TU softball clinches second consecutive conference tournament title
GREENVILLE, N.C. —
The University of Tulsa Softball Team secured their second straight conference tournament title and the NCAA Tournament automatic bid as they shutout Houston 1-0 in the title game on Saturday afternoon in the final game of The American Softball Championships. The title marks the sixth of its kind for the Hurricane (39-15 Overall), who will make their ninth NCAA Tournament appearance and learn their seed on Sunday night at 9 p.m. CT on ESPN.
Tulsa manufactured the only run they would need in the opening frame to go ahead 1-0 before going without a hit in the third and fourth innings.
Julia Hollingsworth opened the game for Tulsa’s offense in the bottom half of the first with one of her two walks and moved over into scoring position on a Maggie Withee sacrifice bunt.
Tori Stafford came through with her second RBI of the tournament with a one-out single that hit the chalk behind third base to score Hollingsworth for the lone run. Stafford was named to the all-tournament team along with Maggie Withee and Morgan Neal.
Emily Watson’s record-setting 14th shutout of the season saw the tournament’s Most Outstanding Player strikeout 11 batters for the second straight game as Tulsa’s streak of not allowing an opposing runner past second base continued for the fifth consecutive tournament contest.
Watson allowed just four hits, working around a leadoff runner that made their way into scoring position in the fifth.
The Hurricane looked to add to their lead in their final at-bat in the bottom of the sixth following a Haley Meinen single to shallow left field to leadoff the inning. Lauren Lomax entered to pinch run at second base after a Maddie Withee sacrifice bunt, but Lomax was left stranded on third as the score remained 1-0.
Houston’s fourth and final hit of the afternoon came by way of Savannah Heebner in the seventh inning with one out before two more Watson strikeouts ended the ballgame.