NORMAN – No. 9/10 Oklahoma (19-4) won its 10th game in a row and its third straight by run-rule with a 16-1, five-inning victory over Illinois-Chicago (10-10) Saturday at the OU Tournament at Marita Hynes Field.
The Sooners scored four runs in the first, two in the second, three in the third and seven more in the fourth for their highest run total since a 16-1 win over Iowa State on April 4, 2015. OU has won three straight by run-rule for the first time since February of last season.
Ten different OU batters had a hit, including two each for juniors Nicole Pendley and Lea Wodach and sophomores Fale Aviu and Sydney Romero. Aviu and Romero tied for the team lead with three RBI each, while junior Kelsey Arnold and sophomore Caleigh Clifton each scored three runs.
Three freshmen combined on the win for OU in the circle. Mariah Lopez got the start and kept her record perfect this year at 7-0 with another win. She struck out six and allowed just one hit with no runs or walks in 3.0 innings. Melanie Olmos got the fourth inning as she gave up a single, while Nicole Mendes entered for the fifth and struck out one but gave up a solo homer.
The Sooners capitalized on a pair of UIC errors to plate four runs in the first inning.
Clifton and Romero each reached on fielding errors to open the game for OU. Pendley and Aviu followed with back-to-back run-scoring singles to stake the Sooners to an early 2-0 lead. Two batters later, Mendes grounded out to second base to bring in Pendley, while senior Macey Hatfield used an infield single to third to score Aviu with the final run of the frame.
UIC tried to cut into the lead in its next at-bats as Lexi Watts tripled to the corner in left field with one out, but Lopez came back with a pair of strikeouts to keep the Flames off the board.
The Sooners then padded their lead with two more runs in the bottom of the inning.
Arnold and Clifton drew back-to-back walks to start the inning and Romero drove both in with a double to the right-center gap.
A three-run third inning put the run-rule into effect.
Arnold got things rolling for OU when she reached on a bunt single with one out. Clifton sent her to third with a single to right field and then stole second base. Romero picked up her third RBI of the day when she singled to right center. With runners on the corners, Romero stole second before Pendley was intentionally walked to fill the bases.
Aviu batted next and walked on four pitches to force in the eighth run of the game. Sophomore Shay Knighten came up after Aviu was mere feet away from her second career grand slam, but it was caught at the wall for a sacrifice fly.
Oklahoma then exploded for seven runs in the fourth.
The bases were loaded with no one out after junior Lea Wodach doubled, Arnold walked and an error allowed freshman Vanessa Taukeiaho to reach safely. Sophomore Kylie Lundberg entered as pinch hitter and drew a five-pitch walk to make it 10-0. UIC’s fourth error of the game allowed two more runs to score on a misplayed grounder off Pendley’s bat.
Aviu drove in her third run as she followed the error with a double to left center, while junior Paige Parker pinch hit after Aviu and chopped a single up the middle to make the lead 14-0 for Oklahoma. An RBI groundout from sophomore Raegan Rogers extended the lead to 15-0, and Taukeiaho rounded out the scoring with an infield single to third, driving in junior pitcher Paige Lowary, who was making her first career pinch running appearance.
UIC broke the shutout in the top of the fifth on a pinch-hit home run from Ria Smith, but that was all the offense the Flames could muster.
The two teams will close out the OU Tournament Sunday. First pitch is scheduled for 1:30 p.m.