Podlesny Announces 2007 Schedule
Will play NCAA Champion ArizonaOctober 11, 2006 · MT Media Relations
MURFREESBORO, Tenn. - Middle Tennessee Head Softball Coach Leigh Podlesny announced the slate of games for the 2007 season on Wednesday.
The Blue Raiders will enjoy a full season in their newly renovated softball facility in 2007 after spending half the year playing off-campus in 2006. Middle Tennessee will host its second annual Breast Cancer Strike-Out Classic on February 23-25 and will also have 12 additional home dates for the season.
Hosting the 2007 Sun Belt Championships is the highlight of Middle Tennessee's 2007 campaign. The Blue Raiders will welcome the conference's first-ever eight-team tournament with the expansion of the league.
Including its own tournament, Middle Tennessee will participate in four tournaments in 2007. The Blue Raiders' opening weekend will be at perennial powerhouse LSU February 9-11. Middle Tennessee will turn around the next weekend and head to Tucson, Ariz. for a tournament at defending National Champion Arizona. It will be the second time in as many years the Blue Raiders will face a national champion as the club played Michigan in 2006.
Middle Tennessee will host Ball State, Morehead State, Belmont, Tennessee State and UT Martin in its own tournament. The Blue Raiders close out its regular season tournament schedule by returning to the Georgia Tech Buzz Classic on March 2-4 after skipping the tournament in 2006.
"We have another challenging schedule set for this spring" Podlesny said. "Our philosophy is to play the best teams that we can early in the season. Competing in tournaments at LSU, Arizona and Georgia Tech will teach us how to perform under pressure and compete for a Sun Belt Championship."
With the addition of three new teams to the Sun Belt Conference schedule, Middle Tennessee will open Sun Belt play earlier then in previous seasons. The Blue Raiders open conference play on the road at Louisiana-Lafayette on March 7-8.
"Adding three teams to the conference and moving our series against Louisiana Lafayette forward has made our preseason choices even more important this year," Podlesny said. "We need to be in top form by March."
The Blue Raiders will also travel to Louisiana-Monroe, Florida International and Western Kentucky for Sun Belt games. Middle Tennessee will host Sun Belt members Troy, South Alabama, North Texas and new member Florida Atlantic.
Remaining non-conference home games will include Jacksonville State, Bradley, Memphis and Southern Illinois. The Blue Raiders will travel to play in-state teams Austin Peay, Tennessee State and Lipscomb. Middle Tennessee will also face Louisville for a single game on April 18.
Middle Tennessee will look for leadership from its three seniors this season.
Senior shortstop Shelby Stiner is the reigning Sun Belt Conference Newcomer of the Year and was also named First Team All-Conference. She led the club, and ranked second in the Sun Belt, with a .339 batting average. She was the only player to start all 62 games and her 16 stolen bases were the most by a Blue Raider in three years.
Melissa Weiland, a senior third baseman, was named Sun Belt Second Team All-Conference. Her .412 batting average in conference only games led the Sun Belt. Overall, she ended the year with a .294 batting average, third-best on the team.
Muriel Ledbetter, who played mostly in the designated player spot last season, had a strong 2006 season, breaking the school record for homeruns in a season with 11. The senior was a Sun Belt Second Team All-Conference selection as a junior and was also named ESPN the Magazine District IV First Team Academic All-American.
Middle Tennessee had one other player from the 2006 squad to earn Sun Belt All-Conference honors, as Katie Mielke earned second team accolades as a sophomore. The junior proved to be a force behind the plate in her first year as a Blue Raider and Podlesny will turn to her to handle the young pitching staff she has assembled for the 2007 season.
The Blue Raiders had a productive start to its 2007 season, completing their fall campaign 8-0.
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