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.