Sooners Take Big 12 Opener Against Iowa State
NORMAN – No. 12/12 Oklahoma’s defense of its five straight Big 12 titles began with a 7-1 win Friday afternoon in game one of a doubleheader with Iowa State (15-20, 0-4 Big 12) at Marita Hynes Field. The Sooners (29-7, 1-0) scored in each of the first four innings to post their sixth straight win in a Big 12 opener.
Oklahoma continued its dominance over Iowa State, securing its 28th straight win in the series to match its second longest active win streak against another program (Wichita State). The Cyclones have not score more than two runs in any of the past 22 meetings.
Freshman Nicole Mendes led the offense with a 3-4 night, scoring two runs, driving in another and stealing a base. It was her fifth game this year with at least three hits, the most on the team, and all have come in the past 13 contests. Sophomores Caleigh Clifton and Fale Aviu also had multi-hit games, as each went 2-3. The Sooners had 10 hits as a team, their 13th game this year with at least that many.
The beneficiary of the offensive output was junior starter Paige Parker, who improved to 11-5 on the year. The win was also No. 77 in her career, breaking a three-way tie for fourth place in OU history with Jill Most (’94-97) and D. J. Mathis (’06-09). Parker struck out six in 5.0 innings with one run allowed on two hits and one walk.
Junior Paige Lowary closed out the game, giving up one hit and one walk with one strikeout over the final two frames.
Oklahoma jumped out to a 2-0 lead after the first inning.
With one out, it looked like sophomore Caleigh Clifton had grounded out, but an illegal pitch was called, resuming the at-bat which resulted in a walk. The Sooners made the Cyclones pay for the miscue as sophomore Sydney Romero doubled into right-center, while fellow sophomore Shay Knighten brought home Clifton with a sacrifice fly to left field. Sophomore Fale Aviu followed Knighten with an RBI single to right field, extending the lead to 2-0.
Iowa State cut the lead in half in the top of the second thanks to an RBI single by Kaila Konz, but Oklahoma responded with two more runs in the bottom of the inning.
It looked like Oklahoma was going to be retired in order, but senior Macey Hatfield drew a walk after a groundout was overturned by an illegal pitch once again by ISU starter Savannah Sanders. Like in the first, the Sooners capitalized on their second chance as freshman Nicole Mendes drove home Hatfield with double to center field. Clifton batted next and sent a single back up the middle to push the lead to 4-1.
The lead grew to 6-1 in the third when junior Nicole Pendley launched her team-leading ninth home run of the season into the bleachers in right-center. It snapped a streak of 13 straight homerless games for Pendley after hitting eight in her first 22 contests.
OU tacked on one more run in the fourth as Mendes singled to right field, stole second and came home on Clifton’s second RBI single of the game.