TULSA, Okla. —
The University of Tulsa softball team will open play at the NCAA Stillwater Regional against Arkansas with the first pitch scheduled for 5 p.m. on Thursday, May 16 at Cowgirl Stadium. The game can be seen on ESPN3
The Golden Hurricane (35-18) will be making its 11th NCAA Regional appearance overall and its eighth in the last nine seasons. All 11 regionals have come under 14th-year head coach John Bargfeldt.
The Razorbacks (38-18) enter the regional ranked No. 20 in the latest USA Today/NFCA Coaches Poll. Arkansas, which finished eighth in the Southeastern Conference, was ranked No. 14 when TU took a 2-1 victory back on March 13 in Fayetteville. The squad is led by sophomore Hannah McEwan, who led the SEC in hits (72) on her way to first-team all-conference honors. The pitching staff is anchored by Autumn Storms and her 1.60 ERA, 20-7 record and 164 strikeouts in 188.2 innings pitched.
Tulsa has won nine of the last 11 matchups with Arkansas and it is 2-0 all-time against the Razorbacks in NCAA Regional action. In the 2017 Norman Regional, Haley Meinen hit a walk-off homer to open the regional with a 5-4 win against Arkansas. Tulsa also defeated the Razorbacks, 6-0, on May 15, 2009, in the Norman Regional for its first-ever NCAA Tournament victory.
The winner of Thursday’s first game will advance to meet the winner of the Oklahoma State-BYU game at 12 p.m. on Friday.
Thursday, May 16
Tulsa Heads to NCAA Stillwater Regional
• Tulsa will make the short drive west this week for the NCAA Stillwater Regional, where it will open play against Arkansas at 5 p.m. on Thursday, May 16. TU and Arkansas are joined in the regional by No. 13 overall seed Oklahoma State and BYU.
• Tulsa defeated the Razorbacks in Fayetteville, 2-1, on March 13. TU has won nine of its last 11 games against Arkansas, including a win in the 2017 Norman Regional.
• TU split a pair of games with OSU this season and it has won 12 of the last 14 contests with the Cowgirls, while it is 1-2 all-time against BYU with the last meeting coming in 2010.
TU Success Under Coach Bargfeldt
• Now in his 14th season at Tulsa, head coach John Bargfeldt is the program’s longest-tenured head coach and has the most wins and highest winning percentage in school history.
• Bargfeldt will enter the week with a career 533-268-1 record, all at Tulsa. Bargfeldt reached win No. 500 after defeating Iowa and Bucknell on Feb. 9.
• Prior to Bargfeldt’s arrival, the program had just four winning seasons in 13 years and did not win a conference title or appear in an NCAA Regional.
• Since his hiring prior to the 2006 season, TU has posted a winning record in all 14 campaigns with six regular-season and seven conference tournament titles. In addition, TU has advanced to 11 NCAA Regionals, including a spot in the postseason for eight of the last nine years.
TU in the NCAA Tournament
• Tulsa will be seeking its first regional title and trip to a Super Regional this weekend. The Hurricane is 12-20 all-time in 10 previous regional appearances.
• Tulsa has reached a winner-take-all final game of a regional three times, dropping games to Oklahoma in the 2011 and 2017 Norman Regionals, along with a setback to Baylor in the 2014 Waco Regional.
• Eight of Tulsa’s 11 NCAA Regional appearances have been in the state of Oklahoma, including seven trips to Norman.
Tulsa’s Conference Honors
• Tulsa took home a league-high six all-conference honors, highlighted by Player of the Year (Julia Hollingsworth) and Rookie of the Year (Chenise Delce) awards.
• Hollingsworth and Delce each earned first-team all-conference, while Morgan Neal, Rylie Spell, Haley Meinen and Samantha Pochop all were named to the second-team.
• This was the third first-team all-conference selection for Hollingsworth, who is the first TU player to earn a conference Player of the Year honor since Jill Barrett in 2014 (Conference USA).
Tulsa in the Polls
• TU has spent much of the season receiving votes in both the ESPN.com/USA
Softball Poll and the USA Today/NFCA Coaches Poll. The Hurricane spent a week (April 23) ranked No. 25 in the ESPN.com/USA
• TU has an RPI ranking of No. 30, which is the best ranking among schools in The American.
• Tulsa has received a boost from its newcomers this season, led by freshman Chenise Delce, who was named the American Athletic Conference Rookie of the Year.
• Delce leads the TU pitching staff with a 1.60 ERA and a 14-5 record. She leads the staff in innings pitched (126.2) and ranks second with 110 strikeouts.
• In addition, junior transfer Kassidy Scott owns a 2.98 ERA, 8-6 record and five saves, while fellow transfer Alexis Perry has made 43 starts and ranks second on the team with 27 RBIs.
• Perry was named The American Player of the Week on April 22 after she hit .545 with two doubles, a grand slam and six RBIs in four games.
Odds and Ends
• Julia Hollingsworth enters the week leading The American, and ranked 32nd in the nation, with a .420 batting average. No other conference player is hitting better than .391 this season.
• Morgan Neal’s 16 doubles are tied for the most in the league. That is a new personal career high for a season after she finished with a dozen two-baggers last season.
• Kassidy Scott leads the league with five saves, which also ranks 12th in the nation. Her five saves are the most for a TU pitcher since Caitlin Sill had six in 2015.
• Tulsa is undefeated this season when holding a lead after four innings (26-0). Additionally, the team is 32-6 when it is leading or tied after the fourth inning.
Tulsa Picked to Finish Fourth in The American
• Tulsa was picked to finish fourth in the American Athletic Conference, as selected by the league’s head coaches, and went on to finish second.
• The Hurricane finished just one game behind league-champion USF and had a chance to win the conference on the final day of the regular-season.
• TU won all seven of its three-game conference series this season, including taking 2-of-3 against USF in Tampa to open league play, March 22-24.
Career Numbers Update
• Julia Hollingsworth ranks among the top 10 in TU history in several offensive categories including on-base percentage (1st; .466), triples (1st; 15), batting average (2nd; .378), runs scored (4th; 172), stolen base percentage (4th; .847), stolen bases (4th; 50), walks (4th; 104), slugging percentage (5th; .538), hits (5th; 246) and total bases (6th; 350).
• Catcher Rylie Spell ranks fifth in career fielding percentage at .991. The 2018 American Defensive Player of the Year also ranks among the program’s top 10 in most caught stealing (4th; 41), putouts (5th; 1,072) and chances (5th; 1,166).
• Additionally, senior Tori Stafford ranks seventh in putouts with 1,042 and she ranks eighth with a .987 fielding percentage.
• Morgan Neal ranks eighth with 211 career hits and ninth on the career RBI list with 109.
Look Who’s Back
• Tulsa returns seven starters and three pitchers from last year’s team, which went 34-25 overall and finished sixth in The American with a 10-11 mark before winning the league tournament.
• Leading the way is senior outfielder Julia Hollingsworth, who is a two-time American Athletic Conference first-team selection and two-time NFCA All-Region pick.
• Seniors Rylie Spell (2018 AAC Defensive Player of the Year), Haley Meinen (2nd-team all-conference), Morgan Neal (3-year starter) and Tori Stafford (3-year starter), along with Hollingsworth, give the Hurricane an experienced nucleus for 2019.
Shoes to Fill
• While Tulsa returns 10 letterwinners from last year’s team, it will have to make up for the graduation of Emily Watson, Shelby Estocado and Shannon Hughes this season.
• One of the best pitchers in program history, Watson left her name all over the TU record book and was selected No. 8 overall in the 2018 NPF Draft by the Beijing Eagles. She was an NFCA Second-Team All-American in 2017 and owns five TU single-season records.
• Watson went 24-12 with a 1.60 ERA and 306 strikeouts in 235.2 innings last season. She was a second-team all-conference and second-team NFCA All-Region pick, while she was the Most Outstanding Player of the 2017 and 2018 American Championship.
• Estocado started all 59 games for TU last season and led the team with 22 extra-base hits (13 2B, 2 3B, 7 HR) and 43 RBIs. She also led the team in slugging percentage (.565) and was second on the squad in stolen bases.
• Meanwhile, Hughes started all 117 games of her two-year career at shortstop for the Hurricane and recorded a .935 fielding percentage with 154 putouts and 146 assists.
• Tulsa went 34-25 last season and 10-11 in American Athletic Conference play to finish sixth in the league. The Hurricane then won the conference tournament to secure its seventh NCAA Regional appearance in the last eight years.
• TU garnered a league-high six all-conference selections, led by first-team outfielder Julia Hollingsworth and Defensive Player of the Year Rylie Spell. Hollingsworth and pitcher Emily Watson also were NFCA All-Region honorees.
• In the Norman Regional, Tulsa opened with a 9-1 run-rule victory over Missouri that featured a grand slam and a total of five RBIs from Spell. The Hurricane season came to an end following losses to No. 4 overall seed Oklahoma and Missouri.
• Should Tulsa win the NCAA Stillwater Regional, it would advance to face the winner of the Tallahassee Regional, which features No. 6 overall seed and defending national champion Florida State, South Carolina, USF and Bethune-Cookman