No. 20 Tulsa sweeps Herd
HUNTINGTON -- Tulsa proved proficient at the plate and Aimee Creger proved difficult to hit for the second straight year as the Golden Hurricane beat Marshall, 13-1, in five innings in the opening game of a Conference USA softball doubleheader on a sunny Saturday at Dot Hicks Field.
Tulsa used timely hitting in the nightcap to post a 4-2 victory for a sweep in its season-opening C-USA series. The Golden Hurricane scored three of their four runs with two outs.
"They beat us pretty good and we helped them beat us pretty good," Thundering Herd coach Shonda Stanton said.
No. 20 Tulsa (23-3, 2-0 C-USA) is the fifth ranked opponent Marshall (6-17, 1-4 C-USA) has faced this season. The teams wrap up the series Sunday at noon.
For the second straight game, Marshall fell behind early. On Tuesday, No. 9 Kentucky scored five runs in the first on the way to a 6-2 victory. In the opener Saturday, Tulsa scored twice in the first and five times in the second on a mix of five hits, a walk, wild pitch and passed ball for a 7-0 lead. Lindsey Fadnek started for the Herd. Brittanie Fowler replaced her in the second and Fadnek returned later to finish. She allowed nine hits and 11 runs (six earned) and the Herd committed six errors.
"We had a tough start and mistakes hurt us," Stanton said.
As for Creger, the right-hander (10-1) went the first four innings, allowed one hit and struck out nine. Kristina Braxton got the only hit off Creger. A year ago, Creger went 2-0 against the Herd in the opening C-USA series in Tulsa. She gave up three hits and fanned 14 in a 6-0 win in the first game and came back that Sunday to hold the Herd to one hit and strike out 13 in an 8-0, five-inning win.
In the nightcap, Haley Henshaw had an RBI single with two outs in the second for a 1-0 Tulsa lead. In the fourth, Cierra Hughes blasted a two-out solo homer. And in the fifth, Shelby Blanton knocked in a run with a two-out triple to end that magic run. The Golden Hurricane got their final run in the sixth on a leadoff homer by Jill Roye.
Katalin Lucas belted a solo homer in the bottom of the fifth for the Herd. Kaelynn Green, who had three of the team's five hits, scored in the sixth on a Tulsa error. Marshall got a leadoff single in the seventh, bringing the tying run to the plate, but couldn't do any more damage against reliever Bailey Erwin, who got her third save. Caitlin Sill worked the first five for the win.
"We got runners on, but we couldn't hit behind them," Stanton said. "We didn't get good swings when we needed them."
Jordan Dixon, who allowed one run in 6.1 innings of relief work against Kentucky, went the distance in the second game. She fanned eight and walked none.
"We'll give her the ball until she gets tired," Stanton said, referring to Dixon likely getting the start Sunday.
Greene collected three hits, scored twice and drew two walks on the afternoon.
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