Memphis is Conference Tournament Bound
May 6, 2007
For Immediate Release
UCF (35-24, 11-13) 000 000 1 - 1 3 0 Memphis (35-23, 10-12) 000 002 x - 2 5 0 Win: Kubesch (23-10). Loss: Kime (21-11). Save: None HR: (MEM) McNulty (8). 2B: (UCF) Javier (9).
MEMPHIS - On a day set aside to celebrate the University of Memphis softball seniors, the six upper classmen showed they aren't quite ready to hang up the spikes. Led by the seniors, Memphis earned its sixth-straight conference victory with a 2-1 win, sweeping its series with UCF and earning a spot in the Conference USA Tournament presented by Coca-Cola in Orlando, Fla., next week.
"Jenna (Kubesch) pitched her heart out," said Memphis head coach Windy Thees. "I can't say enough about all my seniors. The last few weeks they have really stepped up. Whether they have gotten a hit or not, they've had great at bats. Whether they have made the best pitches in the world or not, they have battled. I don't know if I've ever been as proud of a team as I am of this one."
A few weeks ago after being swept at Marshall, the thought of Memphis making the tournament was unbelievable. The Tigers needed to win the remaining six conference games on its schedule to earn a berth. One loss would have eliminated the team.
Six Memphis seniors were recognized in an emotionally packed ceremony before the game as the emotions of the day carried over into the regular season finale. After pitching an 11-inning duel in game one of the series, Memphis senior Jenna Kubesch and UCF ace Allison Kime continued the battle in game three. Kubesch (23-10) once again won the battle and was perfect through the first six innings before allowing an infield single to lead off the seventh. The Weimar, Texas, native finished the game with 10 strikeouts and allowed one seventh inning run off three hits for her 23rd victory of the year.
With two outs and a runner on, UCF threatened for the first time in the game when Breanne Javier doubled to cut the Memphis lead to one. Another infield single put runners on the corner, but Kubesch got pinch hitter Shelly Frick to strikeout to end the game. Kubesch has earned the victory in five of the six conference games during the Memphis winning streak.
Senior Bridgette McNulty gave Memphis the first run of the game in the sixth inning on a leadoff home run to left field. Her eighth homer of the year began a two-run inning after the Tigers had stranded six base runners in the previous five innings.
"That was an unbelievable shot," Thees said. "(Kime) had been going in on all of our hitters all day, and our players finally adjusted to it so they went out. They went out on the first pitch and it wasn't a strike, so Kime switched to an inside pitch and Bridgette sat on it."
Senior Kara Ross put on the eventual game-winner with her second walk of the game, giving way to senior pinch runner Christi Morrison. Morrison came around to score the winning run on a single by senior Lindsey Pridgen.
With Marshall beating Houston in its regular season finale, Memphis finishes sixth in the conference. The Tigers finish a half a game behind fourth place UCF and fifth place Marshall.
"Six games ago, it was we've got to win six in a row," Thees said. "I've been believing in them all year, but this time I said it was up to them. I'm going to just plan my life, and it's up to them. Now I'm just so happy to have to plan a whole traveling trip arrangement in 24 hours."
For six-straight games, Memphis has known a loss will end its season and a win will keep the team alive. The Tigers will now carry over the must-win mentality into the conference tournament beginning on Thursday when the team faces the third seeded Tulsa Hurricane at the UCF Softball Complex at 9 a.m. (CST). And as the U of M has shown in the past two weeks, the improbable is nothing but the probable.