A grand slam in the bottom of the seventh gave North Texas an 11-8 win over No. 16 Tulsa in the Conference USA series finale Sunday afternoon at Lovelace Stadium.
The Golden Hurricane, which clinched the C-USA regular season championship last weekend ends the regular year with a 47-7 overall record and a 19-4 mark in league play. The Hurricane will be the top seed in the C-USA Championship next weekend, May 8-10 in Boca Raton, Fla. The conference record and .823 winning percentage are the best in program history for TU, as is the 47-7 regular season record.
Tulsa took an 8-7 lead in the top of the seventh on a sacrifice fly by sophomore left fielder Jodi Edmiston that scored sophomore catcher Catherine Horner, who doubled to lead off the inning.
North Texas got a walk and two errors with one out in the bottom of the seventh to load the bases, before shortstop Brooke Foster homered to give the Mean Green the 11-8 victory.
Horner and senior center fielder Cierra Hughes each went 2-for-3 at the plate with three RBI to lead the Hurricane. Senior shortstop Jill Barrett, senior second baseman Shelby Blanton and junior designated player Erica Sampson each scored twice for TU.
Junior Bailey Erwin (13-3) pitched the final 6.0 innings in relief to take the loss. Lauren Poole (6-5) took home the win after throwing the final 5.0 innings in relief. Tulsa totaled eight runs on six hits and used the benefit of eight walks and an error, while NT totaled 11 runs on 12 hits, using five walks and four errors. The teams scored 13 of the 19 runs in the first two innings.
Tulsa took a quick lead with three runs in the top of the first inning. Barrett, Blanton and Sampson drew walks on 14 total pitches to load the bases. After a line out, Horner doubled to left center, scoring Barrett and Blanton. Hughes then singled home Sampson.
North Texas answered with five runs in the bottom of the first to take a 5-3 advantage. Foster led off with a single and was sacrificed to second. Following a walk to first baseman Dani Hoff, third baseman Jordan Terry doubled home Foster. Walks to center fielder Kat Strunk and right fielder Taylor Schoblocher produced another run, and left fielder Jackie Miller doubled to drive in three runs.
The Golden Hurricane responded in turn with four runs in the top of the second inning. Senior right fielder Haley Henshaw drew a one-out walk, Barrett singled to left, and Blanton walked to load the bases. Sampson was then hit by a pitch to plate Henshaw, and Horner drew a two-out walk to score Barrett. Hughes singled to right center, scoring both Blanton and Sampson to give TU a 7-5 lead.
North Texas scored a run in the bottom of the second on a leadoff solo home run by catcher Bryanna Wade to make the score 7-6.
Erwin, who entered with one out in the first inning in relief of senior Aimee Creger, retired three of the next four hitters after the homer in the second. She scattered six hits over the next four innings, pitching three shutout frames. North Texas did not score again until the sixth inning when Hoff singled home Foster, who reached on a fielder's choice. That run tied the score at seven apiece.
After four scoreless offensive innings, Tulsa took an 8-7 lead in the top of the seventh on Edmiston's sac fly.
Creger allowed five earned runs on two hits and three walks before giving way to Erwin with one out in the first. North Texas starter Ashley Kirk allowed seven earned runs on four hits and six walks in 2.0 innings, before Poole entered in relief.
The series loss is the first for Tulsa this season. The Hurricane had won eight consecutive three-game C-USA series dating back to the end of the 2013 season (TU split two games with UAB earlier this year).
Tulsa broke its single season hits record over the weekend, and now has 492 hits this year. The total surpasses the previous record of 476 set by the 2013 squad.
The Golden Hurricane will open the C-USA Championship on Thursday at FAU Stadium in Boca Raton, Fla. TU's opponent and game time will be announced at a later time.