March 3, 2011
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MEMPHIS, Tenn. - The University of Memphis softball team will travel to Starkville, Miss., for this weekend's Bulldog Classic, a four-team invitational that offers high-quality competition in every game.
The Tigers will play the second Friday game, against host Mississippi State, at 3 p.m. (CT) Memphis will have the privilege of facing the host twice, with a Sunday afternoon (1 p.m.) match-up with the Bulldogs sandwiched around Saturday's early doubleheader against No. 22 Texas A&M (10 a.m.) and Mississippi Valley State (12 p.m.)
3-1 West Coast Swing has Tigers receiving votes in polls
Memphis continued its torrid start to 2011 at the prestigious Stanford Nike Invitational, picking up three victories that has the Tigers on the cusp of national recognition. After rain washed out the invitational's opening game, the Tigers matched up with host and 16/17th-ranked Stanford. Memphis pulled its second upset of a top-25 squad in 2011, knocking off the Cardinal behind an impressive complete-game, six strikeout performance from ace Carly Hummel. Jessica Phillips drove in both runs for the Tigers. After getting shutout against reining Summit League Champions North Dakota State, 2-0, the Tigers rebounded with an 8-3 drubbing of UC Davis. Outfielder Ashleigh King drove in three of the Tiger runs, with Hummel going the distance again for the victory. In the finale, Memphis erased a 2-0 deficit in the bottom of the seventh inning, tying the game up after Alyssa Palmieri singled and the ball was thrown away, allowing Morgan Mosby to score from second. The Tigers got two runs in the eighth off a Heather Mott to single to score Alex Marshall, with Mott coming around for what would be the deciding run on a Phillips sacrifice fly. Hummel would pick up her third win in as many days, this time coming on in relief and pitching two innings for her season's eighth victory. With a 12-3 record and two upsets of top-25 foes (Ohio State, Stanford) during the season's opening two weeks, Memphis earned two votes in the USA Today/NFCA Top-25 poll for the week of Mar. 1, the first time in school history Memphis has received votes in a nationally-recognized poll.
By beating Stanford in Palo Alto, the Tigers carved their own slice of Conference USA history. Never before had a C-USA school beaten a Pac-10 squad, at home, in the regular season, before the Tigers 2-1 win against the Cardinal. The only other time a C-USA team had beaten a Pac-10 team at home was when Houston defeated Washington in the 2008 NCAA Regional, sweeping the Huskies out of the NCAA Tournament with two wins.
Nice To Meet You
This season, the Tigers face 10 opponents for the first time in program history. Nine of Memphis' first 14 opponents are against teams the Tiger Softball program has never played. This weekend, Memphis will get its first opportunity against Mississippi State and No. 22 Texas A&M at the Bulldog Classic. Memphis is 6-1 in first time meetings this season with wins over Ohio State, Kentucky, Georgia State, Stanford, UC Davis and Colorado. The Tigers are 46-49 all-time in first-time meetings and 27-24 when a first-time meeting is played at a neutral site.
In a season where they will see plenty of schools for the first time, Memphis has a familiar (and successful) feel for the Southwestern Athletic Conference. All-time against the SWAC, Memphis is 26-0 entering the weekend after sweeping a double header with Alabama A&M, Wednesday. The Tigers will get another opportunity to hone their record against the SWAC when they play Mississippi Valley State in game two, Saturday; the Tigers are 3-0 all-time against the Delta Devils, whom they will see again on March 16 for a doubleheader in Memphis. The Tigers will also host a doubleheader agaisnt Alabama State, another SWAC school, on April 6.
Tigers in Tournament Play
The Tigers have participated in 17 different tournaments in five seasons and carry a 49-41 in to the Bulldog Classic. The Tigers have a winning record in each of the past four tournaments/classics they have played in: the Stanford Nike Invitational (3-1), the Panther Invitational (4-0) and the FIU Combat Classic (3-2) in 2011 and 2010's USF Under Armour Invitational (3-2)
After not having a single win against a top-25 school in the program's first six years of existence, Memphis knocked off two top-25 opponents in the first two weeks of 2010, defeating No. 22/24 Ohio State, 7-3, at the FIU Combat Classic and then dispatching host and No. 16/17 Stanford, 2-1, at the Stanford Nike Invitational. The Tigers will get another opportunity to knock off a stellar foe at the Bulldog Classic, when they face No. 22 Texas A&M (12-5) in the first game of Saturday's doubleheader
Hummel Among C-USA Leaders
Carly Hummel is proving that her snub during pre-season all-conference voting was an oversight, starting the season off with a stellar 8-0 record. Hummel is among the top pitcher's in the conference in innings pitched (53.2; second), wins (eight; tied for second), ERA (0.91; third), strike outs (53, fifth), opposing batting average (.155, fifth) and home runs allowed (one; fifth) and owns one of Conference USA's four no-hitters this season. She is also one of two pitchers (Houston's Donna Bourgeois) two have two wins over top-25 opponents this season.
After no stolen bases in the first two games, the Tigers shifted gears over the next 11 games, swiping 18 bags. Maddie McKinley leads the Tigers in stolen bases, with seven steals in eight attempts; she became the first Tiger to steal home since Lelani Bernardino against Mississippi Valley State, Mar. 30, 2010. Her seven steals are tied for third in Conference USA in 2011.
Junior Jessica Phillips is swinging one of the hottest bats in Conference USA in the early part of the season. Phillips is third in C-USA in slugging (.686) through 18 games, and is tied for third with four early-season home runs.
Following the Bulldog Classic, the Tigers will hit the road again next weekend with a four-game road trip into North Carolina. The Tigers will have a Thursday contest with North Carolina State, Memphis' first-ever against the Wolfpack, before heading to Greenville for the first Conference USA games on the schedule, a three-game set against East Carolina beginning Saturday.
All four games Memphis will play in the Bulldog Classic 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. Links to the live chat and GameTracker can be found at GoTigersGo.com. A UStream video link can also be found at GoTigersGo.com.