OKLAHOMA CITY – Four home runs and a third consecutive shutout carried top-seeded Oklahoma (49-8) past sixth-seeded Texas Tech (18-36) Friday night at the Big 12 Championship, 8-0, in the final game of pool play.
With a 2-0 record, Oklahoma won Pool A and earned a Bedlam matchup with third-seeded Oklahoma State Saturday at 4:30 p.m. for the Big 12 Championship title. The Sooners swept the Cowgirls to close out the regular season, winning a pair of games in Stillwater and one in Norman by a combined score of 10-2.
It's the ninth time in program history that OU has reached the title game, winning four times and finishing runner-up in the other four instances. It'll be the second time that Bedlam decides the Big 12 champion, as OU also beat OSU for the title in 2001. All-time, Oklahoma is 7-0 against Oklahoma State in the Big 12 Championship.
OU has won 17 in a row against Texas Tech, outscoring the Red Raiders 158-27 in the process. Oklahoma also improved to 41-18 (.695) all-time at the Big 12 Championship, the most wins and highest win percentage in conference history.
Friday night's performance against the Red Raiders was similar to the three-game sweep in Lubbock earlier this year. After hitting seven home runs in the series, OU added four more in Oklahoma City to finish with 11 in four games with TTU this year. Sophomore Caleigh Clifton had the first two-homer game of her career, while freshman Nicole Mendes added her fourth of the year and sophomore Sydney Romero hit another homer after hitting one earlier in the day against Texas. Five of Romero's 20 career home runs have come at ASA Hall of Fame Stadium.
Clifton finished 3-4 with three runs scored and two RBI, while Mendes and Romero also drove in a pair of runs each. With her homer, Mendes extend her hitting streak to 14 games and her on-base streak to 28 contests. The 14-game hit streak matches Romero for the longest by a Sooner this year.
The shutout was the 19th by the Sooners this year, their third in a row and the fourth in the last five contests. Freshman Mariah Lopez got the start and the win, improving to 16-1 on the season. She struck out four in 4.0 innings with just two hits allowed. She gave up hits in each of the first two innings but finished her outing by retiring the final eight batters she saw.
Junior Paige Lowary entered to start the fifth and closed out the game for her sixth save, extending her single-season record at OU. In 3.0 hitless innings she struck out two and walked one.
Clifton got the Sooners on the board in the first inning with a solo home run to center field on a 1-0 count. The lead grew to 4-0 through three when Mendes and Clifton hit back-to-back home runs. Mendes' was a two-run shot after junior Hannah Sparks preceded her with a walk. Three of Mendes' four home runs this year have come in Oklahoma City. Clifton then followed her with a solo shot to nearly the same spot in center as her first home run.
OU picked up two more runs in the sixth thanks to an RBI single by junior Lea Wodach and a wild pitch that allowed junior Kelsey Arnold to score. In the seventh, Clifton led off with her third hit of the game and came home when Romero launched her two-run homer to center field.