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Sunday College Softball Roundup

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Tulsa

TULSA, Okla. – The 24th-ranked Tulsa softball team concluded the regular season with a 3-1 victory over Southern Miss, completing the weekend series sweep amid chilly and windy conditions Sunday afternoon at the Collins Family Softball Complex.

Aimee Creger (24-5) struck out five and allowed an earned run on five hits to pick up her school-record-tying 24th victory of the season. Jill Barrett went 3-for-4 and scored a run, and Shelby Blanton, Caitlin Everett and Julie Kernen each drove in a run.

The Golden Hurricane improved to 41-13-1 overall and finished 19-5 in C-USA play, matching the 2011 and 2012 teams with the program's best-ever conference record. The group of TU seniors – Everett, Cassidy Bowen, Samantha Cobb and Lacey Middlebrooks – has won 160 games, compiling more victories in four years than any other class in program history.

The Golden Hurricane brought the regular season to a close with an eight-game win streak, and will carry that streak into the 2013 Conference USA Championship, which will be played May 9-11 at the Collins Family Softball Complex.

Tulsa began the scoring with a run in the bottom of the second when Cierra Hughes reached on a fielder's choice and moved around to score from second on a base hit up the middle by Everett.

The score remained 1-0 until the fifth when the Golden Hurricane broke through with a pair of runs to extend its lead to 3-0. Barrett led off with a single and Cobb was hit by a pitch. Kernen then doubled off the glove of the third baseman down the left field line to score Barrett. Middlebrooks drew a one-out walk to load the bases, and after a fielder's choice, Blanton sent a single through the right side to plate Kernen

Southern Miss put a run on the board in the top of the sixth inning to make the score 3-1. Morgan McKeever and Mackenzie Sher hit consecutive singles, and McKeever scored on a ground out to short by Danielle LaPointe. The run was the first allowed by Creger in 22 innings, after she tossed three straight shutouts.

Oklahoma

LAWRENCE, Kan. – The Oklahoma Sooners split a doubleheader Sunday against Kansas, after weather wreaked havoc with the weekend schedule

In the first game, Keilani Ricketts struck out a season-high 17 batters and Oklahoma rallied for a 4-2 win.

Tied at 2-2 in the seventh, sophomore Callie Parsons got the rally started with a walk, and senior Brianna Turang followed with a single through the left side. Sophomore Lauren Chamberlain flew out to right field for the first out, but it was deep enough to move Parsons up to third.

Sophomore Georgia Casey came to the plate next and put down a squeeze bunt to allow Parsons to slide in safely and score what would be the game-winning run. Later in the frame, with runners on the corners, Ricketts helped her own cause with a chopper back up the middle to drive in Turang for an insurance run.

The rally enabled Ricketts to celebrate a dominant win. Her 17 strikeouts set a season high, surpassing the 15 she recorded at Texas on April 19.

Ricketts, who got the first 12 outs of the game via a swinging strikeout, improved to 25-1 with the win. She allowed four hits, three walks and two runs, though only one run was earned.

At the plate, Ricketts was 1-3 with an RBI single. In the first inning, she drew the 164th walk of her career to break the school record of 163 held by Amber Flores.

Kansas broke through first in the second inning when Chanin Naudin hit an RBI double. The Jayhawks proceeded to load the bases with no one out, but Ricketts came back with three straight strikeouts to avoid any further damage.

Ricketts then struck out the side in the third and led off the fourth with another punchout for seven strikeouts in a row. After a hit batter, the senior southpaw came back with two more strikeouts.

After being held scoreless through four innings for just the fifth time this season, Oklahoma took the lead in the fifth inning.

Junior Destinee Martinez and Parsons led off the fifth with back-to-back singles. Turang then bunted them into scoring position before a walk to Chamberlain loaded the bases.

On a full-count pitch, Casey hit a bloop single into right center that allowed Martinez and Parsons to score and give the Sooners a 2-1 lead.

The Jayhawks answered back in the bottom of the frame when Alex Hugo reached on a wild pitch strikeout and came around to score on a Sooners throwing error.

In the second game, Oklahoma was shut out for the second time this season and suffered just its fourth loss of the year, a 2-0 final.

The loss, which snapped OU's five-game winning streak, was the Sooners' first to an unranked team since a 5-4 loss to Texas Tech on April 6, 2012. It was also the first setback to an unranked opponent on the road since a 1-0 defeat at Tulsa on March 23, 2011.

Oklahoma is now 2-4 this year when scoring two runs or fewer, compared to a 42-0 mark when scoring at least three runs.

For the second time in the doubleheader, Kansas scored within the first two innings.

In the first inning, Alex Hugo reached on a two-out single and came around to score one batter later when Chaley Brickey doubled.

The Jayhawks added an insurance run in the sixth inning when Brickey came home on a passed ball with the bases loaded.

Oklahoma had its chances in the game, but stranded a total of nine runners on base.

The Sooners left a pair of runners on in both the first and second innings and again in the fourth.

In the fifth inning, sophomore Lauren Chamberlain led things off with a double to left field and took third on a sacrifice bunt by fellow sophomore Georgia Casey. The Sooners were unable to bring Chamberlain the final 60 feet, though as a ground out and pop out ended the chance.

Down to their final three outs, OU tried to rally in the seventh.

Senior Brianna Turang led off with a single and moved to second when Chamberlain fouled out to left field. After a popout to third, the game ended when sophomore Shelby Pendley's deep fly ball got knocked down by the wind and was caught on the warning track in center field.

Senior Michelle Gascoigne took the loss for OU, dropping her record to 16-3. She struck out four and walked one while giving up three hits. She allowed two runs, though only one of which was earned.

Junior Destinee Martinez was a perfect 3-3 at the plate to extend her season-best hit streak to seven games. She has now hit safely in 11 of her last 12 games, raising her average from .262 to .374 in that span.

With the final weekend of the regular season on tap, Oklahoma still controls its own destiny for the Big 12 title. With a 12-2 conference mark, the Sooners hold the lead over Texas, which is 13-4. OU has three games against Oklahoma State remaining, while the Longhorns have a single game left against Baylor.

The Sooners need two wins in the series against the Cowgirls to claim their sixth regular season title, while they would need one win should Texas fall to the Bears on Sunday.

The Bedlam Series against Oklahoma State, which features three games in three days in three cities, begins with Friday's contest in Oklahoma City at 6 p.m. The teams then play on Saturday in Norman at noon, while Sunday's finale takes place in Stillwater at 1 p.m.

Oklahoma State

STILLWATER — After winning the first two games of the series, the Oklahoma State softball team dropped game three to No. 6 Texas 7-2 Sunday afternoon at Cowgirl Stadium.

The Longhorns jumped out to a 1-0 lead in the top of the first inning when Brejae Washington scored on a base hit by Mandy Ogle. They added on to the lead in the top of the third on a grand slam by Taylor Thom, making the score 5-0.

The Cowgirls started to chip away at the score in the bottom of the third. After back-to-back walks to lead off the inning, junior Ari Morrison punched a base hit past the shortstop, scoring sophomore Gessenia DeLaCruz. The next batter, junior Tarah Ettinger hit a single to left field, scoring senior Tamara Brown from second to cut the score to 5-2.

However, that was all the runs the Cowgirls would muster. Texas scored two more runs in the top half of the fifth and won by the final of 7-2.

Offensively, the Cowgirls had five hits. Ettinger had a double in the first inning and a single with an RBI in the third. Brown, Morrison and sophomore Shelby Davis all had base hits.

Senor Kat Espinosa started in the circle for the Cowgirls. She went five innings and allowed seven runs on 11 hits and struck out two. Junior Simone Freeman came on in relief in the sixth inning and didn't allow a run on two hits while striking out one.

The Cowgirls (30-23 overall, 6-9 Big 12) return to action next weekend when they open their final regular-season series on Friday evening in Oklahoma City against top-ranked Oklahoma.

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