No. 7 seed ECU had the better of No. 2 seed Houston for much of Thursday afternoon’s quarterfinal contest in the American Athletic Conference Softball Championship, but three unearned runs proved the difference as the Cougars moved on to the semifinals with a 3-1 win over the Pirates at the USF Softball Stadium.
Houston advances to face No. 6 seed Tulsa in Friday’s first semifinal contest after the Golden Hurricane upset No. 3 seed Wichita State 3-1 in Thursday’s tourney opener.
How It Happened
Freshman outfielder Tyler King led off the game with an infield single and reached second after an Ashleigh Inae sacrifice bunt, but she would be stranded there. Erin Poepping, who was named to the AAC All-Freshman Team Wednesday, was spectacular to begin her first-ever conference tournament appearance, twirling three perfect innings to set the Pirates up to take the lead in the top of the fourth.
Inae roped a single to right field to kick off the frame before moving to second on a groundout. Redshirt sophomore Tate McClellan then ripped a single down the right field line that plated Inae and put ECU in the lead 1-0. Junior Ashley Weingartz hit a sharp single to left field later in the inning with two down, but a groundout ended the frame.
A two-out error at third base proved costly for the Purple and Gold in the bottom of the fourth as Tierrah Williams took advantage of the extended inning and hit a three-run home run over the left field fence to put the Cougars in the lead at 3-1. All three runs were unearned thanks to the defensive miscue.
The Pirates had a great chance to cut into their deficit in the top of the fifth, but a swinging strikeout stranded two runners in scoring position. ECU could not manage to push another run across despite another two base runners in the top of the sixth and a leadoff single in the top of the seventh.
Pitchers of Record
WP – Savannah Heebner (24-9)
LP – Erin Poepping (13-16)
Top ECU Performers
Tyler King: 2-for-4
Ashley Weingartz: 2-for-3
Tate McClellan: 1-for-3, RBI
Erin Poepping: 6.0 IP, 3 Runs (all unearned), 5 Hits, Walk, 3 Strikeouts
Top Houston Performers
Tierrah Williams: 1-for-3, Run, 3 RBI, HR
Sarah Barker: 1-for-3, 2B
Savannah Heebner: 7.0 IP, 1 Run, 9 Hits, No Walks, 5 Strikeouts
Things To Note
- ECU fell to Houston in the conference tournament for the second-straight season.
- The Pirates dropped to 17-37 all-time against the Cougars.
- ECU out-hit Houston 9-5 but left seven runners on base and was 1-for-7 with runners in scoring position.
- The Pirates ended the season having played 35 of their 55 games against opponents ranked in the top 100 of the latest NCAA RPI listing.