Homers Power Sooners' Sweep of Texas Tech
LUBBOCK, Texas – No. 7/7 Oklahoma (44-8, 14-1 Big 12) hit three home runs for the second straight game and came away with another run-rule victory as the Sooners beat Texas Tech (17-29, 4-14) in five innings Sunday, 14-3.
With their 14-1 record in conference play, the Sooners have a two-game lead over Oklahoma State entering next week's Bedlam series, while Baylor is three games back in the standings. Oklahoma can win the Big 12 regular season title outright and clinch the No. 1 seed in the Big 12 Championship with a victory Wednesday night in Stillwater.
OU has won 16 straight over Texas Tech, tying for their fourth longest active win streak over another team, outscoring TTU 150-27 in the process. Oklahoma has now won 24 straight road games, extending their program record.
Five different Sooners had multi-hit games Sunday, led by a three-hit effort by freshman Nicole Mendes. It was her seventh game this year with at least three hits, three more than any other player on the team. She was 3-5 with three runs scored and stole three bases for the second time this weekend. In the series, Mendes was 8-12 (.667) with seven runs scored and six stolen bases.
Sophomore Shay Knighten also closed out a big weekend with her second career multi-homer game. She was 2-4 with three runs scored and tied a career high with five runs batted in, including a pair of two-run homers. In the series, Knighten was 6-11 (.545) with seven runs scored, four home runs, 10 RBI and two stolen bases. She slugged 1.636 with a .583 on-base percentage.
Joining Mendes and Knighten in multi-hit games were senior Macey Hatfield, junior Nicole Pendley and sophomore Sydney Romero. Pendley had four RBI, while junior Lea Wodach also picked up two RBI.
As a team, the Sooners slashed (AVG/OBP/SLG) .411/.490/.722 while holding Texas Tech to a line of .167/.231/.200 and outscoring the Red Raiders 30-5 on the weekend. OU pitchers had a 1.65 earned run average and 22 strikeouts in 17.0 innings, while TTU posted a 12.35 ERA and just three strikeouts.
Freshman Mariah Lopez was the beneficiary of the offensive outburst, improving her record to 14-1 on the season. She struck out five and allowed two runs on four hits and one walk in 3.0 innings of work. Mendes worked 0.2 innings with an unearned run allowed, while junior Paige Lowary completed the final 1.1 innings with a strikeout and no baserunners allowed.
The Sooners sent eight to the plate in the first inning and scored three runs on three hits and four stolen bases.
Mendes led off with a single to left field, pushing her hitting streak to a career-best nine games and her on-base streak to 23 contests. After a steal of second, Mendes also stole third as sophomore Caleigh Clifton walked. Clifton then stole second to put two in scoring position. Knighten batted next and hit a grounder up the middle that was fielded by shortstop Brittany Warnecke. Mendes broke for home and Warnecke attempted to throw her out, but Mendes was able to dive in safely to touch home plate before the tag was applied.
With runners on first and second, Knighten got caught up between the bases but was able to advance safely to second and Clifton dove into third for an unconventional double steal. That would be a move that would prove pivotal as Clifton score on a groundout from Romero, while Knighten came home when Pendley singled up the middle.
The lead grew to 5-0 in the top of the third on a two-out rally.
With two outs and Pendley on first, Hatfield kept the inning alive with a single through the left side. Wodach batted next and drove a line drive to the gap in right center to bring home both runners.
Texas Tech got those two runs back in the bottom of the inning on a groundout from Kiani Ramsey and squeeze bunt by Jessica Hartwell, but the Sooners used the long ball in the fourth to widen their lead.
Mendes picked up her second hit of the game with a single to left field and two batters later Knighten hit her first home run of the game with a deep homer to right field. Aviu batted next and was hit by a pitch before Romero doubled. That brought Pendley to the dish and she unleashed a towering three-run homer to right field for her team-high 12th home run of the season.
The Red Raiders took advantage of an OU throwing error to score again in the bottom of the inning, but the Sooners put the run-rule back into effect in the top of the fifth.
Mendes collected her third hit as she led off with a single up the middle before stealing her third base of the game and moving up to third as the throw got away. Sophomore Raegan Rogers drove her in with a pinch-hit RBI single up the middle. The brought Knighten to the plate once again and, after homering to right in the third, she drove a 2-1 pitch to left field for her second home run of the game.
She became the first Sooner to hit more than one home run in a game this year and matched her output against Michigan last year on Feb. 26.
Sophomore Kylie Lundberg continued the pressure with a pinch-hit walk, and the bases filled up later as Pendley walked and Hatfield was hit by a pitch. Junior Hannah Sparks capped the scoring as she followed Hatfield by singling up the middle and plating Lundberg.