Feb. 19, 2009
BIRMINGHAM, Ala. - After a week off, the UAB softball team heads to Baton Rouge, La. to take part in the Purple and Gold Challenge hosted by LSU.
"We are excited and ready to play," said UAB softball head coach Marla Townsend. "We are ready to get back out there and face another tough tournament schedule. Texas State, Northern Iowa and LSU are all very good programs. It's going to be a fun weekend."
The first game for the Green and Gold will be on Friday at 3:45 p.m. CT against Texas State. UAB will take on Northern Iowa at 9:30 a.m. and then face LSU for third time this season at 4:15 p.m. on Saturday. The tournament will conclude with two games on Sunday in a bracket-style playoff.
The Blazers last participated in the Purple and Gold Challenge in 2002. After beating McNeese State in the opening game, 8-1, UAB fell to LSU, 3-0, and Long Island, 3-1.
Scouting Texas State
For 2009, Texas State has gotten off to a 5-4 start with impressive victories over Texas and Conference USA's No. 14 Houston.
Leading the Bobcats are senior outfielder Taylor Hall and junior first baseman Leah Boatwright. Through nine games, Taylor has posted a .333 batting average. Boatwright is batting .290 with 19 RBI. Freshman pitcher Chandler Hall (3-1, 2.57 ERA) has been impressive, striking out 24 in 21.0 innings.
Texas State is coached by 2008 Southland Coach of the Year, Ricci Woodard. In Woodard's nine seasons, she has a 306-169-1 (.644) career record. Former Blazer, Aimee Vaughn, is an assistant coach for the Bobcats.
The Bobcats finished the 2008 season with an overall record of 35-17. In conference play Texas State finished the Southland Conference regular season champions after going 25-5.
It will be the first meeting between Texas State and UAB.
Scouting Northern Iowa
Northern Iowa enters the tournament with a 7-2 record. In their most recent outing, the Panthers went 4-1 in the Metrodome Softball Classic. The Panthers' two losses have come against Nebraska and Minnesota. In their last outing, the Panthers held Arkansas to two hits and cruised to a 7-0 victory.
Junior pitcher/ first baseman Jen Larsen (4-0, 0.48 ERA) is a key to the Panthers success this season. Larsen is a threat at the plate and in the pitching circle. She is batting .357 this season with 11 RBI. She also has posted 18 strikeouts in 29.1 innings as a pitcher.
Head coach Ryan Jacobs is in his second season at Northern Iowa (27-30, .474).
Saturday's game will mark the first meeting between Northern Iowa and the Blazers.
The last game between No. 22/25 LSU and the Blazers ended when UAB's Amanda Allen hit a three-run walk-off home run to claim a 5-3 victory on Feb. 7 in the Hawai'i Paradise Classic. The Tigers finished third in the tournament with a record of 2-3.
Since then, LSU has gone 3-2 with two big wins over No. 5 Texas A&M in the Tigers' Easton Classic. The Tigers went 2-2 in the tournament with losses against Ohio State and Sam Houston State.
Leading the Tigers is junior pitcher/outfielder Kristen Shortridge. Shortridge is batting .378 and has seven stolen bases on eight attempts. In the circle she has posted a 1-2 record with a 5.40 ERA and 12 strikeouts. Shortridge, along with freshman shortstop Juliana Santos , was named to the Hawai'i Paradise Classic All-Tournament Team.
LSU is coached by Yvette Girouard, In her ninth year at LSU, Girouard has posted an impressive record of 413-124 (.769).