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No. 24 Softball Defeats Southern Miss Twice Saturday

Junior Aimee Creger struck out 13 batters in an 8-0, five-inning Game 1 win over Southern Miss Saturday. TU won Game 2, 9-4. Creger broke her own TU single season strikeout record.
Junior Aimee Creger struck out 13 batters in an 8-0, five-inning Game 1 win over Southern Miss Saturday. TU won Game 2, 9-4. Creger broke her own TU single season strikeout record.
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May 4, 2013

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

TULSA, Okla. - Cassidy Bowen and Julie Kernen each drove in four runs and scored three times, and Aimee Creger struck out 13 batters in five innings to lead the 24th-ranked Tulsa softball team to a pair of wins over Southern Miss, 8-0 (5 inn.) and 9-4, Saturday evening at the Collins Family Softball Complex.

TU and Southern Miss delayed the start of the doubleheader - originally scheduled for 1 p.m. - four hours, and fought off the light rain that fell for most of the afternoon until about 10 minutes before first pitch. Despite the cold temperatures in the 40s throughout the games, the Tulsa bats stayed hot. The Golden Hurricane, which has averaged 8.1 runs and 11.7 hits in its last seven games, totaled 17 runs on 24 hits in the two games on Saturday.

Creger (23-5) tossed a one-hit shutout in the series opener. With the 13 punch outs, she broke her own single-season school record, and now has 262 strikeouts this year. Kernen homered twice and Caitlin Everett went 2-for-4 with three RBI for the Golden Hurricane (40-13-1, 18-5 C-USA). Kaitlin Wilson (4-12) took the complete-game loss for the Golden Eagles (14-39, 4-17 C-USA).

Bowen was 2-for-3 with a home run, three RBI and two runs scored in the second game, while Kernen and Catherine Horner each drove in two runs, and Shelby Blanton scored twice to lead Tulsa to its 40th win of the season. Lacey Middlebrooks (14-3), in her first appearance since April 20, tossed 4.0 innings, allowing three earned runs on four hits. Caitlin Sill pitched the final 3.0 innings, allowing no runs and just one hit to earn her second save of the season. Kimberly Wagner (6-8) was saddled with the loss for USM.

The series finale is at noon Sunday. Live video and live stats can be found at www.TulsaHurricane.com. The four TU seniors - Bowen, Everett, Middlebrooks and Samantha Cobb - will be honored in a ceremony following the game.

"Aimee was outstanding in the first game," Tulsa Head Coach John Bargfeldt said. "We faced a pitcher we had not ever seen, and every time we got another look at her, we put good at-bats on her. Julie Kernen did a great job of squaring up the ball. It was good to get Lacey out there. She needed to knock off some rust, after she hadn't pitched in a while. I thought she did pretty good job there. I didn't want to extend her into a long inning, so I think it was a good first outing after the long layoff. We picked up with our bats in the second game, and that was the key."

Tulsa opened the Game 1 scoring in the second inning when Haley Henshaw led off with a walk and moved around to score on an RBI ground out by Cierra Hughes. The Hurricane added a run in the third inning when Kernen launched a home run onto 6th Street over the left field fence, making the score 2-0.

Everett hit a two-out, two-run triple to center field in the fourth inning, scoring Hughes and Bowen, who doubled and reached on a fielder's choice, respectively. Everett crossed the plate on a bunt single by Jill Barrett to extend the TU lead to 5-0.

Kernen led off the fifth with towering home run over the scoreboard in left field. It was her eighth home run of the season, pulling her into a tie for the team lead with Cobb. Middlebrooks then grounded a one-out single through the left side and Hughes sent a two-out base hit through the right side. Bowen doubled down the left field line, plating Middlebrooks and Everett singled deep in the hole at second, scoring Hughes to end the game.

Creger allowed just one hit and two walks in the contest. The final 10 outs of the game were strikeouts. Of the 15 recorded outs, 13 were via strikes and the other two were ground outs.

The only Southern Miss hit was a double off the fence in right field by Sarah Evans. Tulsa did commit an error in the top of the first inning, breaking a streak of 40 innings that spanned six games in which the Hurricane defense did not commit a miscue. TU leads C-USA with a .968 fielding percentage.

In Game 2, Southern Miss got on the board with a solo home run by Mackenzie Sher in the top of the first inning. It was the first run Tulsa had allowed in 23 innings after four straight shutouts.

The Golden Hurricane responded with three runs in the bottom of the second inning on a two-run home run to left center by Bowen, and an RBI single by Barrett. The home run was Bowen's fourth of the season.

Tulsa broke the game open with a six-run fourth inning to extend its lead to 9-1. Bowen hit an RBI double to right center, Cobb singled up the middle to score a run, Kernen grounded a two-run base hit through the left side, and Horner drilled a two-run double to left center.

The Golden Eagles plated three runs in the top of the fifth inning to make the score 9-4 and keep the game going. Evans led off with a walk and scored on a double by Sher. Morgan McKeever reached on a fielder's choice with an error and scored on a wild pitch after Sher's double. Sher then scored on a ground out by Taylor Beck.

"You go up and down the lineup, and there were just several good at-bats by almost every player," Bargfeldt said. "It's a good situation to be in, going into the postseason. You want your hitters to be hot and feeling confident and feeling good, and I think a number of our hitters are in that position."

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, Southern Miss 0 (May 04, 2013 at Tulsa, Okla.) (Game 1)
----------------------------------------------------------------------
Southern Miss....... 000 00 -  0  1  0      (14-38, 4-16)
Tulsa............... 011 33 -  8 11  1      (39-13-1, 17-5)
----------------------------------------------------------------------
Pitchers: Southern Miss - Wilson, Kaitlin and Sher, Mackenzie. Tulsa - Creger, Aimee and
Bowen, Cassidy.
Win-CREGER, Aimee(23-5)  Loss-Wilson, Kaitlin(4-12)  T-1:25  A-0
HR TLS - Kernen, Julie 2 (8).

Tulsa 9, Southern Miss 4 (May 04, 2013 at Tulsa, Okla.) (Game 2) ---------------------------------------------------------------------- Southern Miss....... 100 030 0 - 4 5 1 (14-39, 4-17) Tulsa............... 030 600 X - 9 13 1 (40-13-1, 18-5) ---------------------------------------------------------------------- Pitchers: Southern Miss - Wagner, Kimberly and Sher, Mackenzie. Tulsa - Middlebrooks, Lacey; SILL, Caitlin(5) and Bowen, Cassidy. Win-MIDDLEBROOKS, Lacey(14-3) Save-SILL, Caitlin(2) Loss-Wagner, Kimberly(6-8) T-1:59 A-130 HR USM - Sher, Mackenzie (9). HR TLS - Bowen, Cassidy (4). MIDDLEBROOKS faced 3 batters in the 5th.