May 6, 2011
MEMPHIS, Tenn. – The University of Memphis softball team will close out the regular season, this weekend, with a road Conference USA series at Southern Miss rounding out the 2011 regular season.
The Tigers are peaking at the right time, as winners of 11 of their past 12 games and sporting a 32-11 record overall. This weekend could be a memorable one not only as the last regular season games for seven seniors, but also in an historical sense. Sophomore Carly Hummel needs two victories to become just the second Tiger hurler ever to win 20 games in a season, while senior Heather Mott looks to keep her batting average above the current school record of .358, by Cara Stiles in 2006. Mott’s currently hitting .376 in 2011.
As a team, the Tigers have a chance for a unique distinction. With one road win this weekend, the 2011 squad will become the first in school history to have double-digit wins at home, on the road and in neutral settings in the same season.
Standing in the way is a struggling Southern Miss squad that limps to the finish line this season, 17-34 overall and 4-17 in Conference USA. The Eagles are another in a succession of squads the Tigers have faced down the stretch with poor pitching. Southern Miss has a team ERA of 4.09, and opponents are hitting .280 against them.
Offensively, Jill Mathis’ nine homers and 28 runs batted in pace the Eagles, and Brittany Lilly is hitting a team-high .337, the only Southern Miss batter hitting above .300.
Following this weekend, the Tigers will compete in the 2011 Conference USA Softball tournament, hosted by East Carolina, in Greenville, North Carolina. The tournament will begin May 12, with the championship game set for May 14.
Last Season Against Southern Miss
The Tigers dropped two of three at home to the Golden Eagles, April 17-18. Southern Miss swept both ends of the series-opening doubleheader, shutting out the Tigers 2-0 in the first game and taking a 9-6 slugfest in the second. Heather Mott was 1-for-4 with a home run and three RBI’s in game two action. In the finale, Memphis rallied for a 3-2, 10-inning victory. Carly Hummel allowed one earned run in eight innings, and Maddie McKinley drove in Alex Marshall for the winning run.
The series with Southern Miss 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, for which a link will be provided at GoTigersGo.com.
Rainy Days are Here...Again
With its last home game of the season cancelled due to inclement weather, Memphis has now lost nine games due to storms this season. The Tigers nine lost games were against opponents with an average RPI (Ratings Percentage Index) of 104.1, including five lost games to top-100 RPI squads; Memphis is 11-10 against the RPI Top-100 this season.
Tigers Split Rain-Shortened Final Home Series With UAB
The elements conspired to shorten the Tigers final home series of 2011, against UAB, with Memphis splitting their doubleheader with the Blazers, Saturday. In game one, UAB won 4-2, despite Carly Hummel’s 16th complete game of 2011 and a two-run double from Maddie McKinley. Memphis won the second game, a 1-0 pitcher’s duel won by the Tigers Janelle Valle, for her season’s third shut-out and sixth victory, scattering five hits and striking out seven. Kamri Chester’s first home run of the season came in the sixth and provided all the scoring Valle would need.
The wrap-up of the regular season means nothing for the Tigers, who will travel to Greenville, North Carolina to compete in the 2011 Conference USA Softball Tournament, hosted by East Carolina, May 12-14. If things go according to plan, the Tigers will also be in the hunt for the NCAA Regionals, which will begin May 19 at sites to be determined.
Since sliding into the role of the lead-off hitter in the final game of the Houston series, senior Heather Mott has been on a tear. The Pensacola, Fla., product has batted .500 with with five home runs and 18 RBI, reaching base at least once in every contest. Mott started the season penciled into the No. 2 slot after leading off for much of last season. She currently sports a career- and Memphis-best 14-game hitting streak; if she gets a base knock in each of the next game, she will break Lindsay Kelso’s 2007 record of 14 games in a row with a base hit.
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 18-5 record. Hummel is among the top pitcher’s in the conference in wins (18; third), ERA (1.35; tied for fourth), strike outs (170, fourth), opposing batting average (.138, third) and runs allowed (34; sixth) and leads Conference USA with three 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. Senior Janelle Valle is seventh in the conference in ERA (1.57) and second in earned runs allowed (17). Meanwhile, senior Lauren Carley is second in C-USA in hits allowed (53) and runs allowed (22).
Better Late Than Never
The Tiger offense has produced 31 sixth-inning runs in 41 games and those 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. Against UAB, Kamri Chester’s solo home run was the game’s only run scored.
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 42 starts in her career, Hummel is 23-2 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.