Tulsa scored two runs in the fourth inning and three runs in the seventh, but it was not enough to overcome the early deficit, as the Golden Hurricane fell to Wichita State, 7-5, Wednesday afternoon at the Collins Family Softball Complex.
The Golden Hurricane (28-15) trailed 7-0 after two innings, but made a comeback bid with three runs in the seventh to close the gap to 7-5. TU scored all three seventh-inning runs with two outs, and had runners at first and third when Paige Luellen made a falling catch of Tori Stafford’s deep fly ball on the right field warning track to end the game.
Stafford was 2-for-4 and scored a run in the game – one of five Hurricane players to finish 2-for-4 at the plate. Maggie Withee, Maddie Withee, Catherine Horner and Julia Hollingsworth all tallied two hits, as Tulsa totaled 13 hits in the game. Hollingsworth drove in two runs and scored once, and Horner added an RBI and a run. The Shockers (29-18) finished with eight hits.
Lexi Blevins pitched a career-high 5.1 innings in relief for Tulsa, allowing no runs on four hits. She struck out six and walked just two in her stellar outing. She had thrown a total of 6.2 career innings, including 3.1 innings this season, and had five career strikeouts prior to Wednesday.
“Lexi picked us up by throwing strikes, getting ahead of the hitters. She is the one that really stuck us in there and gave us a chance,” Tulsa Head Coach John Bargfeldt said. “Hollingsworth made a great hustle play to break the ice, scoring on a (wild pitch), and then Jodi hustling to first and getting the second run in. Then we went quiet for a little bit, but that last inning we had a lot of determined at bats. We had 13 hits on the game and outhit the other team, had several hard hit balls that were outs, right at people. Obviously losses aren’t fun, but you have to say there are a lot of positives that came out of this game.”
Maggie Withee led off the seventh inning with a double, and Maddie followed with a single to third base. A pair of fielder’s choices put two outs on the board, but Horner’s grounder allowed Maggie Withee to score. Shelby Estocado then doubled into right center, and Hollingsworth singled up the middle to bring home both runners and make the score 7-5. Kaitlin Allen followed with a line drive single back to the pitcher, putting runners at first and third before the final fly out.
In the fourth inning, Hollingsworth reached on a one-out single, and moved to third on Stafford’s double to left field. Hollingsworth then hustled across the plate on a wild pitch for Tulsa’s first run, and Stafford scored on Jodi Edmiston’s single in the hole between shortstop and third base. The two runs cut the deficit to 7-2.
Wichita State took the early lead with a pair of runs in the first inning on Cacy Williams’ two-run home run to center field. The Shockers plated five runs in the second inning on consecutive two-run doubles by Ashley Johnson and Luellen. Macklin Hitz singled in a run to make it a 7-0 game.
Blevins entered after Luellen’s double, and retired the side around the RBI single. She held the Shockers scoreless over her stint, before giving way to Emily Watson in the seventh inning. With the bases loaded, Watson struck out the two batters she faced to close the inning. TU starter Caitlin Sill took the loss, her record dropping to 15-8.
Wichita State starter Katie Malone (11-6) allowed three runs on nine hits over 6.0 innings and earned the win. Jenni Brooks entered in relief in the seventh inning and allowed two runs on four hits.
The Golden Hurricane returns to conference play this weekend with a three-game set at Memphis. Game times are 5 p.m. Friday, 2 p.m. Saturday and noon Sunday.