Softball Opens Season at LSU Tournament
Feb. 7, 2007
The University of Memphis softball team will open its 2007 season in Baton Rouge, La., on Friday. The Lady Tigers will compete in the Easton Tiger Classic hosted by No. 9/7 LSU and will open the three-day tournament on Friday at 11 a.m. against Centenary at Tiger Park.
Memphis will also see tournament host LSU on Friday at 3:30 p.m. before facing Missouri on Saturday at 11:15 a.m. and Middle Tennessee State at 6 p.m. The tournament concludes on Sunday with a bracket championship. The No. 3 seed in the tournament will l play the No. 2 at 9:30 a.m., followed by the No. 4 seed against the No. 1 seed at 11:45 a.m. The bracket championship will be played at 2 p.m. If there is a tie for the final seed, a playoff game will be played on Saturday at 8:15 p.m. to determine the seed order.
2007 marks the second year of existence for the Memphis softball program. In its inaugural season in 2006, the Lady Tigers finished with a 28-26 overall record and seventh in Conference USA.
LIVE COVERAGE: Live stats of all of this weekend's games are available online. A link to the live coverage is available on the Memphis softball schedule page at www.gotigersgo.com.
NEXT WEEK: The Lady Tigers will play their first home game of the season on Valentines Day, Wednesday, Feb. 14, at Greenbrook Park in Southaven, Miss. Memphis will host Alcorn State in a doubleheader beginning at 2 p.m. Next weekend the Lady Tigers will again be on the road, this time traveling to Memphis head coach Windy Thees' alma mater Florida State. Memphis will compete in the Sunshine State Tournament on Friday and Saturday and will face tournament host No. 25/25 FSU as well as Jacksonville, South Carolina and Kansas.
CENTENARY TRENDS: The Ladies were picked to finish second in the Mid-Continent Conference preseason poll behind Western Illinois. Centenary returns seven starters from last year's squad that went 31-25 and 13-9 in Mid-Con play, good for second place. The Ladies lost their first-ever games in a Mid-Con Championship last season after going unbeaten in winning the league's automatic berth to the NCAA Tournament the previous two years in a row. The Ladies are coached by Mark Montgomery. This weekend will mark the first meeting between Centenary and Memphis.
SCOUTING THE LADIES: Leading the returnees for Centenary is senior outfielder Micah Rhodes (.416, 9 HR, 43 RBI), a first team All-Mid-Con selection in 2006 and a first team All-Louisiana and second team National Fastpitch Coaches Association All-South Region honoree. Junior utility infielder Jennifer Mango (.314, 32 RBI), a second team all-conference pick, and sophomore shortstop Emerald Doria (.339, 10 HR, 26 RBI), last year's Mid-Con Newcomer of the Year and All-Louisiana Freshman of the Year, are also back in the middle part of Centenary's dangerous batting order.
LSU TRENDS: The Tigers were picked to win the Southeastern Conference Western Division in the conference's preseason poll and are in the top 10 in both national preseason polls. The USA Today/NFCA Top 25 has LSU at No. 9 and ESPN.com/USA Softball has the team at No. 7. Last season LSU fell one game shy of the Women's College World Series at Arizona and finished with a 55-14 record and 22-8 for second place in the SEC West. The team lost four senior starters from the 2006 team and return 12 letterwinners, including three of four pitchers. LSU is coached by Yvette Grouard who is in her seventh year at LSU and 27th overall. This weekend will mark the first meeting between Memphis and LSU.
SCOUTING THE TIGERS: LSU returns senior pitcher Emily Turner who garnered both All-SEC and All-America honors in 2006 after posting a 28-9 record with a 0.93 ERA and 260 strikeouts. The team also returns two-time All-American outfielder Leslie Klein. The senior ranked in the top 10 in the SEC in nine offensive categories a year ago, including batting average, runs scored, RBIs and home runs. Klein is one of four LSU players in school history to earn multiple All-American honors. Both Turner and Klein were two of 50 players named to the sixth annual USA Softball Collegiate Player of the Year watch list for 2007.
MISSOURI TRENDS: The Tigers were big to finish eighth in the Big 12 Conference preseason poll. Missouri finished seventh in the Big 12 in 2006 with a 26-27 overall record and 7-11 in the conference. The Tigers return eight starters from 2006 and 15 letterwinners. The team is coached by Ehren Earleywine who is in his first season with the Tigers and third overall. Earleywine was the 2005 Atlantic Coast Conference Coach of the Year. This weekend will mark the first meeting between Memphis and Missouri.
SCOUTING THE TIGERS: Missouri returns junior outfielder Micaela Minner who was an All-Big 12 First Team selection in 2006. Minner hit .340 in 2006 and lead the team in RBI (43) and doubles (14) and added nine home runs. Her career home run total of 26 is one away from the Missouri record. The Tigers also return junior pitcher Jen Bruck who was also an All-Big 12 First Team selection in 2006. Bruck compiled a 24-21 record in 2006 and was named the Big 12 Player of the Week on two occasions. 2006 All-Big 12 Second Team first baseman Amanda Renth also returns for her junior season. Renth finished 2006 with a .415 slugging percentage and 31 RBI.
MIDDLE TENNESSEE TRENDS: The Blue Raiders were picked to finish sixth in the Sun Belt preseason poll in the leagues newly expanded nine team league. In 2006, the team finished fourth in the Sun Belt with a 6-9 league record and 19-42-1 record overall. Middle Tennessee returns nine starters and nine letterwinners, including two of three pitchers. The team is coached by Leigh Podlesny who is in her third year with the Blue Raiders. Memphis has a 1-1 record against Middle Tennessee after hosting the Blue Raiders in a doubleheader in 2006.
SCOUTING THE BLUE RAIDERS: Middle Tennessee returns senior shortstop Shelby Stiner who was named to the Sun Belt Preseason All-Conference Team. Stiner is the reigning Sun Belt Newcomer of the Year and was named to the 2006 Sun Belt First Team. In 2006, she led the team and was ranked second in the Sun Belt with a .339 batting average and also had 59 hits and 16 stolen bases. Also returning are a trio of 2006 Sun Belt Second Team All-Conference selections in senior third baseman Melissa Weiland (.294, 52H, 20 RBI), senior outfielder Muriel Ledbetter (.327, 54H, 11 HR) and junior catcher Katie Mielke (.265, 41H, 15 RBI).
MEMPHIS PICKED FIFTH IN C-USA PRESEASON POLL: With 12 letterwinners and eight of nine starters returning, Memphis was picked to finish tied for fifth in the Conference USA preseason poll as voted by the league's head coaches. Last year in its inaugural season, the Lady Tigers finished seventh in C-USA and ended with a 28-26 overall record. For the second consecutive year, Houston was selected the preseason favorite to win the 2007 Conference USA regular season softball title. The Cougars earned 76 points and five first place votes to claim the honor. Tulsa, the 2006 regular season and tournament champion, garnered two first-place votes and 68 points to grab the second place spot, followed by Marshall in third which also picked up two first-place votes and 62 points.
TWO NAMED TO PRESEASON ALL-CONFERENCE TEAM: Senior third baseman Bridgette McNulty was voted to an infield spot after earning All-Conference USA Second Team last season. McNulty hit .354 in 2006 with a team leading 12 home runs and 42 RBI. Also selected to the preseason team is sophomore utility Leila Dolfo who was named to the National Fastpitch Coaches Association All-South Region Second Team as a freshman last season. Dolfo spent time at shortstop, right field and pitcher in 2006, hitting .303 with five home runs and 38 RBI.
LINDSEY, LINDSAY, LYNDSEY: It may not be so unusual that three teammates share the same first name. However, what is unusual is that all three spell the name differently. Spelling it with an EY at the end is senior shortstop Lindsey Pridgen. Junior transfer Lindsay Kelso spells hers with an AY at the end, and sophomore pitcher Lyndsey Sterling has a Y instead of an I after the L.