Feb. 21, 2013
HATTIESBURG, Miss. - Following an impressive performance in last weekend's tournament in Lake Charles, the Louisiana Tech softball team will head east this weekend to compete in a three-team tournament hosted by Southern Miss at the Southern Miss Softball Complex Saturday and Sunday.
The Lady Techsters (5-4) will play a total of four games, two each against the host Golden Eagles (6-8) and the Northwestern State Demons (8-2). Tech's weekend schedule starts Saturday with a 12 p.m. game against Northwestern State and a 5 p.m. game against Southern Miss. The Lady Techsters will then wrap up the weekend Sunday with a 10 a.m. game against Northwestern State and a 12:30 p.m. contest against USM.
"We did the thing we needed to do last weekend to be successful," said Tech head coach Mark Montgomery. "We executed. I feel we are way ahead of the curve. We are doing well but have plenty of room to improve."
Through the first two weeks of the season, Montgomery and Co. have ridden the arm of senior Michelle Jones, the reigning Western Athletic Conference Pitcher of the Week. Jones enters the weekend with a 3-1 record and a 1.12 earned run average while allowing opponents to bat only .156 against her this season.
The Scurry, Texas native has logged 37.2 innings of action, allowing only 20 hits and 11 walks while striking out 30 batters. Jones has thrown three complete-game shutouts this season, including her first career no-hitter in a 10-0 win over Alcorn State in her last outing.
Junior Erin Kipp (2-1, 4.08) also pitched much better last weekend, picking up a pair of wins against Alcorn State and Southern. Through 12.0 innings of work in the circle, Kipp has issued only one walk while striking out nine.
Offensively, LA Tech has leaned heavily upon the stolen base as the Lady Techsters have swiped 34 bases through the first nine games of the year (compared to 27 stolen bases in 58 games in 2012). Nine different Lady Techsters have stolen at least two bases each this season, led by the freshmen combination of Anna Cross (8-8) and Kristen Miles (7-7).
"We are going to run," Montgomery said. "We have some team speed. We are going to be smart when we run. Our numbers early look a little inflated, but we are going to run this year ... that is the personality of this team. We are going to try to maximize (our ability to steal bases).
Erin Kipp (.500, 5 doubles, 7 RBI, 4-4 SB), Miles (.389, 8 runs, 7-7 SB) and Alayna Kipp (.375, 2 doubles, 2 RBI) boast the highest batting averages for LA Tech while Janna Frandrup (.296, 3 RBI), Amanda Krueger (.292, 7 runs, 2 HR, 7 RBI), Cross (.286, 6 runs, 3 RBI), Meghan Knowles (.280, 4 runs, 1 RBI), Janine Godwin (.278, 4 RBI, 3-3 SB) and Dacia Hale (.217, 1 HR, 6 RBI) have also contributed early in the year.
"We hit the ball with much better power this past weekend. We had been hitting the ball well in practice and hitting it hard in practice," Montgomery said. "We hit a lot of seeing-eye singles the first weekend and then rolled into some double plays with those same swings. We got back to concentrating on driving the ball; hitting the bottom of ball and extending through it."
Northwestern State enters the weekend event boasting one of its best starts in years as the Lady Demons have won eight of 10 games, including an impressive 10-5 road win at Mississippi State last week. NSU enters the weekend boasting an impressive .321 team batting average led by Brittany Virgoe (.471, 10 RBI), Cassandra Barefield (.381, 7 runs, 6 RBI), Tara McKenney (.364, 8 RBI, 4-4 SB) and Natalie Landry.
In the circle, the Demons have used four different pitchers in the starting rotation led by Kylie Roos (3-0, 1.48 ERA), Kaylee Guidry (2-1, 2.19 ERA) and Brooke Boening (2-1, 4.85 ERA).
Southern Miss enters the tournament coming off a split of a road doubleheader at Ole Miss as the Golden Eagles also have an impressive road win at Fresno State already this year. USM is led offensively by Morgan McKeever (.326, 8 runs, 8 RBI), Caroline Walker (.300, 8 runs, 8 RBI), and Mackenzie Sher (.267, 4 HR, 15 RBI).
The Golden Eagles have a three-person rotation led by Beth Dietrich (0-4, 2.91 ERA), Kimberly Wagner (4-2, 3.00) and Kaitlin Wilson (2-3, 3.03 ERA).
Two of the games (Saturday vs. Southern Miss and Sunday vs. Northwestern State) will be broadcast (audio-only) live over the internet at http://client.stretchinternet.com/client/latech.portal#. Live stats will be available for all four games and can be accessed by logging onto www.southernmiss.com.
Fans can also follow LA Tech softball through Twitter by following @LATechSB. For all the latest on the Lady Techsters softball team, including rosters, bios, and stats, fans should log onto www.LATechSports.com. Fans can also follow the Lady Techster Softball team through its own Facebook page at http://www.facebook.com/LouisianaTechSoftball?ref=ts&fref=ts.