TAMPA – The regular season champions and top seed in the American Athletic Conference Championship Wichita State was knocked out in the semifinals vs. Tulsa, 2-1, in eight innings Friday afternoon.
Wichita State (43-10) was held to just five hits, four of those five coming from Lauren Lucas and Krystin Nelson. One of the highest scoring teams in the nation, Wichita State has been held to just four runs in its last three games.
The loss spoiled a solid start in the circle for Lauren Howell (18-4) who struck out five over 8.0 innings. She allowed just two runs on seven hits, two of those hits coming in the eighth inning.
Lucas and Nelson both went 2-for-3, while Lucas drove in the only run. Addison Barnard was the only other Shocker to register a hit, a bunt single in the bottom of the eighth.
Tulsa broke up a scoreless game in the top of the third on a fantastic diving play up the middle by Sydney McKinney to record an out at second, but heads up baserunning allowed a run to score.
Wichita State picked up its first hit on a leadoff single from Nelson in the bottom half. After back-to-back pop ups, Nelson stole her first base of the season and it immediately paid off. On the very next pitch, Lucas smoked an RBI single back up the middle to tie the game at 1-1.
A leadoff double to start the top of the eighth followed by a bunt single had Tulsa in business with no outs and runners on the corners. A deep fly ball to left proved to be more than deep enough to score the go-ahead run.
One last chance for Wichita State in the bottom of the eighth came when Barnard executed a perfect bunt single with one out. A potential rally would be snuffed out, as Barnard was thrown out at second on a steal attempt. With two outs, Lucas kept the hope alive with her second single of the game and Zoe Jones reached on a hit by pitch, but that would be as close as it would get. Lauren Mills’ fly out to center sealed the upset win for Tulsa.
Wichita State will now turn its attention to Sunday and the NCAA Tournament Selection Show. The show starts at 6 p.m. CT on ESPN2.