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TU's Watson will be key to conquering NCAA Regional

University of Tulsa Golden Hurricane junior pitcher Emily Watson tosses a bullpen session during the team's practice Monday afternoon. (KTUL)

"She's always had the pitches," said University of Tulsa head softball coach John Bargfeldt. "She's always had the speed. But her movement and location have gone to another level this year."

Put it all together to make one of the best pitchers in college softball this year: Emily Watson. The junior right-hander has thrown 14 complete game shutouts this season; a new program record. The most recent shutout was for the American Athletic Conference Tournament title last weekend in Greenville, North Carolina.

"I just tried to do the best I can per game [this season]," Watson explained after the team's practice Monday. "And like specifically per inning. And it turned out to be pretty great every game. We just ended up winning a lot more."

Coach Bargfeldt may be surprised by Emily Watson's success. But she admits she feels like this has been coming for some time. All the hard work and dedication Watson has put in over the past couple seasons is finally paying off.

"Every year, I feel like I've improved," said Watson. "And this year, I just feel like I can just hit spots better. And just get some swings and misses; just fooling some batters."

And at this level, great starting pitching can go that much farther with a team's success. Having an ace like Watson on the mound will give the Golden Hurricane a chance against anybody in this postseason.

"We also bring up the fact nobody has ever made it past this regional," said Bargfeldt. "There have been a lot of teams that have been close. But we're still looking for that one to make it over the hump."

"I knew we were always great," Watson said.

"I know it's just time we finally show it. And I think we're going to do great things this weekend."

The Golden Hurricane are the No. 2 seed in this weekend's NCAA Regional in Norman, Oklahoma. Tulsa will face No. 3 seed Arkansas in their first game of the double elimination tournament Friday. The other two teams are North Dakota State and defending national champion Oklahoma.

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