Sooners top Arkansas, 6-5, in 11 innings.
May 17, 2008
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NORMAN, Okla. - Senior shortstop Savannah Long added another game-winning homer to her resume as her solo shot in the top of the 11th inning led the Sooners to a 6-5 victory over Arkansas and sent the Sooners to the NCAA regional final on Sunday. The Sooners improved their record to 45-12 with the 11-inning thriller at the OU Softball Complex Saturday afternoon.
Oklahoma will play at 1 p.m. on Sunday at the OU Softball Complex in the regional final. The Sooners will face Oregon as the Ducks beat Tulsa (1-0) and Arkansas (3-0) on Saturday night to advance to the regional final. The Ducks will have to beat the Sooners twice to advance to a Super Regional.
The Sooners owned the 5-3 lead heading into the bottom of the seventh, but Arkansas' Miranda Dixon ripped a two-run homer in the bottom of the seventh to send the game into extra innings.
Neither team could score until Savannah Long pounded her 11th homer of the season in the top of the 11th as the Sooners remained a perfect 5-0 in extra innings this season. OU pitcher D.J. Mathis earned the win as she pitched a career-high 11 innings. The junior lefty notched a gutty performance in the circle as she threw the complete game while allowing five runs on 13 hits and striking out 10. Mathis pushed her record to 29-5 on the season.
"I liked how we answered back in some things," head coach Patty Gasso said. "We found a dry spot there for a while and we talked about adjustments and making adjustments and taking ourselves out of our at bats, swinging at things out of the zone and we are better than that. We needed to win that game. Honestly, we are very thankful to squeeze that one out because we were not at our best by any means. I give them (Arkansas) credit but we are very pleased to be in the championship game."
It was an offensive battle as both teams tallied 13 hits each. Long led the way for the Sooners with a 3-for-6 outing with two RBIs while Wendy Trott also added a key solo home run in the sixth.
Arkansas struck first as the designated home team plated one run in the bottom of the first. Arkansas' Jessica Bachkora led off with a bunt single. Bachkora was sacrifice bunted over to second on the next play and pitcher Miranda Dixon followed that with single to place Arkansas runners at the corner. Sandra Smith followed that with an RBI double off the left field wall as Arkansas took the early 1-0 lead.
The Sooners evened it up in the second as Long roped a one-out double off the left field wall. Next, Trott grounded out to the second baseman, but Long advanced to third on the play. Junior Jessica Legendre evened the score as she hammered an RBI-double off the centerfield wall that brought Long across the plate to tie it up at 1-1.
Oklahoma took its first lead of the game in the third as Krystle Huey reached on a one-out bunt single. Following an Ogden fly out, Samantha Ricketts hammered a double off the right center field wall as Huey scored on the play. Next, Lindsey Vandever ripped an RBI single up the middle to score Ricketts as OU led 3-1. With Long up to bat, Vandever advanced to second on a wild pitch as starter Miranda Dixon was taken out of the game and replaced by Katy Henry. Long was Henry's first batter to face as she owned a 2-1 count before Henry took over in the circle. Long added another run for the Sooners as her single up the middle scored Vandever and pushed the OU advantage to 4-1 after the top of the third.
Arkansas answered right back in the bottom of the third as it led off with three straight hits, including an RBI double by Smith that closed the gap at 4-2. An out later, Dayna Huckabee blooped an RBI single into left field that scored another run. However, the OU defense stepped up and turned a double play on the next batter as OU owned the 4-3 lead heading into the top of the fourth.
Trott extended the Sooner lead as she led off the sixth with a solo home run to right field, her eighth homer of the season. Next, Legendre reached on an error by the Arkansas first baseman. After a Haley Anderson strikeout, Flores reached on a walk as OU had runners at first and second with Krystle Huey up to bat. Ricketts led off the top of the seventh with a double to center field and Vandever followed that with a single up the middle as the Sooners had runners at the corners. Two outs later, Legendre walked to load the bases for pinch hitter Chana'e Jones. However, Jones struck out as OU led 5-3 heading into the bottom of the seventh.
Arkansas took advantage as the Lady'Backs tied it up in the bottom of the seventh with Dixon's two-run homer to tie it up with no outs. However, Mathis retired three of the next four batters and didn't allow a run to score as both teams headed into the eighth.
Long's solo homer with one out on a 2-1 count gave OU the 6-5 lead in the top of the 11th. Oklahoma would have had another runner on base, but Vandever, who led off the inning with a walk, was called out for leaving the base early before Long notched her home run. After Long's home run, Legendre walked as Arkansas reliever Henry was replaced by Dixon, who started the game. However, Douglas walked as well as OU had runners at first and second with two outs and Flores up to bat. The sophomore ripped a shot to the right field wall, but it was caught by the Arkansas right fielder for the final out as OU headed to the bottom of the 11th with the 6-5 lead.
Mathis turned it on in the bottom of the 11th as she retired all three batters she faced as the Sooners took the win and headed to the regional final.
Regional Notes: Oklahoma is 5-0 in extra-innings contests this season ... D.J. Mathis gave up her first home run in 106 innings dating back to March 14 against Colorado State ... Oklahoma is playing in its ninth straight regional final Sunday ... Susan Ogden extended her hitting streak to 11 while Ricketts stretched her hitting streak to nine.