|W - Stevens (11-3)||7.0||2||0||0||2||11|
|L - Creger (8-1)||6.0||4||1||1||2||11|
|S - N/A||-||-||-||-||-||-|
|OU - Chamberlain||2||1||1||1||1||1|
|TU - Mag. Withee||2||0||1||0||0||0|
|Player of the Game|
|Kelsey Stevens // So. // P
Stevens struck out a season-high 11 batters, one off her career high, as she took a pitchers' duel Sunday. She didn't allow a hit until the leadoff batter of the sixth inning and yielded just two in the game. She walked only two and improved to 11-3 on the season.
NORMAN, Okla. – Oklahoma sophomore Kelsey Stevens outdueled two-time All-American Aimee Creger, and junior Lauren Chamberlain provided the offense as No. 19/13 Oklahoma (17-6) defeated No. 20/21 Tulsa (18-3) in a pitchers’ duel Sunday, 1-0, at the Courtyard Marriott Tournament.
The win was Oklahoma’s second over a ranked opponent this year and extended the team’s winning streak to four games. After starting the season 5-4, the Sooners have now won 12 of their past 14 contests heading into a showdown next weekend at No. 23/24 Louisiana-Lafayette (15-5-1).
"I think this was one of the [Sooners’] best all-around games,” Oklahoma head coach Patty Gasso said. “[Kelsey Stevens] was in championship-form right there, phenomenal display of pitching out of this young woman, who has been working really hard to get to that point, against a really good Tulsa team that can swing.”
Stevens, who has gotten the start in six of OU’s seven matchups against ranked opponents this year, was at her best Sunday and improved to 11-3 on the season. She established a season high with 11 strikeouts, one off her career-best mark of 12, which she has done twice. The Albuquerque, N.M., native allowed just two walks and gave up two hits in 23 at-bats (.087) to limit a Golden Hurricane squad that came in with a .336 team batting average.
“We had a good game plan from the start,” Stevens said. “We knew their hitters and I was just really trying to get ahead of the batter and throw strikes.”
Oklahoma needed the lights-out performance from Stevens because Creger was nearly as good for Tulsa. Like Stevens, Creger struck out 11 and walked two, but she allowed four hits, one of which was a solo home run by Chamberlain, to drop to 8-1 on the year.
“They have one of the best pitchers in the country and we know that and she's going to strike you out quite a few times and we knew that, as well,” Gasso said. “Once we got through the lineup, you could see things start to change and some more tougher at-bats. You saw these guys battling with two strikes.”
With no score through five innings, the fate of the game boiled down to the sixth inning.
Tulsa collected its first hit of the game in the top of the sixth as Maggie Withee led off with a single to left center, snapping a streak of 11 straight batters retired by Stevens. Two batters later, Jill Barrett singled, while a groundout moved both runners into scoring position. An intentional walk to Erica Sampson loaded the bases for Jill Roye with two out.
Stevens got ahead of Roye 1-2, but Roye fouled off a pitch before taking a ball to make it 2-2. Roye then fouled off five straight pitches before taking a ball to force a full count. On the 12th pitch of the at-bat, Stevens blew a pitch past Roye to record her 10th strikeout of the game and end the Tulsa threat.
“I was just thinking, 'Keep throwing strikes. Eventually she's going to pop one up or strike out,' but I wasn't going to let her walk, that's for sure,” Stevens said of the at-bat. “I figured I'd get one of the two and a strikeout is nice.”
With momentum shifted to Oklahoma, Chamberlain capitalized and turned on a 1-0 pitch, lifting her sixth home run of the season into the bleachers in left field. It was her 66th career home run, extending her own Big 12 and school record and tying her with two other players for 17th all-time in NCAA Division I history.
After a slow start to the season, Chamberlain has been on fire in recent weeks.
Through the team’s first 14 games, the Trabuco Canyon, Calif., native was hitting with .171 (6-35) with one home run and six runs batted in. But in her past nine contests, the team captain is hitting .545 (12-22) with five home runs, three doubles, a triple, 10 RBI, 18 runs scored and three stolen bases. She has drawn 16 walks to go with a .737 and 1.455 slugging percentage in those games.
Oklahoma is in action for its first true road series of the season at No. 23/24 Louisiana-Lafayette. The Sooners and Ragin’ Cajuns will play on Friday at 6 p.m., followed by a doubleheader on Saturday beginning at 4 p.m.