May 3, 2009
• Championship Central
• TV/Web Viewing Information
Updated Standings and Results
2009 Softball Championship Bracket
IRVING, Texas - Tulsa claimed its second Conference USA regular season title and first since its debut season in the league in 2006 on Sunday when it defeated Southern Miss, 2-0, to complete the series sweep. The Golden Hurricane was unfazed by inclement weather that pushed back the start times of all three games and finished its C-USA slate at 16-4, winning its last 10 league games in the process. The 16 victories are the most for the program as a member of C-USA. TU went on to win the conference tournament in 2006 and it has not been seeded lower than third in its four years as a member of C-USA.
East Carolina could only sit and watch this weekend as it had already finished its conference schedule and knew it could finish no lower than the No. 2 spot. ECU (19-5) had three more C-USA wins than Tulsa, but the Golden Hurricane ended with a higher winning percentage (.800 to ECU's .792) and thus claimed the regular season title. The No. 2 seed for the Pirates is their second since joining C-USA in 2002. The other second-place finish came in 2007, when East Carolina advanced to its only Conference USA championship game.
A two-run single by junior Marina Gusman-Brown in the fifth and a two-run double by senior Jessica Johnson in the sixth propelled East Carolina to a 4-0 victory over Virginia Tech on Senior Day. The Pirates finish the regular season with a 40-14 record while Virginia Tech ends at 27-27. For ECU, this season marks the fifth time in the last six that the program has reached the 40-win plateau.
Toni Paisley, 30-8, picked up the victory and her ninth solo shutout of the season. The 30 wins are the fourth-most in a season in program history, eight behind Jenny Parsons' 38 victories in 1992. Paisley's 33 complete games this season are also the sixth-most in a year in ECU history. Kenzie Roark, 21-17, suffered the loss for the Hokies as she gave up 11 hits and all four runs.
East Carolina's hit parade was led by Cristen Aona, who recorded three base knocks. Christina Merrida, Kaui Tom and Johnson all tallied two hits in the contest.
The Pirates have been led in the circle this season by the seven-time C-USA Pitcher-of-the-Week, redshirt sophomore Toni Paisley. With the release of the newest NCAA statistics, through April 26 games, Paisley was ranked fourth nationally in wins (28), 10th in strikeouts (268), 17th in shutouts (8) and ERA (1.21) and 25th in saves (3). After winning two games this weekend, Paisley raised her victory total to 30 and lowered her ERA to 1.17.
On offense, senior first baseman Jessica Johnson leads the squad with a .356 batting average, 53 hits, 11 doubles, eight home runs, 37 runs batted in and a .604 slugging percentage.
For more information, log on to the East Carolina website
HOUSTON vs. MARSHALL
Houston won its final game of the three-game conference series against Marshall, 3-2, to move to 12-10 in C-USA, and 25-23 overall. With the win, the Cougars secured the third seed in the upcoming C-USA Softball Championship presented by Helen of Troy.
Sophomore Baillie Lott moves to 16-11 this season after walking six, and allowing two runs on seven hits. She wasn't able to strikeout any batters.
Bush went 2-for-2, with an RBI and a SAC during the game. The Cougars left five runners on base, while the Thundering Herd left 11 runners on.
More information can be found at the Houston website and the Marshall website.
TULSA vs. SOUTHERN MISS
Tulsa won its second Conference USA regular season championship Sunday afternoon, finishing a sweep of Southern Miss with a 2-0 victory at the Donna J. Hardesty Sports Complex.
Junior Jackie Lawrence (17-4) pitched a complete game shutout and junior Vanessa Vice and senior Kailey Yarmer each had an RBI in the game to lead the Golden Hurricane (35-15, 16-4).
Tulsa entered the weekend needing three wins over Southern Miss to overtake East Carolina for first place, and it fought off heavy rain storms all week, including delayed start times Saturday and Sunday to take care of business. The Golden Hurricane won 10 straight C-USA games to finish the season, and completed the league schedule unscathed at home, a perfect 9-0. The conference winning streak is a school-record for most consecutive conference wins.
Tulsa will be the No. 1 seed in the 2009 Conference USA Championship, presented by Helen of Troy, which takes place May 7-9 in El Paso, Texas. The Hurricane will play the winner of No. 8-seed UAB and No. 9-seed Memphis on Thursday at 3:30 p.m. CDT.
For more, visit the Tulsa website and the Southern Miss website.
UCF vs. UTEP
UCF out-hit visiting UTEP, 6-4, but fell to the Miners, 3-2, in the final game of the teams' league series Sunday afternoon at the UCF Softball Complex.
With a 2-1 record in the series against UTEP this weekend, the Black and Gold earned the No. 5 seed in the Conference USA Championship presented by Helen of Troy which gets underway on Thursday in El Paso, Texas. UCF will play fourth-seeded Marshall.
Visit the UCF website and the UTEP website for more information.
UAB vs. MEMPHIS
UAB scored eight unearned runs in a 14-0 shutout over Memphis in the final game of the regular season on Wednesday at the Tiger Softball Complex.
With the loss, Memphis finished ninth in the Conference USA standings and will head to the Helen of Troy C-USA Softball Championship in El Paso, Texas next week. The Tigers will open the single-elimination tournament on Thursday, May 7, in a play-in game rematch with the eighth-seeded Blazers. The winner will face top-seeded Tulsa.
The Blazers dug a hole for the Tigers early with four runs in the second and then capped the game with a seven-run sixth to earn the run-rule victory. UAB had six of its 12 hits in the final inning and scored eight unearned runs on four U of M errors.
For more on the series, visit the UAB website and the Memphis website.