KALAMAZOO, Mich. - Toledo used a five-run fifth inning to move past Western Michigan, 5-1, in a Mid-American Conference West Division battle on Saturday afternoon. The Rockets improve to 16-33 overall and 8-13 in league play, and can clinch the final MAC postseason tournament bid with a win over the Broncos in Sunday's season finale.
Toledo stalled out of the gate versus WMU starter Allyson Kus, recording just one hit through the first four innings, but the league's second-best offense got it rolling in the fifth with five runs on four base knocks.
UT quickly loaded the bases after two-straight singles and a fielder's choice for its leading hitter senior Courtney McCarthy, who singled up the middle with one out to plate the game's first two runs.
A crucial play followed when McCarthy was granted second base after a defensive interference call to fill the bases again. Freshman Jess Lemieux came up next and cleared the bases with her seventh double of the season to put the visitors up 5-0.
Since being inserted into the lineup on April 12, Lemieux is batting .414 (24-for-58) in the previous 16 contests and has recorded a hit in 14 of those contests. She has also collected at least two knocks in half of those starts.
Marla Gooding (11-20) was superb in the circle for the Midnight Blue & Gold, while scattering six hits and striking out two for the complete-game victory. The Broncos pushed across their only run on a sacrifice fly in the sixth.
The home team made it interesting by loading the bases with two gone in the seventh, bringing the tying run to the plate. But Gooding held strong and forced a groundout to finish it.
UT entered the day tied with Akron for the eighth and final qualifying spot for next week's MAC tourney. With Akron's loss to EMU, the Rockets now hold the one-game advantage over the Zips and Eagles.
However a plethora of scenarios still exist and the final two bids will likely not be determined until Sunday's league games are complete.
MAC Standings (as of May 4)
Top Eight Teams Qualify for Tournament