April 14, 2011
MEMPHIS, Tenn. – The University of Memphis softball team will continue its non-conference journey with a rare Friday doubleheader at Murray State, beginning at 2 p.m.
The Tigers look to continue their winning ways, riding a six-game streak of victories into Murray. The U of M will look to equal its season and program-best eight game winning streak if they can take two away from the Racers on the road.
If the Tigers are to continue their winning ways, senior shortstop Heather Mott will almost certainly be an offensive catalyst for the blue-and-gray. Since sliding back into the lead-off spot, a role she held in 2010, 13 games ago, Mott has been on a tear, hitting .487 with three home runs and 14 RBI. She’s reached base in every game at leadoff, and her on-base percentage is a team-leading .615 in that time. She currently holds a team season best eight-game hitting streak.
Mott hasn’t been the only Tiger on a tear since the finale of the Houston series. Memphis is 10-3 overall since then, with sophomore Carly Hummel earning six of those victories. Opponents are hitting a mere .103 against her in that time, and she’s struck out 58 batters in 35.2 innings.
Junior masher Jessica Phillips has hit five of her 11 home runs on the season and is hitting .419 in her own right with a career long six-game hitting streak. As a group, the Tigers are hitting .318 since March 20. All six games in the current winning streak have seen Memphis collect 10 or more hits, which happened just twice in the team’s first 31 games.
Murray State owns a 13-21 record this season. While the Racers are hitting a fair .251 as a squad, the pitching staff totes a hefty 5.71 ERA and a 0.93-to-1 strike out/walk ratio.
Seniors Lauren Buch and Jenna Bradley have combined for 21 home runs and are hitting .343 combined. The Racers production tails off significantly after that; the rest of the squad has just 12 homers and are hitting a mere .227 as a group.
Last Meeting with Murray State
This match-up will mark the Tigers’ first-ever meeting with the Racers. Memphis is 6-2 against first-time opponents this season. The Tigers are 17-10 all-time against opponents from the Ohio Valley Conference, and have been victorious in six of the past seven meetings with an OVC school. Murray State started its softball program last year.
Hummel Tosses Third No-Hitter of Season, Tigers Sweep TSU
The Tigers began their off week from Conference USA play with a bang, sweeping Tennessee State, Wednesday. In the first game, the Tigers pounded out a dozen hits, with Heather Mott going 3-for-4 with three RBI in a 7-2 win. Lauren Carley picked up the win in relief, scattering two hits in 3.1 innings and striking out three. In game two, sophomore ace Carly Hummel picked up her program season record third no-hitter of 2011, striking out 13 in five innings for her season’s 15th victory. It marked the third game in a row that Hummel has struck out 10 or more batters. At the plate, four Tigers (Mott, Bernardino, Phillips and Goranson) collected two hits apiece and the Tigers ran their string of games with double-digit hits to six. Maddie McKinley also drove in two runs in the game.
Nice To Meet You
This season, the Tigers face nine opponents for the first time in program history. Eight of Memphis’ first 14 opponents were teams the Tiger Softball program had never played. 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 13 games decided by one run, going 9-4 in those contests; nine 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.
Better Late Than Never
The Tiger offense has produced 25 sixth-inning runs in 35 games and those 25 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. Kailey Kassner’s three-run sixth-inning home run against Marshall proved to be the difference in that contest.
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 20-2 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 36 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 15-2 and 20-1 when scoring first in a game. The Tigers have scored the game-winning run in the first inning six times this season.
Wednesday’s doubleheader at Murray State 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. Memphis Media Relations will also provide UStream video access, for which a link will be provided at GoTigersGo.com.
The Tigers will have on more non-conference tune-up before entering the stretch run of the conference schedule when they travel to Little Rock for a neutral game with Arkansas, Tuesday, April 19. Memphis will then host a conference opponent for the first time since April 3 when UCF comes to town for a three-game series, April 22-23.