Memphis One Win from Improbable Tournament Berth
May 5, 2007
For Immediate Release
Game Two UCF (35-23, 11-12) 000 010 0 - 1 5 0 Memphis (34-23, 9-12) 010 100 X - 2 7 0 Win: Johnson (12-13). Loss: Gresham (5-4). Save: None. 2B: (UCF) Snapp (1). (MEM) McNulty (14), Gross (3)
MEMPHIS - The University of Memphis softball team continued to move closer to an unprecedented Conference USA Tournament berth with a doubleheader sweep of UCF on Saturday at the UM Softball Complex.
Memphis began its run last week needing to close out the season with six-straight victories to earn one of six spots in the league's tournament in Orlando, Fla. After five-straight conference victories, the Tigers are just one win away from making the dream a reality.
"I'm very proud of our seniors today," said Memphis head coach Windy Thees. "They really came through for us. It all comes down to one game just like last year. Hopefully, we've learned from our mistakes and make it a little bit different this year."
The U of M beat UCF 2-1 in both games; the first an 11-inning affair. Memphis has tied a program record with six-straight wins, and all six victories were decided by a run. Five of the six were 2-1 games and two of the last four were 11-inning contests.
While UCF is one of four teams to have already clinched a tournament spot, Memphis can finish anywhere between fifth and seventh. If the Tigers win Sunday's noon contest, the team is guaranteed at least sixth place. If Marshall loses its final game to Houston and Memphis wins, the Tigers will earn the fifth spot.
"We knew that it was always going to be in our control, and if we just won, things would take care of them themselves," Thees said. "As coaches a few weeks ago, we told the team it was up to them. There's not a lot of coaching we could do. Now it's up to them, and I think they want it."
Memphis never trailed in either game, scoring the first run both times. Jenna Kubesch (22-10) earned her 22nd victory after pitching all 11 innings in game one. The senior didn't allow an earned run, scattering five hits with 11 strikeouts and two walks.
Nicki Johnson (12-13) earned the victory in the second game for Memphis, pitching all seven innings. The senior allowed one run on five hits and struck out five for her 12th victory.
The Tigers had several chances to break game one wide open off UCF's Allison Kime, who is sixth in the nation in ERA and leads the conference. Memphis scattered 10 hits of Kime with seven walks and stranded 13 base runners. The U of M had runners in scoring position in eight of the 11 innings and left the bases loaded with nobody out in the fourth.
UCF tied the game in the fifth, scoring an unearned run on an RBI single by Kacie Feaster. Kubesch then held the Knights to one hit in the remaining six innings. Gross scored the game-winner in the 11th after leading off with a walk and advancing to third on a double by Leila Dolfo. Kimmi Hayden knocked in the game-winner with a grounder to short.
In the second game, Bridgette McNulty scored the first run in the second inning for Memphis. The senior doubled to lead off the inning and scored on a single by freshman Leigh Rowan. The Tigers then took a 2-0 lead in the fourth. Lindsay Kelso got hit by the pitch and advanced to second on a single by Gross. Dolfo then knocked in Kelso with the winning run with a two-out single.
Memphis will look for the three-game sweep of UCF on Sunday at noon. Memphis will honor its six seniors (Nicki Johnson, Jenna Kubesch, Bridgette McNulty, Christi Morrison, Lindsey Pridgen and Kara Ross) 15 minutes before the start of the contest. Live stats and live audio are available for the game online with links found at GoTigersGo.com.