Julie Kernen, Erica Sampson and Maddie Withee each tallied two RBI and two runs, and pitchers Caitlin Sill and Emily Watson allowed three hits each to lead the Tulsa softball team to 5-0 and 4-1 wins at East Carolina Saturday afternoon at ECU Softball Stadium.
Sill (7-9) pitched a three-hit shutout, striking out five batters, in Game 1. Watson (7-3) struck out four batters, and allowed one earned run on three hits in the Game 2 victory. The Golden Hurricane scored five runs on nine hits in the opener, and four runs on eight hits in the second contest, to improve its record to 25-15 overall and 7-1 in American Athletic Conference play. The Pirates fell to 11-31, and 3-8 in American play.
"We played two very relatively clean games, and there weren't too many hard hit balls on their team," Tulsa Head Coach John Bargfeldt said. "The outs were either pop ups or fairly weak ground balls. The double and the one triple were about the only barreled-up balls that they had, and one of those happened in each game. We did a good job of keeping them off balance and pitching to spots. Out hitters did a good job of bunting runners into scoring position, and getting them in, with either a ground out or a sac fly, and getting us on the board first. Then we had some extra base hits that kind of opened things up later and gave us some more runs."
Tulsa took a 2-0 lead in the series opener with a run in each of the first two innings. Sampson led off the first inning with a single, moved around on a pair of errors, and scored on a groundout by Kernen. In the second, Withee singled to center field, and moved around to score on a base hit to left by Jodi Edmiston.
The Hurricane added three runs in the fifth inning to extend its lead to 5-0. Catherine Horner drew a one-out walk, and scored on a double to right center by Kernen. Brittany Walker tripled to right center, plating Kernen, and then scored on Withee's base hit up the middle.
The Pirates threatened twice, but did not score. An error in the fourth inning allowed Ciara Ervin to reach base, but she was thrown out trying to score from second on a base hit by Abby Wynne. Casey Alcorn doubled to lead off the fifth and ECU loaded the bases with no outs, but Sill induced three straight pop ups to end the inning. ECU Starter Sarah Christian (5-11) allowed four runs in 4.1 innings, and took the loss.
Tulsa got on the board in the second inning of Game 2 when Kernen walked, went to third on Walker's double to center, and scored on a sacrifice fly by Withee. Sampson made it 2-0 with a solo home run to right center in the third inning. It was her seventh homer of the season.
The Golden Hurricane extended its lead to 3-0 in the fifth inning, when Shelby Estocado led off the frame with a double to right center, and scored on a sacrifice fly by Sampson. East Carolina scored its only run of the day in the bottom of the sixth inning when Ervin led off with a triple, and scored on a base hit to left by Kacie Oshiro.
Watson retired the final six batters of the game following the RBI single. She had allowed just a single in the first inning, and single walks in the second and fourth innings. The TU pitchers held ECU scoreless for the first 12 innings of play on Saturday.
The Hurricane added its final run in the top of the seventh when Withee scored on an RBI single by Estocado. Withee, who was 4-for-5 in the doubleheader and 2-for-2 in Game 2, led off the frame with a base hit to third. ECU starter Lydia Ritchie (0-4) allowed three runs on four hits in 5.0 innings to take the loss.
Sampson finished the day going 4-for-7 at the plate, while Walker went 3-for-6. Estocado was 2-for-3 in Game 2.
The series finale will be played at 10 a.m. CT Sunday.