Memphis softball player happy to be home

GULFPORT, MS (WLOX) - Memphis Tigers outfielder and former Harrison Central softball infielder Ijiah Hargrove reenacted the conversation she had with her family earlier this year when she found out that Memphis would be playing a softball tournament in her hometown of Gulfport, Miss.

"Guess what, guess what, guess what? I'm playing in Gulfport my senior year," Hargrove said. "Can you believe that? I'm coming to Gulfport. It was like a bunch of screaming and jumping."

Hargrove may be a senior with three-plus years of collegiate softball experience, but her approach to the game this weekend was different.

"I was more excited than nervous because my high school coach was out there and my high school team was out there," Hargrove said. "I was just more excited than anything. I felt like I was back at home again. Back in front of the fans that watched me forever and it just felt really good."

Memphis head coach Natalie Poole has coached Ijiah for three years now after spending three seasons as the head coach of McNeese State.

"I'm really pleased with her," Poole said. "From the things that she says to how she works on the field, I don't think anybody would say that she doesn't give everything that she's got."

Ijiah's best friend on the team, Kelly Braman, transferred to Memphis from Western Carolina before the 20-13 season. She loves being a part of the Memphis Tigers softball team with Ijiah.

"[Ijiah] and Breslin Perry. She's a junior this year. Right when I came in, both were so inviting and friendly to me," Braman said. "I thought it was going to be a little hard to know people but they've been so loving and caring. It's been special."

"She's like a sister to me," Hargrove said. "We instantly clicked. She transferred in last year and we instantly became best friends. We're a lot alike."

The similar tastes are too lengthy to list here, but there is one taste of Memphis that Kelly and Ijiah drool over.

"Barbecue is big there," Braman said. "We get Mexican [food] a lot too. She really didn't like it that much and that's my favorite. I've gotten her to like Mexican food now."