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No. 15 Softball Wins 9-4, Completes Sweep of Middle Tennessee

The Golden Hurricane celebrated its 2014 C-USA regular season championship following Sunday's 9-4 win over Middle Tennessee.
The Golden Hurricane celebrated its 2014 C-USA regular season championship following Sunday's 9-4 win over Middle Tennessee.
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April 27, 2014

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TULSA, Okla. - Sophomore Caitlin Sill pitched six solid innings and Julie Kernen, Emma Horton and Haley Henshaw each contributed two RBI to lead the 15th-ranked Tulsa softball team as it completed the series sweep of Middle Tennessee with a 9-4 win Sunday afternoon at the Collins Family Softball Complex.

The start of the game was delayed two-and-a-half hours, but by first pitch the field was basted by sunlight. The Golden Hurricane (45-5, 18-2 C-USA), which clinched the Conference USA regular season championship on Saturday, answered Middle Tennessee's two runs in the first with five of its own in the bottom of the inning. TU added two runs in the third and two more runs in the fifth frame. The Blue Raiders (8-42, 2-18 C-USA) scored twice in the seventh.

Sill (10-2) picked up her 10th victory of the season, allowing two runs on four hits with four strikeouts in the outing. Kernen continued her torrid hitting of late with a two-run double in the first inning. The junior first baseman finished the four-game week with seven hits, including four doubles, and nine RBI in nine at bats.

Horton got the start at designated player, and the senior hit a two-run double and scored twice. The senior right fielder Henshaw went 2-for-3 with two RBI. Freshman third baseman Maggie Withee was 2-for-2 with an RBI and a run. In all, nine players had a hit and eight scored a run for the Hurricane.

"It's important to come out and take care of business. (Today) I saw the Caitlin Sill of the beginning of the year," Tulsa Head Coach John Bargfeldt said. "That was important, I think, as we get closer to postseason. She made one mistake in the first inning. We talked about that, and then she went out and threw an excellent ballgame. That was the No. 1 thing that we saw today.

"We gave up two in the first inning, and then we answer with five (runs). We hit the ball extremely hard. That's kind of the way we've been as a team all year. We take a lot of pride in picking up our teammates. You could tell the team wasn't going to let one mistake get them down, and I thought it was important to answer back right away."

Middle Tennessee took a 2-0 lead in the top of the first on a two-out, two-run home run by catcher Laura Dukes.

Tulsa responded with five runs in the bottom of the frame. Senior shortstop Jill Barrett started with a line drive base hit to center field. That hit broke her own single season school record, and she now has 84 hits this season, surpassing her total of 83 in 2013.

Senior second baseman Shelby Blanton followed with a single to right field, and after a line out to center, Kernen lined a double to the left center field gap to make the score 2-2. Sophomore left fielder Jodi Edmiston walked and Horton hit a two-out, two-run double just over the third base bag to give TU a 4-2 lead. Withee then doubled to left center, scoring Horton.

The Hurricane picked up two more runs in the third inning on an RBI single by Henshaw and an RBI fielder's choice by Barrett. Horton drew a one-out walk and Withee singled through the right side. Henshaw then sent a base hit between first and second to score Horton, and Barrett reached on a groundout to second, allowing Withee to cross the plate.

TU added two more runs in the fifth inning to extend its lead to 9-2. Senior center fielder Cierra Hughes led off the frame with her fifth home run of the season - a shot to right center. Pinch hitter Kaitlin Allen walked, and Henshaw tripled off the diving right fielder's glove.

The Blue Raiders scored two unearned runs with two out in the top of the seventh on a bases-loaded walk by Dukes and an RBI fielder's choice by left fielder McKena Miller.

After the home run in the first inning, Sill retired eight consecutive batters. She stranded the bases loaded in the fourth inning with a strikeout looking, and sat down the final four batters she faced in the fifth and sixth stanzas. Junior Bailey Erwin pitched the seventh inning in relief.

Tulsa has set five new team records in 2014, four of which were broken this weekend. To this point in the season, the Golden Hurricane has: 319 runs, surpassing the 296 runs scored in 2013; 289 RBI, surpassing the 271 RBI in 2013; 50 home runs, surpassing the 47 hit in 2010; 16 triples, surpassing the record of 14 reached four times; and 721 total bases, surpassing the 695 in 2013.

The Golden Hurricane plays host to Oklahoma State at 5 p.m. Wednesday at the Collins Family Softball Complex.

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 9, Middle Tennessee 4 (Apr 27, 2014 at Tulsa, Okla.)
----------------------------------------------------------------------
Middle Tennessee.... 200 000 2 -  4  4  0      (8-42, 2-18)
Tulsa............... 502 020 X -  9 11  1      (45-5, 18-2)
----------------------------------------------------------------------
Pitchers: Middle Tennessee - STINNETT, Shelby; MCCLURE, Caitlin.(4) and DUKES, Laura. Tulsa -
Sill, Caitlin; ERWIN, Bailey(7) and Sampson, Erica.
Win-SILL, Caitlin(10-2)  Loss-STINNETT, Shelby(0-2)  T-2:00  A-250
HR MT - DUKES, Laura (1).
HR TLS - Hughes, Cierra (5).
Weather: 77 Ptly Cloudy, Wind S @ 17mph