Senior Aimee Creger struck out 17 in a one-hitter, and sophomore Caitlin Sill and junior Bailey Erwin combined for a Game 2 shutout as the 17th-ranked Tulsa softball team defeated UTEP twice Saturday by equal 6-0 scores at the Collins Family Softball Complex.
The Golden Hurricane (31-3, 8-0 C-USA) used big innings in each game to deliver the knockout blow on offense. TU put up six runs in the first inning of Game 1, and scored five runs in the fifth inning of Game 2.
Creger matched her career high with 17 strikeouts in Game 1, and walked none to improve to 14-1 on the season. UTEP's lone single in the sixth inning was their first off of Creger in 11 innings, dating back to her five-inning no-hitter of the Miners on April 27, 2013. The Hurricane scored all six runs in the bottom of the first inning. Danielle Pearson (5-9) took the loss for the Miners (12-23, 4-7 C-USA).
Sill (8-2) tossed 5.0 innings and allowed three hits in the second game, and Erwin pitched the final two scoreless innings, giving up two hits in the outing. TU got on the board with a run in the fourth inning, and a grand slam by sophomore left fielder Jodi Edmiston in the fifth inning provided the fireworks. Colleen Hohman (3-5) went the distance in the loss for UTEP.
Senior shortstop Jill Barrett went 2-for-3 with a run in Game 1 and 3-for-4 with a run in Game 2. With five hits Saturday, she tied the TU career record with 283 hits, matching the mark set by Caitlin Everett (2010-13).
"You have to start with the pitching today," Tulsa Head Coach John Bargfeldt said. "We didn't center up the ball as consistently as we had been. So, it was nice to have two pitchers go out there and keep zeroes out on the board. Obviously the offense started out strong in the first game. Aimee did a great job. She was probably (geared) up a little bit with all the lights on for a TV game, but she sure stood out and performed well.
"In that second game, Julie Kernen came through with a big two-out hit to get the first run on the board, and Jodi came up and put some distance in there. But also, a big key was Sill getting out of that jam (in the fifth inning with a 1-0 lead). They get a leadoff double, and then she gets two easy pop ups and a fly out. It was good to see her get out of the jam."
Tulsa broke a scoreless tie in Game 2 when first baseman Julie Kernen singled to right center, scoring catcher Erica Sampson, who led off the inning with a walk.
The Hurricane broke it open with five runs in the fifth. Senior right fielder Haley Henshaw and Barrett started the inning with back-to-back singles, and moved up on a sacrifice bunt by senior second baseman Shelby Blanton. Sampson and freshman designated player Jill Roye then drew consecutive walks, and Henshaw scored on a wild pitch delivered on ball four to Sampson. Edmiston then followed with her third home run of the season – a grand slam to right center
UTEP put runners on first and second in the top of the first and third innings. The Miners got a leadoff double in the fifth from Alanna Leasau, but Sill worked a pop out bunt, pop up to second and fly out to center to end the inning. Erwin gave up two singles to start the sixth, but retired the final six batters to close the game.