February 7, 2018

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The University of Tennessee at Martin softball team will officially open the regular season with a reconfigured schedule in the Mardi Gras Classic hosted by Louisiana Monroe this weekend. The Skyhawks will square off against Stephen F. Austin (noon) and Central Arkansas (2 p.m.) on Thursday, Feb. 8 before taking on Grambling State (11 a.m.) and North Texas (1 p.m.) on Friday, Feb. 9.

The Skyhawks open the 2018 season with a veteran squad and talented newcomer, aimed at notching yet another postseason appearance. A year ago, UT Martin finished the season with a 39-20 record, notching a second-place finish in the Ohio Valley Conference race while securing the program’s third postseason appearance with an automatic bid into the Postseason National Invitational Softball Championship.

UT Martin boasts seven returning starters along with a pair of All-OVC honorees. Senior Jodie Duncan is poised to lead the Skyhawks offensive attack after earning All-OVC first team honors with a .360 batting average, 10 doubles, nine home runs and 48 RBIs. Senior catcher Aeron Smith also boasted all-conference second team honors after ranking as one of the OVC’s top offensive threats and strongest arms behind the plate. As a whole, the Skyhawks return every starter on the infield along with 862 career starts spread throughout the roster.

The Mardi Gras Classic field includes a total of six teams with UT Martin matching up against every squad except for tournament host Louisiana Monroe. Stephen F. Austin posted a 17-33 record last season while Central Arkansas finished 26-34 a season ago out of the Southland Conference. Grambling State is coming off of a 13-32 season in the Southwestern Athletic Conference while North Texas went 25-31 out of Conference USA.

This marks UT Martin’s first appearance in the ULM Mardi Gras Classic since the 1997 season in which the Skyhawks posted a 1-5 appearance in the field. Overall, the Skyhawks are 3-3 against the tournament field, including marks against North Texas (1-2), Central Arkansas (1-1) and Grambling State (1-0).

Fans can follow along with live stats for every contest at the link above.

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