The No. 4 seeded Oklahoma Sooners continue their hot streak as they cruise past the No. 13 seeded Arkansas Razorbacks 7-2 in the opening match of the Norman Super Regional. Both the pitching and the hitting was on point for the Sooners on the day. Oklahoma just needs to win just one more game against the Razorbacks to advance to the Women’s College World Series.
The game attendance was 1,938, which marks the third-largest crowd in Marita Hynes Park history. The support for this team is at all-time high levels, and the players clearly feed off the crowd’s energy.
Today's attendance: 1⃣9⃣3⃣8⃣!— Oklahoma Softball (@OU_Softball) May 25, 2018
That marks the third-largest crowd in OU softball history — thank you, Sooner Nation! pic.twitter.com/UFNUnqYZZH
Paige Lowary got the start in the circle for the Sooners on Friday. Lowary needed just 70 pitches to record six strikeouts and allowed only three hits for another impressive performance through 6.0 innings pitched. Sophomore Mariah Lopez stepped in the circle to seal the deal in the seventh inning.
Several Sooners saw success at the plate on the day. Jocelyn Alo, the nation’s leader in home runs coming into the day, recorded her 27th homer of the year. The blast gave Oklahoma all kinds of momentum, and that was evident with the very next at-bat.
Shay Knighten followed Alo’s dinger with one of her own. The Sooners as a team are lethal at the plate, and when the runs come in they have a tendency to come in droves.
Nicole Pendley got things started for the Sooners in the bottom of the second inning with a single to center field. After a Caleigh Clifton groundout advanced Pendley to second, Nicole Mendes hit a follow-up single. Mendes stole second shortly after, putting two Sooners in scoring position with one out. As Fale Aviu grounded out, Pendley used the opportunity to run home, giving the Sooners their first run of the game. An Arkansas wild pitch moments later would allow the fleet-footed Mendes to add a second run on the board. Oklahoma would eventually leave two on, but the damage was done as the Sooners would go up 2-0 through two innings.
The bottom of the third started with not one, but two bangs. Alo hit a solo shot beyond the left field corner. Knighten followed her up immediately with a solo blast of her own. The Sooners took a quick 4-0 lead with no outs in the third. Later, Mendes would smash a pitch off the wall for a triple. Aviu would then send her home with an RBI single, giving Oklahoma a 5-0 lead.
Arkansas recorded it’s first run in the top of the fifth. After a lead-off single was followed up by a hit-by-pitch, the Razorbacks were in business with two on and no outs. A flyout advanced both Razorbacks to put them in scoring position, then a groundout past second base allowed Arkansas pinch-runner Sydney Parr to run home, closing Oklahoma’s lead to 5-1.
In the bottom of the fifth, two Sooners found themselves on base quickly as Mendes reached first on a single and Aviu nabbed first on a fielder’s choice that resulted in an error to second. A mishandle on the pitch by the Arkansas catcher allowed both Sooners to move up into scoring position. Later, Kelsey Arnold would record an RBI groundout, followed by a Lea Wodach RBI single via a throwing error.
The Razorbacks would score their second and final run in the top of the seventh. After an Arkansas single with two outs, the Razorbacks’ Hannah McEwen would record an RBI double. The Sooners would take care of business with the final out one at-bat later, for a final margin of 7-2.
After the Oklahoma Sooners dismantled the Arkansas Razorbacks in Game 1 of the Norman Super Regional, the two squads are scheduled to meet again on Saturday at 12:00 p.m. CT, and the game will be aired on ESPN. If Oklahoma wins that game, the Sooners will punch their ticket to a third straight WCWS, where they will seek to win a third straight national championship.
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