On the minus side, Tulsa pitchers gave up three home runs in both games combined. Two of them contributed as UTEP’s first run in each contest.
Lacey Middlebrooks (17-4) and Aimee Creger (16-5) respectively pitched in each game and got the wins.
Middlebrooks allowed two runs on three hits and seven walks while forcing four strikeouts in the first game. Creger followed up with nine Ks while yielding four runs on three hits and three walks in her outing.
Tulsa (35-11 overall, 16-4 in Conference USA) had only three hits in the opener, but produced nine in the back-end contest. Middlebrooks was the top hitter with a 3-for-4 performance that included two doubles, one for two runs and two batted in to end the game. Caitlin Everett also went 2-for-3 with two runs, two RBI and one stolen base.
Game one began with UTEP’s Camilla Carrera, the nation’s long-ball leader, knocking the first of the Miner’s home runs in two outs against Middlebrooks. That put the visiting team up, 1-0.
Prior to Carrera’s homer, Tulsa had not given up any runs to the Miners since the May 1, 2010 contest between both teams. TU shut out UTEP in each game of last year’s series.
It didn’t take long for TU to answer as it drew walks against the Miners’ Colleen Hohman in the bottom frame. Hohman walked four of the first five batters, including Middlebrooks, who drew the game-tying bases-loaded walk to score Everett.
The Hurricane would finish the game with nine free passes against Hohman (5-17), with seven coming in the first two innings.
Skylar Swanson broke the tie to put Tulsa up 4-1 in the second inning.
With two outs and the bases loaded, the Coweta native got a hit down the right field line, then advanced to second base on a throwing error, while Cassidy Bowen, Everett and Barrett scored the runs. Swanson was credited with two RBI’s since Barrett had advanced on an error.
UTEP (14-35, 3-20) nearly tied the score in the top of the seventh when Chariss Ballesteros belted the ball to the edge of the left field, missing the wall that would have made it a three-shot home run. Instead, it was a one-run single that cut TU’s lead to two runs. That was where it would finish.
Barrett’s school record game-hitting streak came to a halt at 25. But she did get an RBI on a sacrifice fly to force a 1-1 tie in game two.
That game began with the first of two home runs from Chelsea Troupe in the top of the first.
TU took a 3-1 lead in the second. Middlebrooks led off with her first two-bagger, then with two outs, the next four Hurricane batters got free passes against Cynthia Villastrigo (6-13), with Everett and Barrett getting RBIs on their walks.
Tulsa would be up 5-4 before piling on the runs in the bottom of the fifth. It even went through the entire batting order with two players batting twice. One was Middlebrooks, who singled with one out her first time up.
RBI singles from Bowen, Everett and Samantha Cobb, along with a bases-loaded walk from Barrett, made the score 9-4.
Swanson was the other batter to go twice in the frame and she got a bases-loaded walk her second time up. Then came Middlebrooks’ two-run two-bagger, scoring Barrett and Cobb for the run-rule clinching scores.
TU has one more game with the Miners on Sunday. That game starts at noon and will be the last home game of the season at the Collins Family Softball Complex, which will also be dedicated. Seniors Swanson and Jessica Stoelke will also be recognized.
TU has a one-game lead in first place over UAB in the Conference USA standings. The Hurricane meets the Blazers for a three-game series next weekend in Birmingham, Ala.