FULLERTON, Calif. Snapping its seven-game winning streak, the No. 14 Oklahoma softball team suffered its first loss in the Judi Garman Classic with a 5-0 shutout by No. 6 Alabama in Fullerton, Calif., Thursday afternoon. Oklahoma fell to 21-7-1 while the Crimson Tide improved their overall mark to 23-3.
Alabama hurler Stephanie VanBrakle, the NFCA and USA Softball National Player of the Week, held the Sooners to one hit and no runs en route to her 14th victory of the season. VanBrakle pitched the first four innings before the Tide’s Chrissy Owens came in for relief in the final three innings, giving up only one hit and no runs while striking out four Sooners.
The lone offense for the Sooners came from juniors Norrelle Dickson and Amber Spaulding, who had one hit apiece. With her hit, Dickson pushed her hitting streak to eight games, the left fielder’s longest of the season.
The Crimson Tide jumped out to an early lead in the top of the first frame as leadoff batter Brittany Rogers walked and was followed by a Jordan Praytor single to center field. One batter later, VanBrakle smashed a triple that bounced off the center field wall to score two runs and give Alabama the early 2-0 lead.
Oklahoma threatened in the bottom of the first after Norrelle Dickson was hit by a pitch and junior Amber Spaulding reached first on an infield single. Both runners advanced to second and third on a Vesely ground out, but the Sooners were unable to capitalize as VanBrakle retired the final two batters. It would mark the closest the Sooners would come to scoring all game.
It was more of Alabama in the second inning as Rogers singled down the left field line and was followed by Praytor’s two-out RBI double to give the Tide the 3-0 advantage before OU starter Morgan Hudsonpillar was relieved by freshman D.J. Mathis, who retired the final batter to get the Sooners out of the inning.
Hudsonpillar finished with three earned runs on four hits in one and two-thirds innings.
The Tide opened it up in the fourth inning, adding two runs on one hit. Katie Johnson led off the inning with an infield single. Two batters later, Rogers laid down a sacrifice bunt, but reached first on a Samantha Ricketts error as the thrown ball sailed into right field allowing both Rogers and Johnson to score two unearned runs in the inning and push the Alabama lead to 5-0.
OU hurler Stacy Braddock entered the game in the top of the fifth to relieve Mathis who gave up two hits and two runs, both unearned, through 2.1 innings of work. Mathis continues to lead the Oklahoma staff with a current 1.67 ERA.
Braddock was impressive in her three innings of work, allowing only one hit and retiring all other nine batters faced.
The Sooners resume tournament action with a 3:30 p.m. (CST) game against No. 23 Fresno State on Friday. The Sooners and Bulldogs will be meeting for the second time this season as Fresno State handed OU a 4-2 loss two weeks ago in the Palm Springs Classic.
The tournament portion of the Classic will begin on Saturday and last through Sunday. OU’s opponents will be determined on its record in pool play.