OU Wins Sixth Straight Regular Season Crown
STILLWATER, Okla. – The 2017 Big 12 regular season championship came down to Bedlam as No. 6/7 Oklahoma needed to win just one game in the three-game set with the Cowgirls to take home the crown for the sixth straight year, while Oklahoma State could break the Sooners' run of championships with a three-game sweep.
The Sooners (45-8, 15-1 Big 12) ended any dramatics early by posting a 3-0 shutout of OSU (33-20, 12-4) Wednesday night at Cowgirl Stadium to keep the title in Norman for an unprecedented sixth straight year. Prior to this current run, no other team in league history had more than two titles in a row.
It's the 10th Big 12 regular season title in program history and 14th overall when including four Big 12 tournament championships. No other Big 12 team has more than eight combined titles. Wednesday night's victory also clinched the No. 1 seed for OU in the Big 12 Championship starting on May 12.
OU has won 14 straight over OSU, outscoring the Cowgirls 92-15 in the process, and six of those wins have been by shutout. Oklahoma has now won 25 straight road games overall and 19 straight road games within league play, extending their program record in each category.
Juniors Paige Parker and Paige Lowary combined on a four-hit shutout, the team's 16th of the year. Parker got the start and improved to 18-5 on the season with the win. She struck out eight and walked two while yielding four hits in 5.1 innings. Her scoreless inning streak now stands at 23.1 innings,
Lowary would throw the final 1.2 innings with one strikeout as she earned her fifth save of the year, breaking the OU single-season record of four set by Shelby Pendley in 2014.
Senior Macey Hatfield and sophomore Shay Knighten both enjoyed two-hits games, while freshman Nicole Mendes was 1-4 with a run scored, extending her hitting streak to 10 games (a career best) and her on-base streak to 24 contests (the longest by a Sooner this year).
After three scoreless innings, Oklahoma cracked the scoreboard in the fourth.
Knighten led off with her second hit of the game, a single to right field. Two batters later, sophomore Sydney Romero went the opposite way with a single to right field, to advance Knighten into scoring position. A foulout to left field brought the second out, but Hatfield came through in the clutch by pulling a 1-1 pitch down the left field line to drive home Knighten with the game's first run.
Oklahoma State threatened to tie the game in the bottom of the frame when Jessi Haffner drew a two-out walk and reached third on a single up the middle by Madi Sue Montgomery. Parker kept OSU off the board though with her eighth strikeout of the game.
After keeping the Cowgirls off the board, OU used another two-out rally to extend the lead in the fifth.
Junior Kelsey Arnold was hit by the first pitch of the inning and moved up to second when Mendes singled to left field. Sophomore Caleigh Clifton sacrificed both runners into scoring position before a popout brought the second out. Sophomore Fale Aviu batted next and delivered the key hit as she pulled a 2-0 offering through the right side. Arnold scored easily, while Mendes slid in safely ahead of the throw home.
It was Aviu's 14th multi-RBI game of the year, matching Romero for the team lead.
Oklahoma State's best scoring chance came in the bottom of the sixth, but OU used its pitching depth and stellar defense to keep the shutout intact.
Alex Edinger hit a leadoff double, while Vanessa Shippy followed with a single. Two batters later, Haffner walked to fill the bases. That would be the end of the day for Parker as Lowary entered in relief. Her first batter faced was Montgomery but she got the OSU sophomore to send a 2-1 pitch to Clifton at second, who tagged pinch runner Taylor Pence and threw to first to complete the inning-ending double play.
The series resumes Friday in Norman in the Sooners' final home game of the regular season. First pitch is scheduled for 6 p.m. on Fox Sports Oklahoma.