NORMAN – No. 9/9 Oklahoma (15-4) held off Western Kentucky (11-8) for a 2-1 win in the finals of the Courtyard Marriott Tournament at Marita Hynes Field Sunday. The Sooners have now won a season-high six straight games and 20 home games in a row dating back to last season.
Freshman Mariah Lopez shined in the circle as she struck out a career-high eight batters to improve her record to 5-0 on the season. The Saugus, Calif., native has set a career high in strikeouts in each of her last three appearances with four against Evansville Friday, five versus Western Kentucky on Saturday and eight Sunday against the Hilltoppers.
Lopez gave up just one run, a solo homer in the top of the seventh, on four hits with no walks. She faced the minimum 12 batters between the third and sixth innings, and even erased the one hit she allowed by starting a 1-6-3 double play to end the fifth.
In 12.2 innings this weekend, Lopez gave up just one run on six hits with no walks and 17 strikeouts while going 3-0.
As a team, Oklahoma only had five hits, but two of them belong to junior Nicole Pendley. She leads OU with seven multi-hit games this year.
Junior Kelsey Arnold also had a hit to extend her hitting streak to a season-long five games. She entered the weekend batting just .176, but with nine hits in 15 at-bats during the tournament, she has raised that average to .306.
Oklahoma’s had scoring chances throughout the game, including in the second inning when Pendley led off with a triple. Freshman Alissa Dalton reached on a fielder’s choice and then tried to execute a double steal with Pendley, but Pendley was thrown out at the plate. Dalton ended up at third, but a pair of groundouts stranded her there.
In the third, senior Macey Hatfield led off with a walk but was called out on the bases for leaving early. Sophomore Caleigh Clifton followed with a walk of her own and reached third when junior Kelsey Arnold’s sacrifice bunt was misplayed for a two-base error. Unfortunately for OU, a groundout and pop out kept the game tied at 0-0.
The Sooners finally broke through in the fifth inning behind a two-out rally.
Clifton drew a two-out walk before Arnold beat out an infield single on a chopper to short. Sophomore Fale Aviu then filled the bases when she was hit by a pitch for the second time in the game. Sophomore Sydney Romero then delivered the clutch hit when she rocketed a two-run single past third base.
Western Kentucky cut the lead in half in the top of the seventh when Tommi Stowers hit a solo home run to lead off the frame, but Lopez bounced back with a strikeout sandwiched by a pair of groundouts.
Oklahoma continues its season-long 10-game homestand Wednesday when Tulsa visits. First pitch is scheduled for 6 p.m.