TULSA, Okla. – When country music legend Merle Haggard sang “Take Me Back to Tulsa”, he might have been singing about the University of Connecticut softball team, which prepares for the first round of the American Athletic Conference Championship on Thursday.
The Huskies (19-31, 4-12 AAC), who lost to Oklahoma State on Tuesday in Stillwater, have been in the state of Oklahoma since last week to play Tulsa – a trip that has spanned more than one week.
No. 7 UConn will play No. 2 UCF (35-19, 12-4 AAC) on Thursday at 2:30 p.m. (ET) at the Collins Softball Complex in the AAC Championship quarterfinals. Live stats and a live (and free) stream on the American Digital Network will be available.
As familiar as the Huskies now are with the Sooner State, they did not get properly acquainted with the Knights earlier this season due to bad weather in Storrs. UConn and UCF played just one of three scheduled games on the weekend of April 1-3.
Senior Lexi Gifford leads UConn into the tournament, hitting .500 (8-of-16) in her last five games and .400 (12-of-30) in her last 10. She is one of two players with a batting average over .300 (.318), along with freshman Ally Hernandez at .333.
“We are excited about competing in the conference tournament this week,” said head coach Jen McIntyre. “The conference has been tough all year as reflected by several of the teams in and out of the top 25 in the country.”
The Knights, the defending 2015 AAC Champions, closed-out the regular season winning three of their last four games. They did not lose a conference series this season, dropping single games to Houston, Memphis, USF and East Carolina.
Jamie Ujvari leads the AAC with a 1.58 ERA, while fellow pitcher Shelby Turnier leads in opposing batting average (.201), innings pitched (207.0) and batters struck-out (218). UCF has an AAC-best 2.14 ERA as a pitching staff.
As of May 3, the Knights were ranked No. 25 in the USA Today/NFCA Coaches Poll. The Huskies will be looking for revenge after being ousted by UCF in the first round of the inaugural 2014 AAC Championship in Houston, Texas.
“We are looking forward to a tough challenge against UCF tomorrow and will attack one game at a time,” said McIntyre.
Tickets for the AAC Championship are available for purchase in All-Session or Individual Day format on tulsahurricane.com. Click on the link HERE to get your tickets!