In the past three weeks since our last issue, the softball team has continued their successful season, playing ten games against seven teams and winning eight of them. That put their overall record at 23–6 with just under half of the season left to play.
At the start of Spring Break the team travelled to Stanford to compete in the Louisville Slugger Classic against Florida State and Stanford. Their scheduled match against Cal Poly was cancelled due to inclement weather.
The 0–8 loss against Florida State, who are ranked No. 11 in the country, was the first of their two losses in the ten-game stretch and only the second time this season that the Golden Hurricane have been held scoreless—the other time a 0–1 loss to Florida Atlantic University. The Seminoles starter, Meghan King who was 18—3 at the time, pitched a perfect game against TU as the Golden Hurricane could do nothing on offense.
They bounced back from their worst loss of the season with one of their most dominant wins of the season, an 11–0 thrashing of host Stanford. Catcher Catherine Horner and left-fielder Maddie Withee each knocked in three runs and Caitlin Sill tossed a two-hit shutout in six innings of work. The win was Sill’s 8th of the season.
Later on during Spring Break the Tulsa hosted the No. 17 ranked Minnesota Gophers and then traveled to Arkansas to take on the Razorbacks the following day.
The game against Minnesota was just the fifth home game for the Golden Hurricane. According to Head Coach John Bargfeldt this was a game of big plays.
“We gave up a couple of big plays, and we made a couple of big plays ourselves. I think that making the big plays is what kept us in the ball game, and it ultimately allowed to get to a point where we could come out with the victory,” Bargfeldt said after the win over the Big-10 team.
Horner and shortstop Shelby Estocado led the way for Tulsa putting up two RBIs apiece, Estocado’s a two-run homerun, her sixth of the season.
Sill pitched in her second straight game and once again went the distance, as Tulsa finished off the game with a strong defensive inning in the top of the 7th, to get her ninth win of the season, a 6–4 win for the Golden Hurricane.
The game against Arkansas started off as a pitching duel between Razorback pitcher Grace Moll and Emily Watson. There were only two hits between the teams in the first two innings before the Golden Hurricane took advantage of two errors in the top of the third to take a 2–0 lead. Arkansas came back to take a 3–2 lead in the fifth, but TU scored a run in the sixth and seventh inning to take a 4–3 win on the road.
The next trip for the Golden Hurricane was a trip to Kansas to compete in the Rock Chalk Challenge against Minnesota, University of Missouri-Kansas City and St. Louis.
In their rematch with the Gophers, the Golden Hurricane left no doubt they were the better team, winning 10–1 before shutting out UMKC later in the day 10–0. Watson struck out eight in the win against Minnesota, which was more than half the outs in the run-rule, five inning victory for Tulsa.
Sill pitched another shut-out, striking out seven, and only allowing three hits in the late game against UMKC. That game also ended after only five innings.
Bargfeldt talked about the games and the conditions after the wins. He said “We played well in very tough, cold conditions. I was very proud of the way they came out and took on the conditions and the teams that we played, and really excelled in all phases of the game. Our pitcher really didn’t get into a whole lot of trouble. It was a combination of missing bats and giving up very few hits. The thing that doesn’t get lost, is in very cold weather, we didn’t walk very many.”
Tulsa finished off that weekend with another strong performance, a 9–2 victory over St. Louis University. Bargfeldt talked about not letting what happened in Texas, when they lost the last game of the tournament after winning the first three, happen this time.
“One of the things that we talked about was not letting what happened to us at Texas, when after some big wins during the week, it ended on a sour note. I felt like this could be a trap game, and our players responded really well. Getting that first run in the second inning and scoring early was important. The first couple of innings we hit a lot of balls right at people, so we needed to generate baserunners, and we were able to knock them in. We played in pretty tough conditions, so I’m proud of them for being able to go out and handle the cold.”
Finally TU opened up American Athletic Conference play this past weekend when they traveled to Houston to take on the Cougars. The Golden Hurricane continued their dominant stretch with an 11–2 win in the conference opener. Harner led the way going 4-for-4 with three RBIs. After jumping out to a five-run lead in the second inning, Tulsa got their foot on the gas, adding six more runs over the final four innings to put it out of reach for Houston.
“We had some good pitching and some good offense tonight. Houston has the ability to be very tough at home, with our past experience. Scoring those runs early maybe helps take the pressure off a little bit,” Bargfeldt said after the big opening win.
The second game of the series was a battle of defense, as Houston scored two early runs in the second inning and held on to win the game 2–1. Watson had a complete game for the Golden Hurricane, giving up only two runs, but the offense couldn’t muster more than one run to help her.
Bargfeldt after the game said, “We made several little mistakes that in a tight ball game just proved to be the difference in the game. We we started hitting the ball on the ground, we started getting base hits or errors. We just took too long to make adjustments to the type of pitcher that she was.”
Tulsa took the series finale 8–3, with Sill picking up the win after pitching four innings. With the series win, the Golden Hurricane sit at 23–6 on the season, and are receiving votes in multiple polls. They will finish up the road trip with a game against Wichita State on Wednesday before hosting the East Carolina Pirates next weekend.