NORMAN – No. 9/10 Oklahoma (20-4) won its 11th game in a row and its fourth straight by run-rule with an 8-0, six-inning victory over Illinois-Chicago (10-12) during the final game of the OU Tournament Sunday at Marita Hynes Field.
Sunday’s win was the 25th in a row at home for OU, tying for the third longest home win streak in program history. It also marked the longest win streak by-run rule for OU since 2015 when they posted eight straight wins in that fashion.
Freshman Nicole Mendes entered the game with four hits in 13 at-bats on the season, but she was 3-4 against the Flames with two runs scored and a stolen base to lead the OU offense. Sophomore Shay Knighten was 2-3 on the day with an RBI, walk and run scored. Knighten finished the tournament 6-10 (.600) after coming into the weekend on a 3-32 (.094) slump over the previous 12 games.
Junior Paige Lowary improved to 5-1 on the season by picking up the win. She had a no-hitter through 5.1 innings and finished with two hits allowed, three strikeouts and one walk. Junior Paige Parker got the final out of the sixth with a strikeout, stranding two runners.
The Sooners wasted little time opening the scoring, manufacturing a run in the first inning.
Mendes reached on a one-out bunt single and later stole second before moving to third on a wild pitch. A walk to sophomore Fale Aviu put runners on the corners, and Knighten put OU on top with a single through the left side of the infield.
After manufacturing a run in the first, the Sooners left the yard in the third.
Sophomore Caleigh Clifton led off the inning by being hit by a pitch. It was the 24th time in her career that she had been hit, breaking a tie for seventh place in OU history with Samantha Ricketts (’06-09). Mendes batted next and sent a comebacker to the pitcher, who tried to get Clifton out at second but was late on the throw. Two batters later, Aviu drove a 1-0 pitch deep to center field for her second home run of the season, giving Oklahoma a 4-0 lead.
OU added a pair of runs to its lead in the fifth inning.
Sophomore Kylie Lundberg was hit by a pitch to start the inning and reached second thanks to an error on a sac bunt attempt by senior Macey Hatfield. Two batters later, junior Kelsey Arnold walked to fill the bases. Clifton batted next and sent a grounder to short. Kayla Wedl flipped to Taylor Cairns at second base to get the force out, but Cairns’ throw to first was wide. Lundberg had already scored on the play, but the errant throw allowed Hatfield to also come around and score to push the lead to 6-0.
Oklahoma tacked on two more runs in the sixth to end the game via run-rule.
Aviu drew her team-leading ninth hit by pitch of the season to open the frame. Sophomore Raegan Rogers pinch ran for Aviu and moved to second on Knighten’s second hit of the day. Two batters later, the Sooners filled the bases when Hatfield reached on an error. Parker batted next and delivered a single through the left side to plate Rogers, making it 7-0. During the next at-bat, a wild pitch from Elaine Heflin allowed Knighten to race home with the winning run.
After completing the team’s longest homestand since 1998 with a 10-0 record, Oklahoma heads to California for Spring Break. The Sooners will play two games Tuesday in Long Beach against Arizona and Long Beach State before five games next weekend on the campus of Loyola Marymount in Los Angeles.