University of Memphis softball will host the Tiger Classic tournament this weekend. Memphis will play five games against four opponents, and this is the last weekend the Tigers will play at home before heading into conference play.
Memphis is coming off a 7-1 loss to No. 20 Mississippi State. Baylee Smith hit a homer early in the first inning, but Mississippi State made it a 2-1 game in the second inning before scoring five runs in the fifth inning.
“This weekend we ought to be motivated to be even better and to want to crush whoever comes on this field against us,” head coach Natalie Poole said. “Not to be crushed by it, but be motivated by it.”
Areas of improvement
The defense struggled against Mississippi State. Balls were dropped, and the outfielders struggled to make catches.
“When you expect pitchers to throw five-six outs, things get tough.” Poole said. “It changed a little bit of the momentum for us.”
The Tigers’ defense will need to look to step up this weekend.
A look at the opponents
The Tigers will face Tennessee Tech on Friday and Saturday. This will be the first matchup between the two teams in two years. The Golden Eagles are 8-14 this year and 3-6 on the road. The team has a batting average of .274 and an on-base percentage of .347.
They have three players who have played in 15 games or more and have a batting average of at least .350. They have five players with an on- base percentage of at least .400. This season they have allowed their opponents to a .328 batting average and .433 on-base percentage.
Southeast Missouri State
The Tigers will face the Redhawks on Saturday. SEMO is 11-9 and on a two- game win streak. The team has a batting average at .257 and has just two players who bat above .390. They have four players with RBIs in double figures. The Redhawks also have four players who have seen multiple home runs this season.
South Dakota is 8-19 and on a two-game losing streak. They have seven players with RBIs in double figures. Five players have a batting average above .310. They have only stolen 12 bases this season.
Senior infielder Emily Winckler has a .266 batting average, but in her 79 at bats, she has had seven homers and 20 RBIs.
The Cougars are 8-5 and on a two-game losing streak, but they have not played since March 7. The team’s batting average is .296. The team has stolen 20 bases. They have only seen 10 home runs but have seen 49 RBIs. The team also struggles to get multiple base hits. They have twelve doubles and two triples this season.
Players to watch
Memphis first baseman Ashley Threatt
Threatt struggled early in the season. She now has the third-highest batting average at .420. She has 21 hits and six doubles. She also has seen three home runs and has 13 RBIs. The Tigers also rely on her for defense, and she has a fielding percentage at .959.
Memphis pitcher Mariah Nichols
The freshman is relied on by Memphis. In the loss against Mississippi Stat when Molly Smith began to struggle, head coach Natalie Poole asked Nichols to step in. She is tied Smith for a 1.04 ERA. She is 6-2. She has only pitched one homer in the 174 batters she has faced. She has pitched 39 strikeouts. The Tigers could rely on her this weekend.
Ashley Threatt gets set to field a groundball. She is tied with Brooke Lee leading the team with five home runs this season
Mariah Nichols gets set to pitch. The freshman has a 2.68 ERA and has had 62 strikeouts.