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No. 19 Softball Advances to C-USA Finals with 7-1 Win over North Texas

Junior Erica Sampson had two hits and two RBI, including a home run, to lead the Golden Hurricane to a 7-1 victory over North Texas in the semifinals of the C-USA Championship Friday.
Junior Erica Sampson had two hits and two RBI, including a home run, to lead the Golden Hurricane to a 7-1 victory over North Texas in the semifinals of the C-USA Championship Friday.
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May 9, 2014

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BOCA RATON, Fla. - Top-seeded and 19th-ranked Tulsa advanced to the finals of the 2014 Conference USA Championship with a 7-1 win over fifth-seeded North Texas Friday evening at FAU Softball Stadium.

Senior Aimee Creger struck out eight batters and allowed three hits in 6.0 innings to improve to 26-1. Junior left fielder Erica Sampson went 2-for-4 with a home run and two RBI to lead the Golden Hurricane (49-7). Six TU players scored a run and five players scored in the ballgame. Ashley Kirk (22-10) allowed four earned runs on five hits in 4.1 innings and took the loss for the Mean Green (31-22).

Tulsa will face Marshall in the championship game at 11 a.m. CT Saturday. The game will be televised by CBS Sports Network.

TU is in the C-USA Championship finals for the fifth time in the last nine years. The Hurricane will play Marshall in the championship game for the third time. TU defeated the Thundering Herd 3-0 in 2006 and 3-2 in 2012.

"I was really proud of the team and how they came out (to start the game)," Tulsa Head Coach John Bargfeldt said. "We played a clean game and got on the board first. I thought that was important. We had a tough series with this team just last weekend. One of the things we said every time we got a chance was, keep the pressure on, keep putting runners on base, and keep having good at bats. That helped us save Aimee an inning there later in the game."

Tulsa got on the board in the first inning when senior shortstop Jill Barrett led off with a walk, was bunted to second and scored on Sampson's double down the left field line.

The Hurricane added three runs in the second to make the score 4-0. Senior center fielder Cierra Hughes tripled to right field to start the frame and sophomore designated player Jodi Edmiston walked. Withee popped a single to left center to plate Hughes, and senior right fielder Haley Henshaw reached on a fielding error at first, allowing Edmiston to score. Freshman third baseman Maggie Withee crossed the plate on Barrett's sacrifice fly to right.

North Texas scored its run in the top of the third when catcher Bryana Wade walked, moved around on a bunt and wild pitch, and scored on a single through the left side by shortstop Brooke Foster.

Tulsa added a pair of insurance runs in the fifth to extend its lead to 6-1. Sampson ran all the way to third on a pop that was dropped in right field by the second baseman. Junior first baseman Julie Kernen was hit by a pitch and replaced on the bases by Emma Horton. Hughes and Edmiston then hit consecutive RBI singles to score Sampson and Horton.

Sampson homered to left center in the bottom of the sixth to make the score 7-1. It was her 11th home run of the season.

Sophomore Caitlin Sill pitched the seventh inning for Tulsa. She allowed a hit and a walk, but retired the side on a line-out double play to short, and a line out to center that ended the game.

Barrett scored her 177th career run Friday, tying the school record set by Lauren Lindsay (2007-10).

"Getting those first four runs in the first two innings was huge for us. It just allowed us to take the momentum and hold onto it," Sampson said. "We kept scoring throughout the game and not letting up. North Texas is the kind of team that can come back on anyone at any given time. They're going to fight until the very end and they showed that in the last inning. The fact that we always kept our foot on the gas was big for us."

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 7, North Texas 1 (May 9, 2014 at Boca Raton, Fla.)
----------------------------------------------------------------------
North Texas......... 001 000 0 -  1  4  3      (31-22)
Tulsa............... 130 021 X -  7  6  0      (49-7)
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Pitchers: North Texas - KIRK, Ashley; POOLE, Lauren(5) and WADE, Bryana. Tulsa - Creger, Aimee;
SILL, Caitlin(7) and Horner, Catherine; Sampson, Erica.
Win-CREGER, Aimee(26-1)  Loss-KIRK, Ashley(22-10)  T-2:01  A-0
HR TLS - Sampson, Erica (12).