The University of Memphis softball team (18-17, 2-4 American Athletic Conference) traveled to Oklahoma this past weekend to take on the Tulsa Golden Hurricane (24-10, 5-1 AAC). After the three-game series, Tulsa swept Memphis in an impressive fashion. Prior to the series, the Tigers were in a three-game winning streak of their own but were unable to compete with Tulsa’s high-octane offense.
Inefficiency at the plate hurts early
What helped the Tigers get onto a three-game win streak was their impressive hitting and scoring efforts. They’d been outscoring their last three opponents 25-1 and looked poised to continue their hot streak on the road.
However, when they took the field Friday, it was a much different dynamic, and the teams were both scoreless until the fourth inning. Tulsa scored first with a home run by 2b Morgan Neal in the bottom of the inning. Tulsa then had a big sixth inning where they scored four runs. Memphis didn’t get on the board until the final inning where 1b Ashley Threatt hit a solo homer.
A big reason for this lackluster performance was their problems at the plate. In the team’s 21 at-bats, they only had two hits. Tulsa didn’t do much better at the plate, getting seven hits at 26 at-bats, but did have five runs and eventually won the game 5-1.
Pitching hurts the team rather than helps
The Tigers had an opportunity to even the series heading into Saturday’s game and made it a point to start the first inning quickly. They outscored Tulsa 3-1 in the first inning, but Tulsa exploded in the third inning by scoring six runs. They later scored three more runs before the game ended.
A large reason for this collapse was the fact that the team’s pitching struggled. They allowed 10 runs and walked 10 batters. Head coach Natalie Poole brought in Kailey Hinderbrand, a pitcher who hadn’t seen game action since Feb. 23 when they played Michigan.
She played in the final 1.5 innings and in seven batters faced, allowed no hits or runs but did walk a batter and hit one with a pitch. Tulsa won the game 10-4.
Tigers can’t capitalize on fast start
After being down 0-2 heading into the final game against the Golden Hurricane, the Tigers for the second straight game came out fast. After the first two innings, they were up 4-0 after a strong first inning where they scored three runs.
DP Ryleigh Aungst started the day off with a home run in the first inning, her team-leading fifth home run. Her home run allowed her and CF Delaney Smith to score, putting the first points on the board. The play was then followed by another RBI scored by Smith after a double hit by 1b Ashley Threatt.
Things were looking up for the Memphis until Tulsa scored seven runs of their own in the fourth inning after scoring their first run in the third. That allowed them to establish an 8-4 lead they didn’t give back.
They eventually scored another four runs in the following two innings and limited the Tigers to scoring just one run of their own in that same time and won the game 12-5.
Overall in this series, Memphis was outscored 22-10 and looked like a much different team that took the field their previous weekend against ECU. They still have plenty of play left in the season, including a nonconference game against Alcorn State on Tuesday and a three-game series against conference opponent, the UConn Huskies.
The game against Alcorn State (10-14) will allow the team to return to Memphis where they feel most comfortable. They’re 12-5 when playing on their home field, and this game will be a much-needed return to familiar territory before they head back on the road this upcoming weekend.