Claudio powers Bulls to two wins over Tulsa

ORACLE FILE PHOTO

With the weight of the game resting on her shoulders and the crowd falling silent Saturday, senior Karla Claudio blasted a two-out, walk-off shot to left field in the bottom of the seventh inning and ignited the crowd with an 8-7 comeback win — the Bulls’ second of the weekend.

After dropping two games to open conference play last weekend, USF (30-11, 2-3) bounced back over the weekend against Tulsa (21-12, 4-2) and won two of three in its conference home opener.

Claudio’s heroics in game two of the series were not her first of the weekend. She extended game one with a grand slam to tie the game as part of a six-run rally in the bottom of the seventh. The Bulls would end up winning 8-7 in 10 innings off a D’Anna Devine RBI-single.

“We like to win. Coach gave me the opportunity to hit today and I didn’t want to let my team down,” Claudio said. “I really wasn’t thinking about anything … I was just trying to swing the bat and get the barrel to the ball. I like to win so that’s what I was trying to do.”

Claudio finished the day batting .500 with three home runs and nine RBIs.

“Claudio was seeing the ball well last week. I thought she had some great at-bats against Houston and we need somebody behind Spivey to protect her, so I think right now Claudio has won that job,” coach Ken Eriksen said.

Claudio’s hot bat cooled off Sunday going 0-for-2 on the day as the Bulls fell 1-0 to the Golden Hurricanes.

Tulsa was able to get on the board early with an Erica Sampson homer to left field off Susan Wysocki to take a one-run lead in the third inning.

USF was unable to push across any runs off six hits partly due to the solid pitching by Tulsa’s Caitlin Sill, who pitched a complete game shutout with three strikeouts.

“Caitlin Sill just threw one heck of a ballgame,” Eriksen said. “She really toyed with us pretty good today and you’re not going to make adjustments on a pitcher like that that’s moving the ball like that. It was a gutsy performance.”

Sophomores Juli Weber and Kristen Wyckoff each went 2-for-3 on the day, but USF couldn’t make anything out of its opportunities.

Redshirt freshman pitcher Susan Wysocki (7-1) took her first loss of the season pitching 3 2/3 innings, striking out two and giving up only one earned run.

USF heads to UConn for a three-game series beginning with a doubleheader Friday at 1 p.m.

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