Softball Opens NCAA Norman Regional Friday
May 14, 2009
NORMAN, Okla. - The Conference USA Champion University of Tulsa softball team opens the 2009 NCAA Softball Championships at the Norman Regional against Arkansas Friday at 5 p.m. at the OU Softball Complex.
The Golden Hurricane is making its second straight appearance in the NCAA tournament and its third overall. Live stats and live video for all games of the Norman Regional can be found at www.TulsaHurricane.com, and all information about the regional can be found here.
"It is an honor and it is a tribute to how our ladies have played," Tulsa Head Coach John Bargfeldt said of playing in the regional. "It was something that we set as a goal at the beginning of the year and it is nice to see their hard work pay off. I told the team when the pairings came out that there is something to be said about playing familiar teams and playing in familiar surroundings. There is not that unknown or any apprehension of going someplace where you have never been before."
Tulsa is currently 38-15 overall and is coming off a C-USA tournament championship, won in El Paso, Texas last weekend. The Hurricane took down UAB, 7-3, in the quarterfinal matchup, beat Marshall, 6-4, in the semifinals, and routed UTEP, 11-3 in 6 innings in the championship game.
The Hurricane enters the tournament with a team .297 batting average, with 259 runs scored, 425 hits, 238 RBI and 39 home runs. The team also carries a .373 on-base percentage and a .442 slugging percentage. The pitching staff has put together a 2.52 ERA with 12 shutouts and has given up 284 hits, 148 runs - 126 earned - 133 walks and 351 strikeouts in 350.1 innings.
Individually, Tulsa is led by junior right fielder Lauren Lindsay with a .414 batting average (72-for-174) with 37 RBI, 43 runs scored, eight home runs, 17 doubles, a .649 slugging percentage and a .490 on-base percentage. Senior left fielder Brooke Smart hits .363 (53-for-146) with 37 RBI, 32 runs scored, eight doubles and eight homers. Senior shortstop Kailey Yarmer has a .313 batting average (55-for-176) with 31 RBI, 33 runs scored, 12 doubles and eight homers. Junior first baseman Vanessa Vice has a .333 batting average (55-for-165) with 24 RBI, 19 runs scored, nine doubles and one triple.
In the circle, junior Jackie Lawrence is 20-4 with a 1.58 ERA and seven shutouts, allowing 116 hits and 52 runs - 38 earned - with 62 walks and 175 strikeouts in 168.0 innings with a .190 opponent batting average. Sophomore Jordan Kinard is 12-6 with a 3.12 ERA with two shutouts, and has allowed 88 hits, 54 runs - 51 earned - walked 54 and struck out 129 in 114.1 innings.
Those players will lead the Golden Hurricane, which has won 10 in a row and 17 of its last 19 against the Razorbacks. Arkansas defeated TU earlier this season, 9-5, in the annual Border War in Tulsa.
"We have been playing real well the last month," Bargfeldt said. "This game it doesn't matter from week-to-week how you played before. You still have to go out and keep going. But if you had your choice, you would rather come into something like this playing well. You don't have to worry about the team's confidence level from that standpoint. I am glad that we are playing well coming into the regional."
Tulsa is making its third appearance the NCAA Softball Championships and earned its second consecutive bid. TU also played in the NCAA Regionals in 2006 and 2008.
In 2006, the Golden Hurricane won the Conference USA regular season and tournament championships and earned its first ever bid to the NCAA softball tournament. It played in the Fresno Regional as the fourth seed against Stanford, and lost the first game, 8-0. It fell in the second game to Cal State Fullerton, 6-2.
In 2008, Tulsa earned an at-large bid for the first time and played in the Norman Regional. The third-seeded Hurricane lost to Arkansas, 7-5 in the first round, and fell to Oregon, 1-0 in the elimination game.
The 2009 squad faces almost a carbon copy of its 2008 tournament, playing as the No. 3 seed against Arkansas in the first round of the Norman Regional.
"Arkansas is a solid team and a good hitting team," said Bargfeldt. "They have some pitchers that can give you some problems as well. Since I have been at Tulsa, every time we play Arkansas is a good game, one way or another. It just comes down to which team performs best on that day."
Arkansas enters the postseason having received an at-large bid to the NCAA Tournament, and is 27-27 overall and posted a 10-16 record in SEC play. The Razorbacks are hitting .254 as a team, with 227 runs scored, 343 hits, 212 RBI and 46 home runs. Arkansas carries a .334 team on-base percentage and a .422 team slugging percentage. The pitching staff has a 4.43 ERA and has allowed 400 hits, 263 runs - 217 earned - 189 walks and 241 strikeouts in 343.0 innings.
Arkansas is led in hitting by catcher Whitney Cloer, who has a .331 batting average (52-for-157) with 35 RBI, 21 runs scored, 13 doubles, two triples, eight home runs, 19 walks, a .592 slugging percentage and a .403 on-base percentage. Pitcher/designated player Miranda Dixon, leads the team with 11 home runs and 40 RBI. She has a .241 batting average (34-for-141) with 19 runs scored and eight doubles, 19 walks, a .532 slugging percentage and a .331 on-base percentage.
The Razorback pitching staff is led by Dixon, who has posted a 17-12 record in 37 appearances with 28 starts, and has a 3.93 ERA, allowing 206 hits, 123 runs, 98 of which are earned, 57 walks and has struck out 136 in 174.2 innings. Kim Jones has a 8-11 record in 29 appearances with 18 starts, and has a 4.00 ERA, allowing 142 hits, 95 runs, 77 of which are earned, 89 walks and 85 strikeouts in 134.2 innings.
Tulsa and Arkansas have played 16 times; Arkansas leads the series, 10-6. The Golden Hurricane and Razorbacks were in the same position last season as this weekend, meeting in the first round of the Norman Regional. Arkansas won that game, 7-5. The Hurricane beat Arkansas in the 2008 Border War, 2-1, in Fayetteville, Ark. Recently, Tulsa also beat Arkansas in 2004 and 2006. The Hurricane's first win against the Razorbacks came in 1997 in the two teams' first meeting, 4-3. Tulsa is 1-3 against Arkansas in neutral sites, 3-2 in Tulsa and 2-5 in Fayetteville.
Follow the TU softball team through the NCAA Regional with results, stats and news at www.TulsaHurricane.com.
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