PHOENIX, Ariz. – On its long-awaited opening day, the No. 1 Oklahoma softball team went 2-0 on the first day of the GCU Kickoff Tournament. The Sooners took down Weber State 6-3 on Friday afternoon before cruising to an 8-1 victory over Grand Canyon in the evening.
In game one, the Sooners out-hit Weber State 13-7. Freshman Jocelyn Alo and junior Sydney Romero led the team with three hits apiece, while Shay Knighten and Fale Aviu each added two.
The Sooners jumped out to a 2-0 lead as Alo singled in her first collegiate at-bat and soon stole second. Two batters later, Shay Knighten triple to plate Alo. Fale Aviu followed by recording her first of four RBIs on the day as she singled to left field to score Knighten.
The Wildcats came back with three runs of their own against OU starting pitcher Mariah Lopez. In the top of the third, Weber State's Takesha Saltern recorded an RBI single to trim OU's lead to 2-1. Ashlyn Visser hit a two-run home run in the fourth inning that gave Weber State a 3-2 lead.
However, the Sooners responded in the bottom of the fifth as Alo belted her first OU home run, a solo shot over the left-field wall to tie the game at 3-3. Aviu put the Sooners back in front with two-run single to center that scored Raegan Rogers and Caleigh Clifton.
The Sooners tacked on an insurance run in the sixth when Alo collected her third hit of the day with an RBI single that plated Nicole Mendes after the sophomore hit a leadoff double.
Paige Lowary earned the win in relief as she shut out the Wildcats over 3.1 innings. The senior struck out three and surrendered just one hit. Lopez allowed three runs on six hits while striking out four in 3.2 innings of work for the Sooners.
Oklahoma improved to 33-14 all-time in season openers.
In her 100th career start in the circle, OU's Paige Parker threw five scoreless innings to earn her first win of the year as OU topped Grand Canyon. Parker allowed just two hits and struck out six in the victory.
Shay Knighten led the Sooners with a 4-for-4 performance at the plate, while Nicole Pendley was 1-for-2 with a two-run home run and two runs scored. Sydney Romero also finished 2-of-4 with an RBI and a run scored.
The Sooners started the nightcap hot as Alo smacked a leadoff double, followed by a one-out single by Knighten that advanced Alo to third. With runners on the corners, Aviu drove in her fourth run of the day with a single to put OU up 1-0.
Oklahoma added a run in the second after Nicole Pendley and Kelsey Arnold opened the inning with back-to-back walks. Lea Wodach laid down a perfectly-placed bunt to advance the runners, and Pendley took advantage of a GCU throwing error to score, pushing OU's lead to 2-0.
In the third inning, Clifton and Knighten reached base and advanced to second and third after a groundout. Romero drilled a grounder to shortstop to drive in Clifton. Knighten then scored on a Raegan Rogers groundout.
The Sooners extended their lead to 6-0 in the fourth. Mendes snuck home as Alo was caught in a rundown between second and third, and Clifton later scored on a throwing error.
In the sixth inning, the Lopes got on the board as Shea Smith scored an unearned run on an Oklahoma throwing error. OU responded in the top of the seventh with a pair of insuance runs. Romero led off the inning with a double, and Nicole Pendley drilled a two-run home run to center to secure the Sooners' second victory of the day.
Paige Lowary tossed the final two innings in relief of Parker. Lowary surrendered two hits and the unearned run while striking out two batters in her second appearance of the day out of the bullpen.The Sooners continue the GCU Kickoff on Saturday, facing Montana at 12:30 p.m. CT and Grand Canyon again at 5:30 p.m. CT. Fans can listen to both games on KEBC-1560 AM, and the GCU game will be available for viewing via the WAC Digital Network.