LAWRENCE, Kan. – Junior Paige Parker struck out a career-high 15 batters as No. 10/8 Oklahoma (36-7, 6-0 Big 12) took the series opener from Kansas (21-20, 3-7) Thursday, 4-1.
Oklahoma has now won 13 straight games on the season and extended its school record road winning streak to 19 games. OU has also won a program-record 22 consecutive Big 12 contests, breaking the previous mark of 21 set between April 2001 and April 2002.
Parker’s 15 strikeouts were two better than her previous high of 13, which she had reached twice, including once earlier this year against Arizona on March 14. The total was also the highest by an OU pitcher since Keilani Ricketts registered 17 strikeouts at Kansas on April 5, 2013. Parker struck out every starter at least once.
Parker gave up one unearned run on 98 pitches, allowing three hits with no walks to improve to 14-5 on the season. After yielding a one-out double in the first, she retired the next 17 batters she faced, including seven straight strikeouts from the end of the first inning through the third.
Parker actually recorded four strikeouts in the seventh inning, though leadoff batter Erin McGinley was able to reach on a passed ball and come around to score after she stole second base and Becki Monaghan hit an RBI single.
Kansas brought tying run to the plate in the seventh as Monaghan’s single put two on with two out, but Parker fanned pinch hitter Jennifer Marwitz on three pitches to end the game.
Freshman Alissa Dalton and junior Kelsey Arnold each went 2-3 for the Sooners, while sophomore Shay Knighten was 1-3 with a two-run single to extend her hitting streak to a season best seven games. She has also driven in a run in 12 straight contests.
Oklahoma stole four bases, including a season-high two from Arnold, and now has 77 on the year to tie the 1992 and 1998 teams for eighth on the OU single-season list.
For the fourth straight game, Oklahoma scored first, scratching across a run in the top of the second.
Knighten drew a one-out walk and moved up to second two batters later. Dalton then drove her home with a two-out single to left field, putting OU up 1-0.
After two scoreless innings, the Sooners pushed their lead to 3-0 in the fifth.
Freshman Nicole Mendes walked with one out and took third as sophomore Sydney Romero singled up the middle. Romero stole her team-leading 15th base of the year, while Knighten followed her with a hard single back up the middle to bring in both runners.
OU picked up an insurance run in the sixth.
Dalton led off and collected her second hit as she laced a double into left-center field. After a strikeout, freshman Vanessa Taukeiaho entered as a pinch hitter. The Rancho Cucamonga, Calif., native recorded her team-leading seventh pinch hit of the year, sending a single up the middle to bring home Dalton and make the lead 4-0.
Game two of the three-game series is set for Friday with first pitch coming at 5 p.m. CT.