May 5, 2013
The win clinches UAB's first regular-season Conference USA title in program history.
UAB improves to 36-15 overall and 19-4 in league play, the program's best-ever C-USA record. Houston falls to 37-17, 19-5 in league action, and the Cougars will finish conference action in second place.
"Champions win on Sunday," head coach Marla Townsend said. "When we left here yesterday, it wasn't good. We didn't play to our potential, and we let a three-run error in the first game carry over to the second. More than that, we weren't hitting. Before the game, I challenged the girls to come out and jump on it from the beginning."
In the circle, senior Lauren Webster (12-3) threw the first six innings, allowing only two runs and striking out nine. Junior Lannah Campbell entered the circle two on and no outs in the bottom of the seventh and only allowed one Houston run.
The Blazers got on the board first, with junior designated payer Kristen McGrath sending an RBI single to left center to score sophomore Heather Person, who reached on a single up the right field line.
"Every time you play a team three times, especially with a matchup of the No. 36 and No. 37 in the RPI, you know it's going to be a good game," Townsend said. "When we came out, going opposite field with some hits, I knew that they bought in. Obviously we had two key home runs, and then we kept executing and scoring."
Houston answered in the bottom of the opening frame, as Haley Outon singled to short to score Kendra Cullum, who reached on a hit-by-pitch. In the top of the second, senior Whitney Fletcher led things off with a double to right center, and was scored as McGrath picked up her second RBI on the day on a single, also to right center.
Kimbrell then hit her 10th home run of the year to push the Blazer lead to 4-1, before Davis hit her first homer of the year to make the score 5-1.
UAB plated two more runs in the top of the sixth, as freshman Caitlin Attfield singled up the middle, and was scored on a double to right center by Fletcher. The Blazers then loaded the bases on walks from senior third baseman Kate Armstrong and Kimbrell, before Davis drew her third walk of the game, sending Fletcher home.
"We really wanted to get to seven, because we knew Houston wasn't going to go down easily, Townsend said. "They're a very good team, and our goal was to win a regular-season championship, and we did that. Yesterday kept us from winning our eighth series, but I will by far take the regular-season championship. These girls have been working so hard, they knew when they came in the fall and after working so hard over the summer that this team was special."
Houston attempted a comeback in the bottom of the seventh, as Reina Gaber and Diedra Outon reached on back-to-back singles with no outs. Campbell entered the circle and Pearson grabbed a pop out for the first out.
Julia Pecina then doubled, scoring Gaber, but Kimbrell tagged D. Outon out at the plate to get the second out. Katie St. Pierre singled up the middle to score Pecina for Houston's final run of the game before Campbell struck Cullum out looking.
"We've battled and come back so many times, had key points in the season like Memphis, and we know that there's still a lot of ball out there to be played," Townsend said. "I'm proud for them, I'm proud for UAB athletics, and I want to say how much I appreciate the administration, how much they supported us for so long. This win is for everybody, from the support staff to the university to the girls' families to our former players, and I couldn't be happier right now."
Up next, UAB travels to Tulsa, Okla., for the Conference USA Championship, May 9-11. The Blazers will enter the as the No. 1 seed, and will play the No. 8 seed, Southern Miss, in the opening round. The game is set for 4:30 p.m. CT on Thursday.