling to the tournaments. They should all be competitive tournaments and should help us get ready for a very competive conference schedule. We have a couple of California girls that are excited to get back home and play in front of their home crowd."
The Tigers non-conference schedule also includes games with several regional teams such as Belmont, North Florida Saint Louis, NCAA tournament participant Mississippi Valley State, UT Martin, Alabama State, Middle Tennessee and Tennessee State. On April 21 the Tigers will play a neutral match with Arkansas in N. Little Rock, Ark. The Razorbacks finished third in SEC West during the 2009 season.
Memphis will open the Conference USA schedule on March 12 at UCF. Conference USA looks to be very competitive in 2010 with several teams losing key players. Tulsa returns as the Conference USA champion. The Golden Hurricane return nine of 13 letterwinners to the squad in 2010. The Tigers and Golden Hurricane will face eachother on Mar. 27 and 28 in Tulsa, Okla.
East Carolina, the second-place team in 2009, returns 10 of 16 players from the 2009 roster. The Tigers will face ECU on May 8 and 9 at the Tiger Softball Complex in Memphis.
"For us it is getting the girls to know that the conference is there for the taking," said Memphis assistant coach Ashley Blanton. "It is going to take us playing the caliber of game that we did against Houston last year all throughout our conference schedule. If we do that, I think this year we have a great shot of winning the conference."
"Our goal this year is to win conference, so that is what we are going to plan to do," Mott said. "A lot of teams graduated a lot of key players this year. We are ready to go."
Today's story marks the end of the set of features profiling the Memphis softball team through preseason practice. The Tigers will open their 2010 schedule on Feb. 12 with games against Centenary and Wichita State at the Centenary Spring Tournament in Shreveport, La.