Natalie Poole Era Begins in Mobile The University of Memphis softball program opens its 2012 campaign in Mobile, Ala., at the Mardi Gras Invitational beginning Friday. The season opener marks the debut of new Tigers' head coach Natalie Poole who takes over the program in its seventh season.
Memphis will open the tournament against No. 2/3 Alabama at 3 p.m. on Friday followed by tournament host South Alabama. Saturday, the Tigers will play Jacksonville State at 12:30 p.m. The U of M will close the tournament with a pair of games on Sunday against Mississippi State at 10 a.m. and South Alabama at 4:15 p.m.
Live Coverage All five games Memphis will play in the Mardi Gras Invitational can be followed through live stats provided by CBS College Sports GameTracker. Live chat provided by Memphis Media Relations will also be available for each game. In addition, the game against Alabama will have live audio provided by the Crimson Tide and the two games against South Alabama will have live video provided by the Jaguars. Links to the live coverage can be found at GoTigersGo.com.
On Deck Following the Mardi Gras Invitational, the Tigers will jump back on the road for the team's first visit to Las Vegas, Nev. Memphis will compete in the Louisville Slugger Desert Classic hosted by UNLV from Feb. 16-19. The U of M will play six games in the tournament with four of the teams finishing the 2011 season ranked in the top 55 RPI. Memphis will play UNLV, Hawaii, Idaho State, BYU, Long Beach State and Indiana in the tournament.
History versus Alabama Memphis is 0-2 all-time against Alabama and last faced the team last year in the NCAA Tuscaloosa Regional. After Maddie McKinley gave Memphis an early 1-0 lead in the first inning on a solo home run off All-American Kelsi Dunne, the Crimson Tide scored seven unanswered points to win 7-1. The two teams first meeting came at South Alabama's season opening tournament in 2009. The Crimson Tide was then also preseason ranked #2/3 and defeated the U of M 7-2.
History versus South Alabama Memphis is 1-0 all-time against South Alabama with the only meeting coming in 2009 when the Tigers also opened the season in a tournament in Mobile, Ala. The U of M earned its first victory of the season in a 7-4 win against the Jaguars. As a freshman, Jessica Phillips had two RBI in the game and freshman Kamri Chester scored a run. Memphis scored five runs in the first two innings and collected 11 hits.
South Alabama (1-0)
History versus Jacksonville State Three of the four teams Memphis will face in the Mardi Gras Invitational were teams the Tigers played in their last time at the tournament in 2009. Memphis' only contest against Jacksonville State came at the South Alabama Invitational in 2009. The Tigers lost the game 5-1 in the team's season opener that year. Down by two in the sixth inning, Memphis scored a run in the top of the frame to trail by just one. But the Gamecocks scored three runs in the bottom of the inning for the four-run victory.
Jacksonville State (0-1)
History versus Mississippi State The contest against Mississippi State will be the first meeting between the two schools. Memphis was scheduled to play a pair of games at a tournament hosted by the Bulldogs last year. However, weather shortened the tournament and canceled the two meetings. Memphis went 1-1 in the tournament with a victory over Mississippi Valley State and a 1-0 loss in the 9th inning to #22 Texas A&M, a game that saw Carly Hummel strike out a school record 19 batters. The match-up between Memphis and Mississippi State this week is the first of two meetings scheduled for 2012. Memphis will travel to Starkville for a single midweek contest on April 24.
2nd Time's a Charm Memphis is looking for a better showing than the last time the team opened the season in Mobile, Ala. The Tigers began the 2009 season at the South Alabama Invitational and finished 1-3. The lone victory came against tournament host South Alabama.
Season Opening Tournament History Memphis has an all-time opening week record of 14-12 and has come away with a winning record after the first week in three of the six seasons. Last year Memphis went 3-2 at the FIU Combat Classic in Miami, Fla., and earned victories against No. 22 Ohio State and Kentucky.
Opening Week Record (14-12)
Lafayette, La. (Louisiana-Lafayette)
Baton Rouge, La. (LSU)
Tampa, Fla. (USF)
Mobile, Ala. (South Alabama)
Memphis, Tenn. (Memphis)
Miami, Fla. (FIU)
Opening Game Memphis is 4-2 in the first game of the season. Last year, Carly Hummel threw her first career no-hitter with a 3-0 shutout over North Florida at the FIU Combat Classic in Miami, Fla.
Tigers in Tournament Play The Tigers have participated in 19 different tournaments in six seasons and carry a 50-42 record into the Mardi Gras Invitational. Last year, Memphis finished 11-4 in four regular season tournaments.
Challenging Schedule Memphis will face 12 opponents that played in the 2011 NCAA Championship totaling 21 of 56 games. First on the list is the season opener against Alabama on February 10, a team that reached the Women's College World Series and defeated Memphis 7-1 in the NCAA Regionals. Additionally, 17 of the 2012 opponents finished the 2011 season ranked in the top 100 RPI with 10 of those teams finishing in the top 50.
Phillips and Hummel Named to Preseason All-C-USA Team Senior first baseman Jessica Phillips and junior pitcher Carly Hummel were both named to the 2012 Preseason All-Conference USA Team as selected by the league's nine coaches. Hummel joins Tulsa sophomore Aimee Creger as the two pitchers represented on the list. As a sophomore, Hummel went 21-8 with a 1.46 ERA and 196 strikeouts. Phillips set school records last year in home runs (15) and RBI (44) and finished second on the team with a .336 batting average.