Hot Hitting Sends Sooners to Regional Win
|W - Stevens (34-7)||4.0||3||4||4||3||5|
|L - Madsen (25-10)||4.0||18||14||14||2||0|
|S - None||--||--||--||--||--||--|
|OU - Pendley||4||2||4||3||0||1|
|BRY - Corder||3||1||1||4||0||1|
|Player of the Game|
|Shelby Pendley // Jr. // IF/P
Pendley matched a career high in hits as she was a perfect 4-4 at the plate Friday. Pendley hit a three-run homer in the second, added a double in the fourth and also hit a pair of singles. In addition, she threw one inning of relief with two strikeouts and no runs allowed.
NORMAN, Okla. – One of the things head coach Patty Gasso has enjoyed the most about the 2014 Oklahoma softball team has been its ability to respond when an opposing team scores.
Friday night in the Norman Regional was no different as the seventh-seeded Sooners (46-10) answered an early score from Bryant (32-21) with an eight-run second inning en route to a 14-4, five-inning win.
With the victory, Oklahoma moves into a winner’s bracket game at 1 p.m. on Saturday against Texas A&M. The winner of that contest advances to Sunday’s Regional championship, while the loser faces an elimination contest on Saturday night.
"I’m very pleased with the way we came out in the first inning and scored right out of the box," Gasso said. "That’s one thing that was our goal was to start fast, and I think that we did that. We had a little bump in the road there in the second, and Bryant did a good job of taking advantage of it big time.
"But what I love about this team is that they know how to answer, and they did that in a big way and opened up the game in a big way and we just kept going."
All nine starters collected a hit, including two hits each for the first five hitters in the lineup. Leading the pack was junior Shelby Pendley who matched a career-high in hits by going 4-4 with three runs batted in and a pair of runs scored.
Clean-up hitter Brittany Williams matched Pendley by driving in three runs, as did sophomore Whitney Ellis.
The win continues a recent run of dominance for Oklahoma in Regional play. OU has won eight straight Regional games dating to 2011, outscoring opponents 121-19 during the streak.
In addition, the Sooners have won 13 straight games this season and are currently riding an 11-game home winning streak. OU has won 28 of its past 30 games.
The Sooners started strong and wasted little time jumping on the Bulldogs, scoring two runs in the first inning.
Senior Destinee Martinez and juniors Georgia Casey and Pendley each singled to start the game, loading the bases before the first out was recorded. That brought Williams to the plate and she got OU on the board as she dropped a single into left field scoring both Martinez and a hustling Casey from second.
Bryant had an answer, though.
With one out in the second, Lauren Guy, Kristen Carter and Liana Ogata drew consecutive walks to fill the bases. On a 2-1 pitch, Kendall Corder drilled a shot to the bleachers in left center.
Oklahoma countered the Bulldogs with eight runs of their own in the bottom of the second.
“They’ve been doing it all year long and it’s one reason why I enjoy them so much,” Gasso said. “It’s just this prideful thing that they have going on and I think it happens early in the game and they’re like, okay this is nothing, to them. They’re thinking we have a few innings to come back and I don’t even know how to explain it. They just know how to respond, and they just make things happen.
“A lot of this is attributed to the experience that they’ve had in the post season. All of these athletes are pretty well versed in what it’s like to play in these kinds of games and what it takes. I think that has a lot to do with it.”
Junior Jessica Vest led off with a single up the middle and Martinez followed with her second single of the game. After the pair executed a double steal, Casey cut the deficit to 4-3 with an RBI single.
Casey stole second to put two into scoring position but it wouldn’t matter as Pendley unleashed a three-run homer to clear the bases and give OU the lead back at 6-4. It was Pendley’s team-best 14th homer of the year, her 36th as a Sooner and the 55th of her career.
The Sooners kept up the pressure following the home run as Williams walked and took third as Ellis doubled to the gap in left center. Sophomore Leslie Miller was then hit by a pitch to fill the bases.
Sophomore Callie Parsons made it 7-4 with an RBI single to left field, while senior Javen Henson followed with a run-scoring single of her own to double up the Bulldogs at 8-4. An RBI groundout from junior Jessica Vest brought home Miller, while a sacrifice fly to center field from Martinez capped the scoring in the inning and gave Oklahoma a 10-4 lead.
After a rocky second inning, OU starter Kelsey Stevens bounced back with a seven-pitch third as she struck out a pair on six pitches and then got a flyout to center field. She earned the win to improve to 34-7 on the year, matching Florida State's Lacey Waldrop for the most victories in the nation.
Stevens threw 4.0 innings with five strikeouts and four runs allowed on three hits and three walks. Pendley came on in relief to throw the fifth inning. She struck out two and walked one without giving up a hit or run.
Oklahoma’s offense continued to back Stevens as it put the run-rule into effect with a three-run fourth.
Pendley and Williams led off the frame with back-to-back singles, bringing Ellis to the plate. She worked it to a 2-2 count before fouling off three consecutive pitches. On the eighth pitch of the at-bat, Ellis carried a high drive that just cleared the fences in left field for a three-run homer. It was her 10th of the season.
Oklahoma picked up an additional run in the fourth as a sacrifice fly from Williams scored Martinez, who led off the inning with a single and advanced to third as Pendley doubled.