Bats Come Alive in Run-Rule of No. 6/4 UCLA
PALM SPRINGS, Calif. -- After going 0-3 to start the season against top-25 teams, with each loss coming by one run, Oklahoma (9-3) made a statement with a 10-1, five-inning win over No. 6/4 UCLA (12-2) Friday at the Mary Nutter Collegiate Classic in Palm Springs, Calif.
It was the Sooners’ first run-rule over a top-25 team since an 11-3, five inning win against Baylor on April 18, 2015. The last time OU run-rule team ranked as high as No. 6 came in the 2013 WCWS against sixth-ranked Texas, 10-2 (5).
OU pounded out 10 hits in 25 at-bats (.400 average), including three in each of the last three innings, and drew four walks against the Bruins. In the three previous games combined against ranked opponents, Oklahoma scored three runs total with 16 hits (.213 average) and five walks.
The difference-maker offensively was sophomore Caleigh Clifton. She had a career high in hits by going 4-4 with a double, three runs batted in, a stolen base and a run scored. Previously, she had recorded three hits on three occasions. She is the only Sooner to reach base in all 12 games this year.
Sophomore Paige Parker got the win to improve to 3-2 on the season. She struck out seven and gave up just one run on three hits with two walks. She struck out a batter in every inning, including multiple strikeouts in the second and third innings.
OU got the scoring started in the first inning thanks to the first of three UCLA errors.
With two outs and the bases empty, sophomore Sydney Romero reached after a fielding error by UCLA third baseman Bubba Nickles. Fellow sophomore Fale Aviu batted next and sent a shallow fly ball to left field. Zoe Shaw charged in but couldn’t make the catch and the ball got behind her. Romero was running hard the whole way and scored easily to put OU on top 1-0.
The big break then in the game came in the third inning for Oklahoma.
With one out, Clifton singled and stole second base. Freshman Alissa Dalton batted next and singled through the right side to put runners on the corners. A walk to Romero then loaded the bases, but UCLA got a second out thanks to a grounder back to the pitcher. Sophomore Shay Knighten stepped in next and delivered the clutch hit as she turned on the first pitch she saw and drove it deep to left center for her first home run of the season and her first career grand slam. The blast extended OU’s lead to 5-0.
UCLA got a run back in the third as Delaney Spaulding, younger sister of former Sooner Amber Spaulding (’04-07) led off with a home run. OU answered, though, in its next at-bats.
In the fourth, freshman Vanessa Taukeiaho entered as a pinch hitter and singled up the middle. Junior Lea Wodach tried to bunt her over to second, but a fielding error by first baseman Brianna Tautalafua allowed both runners to be safe. Junior Kelsey Arnold eventually sacrificed both runners into scoring position, and Clifton drove them in with a single up the middle. Later in the frame, Aviu singled up the middle to push the lead to 8-1.
The run-rule went into effect in the fifth with a pair of Oklahoma runs.
Junior Nicole Pendley got things going with a single up the middle. Taukeiaho followed with a walk and Wodach loaded the bases with a single to right field. Arnold delivered the game-clinching run when she grounded out to shortstop, while Clifton provided an insurance run when she collected her fourth hit to plate Taukeiaho.
UCLA needed to score two runs in the fifth to keep the game going. But after Shaw drew a four-pitch walk, Spaulding flew out to right field, Kylee Perez struck out looking and Nickles flew out to right.
Oklahoma finishes play at the Mary Nutter Collegiate Classic Saturday afternoon. First pitch against Notre Dame is scheduled for 12 p.m. CT.