Thursday, January 11, 2007
NASHVILLE, Tennessee-The 2007 Tennessee State softball squad opened practice Thursday in quest of their second trip in school history to the Ohio Valley Conference championships. TSU is coming off of their best performance in school history finishing with 21 wins last season. "We have 23 practices to get ready for our first game and this is day one," said head coach Joyce Maudie. "We wanted to take advantage of the weather and get some workouts in before classes start back up." The Tigers return seven letterwinners from the 2006 season, including three starters and three pitchers. Senior Candace Hildebrand, an OVC all-Newcomer selection, leads the pitching rotation after posting a 12-13 record with a 1.78 Earned Run Average in her first season as a Tiger. Senior centerfielder Diana Clifford returns after hitting .247 with 13 stolen bases. Senior catcher Erin Finneran and sophomore outfielder Melanie Cruz return as starters for TSU. Columbia State transfers Amanda Vaught, pitcher, and Jennifer Gregory, third base, lead the group of newcomers for the Tigers. Greensboro College transfer Katie Anderson, along with freshmen Bridget Metzger and Tamara Perkins, highlight the first year class for TSU. "We have some things to work on," Maudie commented. "But we are excited to be on the field and ready to get after it." The Lady Tigers open the season on Saturday, February 10 as they host defending Southern Conference champion Western Carolina. TSU will then take to the road for a tournament at Jackson State University followed by a trip to Alabama A&M for a double header on February 21. The Big Blue will conclude their road trip at the Middle Tennessee Strikeout Breast Cancer Tournament before returning to Tiger Field for a twin bill against first year Division I opponent Central Arkansas. Coach Maudie's squad will open March with a spring break trip to Orlando, Florida to participate in the Rebel Games. The ten games in a six day's will feature single games against Valparaiso, Indiana-Purdue-Fort Wayne, LaSalle, Maine, South Dakota State, Sacred Heart, Detroit, Georgetown, Monmouth and Holy Cross. TSU will play a single game versus Western Kentucky at home on Wednesday, March 14 before opening OVC play at Austin Peay on March 17. The home conference schedule begins Saturday, March 24 against Southeast Missouri State. The Tigers will close out the regular season at home against Tennessee-Martin on May 5 and 6. The OVC tournament will be played at the regular season champions' home field May 10-12. -More pictures from the first day of practice can be found in the softball scrapbook.