|W - Parker (34-3)||8.0||4||0||0||2||7|
|L - Osorio (19-7)||7.1||3||3||3||5||10|
|S - N/A||-||-||-||-||-||-|
|ALA - Booker||2||0||1||0||1||0|
|OU - Knighten||4||1||2||3||0||1|
Oklahoma is now 18-14 all-time in the Women's College World Series, including a 6-4 record in WCWS openers ... OU is 6-9 all-time against Alabama, including 3-3 in the WCWS ... the win was the 28th in a row for Oklahoma, one off the school record of 29 set in 2005 ... Oklahoma is 2-1 in extra inning games this year and 3-0 all-time in WCWS extra-inning games ... Shay Knighten hit her second career walk-off home run, both of which have come against Alabama ... Paige Parker has 34 wins this year, tying for seventh in OU annals, and has a win in 24 straight appearances ... her 14 shutouts are tied for fourth in Oklahoma single-season history ... OU's 53 wins this year are tied for eighth most in Big 12 history ... the 409 runs scored by OU this year ranks seventh in Big 12 history and sixth at OU ... it was the 22nd shutout thrown by OU pitchers this year, tying for seventh in OU single-season history
OKLAHOMA CITY, Okla. – The first time Oklahoma freshman Shay Knighten hit a walk-off home run against Alabama this year, it was a statement win for the Sooners. The second time pushed OU into the winners’ bracket at the Women’s College World Series.
Knighten’s three-run blast in the bottom of the eighth inning Friday night gave No. 3 Oklahoma (53-7) a 3-0 win over No. 6 Alabama (51-13) and ended what had been a marvelous pitchers’ duel between the Sooners’ Paige Parker and the Crimson Tide’s Alexis Osorio.
With the win, OU advances to face the winner of Friday night’s game between No. 2 Michigan and No. 10 LSU at 8:30 p.m. Saturday night on ESPN2. It was the 28th straight victory for Oklahoma, putting it one off the school record of 29 set in 2005.
Friday night’s contest was a resumption of Thursday night’s opener that was postponed after the top of the second inning due to rain and, after seven scoreless innings, Knighten became the hero once again versus the Crimson Tide.
The inning started with No. 9 hitter Kelsey Arnold drawing a walk. Senior Erin Miller followed with a line drive out at third base, but Peyton Grantham’s throw back to first base to double off Arnold was errant and Arnold was able to move up to second base. Freshman Caleigh Clifton walked to put two on with one out.
Knighten stepped to the plate and on the very first pitch drove a rise ball to right field, carrying it over the fence for her 12th home run of the season. It was her second career walk-off homer, both of which have come against Alabama.
She first accomplished the feat earlier this year on March 19 in Fullerton, Calif. It was an eerily similar contest to Friday night’s game as it was also a 0-0 game before Knighten’s heroics. That blast was a two-run shot.
Keeping OU in the game was Parker. She tied a career high with 8.0 innings pitched and struck out seven while throwing a four-hit shutout. It was her 14th shutout of the year and her second against the Crimson Tide; no other team has shut out Alabama this year.
Parker’s record is 34-3 on the year and she has a win in 24 straight appearances.
Meanwhile, Osorio struck out 10, but gave up three runs on three hits and five walks.
Both teams had scoring chances to get on the board throughout regulation, starting with Alabama in the top of the third.
Sydney Booker doubled in between OU second baseman Caleigh Clifton and Miller in right field with one out. Parker battled back though to strike out Kallie Case and got leadoff hitter Haylie McCleney to foul out to Sydney Romero near the Oklahoma dugout.
The Crimson Tide challenged again in the fifth.
Reagan Dykes led off with a double to the gap in left-center, and she moved up to third base on a sacrifice bunt by Demi Turner. Parker stayed tough as she struck out pinch-hitter Caroline Hardy for the second out and got Booker to line out to sophomore Nicole Pendley in center field to end the inning.
The Sooners got their first scoring opportunity in the bottom of the frame.
Pendley drew a one-out walk and moved up to third thanks to a perfectly executed hit-and-ran. Senior Kady Self lined a single back up the middle for Oklahoma’s first hit of the game, putting runners on the corners with just one out. Unfortunately, a foul out and strikeout kept the game tied at 0-0.
Alabama was at it again in the top of the sixth, but again the Sooners kept the Tide off the board.
With one out, McCleney reached on an infield single. She was sacrificed to second base by Chandler Dare, and the Sooners elected to intentionally walk Leona Lafaele, Alabama’s team leader in home runs and RBI. The move paid off as Parker got Grantham to pop out to Clifton at second base.
In the bottom of the inning, Knighten hit a slow roller up the middle for a two-out single. Romero batted next and crushed a 1-0 pitch to center field, but McCleney raced back to the wall and made the catch on the warning track.
Andrea Hawkins hit a two-out double in the top of the seventh to bring about another Alabama threat, and Booker followed with a walk. But Parker struck out Case with an offspeed pitch to strand the runners.
In the top of the eighth, Alabama sent the top of its lineup to the plate, but they had no chance against Parker. McCleney popped out to Arnold at shortstop, Dare struck out swinging and Lafaele fouled out to third.