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No. 15 Softball Beats East Carolina 8-3, Wins Series

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April 13, 2014

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TULSA, Okla. - Senior Shelby Blanton went 3-for-4 with two RBI, and senior Jill Barrett and junior Erica Samspon each scored twice to lead the 15th-ranked Tulsa softball team to a series-clinching 8-3 victory over East Carolina Sunday afternoon at the Collins Family Softball Complex.

Senior Aimee Creger (19-1) picked up her second win of the series, tossing nine strikeouts and allowing two earned runs on seven hits in a complete-game effort. The Golden Hurricane improved to 38-5 overall and 12-2 in C-USA play. ECU starter Sarah Christian (15-7) allowed five runs on nine hits in 5.2 innings for the Pirates (21-17, 10-8 C-USA).

For the first time this weekend the Hurricane scored first, taking a 1-0 lead in the third on a solo home run by Sampson. TU had to fight from behind again after ECU took a 2-1 advantage in the top of the fifth. A big response in the bottom of the frame gave Tulsa the lead for good, 6-2. The Hurricane added two more runs in the sixth, while ECU added its last run in the seventh.

Blanton singled in the first inning, then jarred an RBI double in the fifth and an RBI triple in the sixth inning. Barrett was 2-for-4 in the game and Sampson finished 1-for-3. The top three batters in the order - Barrett, Blanton and Sampson - totaled six of Tulsa's nine hits, going 6-for-11 with six runs scored and three RBI.

"Those top three did a great job for us," Tulsa Head Coach John Bargfeldt said. "Erica obviously got a hold of that one and put us on top. Shelby Blanton came up with some key hits and had a huge day today. Then Jill Barrett at the top got on base. When those three at the top are setting the table and getting people in, it usually turns out to be a good day for us."

With Tulsa trailing 2-1 in the fifth stanza, Barrett hit a one-out single to center field and Blanton followed with a double to left center to knot the game at two apiece. Sampson was hit by a pitch and junior first baseman Julie Kernen drew a walk to load the bases. Following a strikeout, senior center fielder Cierra Hughes and sophomore catcher Catherine Horner drew back-to-back RBI walks to make the score 4-2. Freshman Jill Roye hit a pinch-hit single through the right side, scoring Kernen. Hughes scored on the play when the throw back to the infield hit Roye in the leg behind first base. TU led 6-2 after the inning.

Barrett led off the sixth inning with a triple off the fence in left center, and Blanton followed with a triple into the right field corner. Kernen plated Blanton with a one-out sacrifice fly to left field, extending the TU lead to 8-2.

East Carolina scored its first run in the fourth inning on an RBI single by third baseman Alex Fieldhouse. The hit scored second baseman Kristi Oshiro, who led off the frame with a double. The Pirates took a 2-1 lead in the top of the fifth on an RBI base hit by catcher Abby Wynne. The final ECU run was scored in the seventh on a solo home run to left field by designated player Jasmine Robbins.

Tulsa had runners on first and third with two outs in each of the first two innings before breaking through with Sampson's homer in the third. TU sent 10 batters to the plate in the five-run fifth, tallying three hits and three walks, plus a hit batter.

The Hurricane erased baserunners in the first and third innings when Horner gunned down the runners trying to steal second. ECU got a two-out double in the second inning, but a foul pop up ended the frame. Creger retired the side in order in the sixth with a pair of strikeouts. The Pirates put runners on first and third after the homer in the seventh, but Creger got a strikeout and a grounder back to the box to end the game.

Tulsa won its fourth three-game conference series of the season, and sixth straight three-game series, dating back to the end of last season. Last weekend, TU split two games at UAB.

"The last two weekends, even though we didn't come out with a 2-1 (series) win at UAB, we're winning 7-1 going into the last inning. So, I like the way the team has bounced back after we split on Saturday," Bargfeldt said. "We've gone out and taken care of business on Sundays. You can't just go out there and expect sweeps. The number one goal is to take the series. Then, if you get an opportunity to (sweep), maybe you take advantage of it."

The Golden Hurricane returns to action next weekend when it travels for a three-game C-USA set at UTSA on Friday and Saturday, April 18-19.

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.

Tulsa 8, East Carolina 3 (Apr 13, 2014 at Tulsa, Okla.)
East Carolina....... 000 110 1 -  3  7  1      (21-7, 10-8)
Tulsa............... 001 052 X -  8  9  2      (38-5, 12-2)
Pitchers: East Carolina - CHRISTIAN, Sarah; UMPHLETT, Caroline(6) and WYNNE, Abby. Tulsa -
Creger, Aimee and Horner, Catherine.
Win-CREGER, Aimee(19-1)  Loss-CHRISTIAN, Sarah(15-7)  T-2:19  A-202
HR ECU - ROBBINS, Jasmine (2).
HR TLS - Sampson, Erica (8).
Weather: 66 Cloudy, Wind S @ 27 mph