April 1, 2011
MEMPHIS, Tenn. - The University of Memphis softball team will host Tulsa in a pivotal three-game series, this weekend, at the Tiger Softball Complex on the University's Park Avenue Campus. Saturday will feature a 1 p.m. start for the doubleheader, while Sunday's single game will begin at noon.
The Tiger bats came alive last weekend and, dropping 33 runs on an outmatched UTEP squad in three games. Junior Jessica Phillips cranked three home runs in the series finale against the Miners. Sophomore Carly Hummel came on in relief to win game one, then started and earned the victory in the finale.
It was the Tigers first-ever series victory at UTEP.
Scouting the Golden Hurricane
Tulsa will go as far as their big three hitters can carry them. Conference USA's leading hitter, Caitlin Everett, and her .386 average hits lead-off for the Golden Hurricane. Samantha Cobb bats .333 and hits third, while Skylar Swanson is the last Tulsa regular hitting above .300, at .308 with a team-high four home runs. Together, the trio has combined for 92 hits and seven of Tulsa's 15 home runs. The cupboard bares considerably after that, with the remaining Golden Hurricanes combining to hit a mere .245.
On the mound, Tulsa's Aimee Creger is second in the conference in ERA, with a microscopic 1.03 average. No Tulsa hurler has an ERA above three, and all three (Creger, Lacey Middlebrooks and Jordan Kinard) have more than 50 strikeouts.
Last Year Against the Golden Hurricane
The Tigers traveled to Tulsa in 2010 and got their first-ever regular season victory against the Golden Hurricane, a 6-1 win in game two of the series-opening doubleheader. Vanessa Walle drove in four and threw a complete game for the Tigers. In the first game, Maddie McKinley was 2-for-3 with a home run and two RBI, but Tulsa got the best of the Tigers with a 7-5 victory. In the Sunday rubber match, Tulsa's Kelly Chapman hit a walk-off two-run homer in the seventh to spoil Memphis' bid for a series victory. Lelani Bernardino was 2-for-3 with a two-RBI double in the fifth to give Memphis its only lead of the day.
In the conference tournament, Memphis knocked out third-seeded Tulsa. Carly Hummel three a complete game three-hitter, allowing just one earned run. Heather Mott and Vanessa Walle homered for Memphis.
Historic Home Run Barrage Downs UTEP
Memphis scored 33 runs on 30 hits over the course of three games in El Paso, sweeping the Miners and solidifying Memphis' hold on third place in Conference USA. Game One was a close affair, with the Tigers coming back from an early 2-0 deficit to win, 5-3. Senior Heather Mott homered and Alyssa Palmieri led Memphis with two hits and the game-winning RBI for Carly Hummel, who came on in relief for the win. Game two was blown open by an eight-run Tiger fifth inning, highlighted by Memphis extra-base hits from Ashleigh King and Palmieri; King had a single and a double in the inning and the Tigers run-ruled UTEP, 13-3. The series finale was dominated by the long ball, with junior Jessica Phillips hitting a school-record three home runs, including a walk-off grand slam, and senior Maddie McKinley adding two home runs of her own in a 15-6 rout. Hummel picked up the win, her 13th of the season, throwing three innings and limiting UTEP to two earned runs. It was the Tigers first-ever road series win against UTEP.
First National RPI Announced; Memphis Cracks Top 50
While the love from the polls has been lacking of late, the first Ratings Percentage Index (RPI) rankings of 2011 put Memphis softball in rarified air. The Tigers checked in at 40th in the nation in the first RPI of 2011, their highest spot in school history, and up more than 60 spots from last season's end point of 105th. The Tigers are one of five C-USA schools (Houston, 30th; East Carolina, 39th; Tulsa, 42nd; and UAB, 46th) to land in the top 50 of the first poll, which is based 25 percent on school winning percentage, 50 percent opponent success and 25 percent opponent schedule strength.
Phillips Named C-USA Co-Hitter of the Week; Second Weekly Honor of 2011
Phillips slugged three home runs to power Memphis to a 15-6 win, Sunday, at UTEP; the three home runs were a school-record and tied a conference record. It was Phillips' third multi-home run game of 2011 and fourth of her career. The Chattanooga, Tenn., native set a school record with 12 total bases had six RBI, third-most in a single game in school history. For the week, Phillips hit .455 and slugged 1.455, with three homers, a triple and nine RBI to earn the second weekly conference award of her junior season.
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 10-3 record. Hummel is among the top pitcher's in the conference in innings pitched (80.2; third), wins (10; tied for third), ERA (1.13; fourth), strike outs (93, fourth), opposing batting average (.145, third) and earned runs allowed (13; tied for fifth) and owns two of Conference USA's six no-hitters this season. She is also one of two pitchers (Houston's Donna Bourgeois) to 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 is sixth in the conference in ERA (1.26) and second in earned runs allowed (five) and tied for first in doubles allowed (one). Meanwhile, Lauren Carley is tied for second in C-USA in hits allowed (34) and runs allowed (16).
Better Late Than Never
The Tiger offense has produced 18 sixth-inning runs in 22 games and those 12 runs have come in handy. Memphis tied DePaul with a two-run sixth and rallied with four runs in the sixth against FIU to tie, but dropped both games. At the Panther Invitational, Memphis used the sixth inning to earn three victories. Memphis used one-run sixth innings to post victories over Appalachian State and Lipscomb. A three-run sixth helped the Tigers top Georgia State after trailing 2-0 entering the bottom of the sixth inning. Against Stanford, Jessica Phillips' sixth-inning home run proved to be the difference in the Tigers upset of the 16th-ranked Cardinal. A five-run sixth inning run-ruled UTEP in the Tigers finale with the Miners, while a sixth-inning run in game one of that road series tied the score at three. Memphis has four game-winning runs scored in the sixth inning this season.
Three Is The Magic Number
When Carly Hummel steps in the pitching circle as a starter, all she needs is three runs of support. With 34 starts in her career, Hummel is 17-2 when the Tiger offense puts three or more runs on the board. Her only losses in which the Tigers scored three or more runs came against Tulsa on March 27 and 28 of 2010.
Memphis has scored 29 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. In the finale against UTEP, Heather Mott led off the first with a home run, then Maddie McKinley followed two batters later with a two-run job. When scoring in the first inning this season, Memphis is 11-1 and 13-1 when scoring first in a game. The Tigers have scored the game-winning run in the first inning six times this season.
All three games Memphis will play against Tulsa 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. All-Access video coverage can be found at gotigersgo.com
The Tigers host Alabama State in a mid-week non-conference tilt, April 6, before traveling to Huntington, W. Va., to begin the second half of the C-USA schedule with series at Marshall. April 9's doubleheader will begin at 1 p.m., while the April 10 game will kick off at noon.