MU falls to Tulsa in C-USA title game
BOCA RATON, Fla. — Tulsa made its final appearance in the Conference USA softball championship tournament memorable.
The Golden Hurricane defeated Marshall University for the title Saturday, 8-0, before leaving for the American Athletic Conference. Tulsa, the top-seeded C-USA regular season champion, improved to a 50-7 record while seventh-seeded Marshall ended 29-31.
Tulsa earned the C-USA automatic bid to the NCAA tournament. The NCAA Softball Selection Show airs at 9 p.m. Sunday on ESPNU.
Marshall was defending the 2013 championship at the FAU Softball Stadium.
“When you look at today, it does not change anything that this group has accomplished,” Marshall head coach Shonda Stanton said. “What an incredible team. We started a season 6-18 and you challenge them, ‘Are you strong enough for the journey?’
“And you know what, they step up. They rise to the occasion.”
Tournament Most Valuable Player Aimee Creger pitched a two-hitter with 12 strikeouts for Tulsa. Creger (27-1) was previously named as the C-USA Pitcher of the Year. Marshall’s only hits were singles by Raquel Escareno in the second inning and Morgan Zerkle of Milton in the third inning.
Zerkle, Jordan Dixon, Shaelynn Braxton and Kaelynn Green from Marshall made the all-tournament team.
“The reason it hurts and the reason it stings so much is give credit to our girls,” Stanton said. “Our mentality was not to come in here and just be happy to be in the championship game. Our mentality was to come in here and win a ball game. We put our best foot forward and we ran into a very good Tulsa club.
“It’s difficult to win a championship.”
Tulsa’s offense got going with three hits in the first inning and scored on Julie Kernen’s single.
The Golden Hurricane went ahead, 6-0, with a five-run rally against Thundering Herd starter Jordan Dixon in the fourth inning. Jill Barrett, the C-USA Player of the Year, had a single that drove in two runs. Erica Sampson’s double scored three more.
Consecutive wild pitches by Marshall reliever Lindsey Fadnek in the sixth inning resulted in Tulsa’s final two runs. Marshall knocked out second-seeded UAB and sixth-seeded East Carolina to get in the championship game for the third consecutive season.
The Herd roster of 20 players included 16 freshmen and sophomores. Kristina Braxton and Emileigh Cooper are juniors. Savanah Webster and Taylor Winton are seniors.
“I’m proud of what this team accomplished when you look at where we came from and where we ended up,” Stanton said.
P Aimee Creger, Tulsa (MVP)
P Jordan Dixon, Marshall
C Catherine Horner, Tulsa
IF Rachel Slowik, FIU
IF Shaelynn Braxton, Marshall
IF Brooke Foster, North Texas
IF Jill Barrett, Tulsa
OF Kaelynn Green, Marshall
OF Cierra Hughes, Tulsa
OF Erica Sampson, Tulsa
DP Jill Jelnick, East Carolina
U Morgan Zerkle, Marshall
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