NORMAN – No. 13/12 Oklahoma (25-7) returned home for the first time in seven games and posted a 5-3 win over RV/RV Mississippi State (23-9) in the team’s opening game of the College Preview Tournament at Marita Hynes Field.
A four-run third inning for Oklahoma proved the difference Friday as the Sooners won their 26th straight home game, the third longest home win streak in program history.
Sophomore Caleigh Clifton had two of OU’s seven hits, including her team-leading 10th double of the year. She also scored a run, drove in a run and walked. Freshman Nicole Mendes recorded her third triple of the year, drove in a run and scored a run in the leadoff spot.
In the circle, junior Paige Parker improved to 9-5 on the year with the win. She struck out four and walked none, giving up three runs on three hits in 5.0 innings, though only one run was earned. Fellow junior Paige Lowary earned her second save of the year as she was perfect in the final 2.0 innings. She allowed zero hits, runs or walks and struck out two.
Parker’s performance moved her up multiple categories in the OU record books. It was her 108th career appearance, tying Christine Haag (’90-93) for eighth place, while she passed Haag for ninth in career innings pitched with 561.1. Parker also tied Haag for 10th in career starts for a pitcher as Friday was No. 81 for her.
Trailing 1-0 in the bottom of the third after Calyn Adams’ first-inning home run, the Sooners took the lead for good behind a three-run fourth.
Junior Kelsey Arnold led off with a walk, and two batters later Mendes tied the game with her RBI triple to the right field corner. Clifton then followed with a bloop RBI single to center field to put OU on top, 2-1. Sophomore Sydney Romero, who saw her career-best 14-game hit streak come to an end in the game, kept the offensive pressure up as she hit into a fielder’s choice, but the throw to get Clifton at second was dropped by Bevia Robinson.
Sophomore Fale Aviu singled to center field next. Mississippi State center fielder Amanda Ivy picked up the ball but a pump fake throw slipped out of her hand and that allowed Clifton to score the third run of the inning. With runners on the corners, sophomore Shay Knighten put down a sacrifice squeeze bunt to plate Romero.
Another MSU error in the fifth put the Sooners on top 5-1 as senior Macey Hatfield was hit in the back on a throw as she ran to first base. The ball deflected into right field and sophomore Shay Knighten was able to come around to score on the play all the way from first base.
The Bulldogs loaded the bases with no one out in the sixth, but the Sooners did well to limit them to just two runs.
Lowary relieved Parker and a run came in on an error by Arnold at shortstop, but the Sooners got a force out at home for the first out. A sacrifice fly brought in another run, but a groundout kept the damage at a minimum.
In the seventh, Lowary tipped a chopper right to Romero for a 1-5-3 putout before striking out the final two batters to earn her eighth career save.
The College Preview Tournament now shifts to Oklahoma City on Saturday. The Sooners will face Louisiana Tech at 2:30 p.m. before meeting UAB at 5 p.m.