Samantha Cobb hit her seventh home run of the season for No. 18 Tulsa, but the Golden Hurricane fell to No. 1 Oklahoma, 3-1, in front of a crowd of 849 Thursday evening at the Collins Family Softball Complex.
Cobb, batting in the leadoff spot, drove a 1-1 pitch over the center field fence in the fourth inning to provide the only run for the Golden Hurricane (29-8-1). Aimee Creger (15-3) absorbed the loss after pitching 6.0 innings, posting five strikeouts and allowing three earned runs on six hits.
Keilani Ricketts (16-1) earned the victory in relief for the Sooners (31-2), allowing one hit with five strikeouts in 2.2 innings. Starter Michelle Gascoigne left the game with a tie score after tossing 4.1 innings, allowing a run on three hits.
“I think what was so different about facing them, is they have two of the best left-handed pitchers in the country,” Tulsa Head Coach John Bargfeldt said of facing Oklahoma Thursday, after playing so many ranked opponents early in the season. “We don’t get to face left-handers that often. We tried some things a little bit differently with our lineup, and some of it worked. But, any time you’re seeing a pitcher for the first time, sometimes you have to learn a little bit. We didn’t get that chance with Gascoigne. We got going around (the lineup) on her a second time, and then they made the change.”
Cobb’s leadoff home run tied the score at one apiece in the fourth inning. It was her seventh of the season.
Oklahoma struck first in the scoreless ballgame with a run on three hits in the third inning. Right fielder Brianna Turang reached on a one-out single down the left field line, moved to second on a wild pitch, and third on a base hit to left by first baseman Lauren Chamberlain. Turang scored on second baseman Georgia Casey’s bunt single. The runners reached second and third, but Creger struck out the next two batters to end the inning.
After the fourth-inning run, the Hurricane threatened again in the fifth inning, getting a pair of runners on base with one out. First baseman Julie Kernen led off with a single up the middle, and catcher Cassidy Bowen blooped a base hit into right center. The hit prompted the pitching change, and Ricketts retired the next two batters with strikeouts to end the frame.
Creger retired the Sooners in order in the fourth and fifth innings. OU took the 3-1 lead in the top of the sixth with a two-run single by catcher Jessica Shults. Shults’ base hit to left center scored Casey, who was hit by a pitch to begin the frame, and third baseman Shelby Pendley, who followed with a double to left center.
Tulsa threatened in the bottom of the seventh, loading the bases with a leadoff single and two hit batters. The second hit batter came with two out, and the Hurricane was unable to plate a run, as a ground out ended the game. Lacey Middlebrooks, who started as the designated player and pitched the seventh inning in relief, had the hit with a single off the first base bag.
“What a great crowd. Every time something happened, there was a lot of energy, and it was a fun game to play in,” Bargfeldt said of the crowd at the game. On the feeling after Cobb’s home run, he said, “It was really neat to hear the stadium erupt. They had a great crowd here, and we had a great crowd too, and it was just a really neat feeling. There were a lot of goose bumps when we heard those fans erupt as soon as she hit the ball.”
The Golden Hurricane travels to East Carolina this weekend for a three-game Conference USA series. TU and ECU play a doubleheader beginning at noon CT Saturday, and a single game at 11 a.m. CT Sunday.
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