RALEIGH, N.C. - Conference USA play will get under way this weekend for the University of Memphis softball team, when they travel to East Carolina for a three-game set beginning with a Saturday doubleheader at the ECU Softball Stadium. The Tigers will also have a midweek stopover in Raleigh for a single game match-up with North Carolina State, Thursday.
All four games Memphis will play this week 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 for the North Carolina State game, will All-Access video links will be available for all three East Carolina games.
Sophomore pitcher Carly Hummel had a school record 19 strikeouts last week against No. 22 Texas A&M.
Rain Interrupts Bulldog Classic
Inclement weather disrupted the Mississippi State Bulldog Classic, with the Tigers only able to play two Sunday games after washouts on Friday and Saturday. The Tigers were unable to play host Mississppi State at any time over the weekend. The weekend would prove to be an historical one, however. Against 22nd-ranked Texas A&M, sophomore Carly Hummel pitched one of the best games in U of M softball history, striking out a school-record 19 batters in 8.1 innings of two-hit ball while not allowing an earned run in the extra-inning affair. Catcher Amber Lindahl also found her way into the record books with a school-record 20 putotus. Memphis rebounded from its first loss of 2011 to a top-25 school with a win against Mississippi Valley State, with Kailey Kassner scoring two of Memphis' five runs in a 5-1 victory. Janelle Valle scattered three hits and one run while striking out a career-high nine batters.
History in the Making
Memphis head coach Windy Thees is on the verge of a milestone at the U of M. With her next victory, Thees will attain her 150th career victory at the University of Memphis.
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 week, Memphis will get its first opportunity against North Carolina State, in the Tigers third match-up with a first-time opponent on the road in 2011. The Tigers are 46-50 all-time in first-time meetings and 28-24 when a first-time meeting is played at a neutral site.
Already, the 2011 season has been a series of close games. Memphis has already played 10 games decided by one run, going 7-3 in those contests; seven one-run victories leads Conference USA this season. Last season, Memphis was involved in 16 games decided by a run (31.4 percent) and 36 by three runs or less (70.6 percent). The Tigers were 7-9 in one-run games last year and 15-21 in games decided by three runs or less.
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 8-1 record. Hummel is among the top pitcher's in the conference in innings pitched (62.0; third), wins (eight; tied for second), ERA (0.79; second), strike outs (72, fourth), opposing batting average (.145, fourth) and home runs allowed (one; third) 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.
While Hummel is the ace of the Tiger pitching staff, Coach Thees' other pitchers are quietly putting together an impressive year. Janelle Valle also has an ERA below one (0.99) and is tied for second in C-USA in earned runs allowed (four) and tied with Hummel in home runs allowed (one). Meanwhile, Lauren Carley is second in the C-USA in hits allowed (14) and runs allowed (five).
Memphis has scored 24 first-inning runs this season. The Tigers topped North Florida 3-0 to open the season and all three runs came in the first inning. After scoring one run in the first against Ohio State, the U of M scored two runs off a Maddie McKinley two-run shot to take an early lead against Kentucky. Memphis scored four runs in the first inning in both games of the doubleheader against Alabama A&M. The Tigers got on the board first against Stanford as well. When scoring in the first inning this season, Memphis is 9-1 and 11-1 when scoring first in a game.
Memphis will finally get off the road next week, hosting a mid-week doubleheader against Mississippi Valley State, Wednesday, Mar. 16; the Tigers defeated the Delta Devils in the second game of the Bulldog Classic last weekend. Memphis will host its first C-USA home series over the weekend against perennial conference favorite Houston, with a doubleheader Saturday, Mar. 19 and a single game Sunday, Mar. 20.