Marshall Hosts Tigers in Three-Game Set Beginning Saturday
April 3, 2009
For Immediate Release
HUNTINGTON, W.Va. - On Wednesday the University of Memphis softball team overcame an area that has troubled the team through a little past the midpoint of the season. Battling back.
The Tigers overcame two deficits to the University of Tennessee at Martin to earn a 5-4 victory in nine innings and take a doubleheader sweep over the Skyhawks. Memphis had been 1-for-16 in games it trailed after four innings and 3-for-16 when the opponent scored first.
With the renewed confidence, the U of M hopes to pull what has been a thorn in the heel of the program during its four years in existence. Win a conference series on the road.
Marshall will host Memphis in a three-game series at its newly constructed Dot Hicks Field beginning on Saturday. The two teams will play a doubleheader beginning at 1 p.m. on Saturday and close with a noon contest on Sunday.
The Tigers have never won more than one game in a conference series on the road. After being swept in all four league road trips in 2008, the Tigers have earned victories in one out of three contests at both UTEP and Southern Miss this season.
If the Tigers are to succeed on the road, they will need strong pitching performances from their rotation of three. The early innings have been the key for Memphis this season and set the tone for the both the offense and defense.
The pitching staff has been plagued in 2009 by what can be described as the Tom Glavine syndrome. If Memphis can get out of the first couple of innings unscathed, the chances for a victory dramatically increase.
The U of M has allowed 41 runs in the first inning and 63 of 163 runs allowed (39 percent) have come in the first two innings. Opponents have scored the game-winning run in the first or second inning in all but six of the 18 Tiger losses. Memphis has scored all but three of its 16 game-winning runs after the second inning.
Recently, sophomore Janelle Valle has been to club's most consistent contributor in the circle. Valle (6-8) has allowed three runs or less in nine of her 14 games started this season and in her last three appearances. The sophomore leads the team with a 3.05 ERA and has struck out 53 in 91.2 innings of work.
Offensively, despite hitting 12 home runs less than last year through 34 games, Memphis is putting up big numbers in the runs, doubles, triples and stolen base categories. Relying less on hitting the ball out of the ballpark, the Tigers have consistently been in the upper half of the conference offensively due in large part to its more aggressive style of base running. The team is 14 stolen bases ahead of its 2008 pace with 47 on the year and the Tigers' nine triples this season is already a school record.
Freshman first baseman Jessica Phillips has been the U of M's hottest hitter in the last 10 games, batting .304 over the stretch with two home runs, two doubles and six RBI.
The team has been led by junior Leigh Rowan who is hitting .341 on the year with 11 RBI. Senior Tori Gross has continued her hot hitting from the second half of 2008 and is batting .318 with 10 RBI and 23 runs scored.
Memphis is 1-8 all-time against Marshall with the only win coming in Memphis in the team's inaugural season in 2006. The Tigers have lost seven-straight to the Thundering Herd and were swept in three games in their only appearance in Huntington, W.Va., in 2007. Marshall holds a 49-26 all-time advantage over Memphis. Last season, the teams played two games in a snow shortened series in Memphis with Marshall winning 13-2 and 8-3.
Marshall hasn't played a game since March 19 and had a three-game series at Tulsa snowed out last week. The Thundering Herd enters the match-up with a 16-10 overall record and is third in the league with a 4-2 mark.
The Herd is led by sophomore Melanie Stoher who is batting .419 with 17 RBI and a team high three home runs. Junior college transfer Katie Murphree leads the team in the circle with a 2.84 ERA. She is 6-4 with 50 strikeouts in 66.2 innings.
All three games against Marshall can be followed through live stats provided by CBS College Sports GameTracker. Live video with play-by-play is also available to All-Access subscribers. The Marshall student radio station, WMUL, is also providing free live audio streaming of its broadcast. Links to the live broadcasts can be found at GoTigersGo.com.