The Memphis Tigers (8-3) returned to the diamond over the weekend for a three-game home series with Western Illinois (0-9). Coming off their 8-5 victory over Central Arkansas last Tuesday, Daron Schoenrock’s young Tigers would be eager to continue building momentum and confidence.
In Friday’s opener, a 24-3 Tigers rout that even Ryan Silverfield would be proud of, Hunter Goodman turned in the first of what would be a trilogy of star performances over three days, turning in both a three-run homer and a grand slam to lead a Tiger surge that featured eight different batters recording a hit and the team finishing with what would be a season-high 21 RBI for about 48 hours.
Saturday, in the series-clinching 8-5 win, Goodman’s second grand slam in as many days in the bottom of the sixth once again fueled the Tigers to the hard-fought victory.
Sunday, with the series already in hand, Schoenrock’s group poured it on in the form of a 23-8 sweep-clinching firestorm. Freshman Taylor Howell hit for the cycle, freshman Austin Baskin turned in a career day with two homeruns of his own and the Tigers eclipsed their previous season-high with 23 RBI. Goodman hit his third grand slam of the weekend and set both an American Athletic Conference and a UofM single-game record with 11 RBI.
The full weekend numbers are staggering. Four homers in three days and 22 RBI. The Tigers’ 55 total RBI for the weekend was the second-highest mark by a team in history. For his troubles, the Arlington, Tennessee native was deservedly announced as the league’s player of the week Monday morning.
“It’s definitely a confidence booster,” Goodman said. “I hope it gave confidence to some of the other guys, too, because a lot of other guys had really good weekends. It was really fun having guys on base and being able to drive in runs, but you have to give all the credit to them for giving me the opportunity to drive in all those runs. Hopefully we can take this confidence and use it in the right way moving forward.”
The Arlington, Tenn. native was also recognized nationally for his performance earning the D1Baseball/AstroTurf National Player of the Week on Monday afternoon.
Now riding high after rattling off seven straight wins, these Tigers are going to need to tap into that confidence as they prepare to make the 70-mile trip down Highway 78 to Oxford for a meeting against a SEC Powerhouse Ole Miss (10-1).
“You’ve got to really separate between confidence and arrogance and there’s a real fine line between the two,” Schoenrock said. “Confidence is something that kind of brings people together. If that confidence becomes arrogance, it repels. What he’s doing (Goodman) has definitely bred some confidence into all those new ingredients we’ve got in the lineup and I hope we can take that to a different kind of environment. I hope that confidence can resonate.”
First pitch against the Rebels at Swayze Field is set for 6:30 p.m.