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Blue Raider Softball Set to Host Troy This Weekend

April 21, 2006 · MT Media Relations
MURFREESBORO, Tenn. - Middle Tennessee softball hosts its first Sun Belt series of the season when the Blue Raiders welcome Troy Saturday and Sunday in the newly renovated Blue Raider Softball Field.

The Blue Raiders are riding a three-game winning streak after sweeping in-state rival Tennessee Tech on Tuesday, 4-2, 6-2. The wins were on the heels of a ribbon-cutting ceremony for the new facility.

Middle Tennessee heads into Saturday's match-up with Troy on a serious upturn. The Blue Raiders won its first Sun Belt series of the season taking two of three games from North Texas in Denton, Texas last weekend. The club has also won five out of its last six games.

"The players are peaking at the right time," said Head Coach Leigh Podlesny. "That is going to make us more competitive with teams that I don't think we would have been able to compete with earlier in the season."

The Blue Raiders have benefited from the return of freshman hurler Laura Moore who missed almost a month due to an injury. Moore has really bolstered the line-up, winning her last two starts and giving Middle Tennessee some much-needed depth, tossing two complete games in her last two outings.

"For the team it has been a relief to have Laura back because it is difficult to go into a game with confidence when you only have nine or 10 healthy players," Podlesny said. "It has just been great for the team's attitude and morale and they are playing with a lot more confidence."

Middle Tennessee has also stepped it up offensively. The Blue Raiders are led by junior shortstop Shelby Stiner who tops the team with a .349 batting average. In Sun Belt Conference games, alone, the junior from Peoria, Arizona is hitting .455. She is also 12-of-13 in stolen bases, equaling the most stolen bases for a Middle Tennessee club in two years. Stiner needs just four more stolen bases to equal the amount logged by fellow Arizonian and former Blue Raider Kip Phillips.

Stiner isn't alone in her hot-hitting performances. Fellow junior Muriel Ledbetter is close on Stiner's heels with a .328 batting average. Ledbetter also leads the team in homeruns (8), doubles (12) and RBI (19).

Junior Melissa Weiland has also really stepped it up in conference play as of late. Weiland is htting .429 in conference games with five runs scored and three RBI.

Middle Tennessee faces a Troy team that is 3-3 in their last six games and won its series with Western Kentucky last weekend. Both clubs are currently tied for third place in the Sun Belt.

"I think we have had a major turn around in this program since I have been here," said Podlesny said. "Our performance at the Louisville Tournament and how well we played against teams like Louisville and Michigan did wonders for the player's confidence. It changed their mental process. They step on the field and believe they can win."

Troy is led by Jessica Lyle with a .307 batting average, leading the team with 10 doubles. Lyle also has six doubles.

Junior college transfer Angie Coteat tops Troy on the base path. She has drawn 32 walks this season and stolen 24 bases.

The first pitch for the doubleheader on Saturday is set for noon in the Blue Raider Softball Field. A single game is slated for Sunday at noon as well.

Follow the Blue Raiders on Twitter @MTAthletics for continued updates.