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ECU softball vs. UCF Thursday in AAC Tournament

East Carolina attempts to win its first conference tournament title since 2011
ECU softball hosts Ohio
ECU softball hosts Ohio(WITN Sports)
Published: May. 12, 2021 at 10:17 PM EDT|Updated: May. 13, 2021 at 11:53 AM EDT
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GREENVILLE, N.C. (WITN) - East Carolina attempts to win its first conference tournament title since 2011 this week when it travels to Tulsa for the 2021 American Athletic Conference Softball Championship. The sixth-seeded Pirates are slated for a quarterfinal matchup against No. 3 seed UCF Thursday at Noon at the Collins Family Softball Complex. The contest will be streamed live via ESPN+ with Chris Mycoskie and Jill Jelnick on the call. ECU finished the regular season with a 16-32 overall record, but carries a five-game winning streak into the postseason event with a 1-0 road victory at tournament No. 2 seed South Florida and four-straight wins over Memphis in Greenville.

In its last appearance at the AAC Tournament in 2019, No. 7 seed East Carolina knocked off No. 2 seed and three-time defending champion Tulsa 4-3 in eight innings at the Cougar Softball Stadium in Houston. The remainder of the championship event was rained out and regular season champion USF received the league’s automatic bid to the NCAA Tournament.

The league did not hold a 2020 championship due to the COVID-19 pandemic as the season was cancelled in March of that year.

The Pirates hold a 2-4 record in AAC Tournament play, picking up their first win in 2017 when they upset No. 3 seed UCF by a 4-2 margin in the quarterfinals at the then-named ECU Softball Stadium.

The UCF Series

UCF leads the series with East Carolina, 27-20. • The Pirates are 3-1 against the Knights in conference tournament play, including a 2-1 mark when both teams were members of Conference USA. • UCF swept the season series in 2021, winning all four games at Max R. Joyner Family Stadium. • Head Coach Coutney Oliver holds a 3-14 record against the Knights.

Pitching Coming To Life

During its current five-game winning streak that includes a 1-0 victory over tournament No. 2 seed South Florida, East Carolina has received a number of solid performances out of its pitching staff. The Pirates sport an 0.39 earned run average with 27 strikeouts against three walks in the last 36 innings pitched and have also limited opposing batters to a .157 average. Erin Poepping and Kama Woodall have given up just one earned run combined in the last 35.1 frames.

Tough Sledding

According to the latest release of the NCAA RPI, East Carolina has played the 57th-toughest schedule in the nation. American Athletic Conference mates Memphis and Houston are 50th and 54th. ECU has played a total of 15 games against top-50 RPI clubs Georgia (17), Liberty (19), Wichita State (28), UCF (32) and James Madison (35). 11 of those contests occurred on the road.

Top 10 Material

Poepping, in her fourth season as a Pirate, has entered into the ECU career top 10 in a couple of categories. The Lino Lakes, Minn. product is fifth in saves (4), sixth in strikeouts (372), seventh in appearances (124) and eighth in games started (80) and innings pitched (502).

Defense Showing Up

The Pirates have committed just 37 errors this season, good for a .973 fielding percentage - a mark that leads the AAC and is 33rdnationally. East Carolina has made just two errors in its last five games.

East Carolina In American Athletic Conference Tournament Play

2015: (5) South Florida 5, (4) East Carolina 0 - Orlando, Fla.

2016: (3) Tulsa 2, (6) East Carolina 0 - Tulsa, Okla.

2017: (6) East Carolina 4, (3) UCF 2 - Greenville, N.C.

2017: (2) Houston 6, (6) East Carolina 0 - Greenville, N.C.

2018: (2) Houston 3, (7) East Carolina 1 - Tampa, Fla.

2019: (7) East Carolina 4, (2) Tulsa 3 (Eight Innings) - Houston, Texas

Notes

The 2019 tournament was cancelled during the quarterfinal round due to inclement weather ... The 2020 tournament was not held due to the emerging COVID-19 pandemic.

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