OKLAHOMA CITY, Okla. – Junior Nicole Pendley's three-run home run highlighted a four-run first inning as No. 10 Oklahoma (57-9) opened play at the Women's College World Series with a 6-3 win over 15th-seeded Baylor (48-14) Thursday night at USA Softball Stadium.
With the win, OU advances in the winner's bracket to face sixth-seeded Washington (49-12) Friday night at 8:30 p.m. on ESPN.
Eight different Sooners had a hit in the win, led by senior Macey Hatfield who was 2-3 with a run scored. Pendley's three RBI came on her team-leading 17th home run of the season and her fourth of the postseason. Sophomore Falepolima Aviu also drove in two runs during the game with a sacrifice fly in the first and an RBI single in the third.
The offensive output backed a solid outing by junior Paige Parker, who won her 14th straight postseason decision. Now 24-5 on the year, Parker struck out two and gave up one unearned run on five hits and no walks in 6.0 innings of work. Junior Paige Lowary closed out the game, yielding two unearned runs with one hit allowed.
Oklahoma came out aggressive, putting up a four-spot in the first inning.
Freshman Nicole Mendes shook off any jitters from playing in her first World Series game by lacing a single into left field before being sacrificed to second by sophomore Caleigh Clifton. Fellow sophomore Shay Knighten batted next and hit a grounder up the middle that was knocked down by shortstop Taylor Ellis, but she couldn't make a play after the diving stop.
A walk to sophomore Sydney Romero filled the bases for Aviu. On a 2-2 pitch, she sent a deep drive to left center that went for a sacrifice fly to score Mendes. Pendley came up next and pushed the lead to 4-0 when she drove a 1-0 pitch the opposite way for a three-run homer to left field.
Baylor was able to cut into the lead in the top of the second after a pair of uncharacteristic errors by the Sooners. With runners on the corners, Jessie Scroggins grounded into a fielder's choice that allowed pinch runner Riley Browder to score an unearned run.
OU got that run back, though, in the bottom of the third.
Clifton led off the inning with a sharp single through the right side and took second on a groundout. Two batters later, Aviu recorded her second RBI of the day when she smoked a single into centerfield to plate Clifton.
The lead grew to 6-1 in the fourth as the Sooners used some small ball to add another run.
Hatfield reached on a bunt single, while junior Lea Wodach used the same tactic to reach base. Junior Kelsey Arnold then filled the bases as she hustled down the line to beat out an infield single. Two batters later, Clifton was hit by a pitch for the 24th time this year (extending her own team single-season record) to force in Hatfield.
Baylor got two unearned runs in the seventh, but it wasn't enough to prevent OU from winning for the third time in four meetings this year and eighth time in the last nine meetings.