MARTIN, Tenn. – The University of Tennessee at Martin softball team will play in its third consecutive tournament this weekend as it makes the three-hour trek to Oxford, Miss., to play in the Red and Blue Classic at Ole Miss.
UT Martin will play two games Friday, two games Saturday and one game Sunday. And for the third consecutive weekend, UT Martin head coach Donley Canary says his team will face some pretty tough competition.
“We have Ole Miss from the SEC, McNeese State who went to the NCAA this past year, Mississippi Valley State who has been to the NCAA Tournament before, Middle Tennessee who is always tough, and Drake, a strong Missouri Valley Conference team.”
The Skyhawks will play Middle Tennessee at 9 a.m., Friday, Feb. 22, and then play Mississippi Valley State at 3:45 p.m., Friday, Feb. 22.
On Saturday, Feb. 23, the Skyhawks will open with McNeese at 11:15 and then play Ole Miss at 1:30.
The Skyhawks will close out the tournament with Drake at 9 a.m. on Sunday, Feb. 24.
The Skyhawks enter the tournament with a 5-3 record after playing in the Jimmy John’s Lions Classic at Southeastern Louisiana and the Kennesaw State Classic in Woodstock, Ga.
“I thought we played extremely well in the Kennesaw Classic,” Canary said. “We will need to continue to play as a team if we want to continue our recent success.”
The Skyhawks will rely on sophomore pitcher Kenzi Tate (4-0) in the circle. At the plate, senior Leah Taylor, sophomore Lauren “G” Smith and Tate lead the team in most offensive categories. Taylor is hitting .292 and if 8-for-9 in stolen bases. Smith is hitting .280 but leads the team with two home runs and six RBI. Tate sports a .391 batting average with nine hits, four doubles and a home run. Junior Stephanie Nidiffer is hitting .357 with five hits and a double.
Canary said his team is excited about the tournament. “We are hoping the weather is a little warmer than it was this past weekend.”