Previewing All Six Teams in the 2007 C-USA Softball Championship Presented By Coca-Cola

May 9, 2007

ORLANDO - With the 2007 Conference USA Softball Championship set to get underway Thursday morning at the UCF Softball Complex, UCFAthletics.com previews all six teams participating in the event. No. 4 UCF, who is searching for its second appearance in an NCAA Regional (2005), begins its quest vs. No. 5 Marshall at 12:30 p.m.

No. 1 Houston
The Conference USA regular-season champions, Houston went 20-4 in league play in 2007 and 39-16 overall this year. The Cougars won every C-USA three-game series, dropping one game each to Memphis, UTEP, East Carolina and Marshall. They were 11-1 in C-USA home contests, and rank second only to UCF in team earned-run average (1.48). Houston has survived to play on the final day of the C-USA Championship every year since 2004. That year, the Cougars dropped a 4-2 decision to DePaul, but still went on to earn a berth in the NCAA Regionals.

No. 2 East Carolina
East Carolina posted its highest Conference USA finish this season by going 14-9 during its league schedule. The Pirates also had an impressive 38-18 overall mark and concluded the regular season by sweeping Southern Miss in Hattiesburg. In early March, they recorded a 10-game winning streak, culminating in three victories over UCF to open the C-USA season. ECU enters the weekend ranked first in the conference in homers (57), triples (13) and fielding percentage (.977). Meanwhile, its pitching staff sits No. 1 with 405 strikeouts.

No. 3 Tulsa
Winner of last year's C-USA Championship, Tulsa has used its offense and the combination of three different pitchers to secure the No. 3 seed this weekend. Junior Sara Dyer led the way with a .391 average and 32 extra-base hits, while sophomore Katie Lee (11), freshman Jackie Lawrence (nine) and senior Julie Fennell (nine) each have at least nine wins in the circle. The Golden Hurricane had a slight roller coaster ride en route to the postseason, winning eight in a row March 3-13 before dropping seven straight March 15-24. Away from its home field, Tulsa went 9-18 on the road or on neutral fields.

No. 4 UCF
UCF went 11-13 in C-USA contests this season and 35-24 overall. The Knights won five league series in 2007, which included a series sweep over UTEP, allowing the Knights to clinch its first berth in the C-USA postseason tournament. The Black and Gold's pitching staff is the best in the league with a 1.37 ERA while holding the opposition to a .184 batting average. Junior Allison Kime, UCF's all-time strikeout leader, begins the weekend ranked sixth in the nation with a 0.93 ERA. She fanned 243 batters in 232.1 innings of work this season, while tossing 30 complete games.

No. 5 Marshall
Marshall has played both long ball and small ball in 2007 to earn the No. 5 seed. Juniors Rachel Folden (12) and Samantha Rodriguez (10) each have double-digits in the home run department, while as a team the Thundering Herd have attempted 122 steals (ECU ranks second in stolen base attempts with 95). Marshall ranks seventh in team ERA with a 3.34 mark, only to place first by allowing just 90 walks in 371.0 innings. Similar to Tulsa, Marshall had a seven-game losing streak and an eight-game winning streak late in the season, but lost its final two games to top seed Houston to close the year.

No. 6 Memphis
In just its second year of existence, Memphis squeaked into the postseason by having one less loss than UAB in C-USA action, finishing the league slate with a 10-12 record. But the Tigers earned it, as they swept UAB and UCF in the final two regular-season weekends to keep their season alive. Memphis ranks in the middle of the pack in team batting average (.275) and ERA (2.70), and has two hurlers with at least 26 starts in seniors Jenna Kubesch and Nicki Johnson.