NORMAN, Okla. The No. 15 Oklahoma softball team (23-9-1, 0-1 Big 12) was unable to win its opening game in Big 12 play as the Missouri Tigers (16-11, 1-0 Big 12) knocked off the Sooners, 8-6, Saturday afternoon at the OU Softball Complex.
Oklahoma tallied 10 hits to Missouri’s eight, but couldn’t get it done on the defensive end as OU went through all five pitchers in the seven-inning contest.
“The name of this game is pitching and we couldn’t get that done today,” head coach Patty Gasso said. “Our offense had to work too hard and we can’t rely on them every game. Missouri was very aggressive today and did what it had to do to win.”
Offensively, junior Norrelle Dickson continues to be an offensive spark as she went a perfect 3-for-3 from the plate and currently owns a .491 batting average. Kristin Vesely, who owns a team-best .505 clip, also contributed with a 2-for-3 performance. However, the best offensive performance of the day came from freshman Traci Dickenson who had a career day with a 3-for-4 outing, including a three RBI home run.
The Tigers were the first to get on the scoreboard as Micaela Minner’s RBI double to left center field scored Jen Bruck to give MU the 1-0 lead.
Oklahoma answered in the bottom of the first as Dickson led off with a single and was moved over to second on an Amber Spaulding sacrifice bunt. After a walk by Vesely and a double steal, Oklahoma had runners at second and third. Catcher Samantha Ricketts grounded out, but scored Dickson on the play to tie it up 1-1.
Missouri took the lead again in the top of the fourth after Bruck opened the inning with a solo home run to center field. Minner followed with her second hit of the game, a single to right field. After stealing second and moving to third on a sacrifice bunt, Miner scored MU’s third run of the game on a passed ball.
OU starter D.J. Mathis was relieved by fellow freshman Morgan Hudsonpillar after MU took the 3-1 lead in the fourth. Mathis finished with three earned runs on three hits in 3.1 innings of work. Hudsonpillar struck out the final two batters and Oklahoma finished the inning.
However, Missouri took its momentum into the fifth as Andee Allen led off with a single to center field and advanced to third on two wild pitches. A Missouri sacrifice fly to deep center field scored Allen and pushed the Mizzou lead to 4-1. Following three walks to load the bases, Hudsonpillar was relieved by senior hurler Nicole Denes, who struck out the final batter in the inning.
Hudsonpillar allowed one run, one hit and three walks in 1.1 innings while Denes lasted the same amount, giving up four earned runs on four hits.
Dickenson, who led off the fifth with a double, scored OU’s lone run in the inning on an error by the second baseman.
Missouri punched in two more runs in the sixth off an Allen two-run homer to left field.
Trailing 6-2 in the bottom of the sixth, it was all Dickenson again as the freshman third baseman blasted a three-run homer to left center field and close the gap to 6-5, Missouri. It marked Dickenson’s fourth home run of the season.
However, the Tigers continued to roll in the top of the seventh as they posted two more runs on two hits. In the seventh, Missouri saw three different OU pitchers as sophomore Stacy Braddock relieved Denes, but gave up three walks before being relieved by sophomore Jadyn Smith. Smith got the final out of the inning and Missouri had the 8-5 lead.
The Sooners tried to rally in the seventh as they tallied four hits and one run, but ended the game with the bases loaded as Missouri won, 8-6.
MU’s Bruck improved to 14-8 on the year as she threw the complete game, striking out seven batters and allowing four earned runs on 10 hits.
Oklahoma will finish the series against Missouri on Sunday with a 12 p.m. contest at the OU Softball Complex.