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No. 18 Softball Falls at East Carolina, 6-4, in Series Finale

Sophomore Julie Kernen hit a two-run home run to lead the Golden Hurricane in a 6-4 defeat at East Carolina Sunday.
Sophomore Julie Kernen hit a two-run home run to lead the Golden Hurricane in a 6-4 defeat at East Carolina Sunday.
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April 7, 2013

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GREENVILLE, N.C. - Julie Kernen hit her fourth home run of the season, but Tulsa dropped its first Conference USA game of the year, 6-4, at East Carolina in the series finale Sunday afternoon at ECU Softball Stadium.

The Golden Hurricane (31-9-1, 11-1 C-USA) scored all four of its runs in the final three innings, but the effort proved to be too little too late. The Pirates (15-24, 5-7 C-USA) scored the first six runs of the game, including a three-run home run in the first inning. Lacey Middlebrooks (13-3) allowed four earned runs on three hits in 3.2 innings to take the loss. ECU starter Courtney Smith (3-10) allowed three runs on four hits in 5.0 innings to pick up the win.

"Pitching was off and we didn't start having focused at bats until the last three innings," Tulsa Head Coach John Bargfeldt said. "We dug ourselves a hole and could not get out of it. Julie hit a rocket, and we saw some positive contributions. We always talk about the four phases, and a couple of them were only there for half the game. I think it shows it all when they scored six runs on four hits."

With nobody out in the top of the fifth, Kernen drove a two-run shot over the fence in left center field to cut the deficit to 6-2. Right fielder Haley Henshaw led off the inning with a single and scored on the homer.

Centerfielder Caitlin Everett started the sixth with a bunt single, prompting East Carolina to bring in Sarah Christian, who earned her first save of the season, to pitch in relief. Everett moved around to score on a base hit to left by Middlebrooks, making the score 6-3.

In the seventh inning with two out, left fielder Cierra Hughes and Everett hit back-to-back infield singles to second. Third baseman Jill Barrett then scored Hughes with a base hit up the middle to make the score 6-4, but a ground out ended the rally.

East Carolina got on the board in the first inning with a one-out single, a walk, and the three-run homer by first baseman Jordan Lewis.

The Pirates added two unearned runs in the third inning. A hit batter, fielder's choice and a walk put runners on first and second. Shortstop Casey Alcorn reached on a throwing error at pitcher, allowing third baseman Alex Fieldhouse to score and Lewis to move to third. Alcorn then stole second, while Lewis went home, making the score 5-0.

ECU scored its sixth run in the fourth inning when left fielder Jill Jelnick hit a two-out single and scored after three consecutive walks.

TU freshman Caitlin Sill entered in relief after the RBI base on balls and got a pop out to end the frame. She allowed just one hit and one walk with two strikeouts in 2.1 innings.

The Golden Hurricane returns to action next weekend, April 13-14, when it plays host to UAB (24-8, 11-1 C-USA) for a three-game league series at the Collins Family Softball Complex. The Hurricane and Blazers play a doubleheader Saturday beginning at 1 p.m., and a single game at noon Sunday.

Follow Tulsa Athletics on Twitter at www.Twitter.com/TulsaHurricane and Facebook at www.facebook.com/TulsaHurricane. Follow Tulsa Softball on Twitter at www.Twitter.com/TulsaSoftball and Facebook at www.facebook.com/TulsaWSoftball.

East Carolina 6, Tulsa 4 (Apr 07, 2013 at Greenville, N.C.)
Tulsa............... 000 021 1 -  4  8  1      (31-9-1, 11-1 C-USA)
East Carolina....... 302 100 X -  6  4  1      (15-24, 5-7 C-USA)
Pitchers: Tulsa - Middlebrooks, Lacey; SILL, Caitlin(4) and Bowen, Cassidy. East Carolina -
Smith, C.; Christian(6) and Clark.
Win-Smith, C.(3-10)  Save-Christian(1)  Loss-MIDDLEBROOKS, Lacey(13-3)  T-1:58  A-186
HR TLS - Kernen, Julie (4).
HR ECU - Lewis (4).
Smith, C. faced 1 batter in the 6th.