OKLAHOMA CITY, Okla. –No. 10 Oklahoma (58-9) is a win away from reaching the Women's College World Series Championship Series after taking down No. 6 Washington (49-13) Friday night at USA Softball Stadium, 3-1.
OU plays again Sunday at 2:30 p.m. on ESPN. The Sooners' opponent will be either Baylor, Oregon or LSU. Baylor and Oregon play Saturday at 1:30 p.m., and the winner faces LSU at 8:30 p.m. The winner of that second game will advance to face the Sooners Sunday.
Oklahoma is 24-15 all-time in the WCWS and is 2-0 to start WCWS play for the fifth time. In the previous four instances, OU won the national title three times and finishing runner-up in the other instance.
Junior Paige Parker won her 15th straight postseason decision by holding the powerful Washington offense to just one run on three hits. It was just the sixth time this season that the Huskies were held to one run, though it was the second for the Sooners, who lost to UW 1-0 in their third game of the season.
Now 25-5 on the year, Parker struck out six and gave up one run on three hits and one walk in 6.1 innings of work. Junior Paige Lowary closed out the game by getting the final two outs, including one via strikeout. It was Lowary's ninth save of the year, matching the OU career record held by Kami Keiter (2002-05).
Five different Sooners had a hit in the win, including each of the team's 3-6 hitters.
Oklahoma got on the board first in the second inning thanks to some crafty baserunning from sophomore Falepolima Aviu. She was hit by the first pitch of the inning and advanced to second on a single by junior Nicole Pendley, while a fielder's choice put runners on the corners. Two batters later, junior Lea Wodach put down a squeeze bunt that was picked up by Washington catcher Morganne Flores. Aviu came racing home, but hesitated ever so slightly before deking out Flores and eluding the tag before diving in to touch home.
Aviu also contributed to an OU run in the fifth.
Junior Kelsey Arnold hit a grounder to Taylor Van Zee at third base to lead off the frame, but the ball was misplayed for an error. Two outs later, sophomore Shay Knighten kept the inning alive with a single through the left side. Aviu then doubled OU's lead when she smoked a single to right-center, easily scoring Arnold with an unearned run.
In the sixth, sophomore Sydney Romero led off by hitting her 12th home run of the season, a solo shot to left field. Washington got a run back in the bottom of the frame on Ali Aguilar's solo homer, but the Huskies wouldn't get any closer.
Washington brought the tying run to the plate in the seventh as Flores led off with a single. Parker got a flyout before handing the ball off to Lowary, who struck out Julia DePonte looking and then got Trysten Melhart to ground out to first base to end the game.
One night after tying a program record with four errors in a WCWS game, the OU defense was at its best against the Huskies Friday, making several highlight plays.
Leading off the bottom of the third, Melhart hit a popup foul back toward the screen. Wodach hustled back and made a diving catch as she collided with the wall. Nicole Bates led off the next inning by hit a line drive, but OU sophomore second baseman Caleigh Clifton made a leaping grab for the first out. On the next pitch, Casey Stangel hit a soft liner that Clifton played off one hop and fired to first for the second out.
In the next inning, Romero made a nice backhanded stop near the third base bag on a hard grounder from DePonte to get the out. Romero was at it again in the sixth when she charged in on a soft slap from Kelly Burdick and made the throw while on the run for the out.