April 13, 2006
Seeking to rebound after dropping four games last weekend, the Miami University softball team (14-26; 1-7 MAC) welcomes Toledo and Bowling Green to Miami Softball Field for four Mid-American Conference games. The RedHawks and Rockets square off in a Friday doubleheader starting at 2 p.m., while the MAC East-leading Falcons travel to Oxford for single games Saturday at 2 p.m. and Sunday at 1 p.m.
ROAD WEARY: Miami plays only it second home series of the season when it hosts Toledo and Bowling Green. The RedHawks have played 36 of their first 40 games on the road in eight different states (Alabama, California, Illinois, Michigan, New Mexico, Ohio, Tennessee, and West Virginia) and three different time zones. All told, Miami has been on the road for 32 days from February-April and has covered more than 12,079 miles by plane, bus and 15-passenger van. To put that into perspective, Miami has covered roughly as many miles as it takes to drive from Anchorage, Ala. to Miami, Fla. and back. Miami has only three home games remaining after this weekend's series and currently owns a 1-3 record at Miami Softball Field.
SHOOTING FOR FOUR: With the 2006 conference season eight games old, Miami seeks to extend is streak of three consecutive seasons with a MAC record above .500. Miami finished 15-9 (2003), 14-9 (2004) and 13-8 (2005) in the MAC the past three seasons, its first three consecutive winning conference seasons since 1981-83. Miami is off to a 1-7 start in the MAC this season with games this weekend against Toledo (2-5) and MAC East-leading Bowling Green (6-2).
BOMB SQUAD: After clubbing four home runs last weekend against Western Michigan and Northern Illinois, Miami's 26 round trippers puts it one away from tying the team record for home runs in a season. Sophomore Halle Popson leads the team with six home runs, and after stroking a pair of round trippers last weekend, sophomore Jamie Arundel is second with five. The current team record of 27 home runs was set in 2003. Popson and Arundel both have the single-season home-run record in their sights, as the current Miami record is nine set by Shawnda Moye in 1998. The power surge has been surprising since Miami returned six starters from the 2005 team that hit only 11 home runs.
THE TRIFECTA: Miami hit three home runs in a game for the third time this season against Northern Illinois (April 9), as sophomores Breanna Robinson, Christine Bills and Jamie Arundel all left the yard in a 13-5 loss. The unique thing about the home runs versus the Huskies is that all three came in the same inning, with the three long balls accounting for all four of Miami's third-inning runs. The RedHawks previously clubbed three home runs in a 12-4 win over George Mason (Feb. 17) and an 8-6 win over Gardner-Webb (March 4).
DOUBLE-DIGIT HITS: With 10 hits against Western Michigan, Miami notched its 14th 10-hit game of the season, nearly tripling its 2005 total of five. Miami is 10-4 when compiling 10+ hits, and its 10-hit game against Western Michigan was its first since an 8-4 win over Santa Clara (March 15). Miami's top hit-total of the season was a 17-hit output against George Mason (Feb. 17).
EVEN-INNING BLUES: Even-numbered innings have plagued the RedHawks this season, as they have been outscored by 73 runs in the second, fourth and sixth innings combined. The fourth inning has been especially unkind to Miami as it has been outscored 62-23 in the fourth frame.
ODDS AND ENDS: Miami is 11-6 when outhitting its opponent and 2-20 when it is outhit by its opponent ... Miami has lost only one game when leading after the fourth inning and won three games when trailing after four ... The RedHawks are 4-2 when playing error-free softball but are 10-24 when committing one or more miscues in the field ... Miami is 10-9 when scoring first and 4-17 when its opponent scores first ... Miami is 9-9 when scoring in the first inning and 4-15 when its opponents score in the first frame ... Miami is 3-3 versus lefthanded starters and 11-23 against righthanders.
COMING OF AGE: Freshman southpaw Kelly Cabana has provided a steady presence in the circle since the start of MAC play, consistently eating up innings for a depleted Miami pitching staff. Despite a 4-15 overall record, Cabana has tossed nine consecutive complete games (55.2 innings) and allowed two earned runs or less in four of her last nine outings. In MAC games only, Cabana leads the conference in innings pitched (50.0), appearances (8), games started (8) and complete games (8). Overall, Cabana ranks first in the MAC in appearances (28), second in games started (19) and fifth in complete games (11).
THE LEFTY: In one of her strongest outings of the season, freshman lefthander Kelly Cabana tossed a complete-game two hitter against Northern Illinois (April 8) but was still tagged with the loss. In seven innings in the circle, Cabana gave up only one earned run and struck out three, but she also walked seven batters. The only two hits Cabana allowed were a first-inning double and a fifth-inning home run.
MOVING ON UP: With her strong performance in non-conference action, senior Courtney Salmon continues to move up the Miami career pitching charts. Salmon now ranks among the top five in eight of the nine career pitching categories and is four complete games away from owning a spot in all nine. Salmon ranks second in strikeouts (552), innings pitched (554.0) and appearances (121), third in winning percentage (.526; 41-37), wins (41) and games started (85) and fourth in shutouts (15) and earned-run average (2.14). So far in 2006, Salmon has appeared in 20 games, posting a 6-6 record with 93 punchouts and two saves.
THE ACE OF THE STAFF: Senior Courtney Salmon is the undoubted pitching ace for Miami, anchoring a youthful staff that also features two freshmen lefthanders. Salmon is coming off a junior year where she set career highs in strikeouts (208), innings pitched (196.2), wins (13), shutouts (6) and saves (3). In 2006 Salmon owns six wins, two saves and has compiled a 3.30 ERA with 93 strikeouts and three complete games.
ACCOLADE ALERT: For the sixth time in her career, senior righthander Courtney Salmon was named the Mid-American Conference's East Division Pitcher of the Week (Feb. 20) after helping Miami to a 4-1 record at the Troy Cox Classic (Feb. 17-19).
POSITION PLAYER NOTES
RUN AT THE RECORD BOOK: As the team's and the conference's leading hitter, sophomore Halle Popson continues to put together one of the best offensive seasons in Miami history. Popson leads Miami and the Mid-American Conference with a .414 batting average and is threatening the Miami single-season batting record. With 15 games remaining in the regular season, Popson's batting average is six points higher than current record holder Jamie Carey (.408; set in 2003). As both a skilled slapper and a power hitter, Popson also leads Miami with six home runs. Her six home runs rank as the fifth-best single season total in Miami history and are three shy of the single-season record of nine.
RUN AT THE RECORD BOOK (PART II): With 29 RBIs through the first 40 games, junior Leslie Macedo is one RBI away from tying the Miami single-season record of 30, set in 1998 by Shawnda Moye. Macedo is currently tied for second all time on the single-season charts with Lori Oberlinter (29; set in the 1996 season) and will get her first crack at breaking the record this weekend against Toledo and Bowling Green.
ON THE REBOUND: After being held scoreless in four of the previous five games heading into last weekend, Miami's offense rebounded with a solid performance at the plate, posting a .292 batting average against Western Michigan (April 7) and Northern Illinois (April 8-9). Miami pushed across 14 runs in the four conference games and also clubbed four home runs, ending a nine-game homerless streak. Sophomores Breanna Robinson (5-for-12; 1 HR) and Jamie Arundel (3-for-8; 2 HRs, 4 RBIs) led Miami's offensive resurgence and combined for three of Miami's four round trippers.
TOP OF THE CHARTS: Sophomore Halle Popson leads the conference with a .414 batting average and also ranks first in runs scored (29) and on-base percentage (.517). Popson also ranks second in hits (41), walks (17) and slugging percentage (.646), third in total bases (64) and fourth in home runs (6) ... Junior Leslie Macedo ranks first in the MAC in runs-batted in (29), second in hits (41), third in runs scored (29) and fifth in total bases (57) ... Senior Bianca Paz ranks second in the conference in triples (3) and third in stolen bases (10), fifth in doubles (8) and seventh in runs scored (20) ... Sophomore Jamie Arundel ranks fifth in the MAC with five home runs.
MULTI-TASKING: With its three home-run effort against Northern Illinois (April 9), Miami notched its seventh multi-home run game of the season. All three home runs came in the third inning for the RedHawks, marking the third time this year Miami has hit multiple home runs in an inning. Sophomores Breanna Robinson, Christine Bills and Jamie Arundel all left the yard in Miami's first multi-home run inning since freshman Alexis Javier and senior Bianca Paz hit two home runs in the seventh inning against Gardner-Webb (March 4). Miami's other multi- home run inning also came March 4 against Columbia when sophomore Halle Popson and senior Kristen Hays both left the yard in the third inning.
SWEET STROKE: After batting a miniscule .231 last season, Miami has improved its offense in 2006, batting .286 through the season's first 40 games. Sophomore Halle Popson leads the team with a .414 batting average (41-for-99), while junior Leslie Macedo stands second with a .350 batting average (41-for-117). The RedHawks' 286 batting average continues to pace the MAC, as Toledo ranks second with a .263 batting average. Miami's offensive prowess is a welcome surprise as it had only two starters finish last season with batting averages over .300 (one of which was Popson) and had five starters below the Mendoza Line (.200 BA).
ACCOLADE ALERT: After going all of the 2005 season without having a MAC East Division Player of the Week, Miami has had two athletes garner the weekly conference award during the 2006 season. Junior Leslie Macedo was the first Miami player to win the award (Feb. 21) after batting .588 with 11 runs-batted in at the Troy Cox Classic, while sophomore Halle Popson took home the award (March 6) after batting .545 (6-for-10) with a pair of home runs at the Buzz Classic. Both players have been Miami's most potent bats in the middle of the lineup, combining for 28 percent of Miami's hits, 32 percent of its RBIs and 35 percent of its home runs.
SCOUTING TOLEDO: Miami and Toledo are meeting for the 62nd time in series history. Toledo owns a 39-22 advantage in the all-time series, but Miami has won the team's last four meetings, including a pair of wins last season. Miami defeated Toledo 3-1 and 2-1 last season (March 30, 2005), with both games taking place at Miami Softball Field ... Toledo is 11-25 overall and 2-5 in the MAC this season under fourth-year head coach JoAnn Gordon. The Rockets are 4-6 in their last ten games, with two of their losses coming to Ohio State ... Toledo ranks second in the MAC in team batting (.286) and 10th in team pitching (4.54 ERA). During MAC play only, the Rockets rank seventh in team batting (.261) and eighth in team pitching (3.42 ERA) ... Gina Muratori (.363 BA) and Erica Singer (.340 BA) rank as Toledo's two best bats. Muratori leads the team with 10 doubles, 41 hits and 55 total bases, while Singer stands second with 36 hits and two home runs. Valerie Moxim is the Rocket's top run producer, leading the team with eight home runs and 25 RBIs ... In the circle, Sierra Pereira and Stephanie Moore split time, with the two pitchers combining to make all 36 starts. Pereira has a team-low 5.61 ERA, while Moore paces the team with six wins and 118.0 innings pitched.
SCOUTING BOWLING GREEN: Miami and Bowling Green are squaring off for the 74th time in series history. Bowling Green leads the all-time series 38-35, but Miami has won the last five meetings, including four wins last season. The RedHawks also posted a pair of wins over the Falcons in the MAC Tournament last season, winning 2-0 (May 11) and 2-1 (May 13) ... Bowling Green is 23-15 overall and 6-2 in the MAC this season under eighth-year head coach Leigh Ross-Shaw. The Falcons are 5-5 in their last 10 games... BGSU ranks third in the MAC in team batting (.260 BA) and is first in team pitching (1.58 ERA). They are the only school in the MAC with an overall ERA under 2.00. In MAC only games, BGSU is ranked fourth in team batting (.301 BA) and second in team pitching (1.95 ERA) ...2005 MAC Player of the Year Gina Rango (.373 BA) and Haley Weimer (.310 BA) rank as the Falcons' two best bats. Rango leads the team in doubles (10), hits (44), home runs (5), RBIs (21) and total bases (71) ... In the circle, 2005 MAC Pitcher of the Year Liz Vrabel (1.74 ERA) anchors a tough pitching staff that goes three arms deep. Weimer (1.29 ERA) and Emily Gouge (1.26 ERA) also boast earned-run averages under 1.75, while Vrabel leads the team in wins (10), punchouts (132) and innings pitched (118.0).