#42 Tulsa Softball Preview

Tulsa Golden Hurricane

Overall Rank: #42
Conference Rank: #2 Conference USA

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Head Coach John Bargfeldt begins his 8th season as Tulsa skipper.  The back-to-back Conference USA Coach of the Year has turned the Golden Hurricane into a program that expects to win and can compete nationally.  In 2012 they won both the regular season and conference tournament titles.  It was their fourth regular season crown in four years and second consecutive regular season championship.  Coach Bargfeldt is excited about the upcoming season and he expects great things.  “Our core of players returns along with a couple of injured players coming back this season who missed all of last season or were limited because of rehabbing.  I see pitching and defense again being strengths, along with a line-up that can drive the ball or play some small ball.”

2012: 42-14, 19-5
2012 Postseason: NCAA
Coach: John Bargfeldt, 8th Season

Field Players:
Three-fourths of the Tulsa infield returns along with the catcher. This veteran group delivers at the plate.  Senior shortstop Samantha Cobb led her team with 11 HR’s, drove in 46 and hit .339 in 2012.  Her head coach raves about her capabilities, “Sammy Cobb, Tulsa’s best run producer ever and top returning power hitter, excellent SS who can make all the plays, 3 hole hitter since day one on campus.”  The Tulsa head coach cannot say enough good things about All-Conference junior third baseman Jill Barrett.  “Jill Barrett set the single season batting average record last year (.416).  She’s another table setter with ability to drive in runs; wouldn’t trade her defense at 3B for anyone in country.”  Junior first baseman Shelby Blanton comes back after hitting .301 last season.  Senior catcher Cassidy Bowen was solid behind the plate, allowing the fewest stolen bases among C-USA catchers, leading the league in pickoffs with five.  She threw out 21 would-be base stealers, second in C-USA.  Bargfeldt counts on her leadership, “Cassidy Bowen was our best hitter this fall.  She makes us tough to run on as she threw out nearly 50 percent of base stealers; an excellent field general.”

Both Lacey Middlebrooks and Aimee Creger are back in the circle.  Middlebrooks, a senior, was the Conference USA Co-Pitcher of the Year in 2012, collecting 20 wins and 19 complete games.  She posted a 2.15 ERA and is also a middle of the order run producer.  Creger, a junior, won 19 games, had an ERA of 2.54, struck out 184 and tossed 13 complete contests.  Coach Bargfeldt believes in both his hurlers, “Middlebrooks and Creger are both number 1’s.  They have both led the team in their careers and can keep you in any game most of the time.  Both pitchers can dominate in different ways and our two freshman pitchers are completely different which gives us the ability to change the style on opposing teams.”

Who to Watch:
Senior centerfielder Caitlin Everett is a dynamic player that makes the Golden Hurricane offense go.  The first team All-Conference athlete hit .366 (2nd on her team), scored a club high 55 times, hit 7 doubles, 6 triples and stole 35 bases.  Everett holds several Golden Hurricane single season records including best batting average (.407), most hits (79), most stolen bases (35) and attempts (41).  Everett is on track to set career records at Tulsa.  Her .376 career average and 10 triples are already the highest in Tulsa history.  She is second in stolen base percentage and will, if she stays healthy, surely finish with the most at bats, runs scored, hits and stolen bases.  Everett has been NFCA All-Region twice.

Final Projection:
Coach Bargfeldt has an extremely experienced squad that he has high hopes for going into a challenging 2013 season.  He said, “One of the things we are very proud of at Tulsa is that every year since I’ve been here, we have had one or two seniors step up and have by far their career year.  It happened again last year and we believe our team will once again see improvement from our passionate players that have been working hard with our coaches and teammates.  I know we have a tough road ahead of us because most of the elite teams we have to play on the road.”  Tulsa has 17 games against 2012 NCAA Tournament teams, four that made it to a Super Regional.  Tulsa will get tested early with tilts against LSU, North Carolina, Florida St., Hofstra, Arkansas, Texas, Texas Tech and Louisiana-Lafayette.  Cobb, Blanton, Bowen and Everett should return the necessary offense to support Middlebrooks and Creger and give Tulsa a good chance to compete with Houston for the top spot in C-USA and capture a return trip to the NCAA Tournament.

Projected Postseason: NCAA Softball Tournament

Returning Leaders:
At Bats: Caitlin Everett, OF, 205
Hits: Jill Barrett, IF, 79
Home Runs: Samantha Cobb, IF, 11
RBIs: Samantha Cobb, IF, 46
Runs: Caitlin Everett, OF, 55
Stolen Bases: Caitlin Everett, OF, 35

Wins: Lacey Middlebrooks, P, 20
Innings Pitched: Lacey Middlebrooks, P, 188.2
Strikeouts: Aimee Creger, P, 184
Saves: Lacey Middlebrooks, P, 1


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