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No. 17 Softball Drops Series Finale to UAB, 1-0

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April 14, 2013

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TULSA, Okla. - Aimee Creger struck out 12 batters, but a sixth-inning solo home run by UAB's Kristen McGrath was the difference as the Golden Hurricane fell to the Blazers, 1-0, in the Conference USA series finale Sunday afternoon at the Collins Family Softball Complex.

The pitching staffs totaled 20 strikeouts and allowed a combined seven hits in the duel. Creger (17-4) gave up just four hits - two of which stayed in the infield - and one walk. UAB starter Lauren Webster (10-3) pitched 5.0 innings, allowing two hits with five strikeouts. Lannah Campbell picked up her fifth save of the season, tossing 2.0 innings in relief.

The Golden Hurricane fell to 32-11-1 overall and 12-3 in C-USA play, while the Blazers improved to 26-10 overall and 13-2 in league play.

"You're going to run into games like that where both pitchers are excellent," Tulsa Head Coach John Bargfeldt said. "There were a couple of instances for both teams where the ball was squared up. Ours ended up being line outs to an outfielder, and one of theirs got out of the ballpark. When we saw how `on' the two pitchers were, we just thought this game might be decided on who can center one up, and they did the job on that.

"(UAB) caught a piece of one in the first inning, but I thought we were getting the better swings on their pitcher, between that first-inning ball up until that home run. Aimee did an excellent job, that's for sure. It was a good, hard-fought game with two pitchers who were just on."

Tulsa started a rally in the bottom of the seventh when Lacey Middlebrooks walked, and pinch runner Emma Horton moved to second on a sacrifice bunt. An infield single by Julie Kernen put runners at first and second, but a strikeout and a groundout to third ended the game.

Cierra Hughes led off the bottom of the sixth and popped a double to shallow left field, just out of reach of the converging fielders. With two outs on the board, shortstop Caitlin Attfield snagged a hard grounder up the middle and made the throw to first in time, to end the inning.

Middlebrooks reached base in all three trips to the plate, including an infield single in the second inning, and a hit-by-pitch in the fourth. She represented Tulsa's only two baserunners until Hughes' double in the sixth.

"We've done a good job of creating opportunities for ourselves," said Bargfeldt. "We got a runner in scoring position in each of the last two innings when we were one run down. That's the mark of quality at-bats right there - getting people on base and putting a little bit of pressure on them. That's the game: sometimes you come through and other times you don't. We obviously always want to come through, but we did give ourselves a chance to win. Give credit to UAB. They executed. The shortstop made a super play on Sammy Cobb's hard ground ball up the middle. When you have a team that goes out and executes a little bit better, that could be the difference."

Creger struck out at least two batters in four innings, including three strikeouts in the second and seventh frames. Following the home run with two out in the sixth, Creger struck out the next four batters looking.

UAB got a double in the first inning by Heather Pearson, an infield base hit in the second by Kristen McGrath, and an infield single in the fifth by Chandler Orr. The Blazers' biggest scoring threat prior to the sixth came in the fourth inning when two batters were hit by pitches and sacrificed to second and third. A pop up double play, however, ended the inning. Kernen caught the pop up in the shallow infield near the first base line and threw to Cobb covering third ahead of the retreating runner to complete the play.

The loss stopped a streak of 14 consecutive victorious C-USA series by the Golden Hurricane, dating back to April 16-17, 2011, when TU dropped two of three at Houston. Tulsa had also won 17 straight series at home, dating back to April 19-20, 2008, when it dropped two of three to No. 9 Houston.

"I just told the team that this isn't over yet. One thing we can be glad about, is this wasn't the last game of the year," Bargfeldt said. "We did this to them last year, but it was for the conference championship on the last weekend of the year. We have three weeks left. They have to go play some teams, and we have to go play some teams. So, don't think this is all-or-nothing, it is a one game difference. Obviously, we were close, but just didn't do enough to get the series win. It's been a long run by this team, with how many series they've won in a row. We just have to concentrate on finishing strong."

The Golden Hurricane returns to action next weekend, April 20-21, when it travels to Houston for a three-game C-USA set. The teams play a doubleheader beginning at 1 p.m. Saturday, with a single game at noon Sunday.

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UAB 1, Tulsa 0 (Apr 14, 2013 at Tulsa, Okla.)
UAB................. 000 001 0 -  1  4  0      (26-10, 13-2)
Tulsa............... 000 000 0 -  0  3  0      (32-11-1, 12-3)
Pitchers: UAB - WEBSTER, Lauren; CAMPBELL, Lannah(6) and KIMBRELL, Anna. Tulsa - Creger, Aimee and Bowen, Cassidy.
Win-WEBSTER, Lauren(10-3)  Save-CAMPBELL, Lannah(5)  Loss-CREGER, Aimee(17-4)  T-1:53  A-212
HR UAB - McGRATH, Kristen (8).
Weather: 72 Ptly Cloudy, Wind S @ 23mph
WEBSTER, Lau faced 1 batter in the 6th.