Tulsa Opens 2013 Softball Season Friday
Feb. 7, 2013
TULSA, Okla. - The Tulsa softball team opens the 2013 season this weekend when it takes on LSU, North Carolina, Purdue and Hampton at the Tiger Classic in Baton Rouge, La.
The Golden Hurricane opens the Friday when it plays Hampton at 9 a.m. and North Carolina at 11:30 a.m. TU then plays Purdue at noon Saturday, followed by LSU at 5 p.m. Saturday, and closes the weekend against Purdue at 10 a.m. Sunday.
In the Tiger Classic, Tulsa, which finished last season with a 42-14 record and an NCAA Regional appearance, will face two teams that played in the NCAA Tournament, including North Carolina and Women's College World Series participant LSU.
The Golden Hurricane is in its eighth season under the direction of Head Coach John Bargfeldt. Bargfeldt, a two-time Conference USA Coach of the Year, has posted a 257-144 record - .641 winning percentage - in seven years in Tulsa.
The Hurricane is bolstered by 12 returning letterwinners and seven starters, including two pitchers. Senior catcher Cassidy Bowen, junior third baseman Jill Barrett, senior shortstop Samantha Cobb and senior center fielder Caitlin Everett anchor the defense. Senior Lacey Middlebrooks and junior Aimee Creger return in the circle. Juniors Shelby Blanton and Cierra Hughes also return as starters for TU, at first/second base and left field, respectively. In addition, sophomore Julie Kernen started 29 games at first base last year.
Junior Haley Henshaw and redshirt freshman Jodi Edmiston are expected to battle for outfield positions as well, junior Emma Horton returns as a utility player, and sophomore Amy Harrison returns at catcher. Freshmen catcher Catherine Horner, pitcher Caitlin Sill, pitcher/infielder Hayley Bottino and infielder Jocelyn Sheffield join the Golden Hurricane for 2013.
The host LSU lost nine players from its WCWS team, but return 12 letterwinners, five starters, two pitchers and welcome in seven newcomers for this season. The Tigers put up a 40-25 record and 15-13 SEC mark to finish second in the SEC West division.
North Carolina won the 2012 ACC regular season title finishing 43-14 overall and 13-4 in league play. The Tar Heels return 15 letterwinners, eight position starters, and all three pitchers from the squad that advanced to the finals of the Athens Regional last season.
Purdue returns eight starters and three pitchers from its 2012 team that finished 31-22 and 13-10 in the Big Ten. Hampton ended last season with a 25-33 record and 9-9 mark in the Mid-Eastern Athletic Conference, and returns eight letterwinners, five starters and one pitcher.
For updates, news, scores and game information, follow Tulsa softball all season on Twitter (www.twitter.com/TulsaSoftball) and Facebook (www.facebook.com/TulsaSoftball).
With so many key returners, paired with its recent success, The University of Tulsa Golden Hurricane has an abundance of reasons to be optimistic about this season.
The middle of the defense is anchored by seniors, and all but two positions are expected to be held down by juniors or seniors with at least 45 starts under their belts. TU only lost two starters - Skylar Swanson at second base and Jessica Stoelke in right field.
Seniors Cassidy Bowen (catcher), Samantha Cobb (shortstop), Caitlin Everett (center field) and Lacey Middlebrooks (pitcher/designated player) fill out the middle of the defense. Two-year starter Jill Barrett returns at third base, as does Aimee Creger at pitcher. Junior Shelby Blanton, who has started 94 games in two years in left field, second base and first base, also returns, as does junior Cierra Hughes, who had 46 starts in left field last season. Sophomore Julie Kernen made 29 starts at first base in 2012.
Tulsa has two veterans in the circle in Middlebrooks and Creger, both of which won at least 19 games last season.
Middlebrooks was the C-USA co-Pitcher of the Year and a first-team NFCA Midwest Region selection. She went 20-6 with a 2.15 ERA, pitching 188.2 innings and 19 complete games in 28 starts. She also hit .306 with 38 RBI, five home runs and 14 doubles as the designated player.
The junior Creger was a Third-Team All-America as a freshman in 2011, and posted a 19-6 record with a 2.54 ERA last season after battling through an injury from the end of her rookie season. She struck out 184 batters and pitched 151.1 innings, recording 13 complete games in 22 starts.
Freshmen Caitlin Sill and Hayley Bottino join the Golden Hurricane in the circle this season. Sill hails from Tuttle, Okla.. Sill and Bottino, a native of Canyon Country, Calif., may also see time in the infield for TU.
Bowen has started 156 games at catcher in three seasons for the Hurricane. Last year, she threw out half of the runners stealing on her (22-44), and had her best season at the plate. She hit
In Barrett, Cobb, Blanton and Kernen, Tulsa returns four players who have started at least 25 games in the infield. Cobb has held the shortstop position since she walked onto campus, starting every game of her three-year career. The junior Barrett has done the same at third base in her two seasons. Blanton, who has played in left field as well, spent most of last season at second base and first base.
Last year, Cobb hit .339 with 11 home runs, 46 RBI, 47 runs scored, 12 doubles, a .583 slugging percentage and a .399 on-base percentage. She also stole 10 bases, and was a first-team All-Conference USA selection.
Barrett set a school record last season with a .416 batting average and tied the record with 79 hits. She also put together a school-record 25-game hit streak in the middle of the season. She scored 43 runs, drove in 29 runs and posted a .495 slugging percentage and .464 on-base percentage. She committed just six errors in 176 chances at the hot corner. She was a first-team All-C-USA and NFCA Midwest Region selection.
Blanton hit .301 in 2012, scoring 18 runs, driving in 11 runs, and getting on base .338 percent of the time. She started 11 games at second base, 18 games at first base, and an additional 18 games in left field.
The first baseman Kernen worked her way into the starting lineup immediately, and ended up making 29 starts. She posted a .282 OBP and a .163 batting average, with six runs, seven RBI, a homer and 14 walks. She committed just two errors in 204 chances at first base, and earned C-USA All-Freshman honors.
Sheffield, a native of St. Louis, Mo., and Westminster Christian Academy, may see time in the infield, along with Bottino and Sill.
Like Cobb and Barrett, Everett has been the center fielder and leadoff hitter since she stepped onto the TU softball field. She has set school records for both single season and career stolen bases and triples, and set single season hitting records as a sophomore. In 2012, she hit .366 with a school-record 55 run scored and seven triples, and added 29 RBI, a .459 slugging percentage and a .414 OBP. She matcher her own school record with 35 stolen bases.
Hughes started 46 games in the outfield, mostly on the left side, and posted a .322 batting average. She scored 22 runs, reached base at a .380 clip, and stole seven bases.
Henshaw has played in 36 games in her career, with 12 starts. She has two extra base hits, seven RBI and has scored eight runs. The junior is competing for a job in the outfield, along with redshirt freshman Jodi Edmiston. An injury forced Edmiston to sit out her first season on campus.
Horton has the versatility to play infield (she was a shortstop in high school) or outfield, and started at TU as a catcher. She scored six runs and stole two bases last season, appearing mostly as a pinch runner. One of those runs turned out to be the game-winner in the C-USA title game against Marshall.
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/TulsaSoftball).
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