"You hear about pitchers having ego problems. And boy, that's not Aimee," said University of Tulsa head softball coach John Bargfeldt before Wednesday afternoon's practice inside the Mabee Gym located on the school's campus. He was referring to senior pitcher Aimee Creger.
The team practiced indoors due to the subfreezing temperatures in Tulsa. But the team's performance through the first 15 games of the regular season couldn't be farther from it. The 21st ranked Golden Hurricane have won 13 of them while Creger is 6-0 as the starting pitcher this season.
It may seem remarkable to hear Creger's head coach state the lack of ego, given all her accomplishments in 3-plus seasons at Tulsa. According to her official team bio, Creger already holds the program's records in career wins and strikeouts. And last year, the 21-year-old Yukon, Oklahoma native played for the USA Softball Women's National Team.
"[Creger is] a great personality to be around," explained Bargfeldt. "When she's in the circle, she's proven she can beat anyone in the country."
TU senior third baseman Jill Barrett agreed. "It's really to play behind her because she gets a lot of strikeouts so when they do put in play, it's not really hard," Barrett said. "It's easy to make plays on her balls."
According to Creger's coaches, what makes her pitching so effective is having a rise ball with so much movement. But Aimee and her teammates know there are other "factors" involved.
"Anytime I wear a uniform with white pants, I always skip the rear belt loop," Creger said. Superstition? Yes. But as the commercial ad goes, "It's only crazy if it doesn't work."
"When I was a sophomore, or maybe a freshman, I pitched a no-hitter to open a weekend tournament," explained Creger. "I didn't realize until afterward I had forgotten a loop. When I pitched another game in that tournament I did it again for a second no-hitter. And it has been my ritual ever since."
While Aimee Creger has accomplished so much during her time at TU, one thing she and the Golden Hurricane have yet to do is advance past a postseason NCAA Regional Series. Given their great start and national rank, the 2014 University of Tulsa softball team believes there's no reason this season couldn't end at the Women's College World Series in Oklahoma City given their great start and national rank, they believe there's no reason this season couldn't end at the college world series.