NORMAN – No. 9/9 Oklahoma (13-4) secured a run-rule victory for the second straight game with a 9-0, five-inning win over Western Kentucky (10-7) Saturday in the final game of round-robin play at the Courtyard Marriott Tournament.
With a 3-0 record on the weekend, the Sooners have earned the No. 1 seed headed to bracket play and will play No. 4 Evansville (0-3) Saturday night at 6 p.m. That game will be preceded by Northwestern State (2-1) facing Western Kentucky (1-2) at 3:30 p.m. The winners of those two games will play Sunday at 1 p.m. in the tournament championship, while the losers square off at 10:30 a.m.
In the first ever meeting between OU and WKU, the Sooners tallied 11 hits and saw multi-hit games from junior Nicole Pendley, sophomore Sydney Romero and freshman Alissa Dalton. Romero and fellow sophomore Shay Knighten each drove in two runs for the Sooners.
Meanwhile, in the circle, freshmen Mariah Lopez and Nicole Mendes combined to throw Oklahoma’s fourth shutout of the year.
Lopez struck out a career-high five batters as she pushed her record to 4-0 on the season. She gave up just one hit and didn’t walk a batter. She’s thrown 5.2 scoreless innings over the weekend with nine strikeouts and no walks. Mendes worked the fifth and struck out one with no hits or walks surrendered.
Oklahoma used a two-out rally to get on the board in the first.
Sophomore Fale Aviu fell behind 0-2 in the count, but fought back to a full count before lacing a two-out double to right center. On the very next pitch, Romero drilled a single back up the middle to plate Aviu with the game’s opening run.
Pendley followed with a walk before Dalton drove an RBI double to the gap in left center to give OU a 2-0 OU advantage.
OU doubled its lead in the third thanks to another rally with two outs.
The bases were loaded with one out thanks to a leadoff single from Aviu and back-to-back singles from Pendley and Dalton. Knighten then sent a grounder to short, who threw to third to get the force but it allowed Aviu to score. Junior catcher Hannah Sparks, in her first season at Oklahoma after transferring from Northwest Florida State College, followed Knighten by picking up her first career hit on a run-scoring single through the right side.
A five-run fourth inning helped OU notch its fourth run-rule win of the season.
Sophomore Caleigh Clifton led off and was hit by a pitch for the 22nd time in her career, breaking a three-way tie for eighth place in Oklahoma history. Arnold singled through the left side in the next at-bat and each moved into scoring position two batters later on a wild pitch. Romero then picked up her second RBI of the game when she poked a single into left field, plating Clifton.
Romero stole second and Pendley brought home Arnold with a single back up the middle to push OU’s lead to 6-0. With runners on the corners, Pendley stole second and the throw from Hilltoppers catcher Taylor Proctor kicked off the pitcher and second baseman, allowing her to take third and bring Romero home.
Up 7-0, Knighten kept the pressure up with an RBI single through the right side, while freshman Vanessa Taukeiaho later added an infield single with the bases loaded to Oklahoma its ninth run of the game.