Juarez Perfect vs. LMU, OU Scores 26 for Two Wins
LOS ANGELES – Oklahoma junior Giselle Juarez recorded her first career perfect game while the Sooners scored 26 runs to earn a pair of wins on their first day at the LMU/CSUN Tournament.
Oklahoma (22-2) defeated UC Santa Barbara 12-1 to open the event. In the afternoon, OU run-ruled host Loyola Marymount 14-0 in five innings behind Juarez's perfect performance and seven RBIs from Jocelyn Alo.
"It was such a team effort both games today," OU head coach Patty Gasso said. "Everybody got involved. It was good to see them all working together... It was just a smothering, all-around performance today."
In both games, the Sooners were exceptional in the circle. Against the Gauchos (6-18) Thursday morning, junior Mariah Lopez struck out a career-high-matching 13 batters, good for her fourth game this season with double-digit strikeouts. She allowed just one hit and one run, which was unearned, over 5.2 innings of work to improve to 9-1 on the year.
Classmate Parker Conrad closed the final 1.1 frames, scattering one hit and striking out one.
Offensively, Alo led the way with two hits, two runs and an RBI. Nicole Mendes also had a multi-hit performance, notching a pair.
Caleigh Clifton, Sami Skelly and Kinsey Koeltzow all registered two RBIs, marking the first multi-RBI performances of Skelly and Koeltzow's careers.
UCSB struck first, taking advantage of a passed-ball strikeout to put Ally Nodohara on base before Genesis Ramirez drove her in with a single.
The Sooners tied it in the top of the third. With two outs, Raegan Rogers singled to left before stealing second. Alo then doubled to right center to bring the tying run home.
The game remained tied until the Sooner offense exploded to score 11 runs in the final two innings. With two runners in scoring position, Falepolima Aviu put a grounder into play to bring Alo home.
Clifton then laid a squeeze bunt perfectly down the third-base line, giving Sydney Romero room to slide across home.
The Sooners loaded the bases, and Grace Lyons hit a sacrifice fly to plate Aviu. Freshman Sami Skelly then stepped to the plate as pinch hitter and crushed a two-RBI double to right center.
In the seventh, Shay Knighten took advantage of a bases-loaded opportunity, singling to score Alo. Clifton then drew a walk to plate Romero before Mendes singled to right to bring Aviu home.
With the bases still loaded, freshman Kinsey Koeltzow drilled a pinch-hit single up the middle to score Clifton and Mendes. Finally, Alexa Schultz used an infield grounder to score Lyons.
In the afternoon, Juarez retired all 15 batters she faced to register the first perfect game of her collegiate career. It was the 13th perfect game in OU history and the first since Paige Parker recorded four in 2015.
It also marked the first perfect game by a Big 12 pitcher this year.
"Everybody knows when something perfect is happening on the mound," Gasso said. "You don't say it, you don't mention it, you don't talk about it. You just make plays."
Juarez needed just 62 pitches to get the job done, recording six strikeouts while forcing seven fly outs and two grounders. In the fourth, Mendes made a clutch diving play to get the out and keep the perfect game alive.
"Trusting my defense was working for me today, and trusting my pitches as well," Juarez said. "Trusting my stuff is important... and really knowing that no matter what happens, my defense and our offense are going to have my back, and the other pitchers on the staff are going to have my back, too."
The Sooners earned their 11th shutout win and 10th by run-rule of the season, carrying their offensive momentum from the morning and recording a season-high 15 hits against the Lions (15-10).
Alo went 3-for-4 at the plate with a home run and a double, driving in seven runs and scoring one. Alo's career-high seven RBIs tie for third-most in a single game in program history and are the most since Lauren Chamberlain recorded seven in February 2015.
Also driving in multiple runs were Mendes and Eliyah Flores. Romero and Mendes both tallied multiple hits in the game.
Oklahoma opened scoring with seven runs on seven hits in the third inning. Clifton drilled an RBI single up the middle before Mendes plated two on a single down the left-field line. Flores then hit a 2-RBI single to center.
With Flores still on base, Alo crushed her third home run of the season to left field.
In the fourth, the Sooners loaded the bases before Alo singled to drive in two more. Romero then doubled to right field to score Flores.
The Sooners added four more in the fifth. Lynnsie Elam singled to left center to bring pinch hitter Skelly home from second. After OU loaded the bases again, Alo cleared them with a double up the middle.
Up next, the Sooners head to Northridge, Calif., on Saturday to take on Dartmouth (12 p.m. CT) and CSUN (4:30 p.m. CT).