Sooners Welcome Red Flash Wednesday

Athletics Communications
By Athletics Communications
University of Oklahoma

March 7 | Norman, Okla. | Marita Hynes Field
Saint Francis (PA)
Saint Francis (PA)tulsa
5/6 Oklahoma

NORMAN — No. 5/6 Oklahoma softball continues a season-long 10-game homestand on Wednesday night as it hosts Saint Francis (PA) at 6 p.m. CT. The matchup is the first ever between the two programs.

The Sooners opened their home slate by going 4-0 in the Courtyard Marriott Tournament, extending their streak of home wins to eight, dating back to last season.

The game will air live on Fox Sports Oklahoma and can be heard on KEBC 1560 AM in Norman or online through SoonerSports.com.

Wednesday is Dollar Dog Night where all hot dogs are $1, while supplies last. There is a limit of five per transaction.

General admission tickets are available and can be ordered online or by calling (405) 325-2424 or toll-free at (800) 456-GoOU.


Nationally Ranked Offense

Oklahoma has started the season with strong performances at the plate. The team’s batting average (.344), on-base percentage (.434) and slugging percentage (.548) all rank second in the Big 12. Additionally, OU is ranked nationally eighth in batting average and slugging percentage and ninth in on-base percentage.

Junior Sydney Romero is second in the conference in batting average, hitting .500 (22-for-44) so far this season, which is also good for 18th nationally. Freshman Jocelyn Alo leads the Big 12 in home runs per game this season (.53) and is ranked No. 3 nationally, while her eight home runs are good for second in the league and sixth in the nation. Alo’s slugging percentage (1.023) is also ranked nationally, coming it at No. 6, while ranking second in the Big 12.


Pitch Perfect

The Oklahoma pitching staff has returned in full force in 2018. Through 15 games, the Sooners have a combined ERA of 0.64, ranked first in the Big 12 and second in the nation behind only Florida (0.57 ERA).

Senior lefty duo Paige Parker (7-1) and Paige Lowary (2-1) are ranked second in the conference with identical ERAs of 0.34 through 41.1 and 20.2 innings of work, respectively. The pair trails Oklahoma State’s Logan Simunek (0.29 ERA) in conference standings. Additionally, they are tied for seventh nationally.

Sophomore Mariah Lopez leads the Big 12 in strikeouts per seven innings (10.0) and is ranked 16th nationally. Against Montana, Lopez threw her first career double-digit strikeout game with 11 Ks, matching a single-game high in the conference this season. Lopez leads the nation in walks allowed per seven innings as she has yet to walk a batter this season.

Missouri transfer Parker Conrad earned her first OU start against BYU, allowing one hit and no runs in 2.0 innings. She has totaled 5.1 innings this season, including the final inning of OU’s game against Abilene Christian on March 4, when she struck out the side to seal the win.

Right-handed sophomore Melanie Olmos made her first career start against ACU on March 4, striking out a career-high four batters in 2.2 innings. She has thrown 3.2 total innings this season.

Sophomore utility player Nicole Mendes has made four appearances in relief this season, totalling 6.0 innings and garnering one win. She has yet to give up a run this season.


You Say Goodbye, I Say Alo

Freshman utility player Jocelyn Alo has impressed in her first collegiate season with her power at the plate. The Hauula, Hawaii, native leads the team in slugging percentage (1.023), home runs (8) and RBI (16). In the conference, Alo ranks first in home runs per game (0.53) and second in homers and slugging percentage. Nationally, Alo is third in home runs per game and sixth in home runs and slugging percentage.

Alo’s first home run came in her collegiate debut against Weber State on Feb. 9, a solo shot over the left field wall. She homered again at the GCU Kickoff, hitting a two-run blast on Feb. 10 against GCU. Alo added three more homers at the Mary Nutter Classic, going yard twice against No. 17 Arizona State to become the first Sooner to hit two home runs in one game since Caleigh Clifton against Texas Tech on May 12, 2017. Alo also homered against BYU. Additionally, the freshman added three blasts at the Courtyard Marriott Tournament, including one in her first plate apperarance at Marita Hynes Field.

Alo was named Division I player of the week by Fastpitch News on March 6.


Run in Polls Continues

After going 4-0 last week, OU moved to No. 5 in the USA Today/NFCA Division I Coaches Poll and remained at No. 6 in the ESPN.com/USA Softball Collegiate Top 25. Oklahoma is the only program to be ranked every week of the NFCA poll, a run of 342 straight polls.

The Sooners opened their 2018 campaign as the preseason favorite in both the NFCA and USA Softball preseason polls, marking the second straight year that OU is ranked No. 1 in both. Prior to last year, OU had never entered a season with the top ranking in either poll. The Sooners also remained in the top spot in both polls after week one.

This marks the eighth straight year the Sooners have started in the NFCA’s top 10, good for the nation’s longest active streak.

Oklahoma also entered its 2018 campaign as the preseason pick to win the Big 12, as each of the other six head coaches placed the Sooners in the top spot (coaches were not allowed to vote for their own teams).

This is the sixth straight year and ninth in the last 10 that OU has topped the Big 12’s preseason poll. OU received 36 points in this year’s poll and was followed by Baylor, which received the other first-place vote, at 31 points, Texas (24 points), Oklahoma State (23 points), Kansas (12 points), Iowa State (11 points) and Texas Tech (10 points).


Last Time Out

Oklahoma was dominant in its opening weekend of home games, outscoring its opponents 31-1 over four contests.

The Sooners improved their overall team batting average to .344 from .319 heading into the weekend. Overall, the team hit .414 on the weekend. Junior Sydney Romero led the way, finishing the weekend 7-for-10 (.700), while freshman Jocelyn Alo was 6-for-10 (.600) with seven RBI and three home runs. She led the team in slugging percentage (1.500), while Nicole Pendley, who also drove in seven runs on the weekend, was close behind with a slugging percentage of 1.250.

In their home opener against Missouri State on Friday, the Sooners earned their 10th win of the season with a 6-0 victory. Alo recorded her first home run at Marita Hynes Field in the first inning, a two-run shot to right center, and Lea Wodach and Alo both drove in runs in the second. Raegan Rogers and Romero recorded OU’s two other RBI. Alo, Romero, Kelsey Arnold, Shay Knighten and Nicole Mendes all had two hits in the contest as the Sooners combined for 12 total.

On Saturday, Oklahoma claimed run-rule wins over Abilene Christian (8-0) and Missouri State (9-0), both in five innings. The ACU game was won in walk-off fashion in a three-run fifth inning. Pendley led off with a solo home run, Arnold reached home on a throwing erro, and Mendes singled to plate Kylie Lundberg. Additionally, the Sooners combined for three home runs, coming from Alo, Caleigh Clifton and Pendley.

The Saturday evening rematch with Missouri State was highlighted by a six-run third inning, marking the most runs in an inning for OU so far this season. Pendley drove in three runs in the game while Clifton, Lundberg, Wodach and Fale Aviu all drove in one.

In Sunday’s finale, Pendley recorded three RBI for the second straight game while Alo added three, both homering in the contest. Mendes, Aviu and Clifton also drove in runs as the Sooners took down ACU 8-1.

Pitchers Paige Parker, Paige Lowary, Mariah Lopez, Parker Conrad and Melanie Olmos all made appearances in the circle at the Courtyard Marriott Tournament. Parker led the way with two wins in two starts, allowing two hits and no runs with 11 strikeouts in 7.2 innings pitched. Lowary made four appearances, all in relief, and totaled three hits and six strikeouts over 6.0 innings to earn one win. Lopez claimed the other win on the weekend, starting against ACU on Saturday, allowing two hits and no runs over 4.1 innings with four strikeouts. Conrad threw 3.1 innings in relief, registering three strikeouts, including striking out the side in the final inning of the weekend to seal OU’s win. Olmos made her first career start against ACU on Sunday, recording a career-high four strikeouts in 2.2 innings. 


Facing Saint Francis

Wednesday’s mid-week matchup marks the first meeting between Oklahoma and Saint Francis. All-time, Oklahoma holds a 4-1 record over members of the Northeast Conference (2-1 vs. Robert Morris, 2-0 vs. Bryant).

The Red Flash is currently 11-9 on the season. Most recently, Saint Francis went 2-3 at the Mizuno Classic hosted by Oklahoma State in Stillwater, Okla.

In 2017, Saint Francis finished with a 49-11 record. Winners of the Northeast Conference Championship, the Red Flash qualified for an NCAA Regional, where they defeated New Mexico State but were defeated by South Carolina twice to be eliminated.


Up Next

 The Sooners conclude their homestand March 9-11, as they welcome Illinios State, Indiana and No. 20/21 South Carolina for the OG&E Tournament. OU will face Illinois State on Friday at 2:30 p.m. and on Sunday at 4 p.m., Indiana on Friday at 5 p.m. and South Carolina on Saturday at 5 p.m. and on Sunday at 1:30 p.m. All six games are scheduled to be broadcast on Fox Sports Oklahoma.

In all-time meetings, OU holds a 4-1-1 advantage over Illinois State and a 9-2-1 lead over Indiana while trailing South Carolina 2-5. Additionally, Wednesday’s meeting with Saint Francis marks the first all-time between the two programs.

General admission tickets are available and can be ordered online or by calling (405) 325-2424 or toll-free at (800) 456-GoOU.

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