PALM SPRINGS, Calif. – In a game that featured five lead changes and two ties, No. 4/5 Oklahoma (9-4) lost to RV/RV Notre Dame (6-8), 5-4, in the final game of the Mary Nutter Collegiate Classic Saturday in Palm Springs, Calif. All four of Oklahoma’s losses this year have been to teams ranked or receiving votes and all have been by one run.
In fact, this is the first time since March of 2010 that the Sooners have had four consecutive losses all come by one run.
Oklahoma led 1-0 after one, but Notre Dame moved ahead 2-1 in the top of the second. OU regained the lead, 3-2, in the bottom of the inning, only to see the Fighting Irish tie the game 3-3 after three. The Sooners pulled ahead 4-3 in the fifth, but Notre Dame hit solo homers in the sixth and seventh to tie the game and pull ahead, respectively.
Sophomore Fale Aviu tied a career high with three hits, including a double, and she drove in two runs.
Junior Paige Lowary got the start but did not factor in the decision. She gave up three runs, two earned, on five hits with four strikeouts and one walk. Junior Paige Parker took the loss to fall to 3-3 on the year. She gave up three hits, including the two solo home runs, with three strikeouts and no walks.
The Sooners had a chance to tie or win in the bottom of the seventh as they loaded the bases with two out, but a groundout ended the contest.
With two outs, sophomore Shay Knighten drew a four-pitch walk and reached third when junior Nicole Pendley followed with a single through the right side. Freshman Vanessa Taukeiaho was then walked on five pitches to fill the bases. The Sooners called on Parker to hit for starting catcher Lea Wodach, but Parker grounded out to shortstop to end the game.
Oklahoma manufactured a run in the first inning.
With one out, freshman Alissa Dalton singled off the glove of Notre Dame starter Katie Beriont and then stole second. A groundout to second by sophomore Sydney Romero moved Dalton to third, and she came around to score when Aviu muscled a single over the second baseman’s head into shallow right center.
Notre Dame took the lead, though, in the top of the second, in part because of an OU error.
Melissa Rochford walked with one out and advanced to second on a wild pitch. Kimmy Sullivan then singled to right field. The throw from Aviu came in to home to prevent Rochford from scoring, but Wodach tried to throw out Sullivan at second and her throw bounced into center field. Two batters later, Madison Heide singled to drive in Sullivan to put Notre Dame on top 2-1.
The lead wouldn’t last long, however, as OU scored twice in the bottom of the frame to go back in front.
Taukeiaho led off with a walk and reached second on a wild pitch. From there, Wodach bunted her over to third. Later with two outs, sophomore Caleigh Clifton looked like she was going to ground out to end the inning, but a throwing error by Rochford allowed the tying run to score.
Clifton made it to second on the error and then scored the going ahead run when she stole third and came home as the throw went into left field.
The Fighting Irish wasted little time tying the game back up as Karley Wester singled to lead off the third, stole second and scored two batters later when Morgan Reed laced a double to left field.
After a scoreless fourth, the Sooners regained the lead in the fifth.
Romero led off with a single up the middle on the first pitch she saw. A passed ball allowed Romero to reach second, and Aviu collected third hit of the game when she doubled into the right field corner, bringing home Romero.
The back-and-forth affair continued in the top of the sixth when Caitlyn Brooks hit a one-out, solo home run to center field, tying the game at 4-4.
In the seventh, Katie Marino drilled an 0-1 pitch beyond the wall in left field for her second homer of the season to break the tie.
Oklahoma is back in action on Wednesday at Wichita State. First pitch is scheduled for 5 p.m.