PALM SPRINGS, Calif. – No. 4/5 Oklahoma (7-3) put the tying run on third and the winning run on second with two outs in the seventh inning, but the team’s five-game winning streak came to an end in a 2-1 loss to No. 15/13 Tennessee (11-0).
All three of Oklahoma’s losses this year have come to teams ranked 15th or better and all have been decided by one run. In the team’s season-opening tournament in Mexico, OU lost to No. 2 Auburn, 3-2, and No. 13 Washington, 1-0. Auburn is still No. 2 in the NFCA poll, while Washington has since climbed to No. 8.
Thursday, the Lady Vols led 2-0 after six innings and the Sooners had just two hits, but OU tried to mount a rally in the seventh.
With one out, freshman Alissa Dalton singled to center. Two batters later, junior Kelsey Arnold singled and a throwing error on the play allowed Dalton to reach third. Sophomore Caleigh Clifton then reached on another Tennessee error and advanced to second, while Dalton scored to cut the lead in half and Arnold reached third.
Sophomore Sydney Romero then had a chance to tie or win the game but her sinking line drive to right field was caught by Megan Geer off her shoe tops as the Lady Vols evened the all-time series at 5-5.
OU’s four hits came via four different batters. Sophomore Fale Aviu reached in all three of her plate appearances as she was hit by two pitches and singled. Clifton was 1-4 with a leadoff double in the first inning. She’s the only Sooner to reach base in all 10 games this year.
After Clifton’s double in the first, Oklahoma’s only two baserunners until the sixth inning came when Aviu got hit by pitches in the first and fourth innings. In the sixth, sophomore Shay Knighten walked with two outs and Aviu followed with a single, but a flyout to right field kept the score at 2-0.
Oklahoma starter Paige Parker took the loss and fell to 2-2 on the year. She struck out eight and allowed two runs on two walks and five hits. After giving up the two-run single in the second, she only allowed one runner to get to second base or beyond over the rest of the game.
Parker threw a season-high 137 pitches and has now struck out at least eight batters in three of her five starts this season.
Oklahoma continues play at the Mary Nutter Collegiate Classic with two more games Friday. OU faces North Carolina State at 5 p.m. CT before meeting No. 6/4 UCLA at 7:30 p.m. CT.