HOUSTON, Texas (May 8, 2014) – The bat of senior Alexis Durando (Oakland, N.J.) and arm of junior left-hander Alyssa Landrith (Vacaville, Calif.) were the difference for Rutgers softball in the opening round of the American Athletic Conference Championship, guiding the No. 5 Scarlet Knights to a 5-1 win over No. 4 Houston Thursday night at Cougar Stadium.
The victory was the program’s first in postseason play since 1998 and set RU (28-18, 9-9 American) up with a meeting vs. No. 1 UCF (40-15, 15-3 American) in the conference semifinals tomorrow evening at 7:30 p.m. EST.
American Digital Network | Championship Central
Highlights: No. 5 RU vs. No. 4 Houston
Live Video (Friday, May 9): No. 5 RU vs. No. 1 UCF (American Athletic Conference Semifinals)
Landrith (17-7) was magnificent against the Cougars for the second time this season, tossing a complete-game two-hitter while allowing just one run in the win. She lowered her ERA to 2.28 with the one-run outing.
The Scarlet Knights broke the game open in the sixth inning, as Durando launched a grand slam – the second of her career – over the center field wall to give RU a 5-0 lead. Sophomore Liz Adams (Crystal Lake, Ill.) got things going with a single up the middle and was followed up by another single from senior Loren Williams (Los Angeles, Calif.).
After an intentional walk of junior Jackie Bates (Lincroft, N.J.), Durando stepped to the plate and took the 1-0 offering from Houston’s (32-21, 13-8 American) Julana Shrum deep to center for Rutgers’ second grand slam of the season.
RU struck first off the bat of Adams, who doubled down the left field line in the second inning to bring home classmate Jordan Whitley (Clayton, Del.). The RBI was the first of the year for the sophomore catcher.
After evening the season series at 2-2 against Houston, RU will look to repeat that feat tomorrow night against top-seeded UCF. RU dropped two of three games to the Knights from April 5-6 in Orlando, Fla. First pitch is slated for 7:30 p.m. The contest will be carried live online via the American Digital Network, with Lincoln Rose on the call.
- The postseason win was the first in 16 years for Rutgers, which topped Notre Dame, 1-0, on May 2, 1998 in its second game of the BIG EAST Tournament.
- Rutgers’ 28-18 record and .609 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).
- With the victory over UH, the Scarlet Knights pulled to 2-2 all-time against the Cougars.
- Despite scoring five runs, RU had the potential for more, leaving 11 runners on base Sunday. That total was the second-highest this year.
- Bates has reached base in each of the last 29 games – a team-high.
- Landrith’s 17 wins this season tie for third on RU’s single-season list. She owns the No. 2 spot on the list as well, recording 18 wins in her rookie campaign in 2012.
- Durando launched a grand slam over the center field wall in the sixth inning. The homer tied her career-high in RBIs and was RU’s second grand slam of the season. Freshman Carly Todd (Deptford, N.J.) hit a walk-off grand slam in the eighth inning against UConn on April 27 at the RU Softball Complex.
- Durando’s home run was her fifth this season and 12th of her career.
- Durando’s first-career grand slam came last season against Georgetown on April 6 at the RU Softball Complex.
- Howard moved into third place all-time of RU’s single-season hits list with a single through the right side in the fourth inning. She tied Williams for the third-most hits in a single season (62) with a double in her first at-bat.
- The multi-hit game was Howard’s team-leading 20th this season.
- Adams’ RBI in the second inning was her first this season, while the double was her third. She posted her first multi-hit game of the season and third of her career.
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