Softball Prepares for Upcoming Season
Jan. 31, 2007
For Immediate Release
Practice is underway for the University of Memphis softball team as the squad prepares itself for perhaps an even more challenging season in its second year of play.
After finishing the 2006 inaugural season with a 28-26 record, the Lady Tigers begin their season in a three-day tournament hosted by No. 7 LSU beginning Friday, Feb. 9. Along with the tournament host, Memphis will also battle Centenary, Missouri and Middle Tennessee.
The LSU tournament is one of three events Memphis will participate in that are hosted by nationally ranked teams. The Lady Tigers will also travel to the alma mater of Memphis head coach Windy Thees to participate in the Sunshine State Classic hosted by No. 25 Florida State. Memphis will also take on No. 2 Tennessee in Knoxville in April.
"I'm excited for this season," Thees said. "We have the opportunity to play in some top 20 teams' tournaments. I think with the experience our girls received last year, this is going to be the next step for us; to play some more challenging competition early on and see where we need to improve."
Memphis will open its home schedule on Valentines Day, Feb. 14, in a doubleheader against Alcorn State beginning at 2 p.m. As the Lady Tigers wait for their new stadium to be completed, the team will once again play its home matches at Greenbrook Park in Southaven, Miss. The facility is an eight-field complex located about 13 miles from the U of M campus and served as the home park for Memphis during the 2006 season.
The Lady Tigers will host the Blues City Classic on February 23-25. The three-day tournament will include Alabama A&M, SEMO, Evansville, Central Arkansas and Mississippi Valley State, a 2006 NCAA Tournament team.
Memphis returns 12 letterwinners for the 2007 season. With eight of nine starters returning and a new stadium to be completed during the season, excitement continues to surround the Memphis softball program.
The squad returns all of its pitching experience, including team leader senior Jenna Kubesch who ended the season with a 13-12 record and a 1.87 ERA with 158 strikeouts. Also back from last year is senior third baseman Bridgette McNulty who earned All-Conference USA Second Team last season after hitting .354 with a team leading 12 home runs and 42 RBI. Memphis also returns two All-Conference Freshman Team selections in sophomore utility/pitcher Leila Dolfo and catcher Kimmi Hayden.
"We have a great mix of personalities on this team," Thees said. "I really look forward to seeing them all on the field. It's nice this year to have returners. They kind of know what I expect from them, and they are teaching the freshman without it all having to come from the coaches like last year."
UTEP will host the Tigers on March 17-18 in El Paso, Texas, to open up the Conference USA schedule. The Lady Tigers finished its inaugural season seventh in C-USA with a 10-13 in the conference.
"I think our conference is going to be very tough this year," Thees said. "We now have a feel for everybody and where they are at. We're a very strong conference and a very balanced conference. I think the difference between the best team and the worst team isn't very big. It's just who can peak at the right times and who can play consistent softball.
"That's what we are really going to strive for this year now that we have a little bit more experience," Thees continued. "We're going to aim at getting that consistency this year so we can play at a higher level every time we step on the field."