Pirates Take C-USA Softball Championship Opener Over Memphis 1-0 In 10 Innings
May 10, 2007
ORLANDO, FLA. - Despite Memphis starter Jenna Kubesch's perfect game effort through eight and two-thirds innings, the East Carolina softball team found a way to push across the only run of the game in the bottom of the tenth inning to defeat the Tigers (36-24) in game three of the 2007 C-USA Softball Tournament presented by Coca-Cola at the UCF Softball Complex. It marks the second consecutive season that ECU (39-18) has won its first game of the conference tournament. Memphis defeated Tulsa 2-1 in game one earlier in the day to advance and face the Pirates, who received a bye in the first round.
Kubesch and eventual winner Toni Paisley staged a pitcher's duel to begin the contest as both hurlers were perfect through four innings. Memphis slapped its first hit in the fifth when Bridgette McNulty singled to right center. However, she was stranded as Paisley induced two popups and recorded a strikeout to end the threat. The Tigers put their leadoff batter on in the sixth as Lindsey Pridgen doubled to center but Paisley would again pitch herself out of any potential damage. Memphis recorded its third-straight leadoff hit in the seventh via a Kimmie Hayden single. After she was sacrificed to second, she stayed put as Paisley pitched out of her third-consecutive jam.
ECU posted its first hit in the bottom of the ninth when Christina Merrida singled through the infield with two outs, ruining Kubesch's perfect game. The Pirates could not push her across and the game headed to the tenth.
After Paisley held the Tigers scoreless in the top half of the inning, Charina Sumner led off with her team and league-leading ninth triple of the season. The hit also sets a new ECU single-season record for triples. Four Pirates had held the previous record of eight. Kaui Tom gave ECU the win in the next at-bat as she flared a single over the head of the Memphis shortstop, setting off a well-deserved celebration by the Pirates.
Paisley earned her 20th win of the season, moving into the top-10 in single-season wins in school history. The newly-crowned C-USA Softball Freshman-of-the-Year lived up to her billing, throwing a career-high 10 innings while striking out eight. Paisley now has 200 strikeouts for her rookie campaign. She also threw her 20th complete game while earning her ninth shoutout.
"It feels great to earn that first win in the conference tournament, especially having earned a bye in the first round," said Associate Head Coach Natalie Kozlowski. "Our freshmen stepped up huge today, as they have all season."
ECU will return to the field tomorrow as they face the winner of Friday's elimination game between Tulsa and UCF. First pitch is scheduled for 4 p.m. at the UCF Softball Complex.