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Memphis softball begins fall season

<p>Xiomara Santiago readies herself at the plate before the pitch. She played in 24 games as a freshman last season.</p>
Xiomara Santiago readies herself at the plate before the pitch. She played in 24 games as a freshman last season.

Memphis softball will begin their fall schedule this weekend as they take on Arkansas Tech Saturday at the Tiger Softball complex. The Tigers will play eight games during the fall season.

The Tigers have 16 returning players and are adding 10 members to the team this season. Head coach Natalie Poole described the incoming players as “competitive,†but that they are still learning the ropes of Memphis softball.

                  “There are a lot of teaching moments right now,†Poole said. “They (new players) are coming in, learning the expectations, the work ethic and performance…There are new faces and some are learning new positions. It can take a minute.â€

                  After losing important pieces of last year’s team, Poole expects to see her sophomores step up. Most of their improvement comes on the mental side of the game.

“Last year, they would have liked to see themselves not affected as much mentally,†Poole said. “This season they have a new perspective. Their confidence is not so fragile. They have learned the ability to adjust and be ready for the next opportunity. They are in a better frame of mind to be able to handle those kind of situations.â€

This offseason, Helen Peña has joined the coaching staff. Peña comes from California and has six years of coaching experience at the college level. The former pitcher brings a lot to the team as a former college pitcher and a proven recruiter as a coach.

“She’s knowledgeable about pitching and defense,†Poole said. “Her forte is mental training.â€

Brooke Lee

Brooke Lee fields the ball and throws to first base. She will return for her senior season this year.

Poole said helping her players’ mentality could help them succeed this season. With a better mental outlook, Poole hopes her players can learn from and overcome bad situations.

                  “The sport enables you to face failure, but it’s not about failure,†Poole said. “You have to look at those as learning moments. You have to look at them with a better perspective.â€

                  Another focus for Poole and the team has been to focus on “the process†in order to achieve the next level of success they want to reach.

 “If we don’t focus on the process, we are not going to be where we want to be,†Poole said. “They can’t control the outcome, but they can control the process and what they put into the game.â€

Last season, the Tigers lacked consistency, which led to losing series. In five of the six conference series, Memphis failed to win the final game.

“You can’t show up one day and not bring if the next day,†Poole said. “Whether it’s energy, being prepared or making adjustments. Right now, we are still in that building stage.â€

They are making changes to their offensive timing with situational hitting. The team is also creating a “newer, more effective defense.â€

Eight games this fall gives the players an opportunity to prove themselves and show what they can offer to the team.

The Tigers will kick off the fall season this weekend before playing the remainder of the games in October. All of the games will be at home, and the biggest test will come in the final against Ole Miss October 25.

Xiomara Santiago readies herself at the plate before the pitch. She played in 24 games as a freshman last season.

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