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TULSA DEFEATS MARSHALL 3-2 TO WIN C-USA CHAMPIONSHIP


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May 12, 2012

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BIRMINGHAM, Ala. - Tulsa scored in the bottom of the fifth inning to take a3-2 lead and held on to defeat Marshall, 3-2, to win the 2012 Conference USA Championship Saturday afternoon at UAB Softball Field.

The Golden Hurricane (41-12) led 2-0 after four innings, but the Thundering Herd (36-21) tied the score with a pair of runs in the top of the fifth. As it has done all season, the Hurricane responded immediately with a run in the bottom of the fifth when left fielder Cierra Hughes drew a bases-loaded walk to retake the lead at 3-2.

Lacey Middlebrooks (20-5), who was named Most Valuable Player of the tournament, sat down the Herd in order in the sixth and retired the side in the seventh with runners on first and third to earn the win. She scattered seven hits, allowed two earned runs walked four and struck out three, inducing 15 ground ball outs in the complete-game win. Andi Williamson (25-13) allowed three earned runs on eight hits and five walks, and struck out three batters in the loss.

Tulsa won its third C-USA Tournament title, and earned the Conference USA automatic bid to the NCAA Tournament. The NCAA Softball Championship selection show will be televised at 9 p.m. Sunday on ESPNU.

Middlebrooks, who was also 2-for-3 with a double and a single in the game, was joined on the C-USA Championship All-Tournament Team by first baseman Shelby Blanton, shortstop Samantha Cobb and second baseman Skylar Swanson.

"It feels great. Every time you win one, it feels like it gets a little better than the last one," Tulsa Head Coach John Bargfeldt said. "It was not a climactic finish, which was all right with me. We wanted to minimize it as much as possible in the last inning. Both pitchers are just so good about putting it on the black of the plate, and that's what they did. We just had to really pick our spots when you thought you could put a good swing on the ball. That's what it really came down to - plate discipline and not chasing balls out of the zone."

Tulsa scored one run each in the second, fourth and fifth innings.

Catcher Cassidy Bowen doubled to center and scored on an infield single by third baseman Jill Barrett. Bowen doubled again in her next at-bat, this time down the left field line. She scored on center fielder Caitlin Everett's base hit up the middle to put TU ahead, 2-0.

UAB got a leadoff walk, followed by a single, a walk and single to lead the bases and score its first run. An RBI ground out to second base tied the score at 2-2.

Middlebrooks hit a one-out double to start Tulsa in the bottom of the fifth, and was replaced for the inning when Emma Horton came in to pinch run. Blanton walked, and following a ground out and an intentional walk to Bowen to load the bases, Hughes saw nine pitches and drew the walk for what proved to be the winning run.

For all Tulsa softball news and information, visit www.TulsaHurricane.com. Follow Tulsa Athletics on Twitter at www.Twitter.com/TulsaHurricane and Facebook at www.facebook.com/TulsaHurricane. Follow Tulsa softball on Twitter (www.twitter.com/TulsaSoftball) and Facebook (www.facebook.com/utulsasoftball).

Tulsa 3, Marshall 2 (May 12, 2012 at Birmingham, Ala.)
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Marshall............ 000 020 0 -  2  7  1      (36-21)
Tulsa............... 010 110 X -  3  8  1      (41-12)
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Pitchers: Marshall - WILLIAMSON and GAMBY, R.. Tulsa - Middlebrooks, Lacey and Bowen, Cassidy.
Win-MIDDLEBROOKS, Lacey(20-5)  Loss-WILLIAMSON(25-13)  T-2:35  A-239
Weather: 70 Cloudy, Wind ESE @ 8 mph