NORMAN – The No. 5/6 Oklahoma softball team opened the OG&E Tournament with a pair of wins, taking down Illinois State 9-0 in five innings and Indiana 9-3 at Marita Hynes Field on Friday.
Oklahoma moved to 16-2 on the season with the victories and the Sooners’ extended their home winning streak to 11 games, which dates back to last season.
Freshman Jocelyn Alo and sophomore Nicole Mendes led the Sooners at the plate, finishing with 4-for-6 and 4-for-7 performances, respectively. Alo and Mendes logged multiple hits in both games.
Alo doubled against Illinois State and homered against Indiana in the nightcap. Overall, the freshman drove in four runs, matching junior Sydney Romero for the most RBI among Sooners on Friday.
The Sooners opened the day with a run-rule win over Illinois State, marking the Sooners’ 10th shutout and sixth run-rule victory of the season.
Paige Parker and Mariah Lopez combined in the circle for the shutout. Parker moved to 9-1 on the season in her 108th career start, surrendering one hit over three innings while striking out five. Lopez tossed the final two frames, giving up two hits and recording a pair of strikeouts.
OU’s win was sparked by seven runs in the bottom of the first, marking the most runs in an inning this season by the Sooners.
Mendes led off the frame with an infield single before Sydney Romero drew a walk. Alo singled through the left side to score Mendes.
OU extended its lead to 3-0 as Caleigh Clifton and Nicole Pendley reached on back-to-back bases-loaded walks, plating Romero and Alo.
After an RBI single by Shay Knighten, pinch hitter Kylie Lundberg then doubled up the middle to drive in Clifton and Pendley. Kelsey Arnold’s RBI groundout allowed OU to go up 7-0 after one at-bat.
OU added a pair of insurance runs over the second and third innings. In the second, Alo led off with a double to center and scored on a Fale Aviu RBI single. OU took advantage of a walk to Arnold and double from Mendes as Romero’s RBI groundout pushed the Sooners’ lead to 9-0.
“I really loved our first game,” OU head coach Patty Gasso said. “I thought everything was in great order – good at-bats, quality at-bats, bases on balls coming around to score for us, pitching on point. I really thought everything was in a good place.”
In the second game of the day, the Sooners came back from a two-run deficit to down Indiana.
The Hoosiers jumped out to a 2-0 lead, but the Sooners responded with three runs in the bottom of the third. With runners on second and third, Romero trimmed the deficit as her sacrifice fly allowed pinch runner Raegan Rogers to score.
Alo followed one batter later as the freshman drilled a two-run blast to left to give OU a 3-2 lead, her ninth home run of the season.
Oklahoma extended its lead with five runs in the bottom of the fourth. Caleigh Clifton led off with a walk and advanced to third on a single from Pendley followed by a groundout double play. Lea Wodach drew another walk before Arnold singled up the middle to drive in Clifton.
Mendes followed with a single up the middle of her own, sending Wodach home. Romero then singled to right center, driving in both Arnold and Mendes. After Romero moved to second on an error, Aviu singled to plate Romero.
In the fifth, Indiana added its final run as Gabbi Jenkins and Rebecca Blitz both reached on singles. After Jenkins stole second, Westmoreland singled to right to bring Jenkins home.
OU added another run in the sixth as Mendes reached on an error, stole second, moved to third on a groundout and scored as Alo singled to right field.
Parker Conrad, Lopez and Paige Lowary combined in the circle. Conrad earned her second career start, allowing two runs on two hits and two walks over 2.1 innings while striking out one. Lopez got the win to move to 4-0 on the season, throwing 2.0 innings in relief and allowing one run and one hit while registering three strikeouts. Lowary closed the final 2.2 frames, surrendering no runs on three hits with three strikeouts.
The Sooners continue the OG&E Tournament on Saturday as they take on No. 18 South Carolina at 5 p.m. CT. The game will air live on Fox Sports Oklahoma and can be heard on KEBC 1560 AM in Norman. General admission tickets are available and can be ordered online or by calling (405) 325-2424 or toll-free at (800) 456-GoOU.