The Charlotte softball team had a fantastic opening day to the Conference USA (C-USA) Tournament, winning both of their games against the No. 6 seed University of Alabama at Birmingham (UAB) Blazers and the No. 3 seed Western Kentucky Hilltoppers. With the pair of wins, Charlotte advanced to the quarterfinals, which will take place Thursday, May 12, at 1 p.m. against the tournament host, the No. 2 seed North Texas.
These teams faced off earlier this season in a series from March 25 through 27th, when the 49ers welcomed the Mean Green to Sue M. Daughtridge Stadium for a competitive series. North Texas won the head-to-head affair, two games to one, but the combined score of all three matches was 12-11 in favor of the 49ers.
It was a tightly contested series, starting with a season-low zero runs for Charlotte in the opening game, falling 1-0. After a tremendous performance, Lindsey Walljasper was handed a tough loss, only allowing four hits in seven innings.
In the second matchup, the 49ers came out the gates firing and led 6-0 going into the fourth inning. However, the Mean Green didn't give up and ended up rallying off nine unanswered to steal the game from Charlotte. The 49ers responded in the last game of the series with another fast start, getting up 6-0 again going into the third, but this time Charlotte held on to a commanding 6-1 victory.
What you need to know:
Charlotte is coming off two wins on the first day of tournament play. The 49ers defeated the No. 6 seed UAB Blazers 8-0 in their first-round matchup and were led by Walljasper, who pitched a two-hit gem.
Charlotte then geared up to take on the No. 3 seed Western Kentucky Hilltoppers. The 49ers got ahead 2-0 before falling behind 5-2. The team battled back, and Cori Henderson put the Niners in front with a two-run home run, ultimately sealing the game.
Scouting North Texas:
The Mean Green had a season for the ages. They finished second in the C-USA with an outstanding 32-14 record, including a 17-7 record in conference play.
This team is exceptional, and it starts at the forefront with All-Conference First Team, Kailey Gamble, who had an incredible fifteen home runs, and 49 RBIs on the season. That isn't North Texas' only double-digit home run hitter, as Kalei Christensen hit ten home runs while also contributing 44 RBIs. As far as batting average goes, Lexi Cobb leads the way for North Texas with a .385 average per clip.
Much like Charlotte, North Texas has multiple lethal hitters on their team. The Mean Green also have a stellar dugout, with two of their pitchers making the All-Conference Second Team. Ashley Peters held a 17-6 record on the season and held her opponents to a .244 batting average. North Texas' second go-to pitcher was Skylar Savage, who has a 13-7 record and limits her opponents to a .232 average.
North Texas and Charlotte are amazing teams so expect this game to be a slugfest. We got a taste of what this matchup would look like earlier this season, but expect this one to get a little crazier with the stakes at hand.
The 49ers are hot right now, and I'm going to roll with them. There's always been someone new for Charlotte to make the game-winning play in the last two weeks, and I expect that to happen again in a close ball game. I like Bailey Vannoy to hit a clutch homer and the 49ers to win 5-4 Thursday afternoon.
Looking to Gameday:
The 49ers will take on the Mean Green on Thursday, May 12, at 1 p.m. ET in Lovelace Stadium on the campus of North Texas. It will be available to stream on ESPN+, and the title game can be found on CBS Sports Network.
The winner will face the winner of the No. 1 seed, LA Tech, or No. 4, Marshall, at 1:00 p.m. ET on Friday, May 13. The loser will move to the loser bracket, where they will play again at 8:30 p.m. on Thursday, May 12.