PALM SPRINGS, Calif. It took all seven innings, but the No. 10 Oklahoma softball team found a way to beat Pacific, 8-5, in the Palm Springs Classic late Saturday evening. The Sooners (13-2-1) gave Pacific (6-7) its first loss of the tournament in the two hour and forty-five minute contest.
Heading into the sixth inning, the Sooners were down 3-2 as Traci Dickenson gave the Sooners a base runner with a base on balls. Norrelle Dickson sparked the offense with a single to center field followed by a Kristin Vesely walk to load the bases with two outs. On the following play, Susan Ogden’s fielder’s choice scored Dickenson and a throwing error by the shortstop scored Dickson to give the Sooners back the lead at 4-3.
The Sooners weren’t finished as they capitalized in the seventh inning to gain a larger lead against the home-team Tigers. Sophomore Savannah Long’s leadoff double to left field in the top of the seventh started another Sooner rally that included four runs on four hits in Oklahoma’s final frame at bat. In addition to Oklahoma’s four hits in the seventh, Pacific had another costly error by the shortstop to advance runners and allow the final three OU runs to be unearned.
For the second time in the tournament, Oklahoma took the lead in the first inning. Leadoff batter Norrelle Dickson opened the game with a bunt single, but was out on the next play at second as Amber Spaulding reached on a fielder’s choice. Senior Kristin Vesely’s single down the left field line advanced Spaulding to third. After Susan Ogden was hit by a pitch, it set up a prime situation for catcher Samantha Ricketts with the bases loaded.
The freshman catcher smoked a two RBI single to left field to score Spualding and Vesely and give Oklahoma the 2-0 advantage to start the game.
However, Pacific answered in the bottom of the first after Pacific’s first two batters, Gina Carbonatto and Brittany Hyams reached on a walk and fielder’s choice, respectively. Two batters later, the Tigers’ clean up hitter, Kristen Allen pounded a two RBI double down the left field line to even up the game at 2-2.
The Tigers took their first lead of the game in the third frame as Jennifer Curtier led off the inning with a singled to right field and was moved over on a sacrifice bunt. Pacific’s Lauren Weyman sent a single to left field to score Curtier and give Pacific the 3-2 advantage.
Pacific’s final comeback came in the seventh inning as Allen sent a home run towering over the left field fence to give the Tigers momentum. That was followed by a single a double to give the Tigers another run and pull within three, but senior pitcher Nicole Denes got the final out on a ground out to end the game.
Denes picked up her fifth win of the year, a team best, after replacing starter Stacy Braddock and throwing the final four innings. She allowed two earned runs on six hits. Braddock’s line included three earned runs on four hits in three innings of work.
The Sooners have little time to rest as they have less than 12 hours to rest before facing No. 3 UCLA at 1 p.m. (CST) on ESPNU (DirecTV Ch. 609) in Oklahoma’s finale of the Palm Springs Classic.
Rounding out tournament action on Sunday, the Sooners will face No. 3 UCLA at 1 p..m. on ESPNU (DirecTV Ch.609).