With a winning streak that has already eclipsed the school record and a star-studded lineup that features mostly underclassmen, Oklahoma softball is now just one win away from the national championship thanks to a 3-2 win over Auburn on Monday night.
While winning has just about become second nature for this squad, the way they do it varies from night to night because there are so many key players that can produce in any given instant. On Monday night it was two freshmen that provided the defining moments of the game, with one coming from the plate and the other from the field.
Sydney Romero turned a scoreless game into a 3-0 Oklahoma lead when she took a 1-0 pitch out of the park over the left-center field wall. Kelsey Arnold had started the inning by drawing a walk and then Erin Miller ran out a bunt to put the runners on for Romero to knock in.
"I just had my game plan." Romero said about the shot. "I was talking with my hitting coach before, and we had a game plan and I stuck with it and executed."
While the third inning home run brought elation to Oklahoma's dugout, it was excruciating for the Tigers. "Yeah, I mean, we've been watching her the whole series, and I think that obviously she's a great hitter," Auburn starting pitcher Lexi Davis said. "I made one bad pitch that she took advantage of, and that's -- we unfortunately had two on base, and I think that I wish I could have made that bunt play, and if I didn't get that walk on base, then it would have been a whole different story."
Having not been shutout all season long, Auburn wasn't about to go away quietly. In their final at bat the Tigers were able to plate two runs after Carlee Wallace drew a walk to lead off the inning and Jade Rodes homered to deep center in the next at bat.
Oklahoma's 3-2 lead was in serious jeopardy with Auburn having runners on the corners but a heads up play by Shay Knighten thwarted the rally when she rocketed a fielder's choice from Courtney Shea back towards home plate allowing Lea Wodach to tag out Casey McCrackin who represented the tying run. Tiffany Howard popped out on the next at bat to complete the win and put the Sooners up 1-0 in the series.
The Sooners winning streak currently stands at a school-record 31 games.