Feb. 16, 2007
PEACH STATE TRAVELS: Playing in its second tournament of the 2007 season, the Miami University softball team (1-4; 0-0 MAC) travels to the Kennesaw State Owl Classic this weekend in Kennesaw, Ga. The RedHawks are competing in a five-team field that includes Kennesaw State, Georgetown, Evansville and Georgia Tech. Miami opens the tournament Saturday at noon against Evansville.
TOURNAMENT COVERAGE: Live stats and a live webcast of all the Owl Classic Tournament games can be accessed through MURedHawks.com or at KSUOwls.com. Miami plays four games at the two-day tournament, taking on Evansville (noon) and Georgia Tech (6 p.m.) on Saturday and Georgetown (noon) and tournament host Kennesaw State (2 p.m.) on Sunday. The webcast is free, and the requirements are a high-speed internet connection and a valid e-mail address.
HANDICAPPING THE FIELD: Miami and Evansville are meeting for the second time in series history, with the Purple Aces winning the team's first meeting last season at the Auburn Invitational ... Miami and Georgia Tech are meeting for the second time in series history, with the Yellow Jackets winning the only previous meting in the 1999 season ... Miami and Georgetown are meeting for the first time at the Owl Classic ... Miami and Kennesaw State are meeting for the first time at the Owl Classic.
JUST TO JOG YOUR MEMORY: Miami opened its 2007 season last weekend at FAU's Miken Invitational in Boca Raton, Fla. The RedHawks finished the tournament with a 1-4 record ... Miami played three extra-inning games in the tournament, posting a 1-2 record with a nine-inning win over Pitt (Feb. 11) ... Miami dropped its first four games of the season before breaking through in the tournament's final game against Pitt ... sophomore Alexis Javier led the team in hitting for the tournament (.273 BA), while freshman Meredith Linch was a workhorse in the circle, striking out 15 batters in 25.0 innings.
MAC AWARDS: Sweeping the Mid-American Conference East Division Weekly Softball Awards (Feb. 14), sophomore Alexis Javier (Whittier, Calif.) and freshman Meredith Linch (Eatonton, Ga.) were named the division's player and pitcher of the week, respectively.Javier started all five games at FAU's Miken Invitational and finished with a team-high .273 batting average, while Linch tossed three complete games and ended the weekend with a 2.52 ERA in 25.0 innings pitched. It was the first career weekly conference honor for both Javier and Linch.
GEORGIA ON MY MIND: Returning to the Peach State for the second time in as many seasons, Miami travels to the Owl Classic for a four-game tournament this weekend in Kennesaw, Ga. Last season, Miami played in the Buzz Classic in Atlanta (March 3-4, 2006) and was relatively successful, posting a 3-2 record that included wins in pool play over Georgia Southern, Columbia and Gardner-Webb. The RedHawks hope to replicate some of the power they showed at last season's Buzz Classic, as Miami hit seven home runs in the two-day tournament. Current RedHawks Halle Popson, Alexis Javier and Kaitlin Kitzler all left the yard the last time they set foot in the Peach State.
A WEEKEND OF FIRSTS: The season-opening Miken Invitational was a tournament of firsts for Miami ... Kelly Kovach Schoenly picked up her first career head coaching win when Miami downed Pitt, 5-4, in nine innings ... Meredith Linch notched her first career win against Pitt, scattering seven hits over nine innings and striking out seven ... Sarah Billstrom, Briana Burke and Alicia Hogl all drove in their first career runs at the Miken Invitational ... Billstrom and Burke each notched their first career extra-base hits as well ... Billstrom, Burke, Hogl, Linch and Lindsay Randall all made their first career appearances in the Red and White over the course of the three-day tournament.
PEACH STATE TIES: Miami has a pair of players on its roster with ties to Georgia as freshmen Meredith Linch and Sarah Billstrom both hail from the Peach State. Linch and Billstrom were club softball teammates with the Georgia Elite Gold which finished 25th nationally in 2005 and 2006, and both impressed in their collegiate debuts last weekend. Linch, who hails from Eatonton, Ga., attended John Milledge Academy and owns school records for career wins, wins in a season, career strikeouts, strikeouts in a season and career ERA. Billstrom, meanwhile, is a native of Douglasville, Ga., and attended Chapel Hill, where she was a three-sport athlete and an all-region honoree in softball and track and field.
PRESEASON POLL: Miami was picked to finish fifth in the Mid-American Conference East Division, as the league office announced its preseason poll on Feb. 6. The RedHawks, who finished fifth in the MAC East (21-34; 7-15 MAC) last season, return 11 letterwinners and eight starters from last season's squad. Kent State, which won last season's MAC Tournament and earned the conference's automatic NCAA bid, was tabbed as the MAC East preseason favorite and received four votes to win the conference tournament. Western Michigan, which was selected as the top team in the MAC West, also was picked to win the conference tournament, as it received a league-best five votes.
NOT A BAD PLACE TO PLAY: The 2007 season marks Miami's first season in the $4.5 million Miami Softball Stadium. Miami will play its first home game in the new digs March 23 when it hosts Purdue at the inaugural Miami Softball Invitational, which is one of 21 games the RedHawks will play this season at their new home. With room for more than 500 spectators, the new stadium offers fixed seating in three sections behind home plate and along the rightfield line, with the outfield seating wrapping around from the foul pole to the middle of rightfield. Also available are open grass seating sections above both the home and visitor dugouts, providing fans with an intimate view of RedHawk softball. In addition, night softball games are now an option, as six light standards will allow the RedHawks to play the first home night games in program history.
WELCOME BACK: Perhaps the most notable returnees for Miami this season are senior Leslie Macedo and junior Halle Popson. The duo constitutes one of the most formidable middle-of-the-order tandems in the Mid-American Conference, as they combined for 11 home runs and 55 RBIs last season. Macedo (.315 BA/5 HR/37 RBI), who was voted team captain by her teammates, set a Miami single-season record with 37 RBIs last season and finished with new career-highs in six offensive categories. Popson (.366 BA/6 HR/22 RBI) returns as Miami's top hitter from a season ago, as the speedy and powerful left-hander posted a team-best .366 batting average and led the RedHawks in hits, total bases, slugging percentage and on-base percentage.