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Blue Raiders Softball to Face No. 1 Michigan Friday

March 24, 2005 · MT Media Relations
MURFREESBORO, Tenn. - Middle Tennessee softball (6-16) will make school history on Friday at 6 p.m. when the team faces No. 1 Michigan (27-1) at the Louisville Courtyard by Marriott Classic.

When the Blue Raiders square off against the Wolverines, it will be the highest ranked opponent the team has faced in its 12-year history. It will be a Herculean task at best, as Michigan is riding the nation's longest winning streak in softball at 27.

"As a team we are excited about playing a team like Michigan," said Head Coach Leigh Podlesny. "It is a win-win situation for us because there is no pressure on us. We are truly an underdog and I love that role."

The Blue Raiders have already faced one top 10 team this season when they played No. 8 Alabama on March 15. The team fell in Tuscaloosa 9-1 and 9-2 to the Crimson Tide.

"Every time we have played a quality team we have gotten better," Podlesny said. "The players have generally played well against tough teams, and it can be a good indicator for how we will perform later in the season."

Middle Tennessee is a very young ball club, who is slowly finding its way as the season progresses. After suffering through an 11-game losing streak the Blue Raiders are 3-3 in their last six games.

The team is also riding the arm of one pitcher. Freshman hurler Ashley Katinas, who hails from St. Louis, Missouri, is the only true pitcher on the roster for the Blue Raiders. Middle Tennessee suffered a blow earlier in the season when Sun Belt Second Team All-Conference performer Crystal Bobo left the team. Jennifer Dorais, who has been playing short stop for most of the season, has been called out of retirement to pitch giving Katinas a rest in doubleheader situations.

"Any innings Jennifer can pitch will only help the team and Ashley," Podlesny said. "We are hoping slowly Jennifer can get her pitching stamina back and will be able to pitch a whole game when conference play starts."

Middle Tennessee opens the tournament by facing host Louisville at 12 p.m. Louisville has a record of 14-10. The Blue Raiders will return on Saturday to play Western Kentucky at 10 a.m. The fellow Sun Belt member is also 14-10 on the season.

"I am very familiar with the Louisville team, and know their staff, and they are generally a tough team," Podlesny said. "As for facing Western Kentucky, you usually don't want to face a team over and over, but I think it will help us gauge where we are before we start conference play."

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