Two Wins on Friday Send Sooners to Title Game
NORMAN – No. 3/3 Oklahoma softball will play in the Phillips 66 Big 12 Softball Championship title game after winning its pool on Friday, defeating Texas 10-1 in six innings and Iowa State 9-6 inside USA Softball Hall of Fame Stadium.
The Sooners are set to take on No. 17/16 Baylor in Saturday's championship contest, scheduled for a 4 p.m. CT first pitch. It will be Oklahoma's second consecutive appearance in the tournament's title game.
With the wins on Friday, OU moved to 49-3 on the season.
In game one, the Sooners clinched a run-rule victory in walk-off fashion when Jocelyn Alo drilled a three-run homer to left field. It was OU's 19th run-rule victory of the season and the second time this season the Sooners finished a run-rule with a walk-off home run, also doing so on a Caleigh Clifton blast against BYU on Feb. 23.
Paige Parker and Paige Lowary combined in the circle for the win. Parker improved to 25-2 on the year, allowing one run on seven hits while striking out three. Lowary closed the final 1.2 frames and shut down the Longhorns, retiring all five batters she faced.
Alo's three-RBI game was her 20th multi-RBI game this season. Clifton and Nicole Pendley also drove in multiple runs in the contest, each registering two RBIs. Clifton, Sydney Romero and Shay Knighten all had two hits against the Longhorns.
The Longhorns opened scoring in the top of the first when Randel Leahy laid down a squeeze bunt to bring Janae Jefferson home from third.
Nonetheless, the Sooners took the lead in the bottom of the second and never looked back. Pendley led off the frame with her 12th home run of the season, tying the contest at one run apiece. After OU loaded the bases, Caleigh Clifton singled through the right side to drive in Lea Wodach and Nicole Mendes.
Oklahoma added two runs in the third. With runners on the corners, Kelsey Arnold perfectly placed a slap down the first-base line to give Hannah Sparks space to run home from third. Wodach then singled to center to plate Fale Aviu.
Two more Sooner runs scored in the fourth. Romero opened the frame with a homer to left, her 12th of the season. Pendley hit a sacrifice fly to drive in Alo and extend OU’s advantage to 7-1.
After a scoreless fifth inning, Romero and Clifton both singled to lead off the bottom of the sixth. Alo then crushed her 24th home run of the season, which leads the NCAA this year.
In game two, the Sooners came back from an early four-run deficit to clinch their spot in the title game.
Aviu finished the contest 2-for-2 with two runs, two RBIs and two walks. Romero and Raegan Rogers also drove in multiple runs in the contest, three from Romero and two from Rogers. Pendley led the team with three hits while Romero and Mendes both had two.
The Cyclones jumped out to a quick lead in the bottom of the first, taking advantage of two OU errors to bring four runs across before the Sooner defense could get an out on the board.
Parker Conrad then entered the game and stopped ISU’s hot start. She tossed the next 3.2 innings, allowing just three hits and no runs while striking out three batters.
The Sooner offense backed Conrad up, tying the game in the next two innings. In the second, Fale Aviu doubled to right center to bring Nicole Pendley home from first.
Oklahoma then put two runners in scoring position, and Lea Wodach forced an error at shortstop that allowed Aviu to reach home. Raegan Rogers then placed a perfect sacrifice bunt that gave Kelsey Arnold space to dash home, putting OU within one run.
The Sooners tied the contest in the third as Aviu tallied her second RBI of the game, this time blooping a single to center that plated Caleigh Clifton from second.
Parker entered the contest in the bottom of the fourth with a tied ballgame. She earned the win, moving to 26-2 on the year, allowing two runs on three hits while walking two and fanning three.
OU took the lead in the fifth when Rogers drew a walk with the bases loaded to bring Clifton home. Romero then split the gap in right field, driving in Pendley and Aviu and giving the Sooners a 7-4 lead.
In the seventh inning, pinch runner Vanessa Taukeiaho scored from first on a throwing error. Romero then recorded a sacrifice fly that allowed Rogers to cross home.
Iowa State’s Logan Schaben hit a two-run home run in the bottom of the seventh, but a line out to Romero ended the comeback effort.
The Sooners and the Lady Bears will face off on Saturday at 4 p.m. CT. The Phillips 66 Championship Game will be broadcast on FS2 and can be heard on the air via KEBC 1560 AM or the Franchise 2.