HOUSTON, Texas (May 10, 2014) – The Rutgers softball team had the tying run on base and the winning run at the plate against UCF in the bottom of the eighth inning looking to complete a six-run comeback Saturday at Cougar Stadium. But UCF’s Mackenzie Audas, who entered the inning with one out and two runners on, shut down the RU bats to preserve an 8-5 win, ending the Scarlet Knights’ season in the American Athletic Conference Championship Semifinals.
RU did not go down quietly in the seventh inning, facing an 8-2 deficit. Junior Jackie Bates (Lincroft, N.J.) drew a leadoff walk and was followed by a single up the middle from senior Alexis Durando (Oakland, N.J.). An error in senior Emma Woo’s (Santa Monica, Calif.) pinch-hit at-bat then loaded the bases for the Scarlet Knights, who crossed their first run since the opening inning off a sac-fly from freshman Carly Todd (Deptford, N.J.) a batter later.
Back-to-back RBI singles from sophomores Melanie Slowinski (Severn, Md.) and Jordan Whitley (Clayton, Del.) following the sac-fly made things interesting with one out, cutting the UCF lead to 8-5 with a pair of runners on.
Audas entered the game and registered a strikeout against freshman Danielle Demarco (Brookfield, Conn.) to bring senior Loren Williams (Los Angeles, Calif.) – the tying run – up for the potential final out. She hit an infield single to load the bases up again for RU, sending junior Chandler Howard (Wilmington, Del.) to the plate as the potential game-winning run.
Audas, however, worked ahead quickly and got Howard swinging, securing her second save of the season.
Junior left-hander Alyssa Landrith (Vacaville, Calif.) took the loss, going 1.2 innings and allowing five runs. She finished the season, 17-8 with a 2.45 ERA.
The Scarlet Knights went ahead early with a two-run blast from Bates, who took the pitch from Shelby Turnier way over the left field wall to give RU a 2-0 lead. The homer was her ninth this season, tying Howard, who scored on the play, for the team lead.
But UCF (41-15, 15-3 American) responded to RU’s early lead and did not let up, using a two-run home run and a solo shot in the second to go ahead 5-2. From there the Knights tacked on another home run in the fourth en route to three total runs across the third and fourth innings, going ahead by a commanding 8-2 margin.
Despite the loss, Rutgers (28-19, 9-9 American) enjoyed one of its most successful seasons in recent years, finishing with the best winning percentage (.596) since 1995 and capturing its first postseason victory in 16 years.
- Rutgers’ 28-19 record and .596 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).
- As a team, the Scarlet Knights ‘ .301 batting average, .435 slugging percentage and .375 on-base percentage were the second-best marks in the last 10 seasons.
- RU left 12 runners on base Saturday, tying for a season-high.
- Bates reached base in each of the last 30 games to close the season.
- Bates notched her ninth home run of the season on the first inning, tying for the team lead with Howard. With 40 RBIs, Bates fell three RBIs short of tying Sharon Morris (1993 and 1995) for third on the RU single-season list.
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