PALM SPRINGS, Calif. -- Aided by some new faces and other familiar faces in new places, No. 4/5 Oklahoma (8-3) defeated North Carolina State, 7-5, at the Mary Nutter Collegiate Classic.
Freshman Mariah Lopez got the win in the circle, while fellow freshman Alissa Dalton had a three-hit game in her first career start at shortstop. Meanwhile, sophomores Kylie Lundberg and Raegan Rogers made their first career starts at first base and left field, respectively, and each drove in a run as OU improved to 2-1 on the weekend.
Lopez got through six innings and allowed five runs on seven hits. She struck out two but didn’t walk any as she moved to 2-0 on the season. Lopez did pitch well for most of the game as she breezed through the first five innings with just one run allowed on three hits. She retired seven in a row at one point.
Junior Kelsey Arnold missed her first game of the year due to illness, but Dalton filled in admirably in her place. An infielder out of high school, Dalton had started all but one game in left field prior to Friday. Against North Carolina State (3-10), she doubled twice and singled, scored two runs, drove in another and was perfect on all five chances in the field.
The Sooners jumped out to an early 3-0 lead after the top of the first inning.
Sophomore Caleigh Clifton led off and was hit by a pitch for the 21st time in her career, moving into a tie for eighth place in Oklahoma history with LaKisha Washington (’98-01) and Lauren Chamberlain (’12-15). Freshman Alissa Dalton, making her first career start at shortstop, followed with a double to left center. After an RBI groundout from sophomore Fale Aviu, fellow sophomore Sydney Romero pulled a single through the left side to put OU on top, 2-0.
A pair of throwing errors then allowed another run to score as shortstop Alyssa Compton threw wildly to second base on a grounder off the bat of sophomore Shay Knighten trying to get a force out, which put runners on the corner. First baseman Cheyenne Balzer did the same thing in the next at-bat from junior Nicole Pendley, allowing Romero to score the third run of the game.
The lead grew to 5-0 in the third thanks to a two-out rally.
After a pair of groundouts, Pendley reached on an infield single. Lundberg then drove her in with an RBI double to left center. Of her eight career hits, three have been doubles. Rogers added an RBI single to left field and the lead was 5-0.
North Carolina State got on the board in the bottom of the fourth behind an RBI double by Balzer, but the Sooners got that run back and added another in the sixth.
With one out, Clifton doubled to right center and Dalton batted next with a run-scoring single. Senior Macey Hatfield made it three straight hits with a single to left field before a double steal put two in scoring position. A groundout from Romero brought home Dalton and it was a 7-1 lead.
North Carolina State cut that lead to 7-5 in the bottom of the frame after an RBI single by Balzer and a three-run homer by Jessica Moore, but junior Paige Lowary came on in the seventh to record her first save as a Sooner. Lowary struck out one and gave up one hit.