PISCATAWAY, N.J. (May 7, 2014) – The field is set, and the No. 5 Rutgers softball team will face No. 4 Houston in the opening round of the inaugural American Athletic Conference Softball Championship on Thursday, May 8 at 7:30 p.m.
The winner of the contest will advance to take on the winner of No. 1 UCF and No. 8 UConn. RU (27-18, 9-9 American) swept the Huskies at home earlier this season and took one of three games from the Knights in Orlando, Fla. RU seeks its first postseason win since the 1998 BIG EAST Tournament, when the squad topped Notre Dame, 1-0, in its second contest.
The first six games of the tournament will be broadcast live by the American Digital Network. Lincoln Rose will offer the play-by-play call and Jenny Hill will provide color commentary. The American Athletic Conference Championship game, scheduled for 4 p.m. on Saturday, May 10, will air on ESPN2 with Joe Davis and Jenny Hill on the call.
Live Video (The American Digital Network)
Rutgers Quick Hits
The Scarlet Knights dropped two of three contests against the Cougars to close the regular season, taking the first game of the three-game set before dropping the final two. Junior left-hander Alyssa Landrith (Vacaville, Calif.) dazzled in the outing, throwing 10.0 innings of shutout softball to guide RU to a 1-0 victory.
Rutgers’ 27-18 record and .600 winning percentage rank among the best marks in recent school history. The 2014 team’s winning percentage is the highest since the 1995 team went 30-17 (.638). RU also finished the regular season with its best conference winning (.500) percentage since the 1998 squad went 10-5 (.666) in the BIG EAST.
Juniors Chandler Howard (Wilmington, Del.) and Jackie Bates (Lincroft, N.J.) have paced the Scarlet Knights offense this season. Howard (.391) and Bates (.383) are the top two hitters on RU and are second and fifth, respectively, in the American. Howard is tied for second with 62 hits, while Bates is second in RBIs (38) and doubles (16) and third in slugging percentage (.667)
The Scarlet Knights’ .299 batting average, .434 slugging percentage and .372 on-base percentage are the second-best program marks since 2004.
RU’s 33 home runs this season are the second-most in program history behind the 2011 team, which recorded 36.
Houston (32-20, 13-8 American), selected to finish third in the league in the preseason coaches’ poll, goes for its third consecutive win over RU after taking two of the last three to close the three-game series from May 3-4.
The Cougars boast some of the most dangerous bats in the conference, from leading hitter and sophomore Katie St. Pierre (.399) to one of the most dangerous sluggers in senior Haley Outon. Outon leads the league with an astounding 53 RBIs this season and 15 home runs. Bates – the next closest player in the league in RBIs – has 38 in 45 games.
Senior Diedre Outon has paced the Cougar staff this season with a 2.70 ERA and 15-9 record. She has thrown 12 complete games and struck out 66 batters in 147.2 innings pitched.
Follow Rutgers Athletics on Facebook (www.facebook.com/RutgersAthletics) and Twitter (@RUAthletics) for all of the latest news and updates. For specific updates regarding Rutgers softball, follow the program on Twitter (@RUSoftball) and Instagram (@RU_Softball). The team is also on Facebook (www.facebook.com/RutgersSB). Fans can receive timely information, including special offers and giveaways throughout the year on our social media outlets along with www.ScarletKnights.com.