#41 Tulsa Softball 2014 Preview

Tulsa Golden Hurricane

Overall Rank: #41
Conference Rank: #2 C-USA
#41 Tulsa Softball 2014 Preview
Tulsa Team Page


Tulsa is one of the top mid-major programs and a program that seems to be overlooked.  The Hurricane has three consecutive seasons of 40-plus wins with losses not reaching 20 and have made the NCAA Tournament in four of the last five years.  Last season, Tulsa defeated teams like Florida State (2x), Texas, Oklahoma State (2x) and North Carolina. This year's Tulsa team welcome transfers from three of the country's best programs: Missouri, Florida State and Oklahoma.

2013: 42-16-1, 19-5
2013 Postseason: NCAA
Coach: John Bargfeldt

Field Players:
The Golden Hurricane returns three of its top five hitters, including two top power hitters. Infielder Jill Barrett led the squad with a .415 average and totaled 83 hits, which was 15 more than the next player. She also hit 12 doubles, a team-high. Haley Henshaw returns to man the outfield after hitting .321 with five home runs and 44 RBIs, which was second on the team.  The team's power hitter, Julie Kernen also returns. Kernen hit a squad-leading nine home runs last season and also brought home 41 runs. Oklahoma transfer Erica Sampson started at catcher for the Sooners and might be looked at to bring some stability behind the plate. FSU transfer Kaitlin Allen may be counted on for infield help as well.

Tulsa returns one stud pitcher in Aimee Creger and might have gained another one when Bailey Erwin transferred back home from the University of Missouri. Last year Creger compiled a 25-7 record with 1.15 ERA in 35 games (30 starts), while striking out 286. Erwin transferred to Tulsa after a year and a little more than a half at Mizzou. In her time as a Tiger, Erwin finished with an 11-0 record and struck out 76 hitters in 96.2 innings.   

Who to Watch:
The three transfers, Erwin, Sampson and Allen. Each transfer brings something different to the table. Both Allen and Sampson will be looked to help the offense, which lost some firepower with the graduations of Samantha Cobb and Cailtin Everett. Erwin will step in for Lacey Middlebrooks, who started opposite Creger last season. All three have NCAA Tournament experience and Sampson played for last year's NCAA title-winning Oklahoma squad. Allen played 31 games as a Seminole before transferring after her freshman year and showed a knack for plate discipline, drawing 19 walks in that time.

Final Projection:
Tulsa has all the tools to be a top-tier program again. The team has a nice combination of underclassmen and upperclassmen and, with the experience returning as well as the key new additions, the Golden Hurricane might stay in the NCAA Tournament a little longer this year. The coaching staff compiled a tough non-conference schedule that will prepare it for conference play. The team starts the season in a tournament hosted by Florida Atlantic, where some of the teams they may play, in addition to the hosts, are Louisville, Northern Illinois, Ohio State and St. John's. The weekend after, the Hurricane travels to Texas A&M, where it will face the Aggies, Oregon State and McNeese State. Tulsa also hosts its own tournament, but as of press time, the teams and schedule had not been finalized. The final tournament for the Hurricane is hosted by the title-defending Oklahoma Sooners. Other teams in that tournament are Liberty and Western Illinois.

Projected Postseason: NCAA Softball Tournament

Returning Leaders:
At Bats: Jill Barrett, IF, 200
Hits: Jill Barrett, IF, 83
Home Runs: Julie Kernen, IF, 9
RBIs: Haley Henshaw, OF, 44
Runs: Jill Barrett, IF, 42
Stolen Bases: Shelby Blanton, IF/OF, 4

Wins: Aimee Creger, P, 25
Innings Pitched: Aimee Creger, P, 200.2
Strikeouts: Aimee Creger, P, 286
Saves: Aimee Creger, P, 2; Caitlin Sill, P, 2


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