Lady Tiger Softball Ready for First Pitch
Feb. 8, 2006
MEMPHIS, TENN. - Lady Tigers Embark on Inaugural Season: The University of Memphis will open its 2006 Softball season in Lafayette, Louisiana at the 20th Annual Louisiana Classic. It is the first season ever that the U of M will sponsor a softball program. The Lady Tigers are led into this season's campaign by Head Coach Windy Thees who has spent the last year building the program from scratch. Thees has filled her roster with seven junior college transfers and seven freshmen and looks to put a highly-competitive team on the field this season.
This Week: Memphis opens its 2006 season with six games in the 20th Annual Louisiana Classic, hosted by the University of Louisiana-Lafayette. The Lady Tigers open with rival Ole Miss at 1:30 p.m. on Friday, and later return to play host ULL at 7 p.m. Memphis will face Grambling State at 11 a.m. and ULL at 7 p.m. on Saturday, before closing out the tournament on Sunday with games against Ole Miss and Grambling State at 10 a.m. and 12:30 p.m., respectively.
Next Week: The Lady Tigers will open their home slate with the First Annual Lady Tiger Classic on Feb. 18-19. The tournament will also feature Southern University, Arkansas-Pine Bluff, Alabama A&M and Evansville. Games will be played at Greenbrook Park in Southaven, Miss., while the U of M facility is constructed during the 2006 season. The state-of-the-art stadium is expected to be completed by next fall.
The Starting Lineup: The Lady Tigers are ready to take the field, and this is the possible lineup for the opening game against Ole Miss: Pitcher - Nicki Johnson, Catcher - Kimberly Hayden, 1B - Kara Ross, 2B - Tori Gross, 3B - Bridgette McNulty, SS - Lindsey Pridgen, LF - Leandra Hines, CF - Cara Stiles and RF - Leila Dolfo.
Transferring Teammates: Head Coach Windy Thees dipped into two different junior colleges to land four players for the 2006 squad. Lindsey Pridgen and Nicki Johnson both played at Pima Community College, while Kara Ross and Bridgette McNulty were JuCo teammates at Central Arizona.
Local Flavor: Three Lady Tigers hail from the Mid-South area as Laura Mahoney is from Collierville, Tenn., Lyndsey Sterling is from nearby Atoka, Tenn., and Kristin Chrestman hails from across the state line in Southaven, Miss. Two other Tigers are from the state of Tennessee, including Cara Stiles of Hixson, and Brittany Gooch of Nashville.
Lady Tigers to Have Eight Games on Radio: In its first season, the Lady Tiger Softball program will have eight games broadcast on the U of M's campus station, WUMR. The station also carries baseball and women's basketball games. The announcer will be Jeff Brightwell, who has served as the commentator for both baseball and basketball the last three years. Included on this season's broadcast schedule are: The doubleheader at Belmont on March 15, a single game with C-USA foe UTEP on March 19, a doubleheader versus Southeast Missouri State on March 23 and all three games of the league series against Marshall on April 29-30.
Lady Tigers Hope to Surprise C-USA Foes: It was no surprise that the Lady Tigers were picked to finish last in the league according to the 2006 C-USA Softball Preseason poll. With no previous season to rate, the Lady Tigers expected to fall into the No. 9 slot. Now, the squad must work hard to surpass the expectations and finish the year as one of the top six teams that will advance to the C-USA Championship to be hosted May 11-13 in Tulsa, Okla.
Though Marshall, Tulsa, UCF and UTEP all fielded softball teams in the past, it will be the first year each of those squads will be competing in Conference USA. The following is the ranking by C-USA coaches in the preseason poll: 1) Houston, 2) East Carolina, 3) Marshall, 4) USM, 5) UCF, 6) Tulsa, 7) UAB, 8) UTEP, 9) Memphis.