PALM SPRINGS, Calif. – Junior Paige Lowary had her best start as a Sooner as No. 4/5 Oklahoma (7-2) topped Louisville (7-4) Thursday afternoon at the Mary Nutter Collegiate Classic in Palm Springs, Calif., 2-1.
The Sooners have now won five straight games this year and improve to 6-3 all-time against Louisville. OU has won five of the past six matchups between the schools.
Lowary, in her first season at OU after transferring from Missouri, gave up just one run on four hits as she got her team-leading third win of the year. She struck out seven and walked just two. She held the Cardinals’ 4-9 hitters to an 0-15 day and they accounted for all of Lowary’s strikeouts.
Like Louisville, Oklahoma had four hits in the game. Sophomore Sydney Romero had two of them, tying junior Nicole Pendley for the team lead in multi-hit games this year with four. One of Romero’s hits was a double, her fifth in as many games.
The Sooners had to work around an early threat from the Cardinals.
Sidney Melton led off with a chopped single to third base that was fielded by Romero, who tried to make a throw but it sailed wide and Melton ended up at third base with no one out. Jordan McNary tried to bring home Melton with a bunt but she popped it up and Romero made the catch for the first out.
Maryssa Becker batted next and sent a grounder to junior Kelsey Arnold’s backhand at shortstop. Upon Arnold fielding the ball, Melton broke for home but slipped and was forced out 6-2-5. Becker ended up at second after the play and moved to third on a wild pitch, but Lowary got a strikeout to end the threat.
Unlike Louisville, the Sooners didn’t miss their scoring chance in the first inning.
Sophomore Caleigh Clifton walked to continue her streak of reaching base in every game this year. Two batters later, Romero singled to right center to put runners on the corners with one out. Cleanup hitter Shay Knighten then dropped down a squeeze bunt that enabled Clifton to slide home safely with the game’s opening run.
After three scoreless innings, the Cardinals tied the game up in the top of the fifth.
Jenna Jordan led off with a walk and was replaced by pinch runner Morgan Meyer. After a strikeout and fielder’s choice, Melton reached on an infield single. McNary batted next and hit a grounder that deflected off the outstretched glove of Romero at third base. The deflection allowed the ball to roll into left field and enable Caitlin Ferguson to score.
The game wouldn’t stayed tied for long, though as the Sooners answered in the bottom of the frame.
After walking in her first two plate appearances, Clifton doubled to left center to lead things off. Junior Nicole Pendley batted next and tried to check her swing on a 1-1 pitch, but instead sent a grounder to Becker in the circle. Becker, however, committed a throwing error to first base and Clifton was able to come around with the go-ahead run.