A trio of freshman helped No. 2 seed East Carolina escape with a 1-0 victory over No. 6 seed Memphis in a 10-inning affair in game three of the 2007 Conference USA Softball Championship presented by Coca-Cola on Thursday at the UCF Softball Complex.
ECU freshman Kaui Tom's single to shallow left field in the bottom of the 10th scored Charina Sumner, who led off the frame with a triple to right. The two hits in the last frame were twice as many as the Pirates mustered through the first nine frames off Memphis starter Jenna Kubesch.
Kubesch was locked in a pitcher's duel with ECU's Tony Paisley as neither starter allowed a hit through the first four innings of play. Kubesch actually had a perfect game through eight innings before Christina Merrida singled with two outs in the ninth.
The Tigers (36-24) had their chances to push across a run on several occasions in the late innings, but Paisley was able to keep the U of M offense off the scoreboard.
Memphis third baseman Bridgette McNulty scratched out the game's first hit in the fifth when she laced a single to right-center field. Paisley then induced two pop ups and a strikeout to end that threat.
The Tigers led off both the sixth and seventh with hits, but again could not produce a run.
Merrida was the first baserunner of the game for the Pirates, but her stay on base was short-lived after she was thrown out trying to steal second base.
Paisley returned to the circle and had no trouble going through the Tiger lineup in the 10th to set up the Pirates with another chance to win the game. Sumner's ninth triple of the season set the table for Tom's bloop hit that provided the walk-off victory for ECU.
The Pirates (39-18) improved to 7-5 in one-run games in 2007 and 2-3 in extra innings, while the Tigers fell to 13-7 in one-run contests and an even 3-3 in extra innings. The game was the 10th in a row decided by a run for Memphis.
Paisley went a career-high 10 innings and improved to 20-5 on the season with eight strikeouts. She is now tied for 10th on the school's single season wins list.
Kubesch fell to 24-11 and struck out 12 Pirate hitters with no walks, while giving up only three hits in nine innings.
East Carolina advances to Friday's 4 p.m. game against the winner of Friday's 10 a.m. contest. Memphis will face No. 5 Marshall at 12:30 p.m. Friday afternoon.