LOS ANGELES, Calif. – Freshman Nicole Mendes had a career-high four hits as No. 9/10 Oklahoma (23-5) held off Loyola Marymount (10-14) at the LMU Tournament, 6-4, Thursday in Los Angeles, Calif.
Batting leadoff for the first time in her career, Mendes reached in all five plate appearances, scored three runs, drove in a run and stole a base. She was 4-4 with a walk, a single, two doubles and a triple. The Houston, Texas, native was a home run shy of becoming the first player in OU history to hit for the cycle. Her hit streak stands at eight games.
Junior Lea Wodach also had a multi-hit game for OU as she was 2-3. As a team, the Sooners had 12 hits and drew five walks. Sophomore Sydney Romero pushed her hitting streak to a career best 11 games by going 1-4, while fellow sophomore Caleigh Clifton’s on base streak is at 15 games as she had a hit and was hit by a pitch.
In the circle, junior Paige Lowary earned the win and is now 6-1 on the season. She struck out seven in 5.0 innings and allowed four runs on four hits and three walks. Freshman Mariah Lopez earned her first career save as she worked the final two innings. Lopez struck out two and did not allow a hit, run or walk.
Oklahoma has won 15 straight road games dating to last season, tied for the second longest road win streak in program history and one off the record of 16 set from March 18, 2002 to March 20, 2003.
The Sooners sent eight to the plate in the top of the first inning and scored a pair of runs.
Mendes, batting leadoff for the first time in her career, started things off for Oklahoma with her first ever triple. Two batters later, sophomore Sydney Romero reached on a fielder’s choice and sophomore Fale Aviu was hit by a pitch to load the bases.
With Junior Nicole Pendley batting, LMU starter Rachel Farrington threw a wild pitch that brought Mendes in for the game’s first run. Pendley then hit a grounder to first base, but Alex Finie’s throw home was late to get Romero and OU took a 2-0 lead.
LMU got a run back in its half of the inning as Irma Sanchez led off with a walk, moved to second on an illegal pitch, was sacrificed to third and came home on an infield single from Alicia Brown.
The Sooners pushed the lead back to two runs in the top of the second.
With one out, Mendes used a check swing to reach first safely. She then stole second and moved up to third thanks to a throwing error by the catcher Sanchez. Sophomore Caleigh Clifton drove Mendes in with a single through the left side to push the lead to 3-1.
A two-run homer from Aria Pogni in the bottom of the fourth tied the game at 3-3, but the Sooners responded with three runs in the top of the fifth to pull back in front.
Sophomore Raegan Rogers reached on an error by LMU second baseman Sabrina Tebou and fellow sophomore Kylie Lundberg singled to center field in the next at-bat. A sacrifice bunt from Wodach moved both into scoring position and a sac fly from pinch-hitting freshman Vanessa Taukeiaho put the Sooners back on top.
Mendes kept the two-out rally going with a ground-rule double, plating Lundberg. Back-to-back hit by pitches for Clifton and Romero filled the bases, while a walk to Aviu forced in Mendes for the third run of the inning.
Oklahoma continues play at the LMU Tournament with one game Friday against Cal Poly. First pitch is scheduled for 10 a.m. CT.