MOREHEAD, Ky. -- The Morehead State softball team travels to Southaven, Miss., for the Blues City Classic hosted by Memphis. MSU is set to face Missouri State, Memphis, Evansville, Ball State and Loyola-Chicago. All games will be played at Greenbrook Softball Complex near Memphis.
MSU opens the weekend with Missouri Valley Conference foe Missouri State. The Bears enter the contest winners of five straight. The Eagles face Memphis in their second game of the day. The Tigers have dropped five of their last eight, which includes losses to No. 4 Michigan and No. 20 Louisiana-Lafayette.
Evansville and Ball State are the opponents on Saturday. The Purple Aces split a pair of doubleheaders against OVC opponents
to open their season. Ball State enters the weekend with a 4-2 mark. The Cardinals return six starters from their 2013 edition that finished 37-17.
MSU finishes play on Sunday with Loyola-Chicago. The Ramblers enter the weekend with a 3-6 mark, after picking up a pair of victories at Auburn's Tiger Invitational.
Friday, Feb. 21
MSU vs. Missouri State, 3:30 p.m. | MSU vs. Memphis, 6 p.m.
Saturday, Feb. 22
MSU vs. Evansville, 10 a.m. | MSU vs. Ball State, 4 p.m.
Sunday, Feb. 23
MSU vs. Loyola-Chicago, 11 a.m.
MSU narrowly missed its first winning season since 2010, as it finished the 2013 season with a 24-25 overall record. The Eagles finished 10-14 in Ohio Valley Conference play.
Back in the Chase
The Eagles advanced to the Ohio Valley Conference Tournament for the first time since 2010. Eastern Illinois defeated the Eagles 3-2 in the opener, and UT Martin used a four-run first inning and held on for a 5-2 win in the elimination game.
The Bats are Back
The Eagles return two of their top five hitters. Junior Katie Raile led MSU with a .369 batting average. Senior Stephanie Etter, who was named Preseason Second-Team All-Conference by College Sports Madness, finished fifth on the team with a .317 batting average.
Yes She Can
In just one game at the Plainsman Invite, senior Samantha Howard bested her 2013 total with two home runs and five RBI. The Kennnesaw, Ga., native hit one home run and drove in four last season, seeing action in 33 games with 20 starts.
Welcome to the Show
After finishing her debut campaign with just three at-bats sophomore Dana Hutchins is currently tied for the team lead with a .300 batting average. Of her three hits, two have been for extra bases. The Bradenton, Fla., native had a double versus North Dakota State and a triple in the 9-8 victory over Louisiana-Monroe.
We Can Hit
The Eagles finished the 2013 season in the top five in the OVC in nearly every offensive category. MSU led the league in batting average (.326) and sacrifice flies (15). The Eagles finished second in slugging percentage (.436) and on-base percentage (.374). The .326 batting average was 26th best in NCAA Division I.
MSU was picked to finish fourth in the OVC East Division in a poll of the league's coaches and sports information directors. The Eagles finished fourth in the division with a 10-14 mark last season. Jacksonville State was selected to win the east, while SIU Edwardsville was picked to take the west.
MSU has added a doubleheader at Presbyterian College (S.C.) on Thursday, Feb. 27 at 2 p.m. ET. The Eagles will hit the road Wednesday for those contests and then continue on for a weekend series at East Tennessee State. The PC Blue Hose are members of the Division I Big South Conference.