Box Score HOUSTON, Texas –
Temple and Louisville were knotted at 3-3 heading into the bottom of the sixth inning, but it was the third-seeded Cardinals breaking the tie and hanging on to win 5-3 over sixth-seeded TU in the opening round of the American Athletic Conference Softball Championship on Thursday, May 8. The tournament is being held at Cougar Softball Stadium on the campus of the University of Houston.
The Owls (15-30), who have struggled offensively of late, got things going right out of the gate. Leadoff batter Sarah Prezioso
reached on a hit by pitch and a Leah Lucas
single to right field one out later put runners on the corners. Kelsey Dominik
, also the starting pitcher in the game, stepped in and hit a fly ball to centerfield that allowed the speedy Prezioso to score from third easily for the 1-0 lead.
After two quick outs to start the bottom of the frame, Brittany Duncan tied the contest with one swing. Duncan worked the count full before sending a pitch over the right field fence for a solo shot and a 1-1 contest. The very next batter, Katie Keller, made it back-to-back homers with another full count blast to right centerfield, giving the Cardinals a 2-1 lead early.
After a leadoff walk to start the second, and a ball to the next batter, Louisville quickly went to the bullpen and brought in Rachel Le Coq. Le Coq was greeted by a first pitch single from Brooklin White
to put runners on first and second, but settled in after that and struck out the side to preserve the advantage.
The Cards struck again in the bottom of the second with another solo homer off the bat of Kayla Soles over the left field fence. After giving up a single to the next batter, Dominik got two groundouts and a strikeout to get out of it without further damage with the Cherry & White trailing 3-1.
The Owls got in on the power hitting in the top of the third. Dominik singled to second base to put a runner on for Kaylyn Zierke
, who drilled a ball over the left centerfield fence to tie the contest up at 3-3.
For the first time in the game, Temple sat the Cards down without scoring in the bottom of the third to carry the 3-3 tie into the fourth. But TU could not capitalize in its half of the frame with Le Coq facing the minimum batters in the inning.
Dominik drew a one out walk and Zierke singled to shortstop to put two runners on in the top of the fifth, but Le Coq again got out of it with a fielder's choice and strikeout, her sixth of the game, to send it to the bottom of the frame still knotted at 3-3.
After one more scoreless attempt from both teams, Louisville finally broke the tie in the bottom of the sixth. Keller led off the frame with a single up the middle, and one out later, Soles belted her second homerun of the game to give her squad a 5-3 advantage.
Maryssa Becker (13-7), who had come on in relief in the sixth, retired the side in order in the top of the seventh to give Louisville the win. The Cardinals (34-20) advance to the semifinals of the tournament, facing the winner of #2 USF vs. #7 Memphis.
Dominik (9-12) took the loss in the complete-game effort. The sophomore allowed eight hits, struck out four and walked just one.
Becker (2.0 innings, one hit, three strikeouts) got the win for Louisville, which used a combined three pitchers to get past the Owls. Caralisa Connell lasted just one inning as the starter, walking one and giving up one hit and one run. Le Coq was strong in relief, going 4.0 innings, giving up five hits, two runs, one walk and striking out six.
Zierke had a solid day at the plate for the Owls, going 3-for-3 with two RBI and a run scored. Five other players for TU had one hit each, including every senior in the lineup – Prezioso, Nelons and White – playing in their final career game.
The game was the final game in the 40-year history of the Temple softball program.
For more information on Temple softball, visit www.owlsports.com
, and www.twitter.com/Temple_Softball