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Big Innings Lead No. 16 Softball to Doubleheader Win at UTSA

Junior Julie Kernen went 3-for-6 with three RBI and three runs scored to lead the Golden Hurricane to a doubleheader sweep at UTSA Friday.
Junior Julie Kernen went 3-for-6 with three RBI and three runs scored to lead the Golden Hurricane to a doubleheader sweep at UTSA Friday.
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April 18, 2014

Box Score  | Game 1 Box ScoreGet Acrobat Reader  | Game 2 Box ScoreGet Acrobat Reader

SAN ANTONIO - The big inning was once again the name of the game for the 16th-ranked Tulsa softball team in its Conference USA doubleheader sweep at UTSA Friday afternoon at Roadrunner Field. The Golden Hurricane won Game 1, 4-0, and Game 2, 12-11.

Catherine Horner hit a three-run home run as part of a four-run fourth inning, and Aimee Creger (20-1) pitched a two-hit shutout with 11 strikeouts to pace the Hurricane in the series opener.

Tulsa (40-5, 14-2 C-USA) erased two six-run deficits in Game 2, using an eight-run seventh inning to take a 12-11 Game 2 win. TU trailed 6-0 and 9-3, but scored a run in the sixth inning and eight in the seventh to go ahead 12-9, and held on for the victory. Bailey Erwin (11-2) pitched 3.2 innings and earned the win in relief, while Creger picked up her first save of the season. Chelsea Parker (3-6), the third UTSA pitcher in the game, took the loss.

The Golden Hurricane picked up its 40th win for the fourth straight season. This is seventh time in program history TU has won 40 games, and the fastest to 40 wins, taking just 45 games.

Down 9-4 in the seventh, Tulsa got an RBI single from Horner, a two-run single by Jill Barrett, a three-run home run by Erica Sampson and a two-run homer by Julie Kernen to take a 12-9 lead.

Cierra Hughes started the frame with a bunt single, moved around to third on a throwing error by the pitcher, and scored on Horner's base hit to left. Maggie Withee and Haley Henshaw loaded the bases with back-to-back singles, leading to Barrett's two-run hit through the right side. Following a fly out, Sampson cleared the bases with her ninth homer of the season to put the Hurricane ahead 10-9. Kaitlin Allen followed with a pinch-hit double to left center, and Kernen launched her sixth home run to make the score 12-9.

"We just had really solid at bats in that last inning. The momentum started building," Tulsa Head Coach John Bargfeldt said. "The key was obviously the (Sampson) home run that gave us the lead. But then with a one-run lead, Kaitlin Allen hit a double into the gap and Julie hit a hit two-run home run. We just kept it going, had a lot of hustle and enthusiasm."

The extra two runs proved to be vital, as UTSA reduced the lead to one run with a two-run homer by Taylor Oberg with one out in the bottom of the seventh. Creger came in and struck out the final to batters to close the game.

"It was good to get a big comeback win, so now the team can remember that. If we get down big again, they know we have a good lineup all the way through, 1-9, we can just keep going," said Bargfeldt.

UTSA took a 6-0 lead with three runs in each of the first two innings. Tulsa scored three in the top of the third, but the Roadrunners extended the lead back to 9-3 with three runs in the bottom half of the frame.

In the bottom of the first inning, Jori Fox hit an RBI double and Vivian Tijerina followed with a two-run home run to make the score 3-0. In the second, Megan Low hit a three-run home run to give the Roadrunners a 6-0 advantage.

The Hurricane closed the gap to 6-3 in the top of the fourth with an RBI single by Hughes and bases-loaded walks by Horner and Withee. Shelby Blanton led off the inning with a hit-by-pitch and Sampson singled to left. Kernen walked to load the bases, setting up the scoring sequence.

UTSA scored three unearned runs in the third inning. Two walks and a hit batter loaded the bases with one out, and a two-out throwing error allowed two runs to score. A wild pitch allowed the third run to cross the plate, making the score 9-3.

Tulsa got a run back in the sixth inning on a bases-loaded walk by Blanton. Withee started with a single up the middle and Henshaw reached on an all-safe fielder's choice. Barrett loaded the bases with a bunt single.

Game 1: Tulsa 4, UTSA 0

Tulsa scored four runs in the fourth inning, fueled by a three-run home run by Catherine Horner, and Aimee Creger pitched a two-hit shutout to lead the Golden Hurricane past UTSA 4-0.

Creger struck out 11 batters and walked three to pick up her seventh shutout of the year, and her third career 20-win season. Kacy Freeze (10-11) struck out five and took the complete-game loss for the Roadrunners.

Erica Sampson was hit by a pitch to lead off the fourth inning, and Jill Roye singled to right field. Julie Kernen drove home Sampson with a base hit to right, and after a fly out, Horner launched her fourth homer of the season to left field to give the Hurricane a 4-0 lead.

"Aimee did an outstanding job keeping them at bay until we could put some runs on the board," Bargfeldt said. "She finished it off without much threat, and I think she got stronger as the game went on."

All three UTSA walks were drawn in the second and third innings, while both Roadrunner hits came in the fifth inning. UTSA loaded the bases with two out in the second stanza, and had runners at first and second with two out in the fifth, but outside of those innings did not put a runner into scoring position. Creger retired the final seven batters of the game to complete the shutout.

The series finale is at 1 p.m. Saturday.

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 4, UTSA 0 (Apr 18, 2014 at San Antonio, Texas) (Game 1)
----------------------------------------------------------------------
Tulsa............... 000 400 0 -  4  7  0      (39-5, 13-2 C-USA)
UTSA................ 000 000 0 -  0  2  1      (20-24, 7-9 C-USA)
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Pitchers: Tulsa - Creger, Aimee and Horner, Catherine. UTSA - Freeze and Soefje.
Win-CREGER, Aimee(20-1)  Loss-Freeze(10-11)  T-1:44  A-0
HR TLS - Horner, Catherine (4).
Weather: 75, partly cloudy, ENE 7 mph

Tulsa 12, UTSA 11 (Apr 18, 2014 at San Antonio, Texas) (Game 2) ---------------------------------------------------------------------- Tulsa............... 003 001 8 - 12 13 2 (40-5, 14-2 C-USA) UTSA................ 333 000 2 - 11 9 1 (20-25, 7-10 C-USA) ---------------------------------------------------------------------- Pitchers: Tulsa - Sill, Caitlin; ERWIN, Bailey(3); CREGER, Aimee(7) and Horner, Catherine. UTSA - Merrill; Freeze(3); Parker(7) and Soefje. Win-ERWIN, Bailey(11-2) Save-CREGER, Aimee(1) Loss-Parker(3-6) T-2:44 A-202 HR TLS - Sampson, Erica (9); Kernen, Julie (6). HR UTSA - Low (21); Tijerina (7); Oberg (1). Weather: 78, partly cloudy, ESE 8 mph Freeze faced 5 batters in the 7th.