The 18th-ranked Tulsa softball team saw its record-setting season come to an end Sunday evening with a 3-1 loss to Baylor in the winner-take-all game of the NCAA Waco Regional at Getterman Stadium.
The Golden Hurricane ends the year with a 53-9 record after reaching the NCAA postseason for the fourth consecutive year and pushing to the final game of the regional for the second time.
Tulsa scored in the top of the first inning before Baylor took a 2-1 lead with a run in each of the first two innings and a third run in the fourth frame.
"It was just two teams leaving everything out on the field today. I couldn't be prouder of my team as I know (Baylor coach) Glenn (Moore) has to be proud of his team. As coaches you can't ask for anything more than players going out and putting it all on the line, that's what you got to see, and fans got to see in two ball games."
Tulsa scored in the top of the first inning when senior shortstop Jill Barrett beat out an infield single and moved around to score on sophomore catcher Catherine Horner's base hit through the right side.
Baylor tied it with a run in the bottom of the first when Kaitlyn Thumann was hit by a pitch and moved around to score on a sacrifice fly by Holly Holl. Sarah Smith gave the Bears a 2-1 lead with a solo home run to lead off the bottom of the second. Baylor added their third run in the fourth inning on a pair of doubles by Lindsey Cargill and Ari Hawkins.
Tulsa loaded the bases with one out in the top of the sixth after a leadoff double by junior first baseman Julie Kernen, a single by senior center fielder Cierra Hughes and an error that allowed freshman third baseman Maggie Withee to reach. TU was unable to push a run across, however, and a strikeout and groundout ended the inning.
Sophomore Caitlin Sill (11-4) started for Tulsa and allowed three runs on six hits in 4.0 innings. Junior Bailey tossed the final 2.0 innings in relief, allowing just one hit with three strikeouts. Whitney Canion (29-10) pitched her second complete game of the day, allowing eight hits with nine strikeouts.
The Hurricane forced the deciding game with a 1-0, 11 inning victory earlier Sunday afternoon. TU senior Aimee Creger and Canion dueled for 10-and-a-half scoreless innings before junior Erica Sampson hit a walkoff home run in the bottom of the 11th inning.
Tulsa won the Conference USA regular season and tournament championships, winning a school-record 53 games in the process. The Hurricane set single season offensive records for batting average, slugging percentage and on-base percentage, as well as runs, hits, RBI, home runs, triples, total bases and walks. TU pitchers also set records for strikeouts, fewest hits allowed and opponent batting average.
TU's Walkoff Homer Forces Winner-Take-All Final
Erica Sampson's solo home run in the bottom of the 11th inning gave Tulsa a 1-0 win over Baylor to force the winner-take-all final game of the NCAA Waco Regional Sunday afternoon at Getterman Stadium.
The deciding game is set to begin at approximately 4:40 p.m. The winner will advance to the Super Regionals.
Aimee Creger (29-1) went the distance in the victory for the Golden Hurricane (53-8). She struck out nine batters and allowed six hits and two walks. Whitney Canion (28-10) also went all the way for the Bears (44-14), striking out 10 and allowing six hits and a walk.
Creger held Baylor hitless for 6.1 innings from the end of the third to a leadoff single in the 10th inning.
With one out in the bottom of the 11th, Sampson hit a 1-0 pitch over the left field wall for the win.
The 11-inning contest matched Tulsa's longest NCAA postseason game. TU previously beat Oregon State 9-7 in 11 innings on May 18, 2012.