After suffering their first loss of the season on Saturday, the Sooners (18-1) jumped out quickly against the Cougars (10-7), getting on the board in the first inning.
With two outs and Jessica Shults on first, Keilani Ricketts singled through the right side. Shelby Pendley then walked to load the bases for Brittany Williams, who doubled to right center to plate two runs.
“I’m pretty confident at the plate right now,” Williams remarked after a weekend in which she hit .375 with a team-high four runs batted in. “I’m just trying to find my pitch and not swing at the pitcher’s pitch.”
Houston cut into the Sooners’ lead in the third inning.
After singling and moving to second on a sacrifice bunt, Katie St. Pierre advanced to third on a single by Kendra Cullum. With Reina Gaber batting, Cullum broke for second base, prompting a throw from Shults at catcher. As Cullum was caught in a rundown between first and second, St. Pierre was able to come home and score from third.
Oklahoma went back ahead by two runs in the fourth inning when Lauren Chamberlain doubled to right center with one out and scored one batter later when Georgia Casey singled to center field.
“I feel like yesterday’s loss -- it was a great game; it was a great battle -- but I feel like it was a wake-up call to step up our game today, step up for our pitchers,” Shults said. “They’ve been doing a great job for us, so we were just trying to get a couple more runs on the board to give them a little bit of a gap.”
Houston collected a pair of hits in the fifth inning but stellar defense from OU kept the lead at 2-1.
Holly Anderson led off with a single but was picked off at first base as Shults fired down to Casey after a missed bunt by Cullum. Cullum then singled herself but was also erased on a pickoff at first base by Shults.
“I think that Brittany [Williams] had a fantastic weekend in some clutch situations,” Oklahoma head coach Patty Gasso said. “I thought [Jessica] Shults was very important today not just with her offense but the two pickoffs she had were huge for us in big momentum-turning situations.”
Williams continued Oklahoma’s strong defense in the top of the sixth inning.
With one out and a runner on first, Kayla Holland sent a deep drive to left field. Williams ran back to make the catch right in front of the wall to prevent extra bases.
“The wind was picking up, so I was just trying to read the ball and make a play for our pitchers,” Williams said of her catch.
Like they did in the fourth, Chamberlain and Casey teamed up again in the sixth inning to get the Sooners their fourth and final run.
With one out, Chamberlain reached on an error by Holland at second base. Casey then doubled to the wall in right field and Chamberlain hustled all the way around the bases to score from first.
Michelle Gascoigne got the win in relief of Ricketts to improve to 8-1 on the season. She struck out six and kept the Cougars off the scoreboard over the final four innings of the game.
“I think Michelle has understood how to come in when needed, but has also stepped up to the forefront and said, ‘Hey, let me take some of this pressure off [Keilani Ricketts],’” Gasso said. “She can step up and beat some big teams.”
Oklahoma takes part in its first midweek games of the season this Wednesday with a doubleheader at Wichita State. First pitch of game one is scheduled for 3 p.m.