Despite four errors in the field, the Oklahoma Sooners more or less breezed by the Baylor Bears 6-3 on Thursday night in Oklahoma City, starting the Women’s College World Series on a high note.
Paige Parker was absolutely lights-out for the Sooners, throwing six innings of five-hit ball with only a single unearned run on her ledger. While Paige Lowary did labor through the seventh, both her runs were also unearned. If OU can clean up its infield defense, it could absolutely take this all the way.
Oklahoma opened the scoring with a decisive four runs in the bottom of the first. OU loaded the bases on two singles and a walk, then tallied a first run on a Fale Aviu sac fly. What looked like a modest inning turned into a crooked number fast when Nicole Pendley (who I accidentally referred to as Shelby, her graduated older sister) then hit an opposite-field blast, scoring three and putting the Sooners up 4-0.
The defending #WCWS champs got off to a fast start thanks to Nicole Pendley going oppo: https://t.co/mKW6FPMM5D— espnW (@espnW) June 2, 2017
Baylor answered with a run of its own in the second, one that initially reached only because of a Sydney Romero error from third. Riley Browder scored on a fielder’s choice with just one out, but Parker then induced two quick flyouts to limit the damage to a run.
Aviu picked up another RBI in the third, singling home Caleigh Clifton from second. OU loaded the bases with no one out in the fourth inning, but was denied a big inning and only managed one more run when Clifton was drilled by a pitch. Still, the Sooners had a comfortable 6-1 lead and maintained the margin until the seventh.
Lowary came on to finish the game for Parker and allowed a leadoff single to Maddison Kettler. But her defense let her down with the next batter, as a Romero throwing error sent Jessie Scroggins to second and Kettler to third. Both ended up scoring on another error and a fielder’s choice, but Lowary induced a popup from Taylor Ellis and a groundout from Kyla Walker to end the game and the threat.
The win sets up a Friday-night matchup with the Washington Huskies, who upset Oregon on Thursday. First pitch is scheduled for 6:30 p.m, with the winner through to the semifinals.