Softball bounces Memphis from AAC tournament
Elimination was just one strike away as sophomore Kaylin Crumpton stepped back into the batter’s box during the bottom of the seventh inning. She hit. It was just a single, but it kept the Cougars alive.
Crumpton’s hit to middle field turned the game around, and UH rallied in overtime to defeat the University of Memphis Tigers 5-4 at the American Athletic Conference Championships on Thursday.
“One of our pregame things was, it’s not always the best team that wins, but the team that plays the best, and our focus going into the game was to be the team that played the best,” said Head coach Kyla Holas in a post-game interview.
With Crumpton on first, freshman outfielder Elise LeBeouf, who was awarded AAC All-Conference second team honors yesterday, hit a triple that sent Crumpton in for the score, which put the game at 4-2.
After going 0-3 from the plate in the first six innings and facing the possibility of her last at bat as a Cougar, senior infielder Courtney Klingler stepped into the batter’s box and blasted a two-run homer — for the second straight game — to tie the game at 4-all.
“I was just thinking, get a hit,” Klingler said in the post-game interview. “It’s your senior year, and this is the only way to extend the season.”
After Klingler’s 14th homerun of the season, the Tigers were able to get the out, which sent the game into overtime. As the game led up to the 10th inning, the Cougars went through their entire batting order. Klingler approached the plate again.
Memphis and UH fought back and forth for two and a half innings before the Cougars iced the game in the bottom of the 10th inning.
The Tigers lost to Klingler’s two-run walk off homerun in the previous game against the Cougars, so Memphis strategically and intentionally walked Klingler. UH subbed in freshman pitcher Presley Bell to pinch run for Klingler.
The Cougars were able to get another hit, and Bell was able to capitalize by running to third.
Freshman outfielder Maya Thomas, another All-Conference second teamer, hit a sac fly that sent Bell home for the win.
Freshman pitcher and All-Conference first team awardee Savannah Heebner got the nod as starting pitcher and pitched all 10 innings. She prevented the Tigers from scoring in the final three frames after allowing three earned runs in the first seven innings.
In the second round, the Cougars will play No. 1 seed the University of South Florida Bulls. The Bulls were 15-3 in conference play during the regular season and won 2-1 in the season series against the Cougars.
“We’ve got nothing to lose and that’s going to be our approach tomorrow,” Holas said in the post-game interview.
First pitch is set for 2 p.m. Friday.