After back-to-back run-rulings, the No. 2 Oklahoma Sooners swept the Utah Utes in Salt Lake City to improve to 32-2 on the season and extend the nation’s longest active winning streak to 22. The two-game weekend series turned into a Sunday double header after inclement conditions pushed Saturday’s game back a day.
In the top of the first of Game 1, senior Caleigh Clifton smacked a two-out double before advancing to third. Fellow senior Shay Knighten followed her up with a double of her own to bring CC home. Freshman Grace Green would then single to right, ticking another run on the board for the Sooners. Oklahoma would lead 2-0 going into the bottom of the frame.
On the other side, junior Shannon Saile got the start in the circle. The FIU transfer pitched a shutout through three innings while recording five strikeouts and improving her season record to 6-1.
After a couple blank innings, the runs poured in on both sides in the fourth. At the top, Oklahoma’s Jocelyn Alo and Nicole Mendes advanced with back-to-back walks before Lynnsie Elam jacked a three-run homer to left. The Sooners weren’t done scoring as Grace Lyons was also walked, followed by a Sydney Romero double. Fale Aviu would then record a sac fly, sending Lyons home to push OU’s lead up to 6-0.
In the bottom of the fourth, Utah would answer Oklahoma’s four runs in the frame with two of their own, making it a 6-2 game going into the fifth. Saile was replaced by Giselle Juarez, who kept the Utes scoreless the rest of the way.
After a walk for Green with just one out in the fifth, Mendes and Elam would combine for back-to-back triples to extend the lead to 8-2. The ball was really popping off the Sooners’ bats all day long.
In the top of the sixth, Aviu would get the lead-off single to right. Clifton stepped up to the plate next and absolutely launched one to center for a two-run bomb. After Knighten, Alo and Raegan Rogers all loaded the bases, freshman Sami Skelly came in to pinch hit for Elam. Her at-bat resulted in a sac fly, adding yet another run on the board. The Sooners’ lead swelled to 11-2, which would prove to be the final margin of Game 1.
Mariah Lopez got the start in the circle of Game 2. The junior struck out three Utes in 3.1 innings while giving up three earned runs before Mendes replaced her in the circle to close it out. With the win, Lopez improves to 12-1 on the year.
Once again, the Sooners jumped ahead of the Utes right out of the gate with a 2-0 lead in the top of the first. However, this time the two initial scores would come via the second two-run Clifton homer of the day.
In the third, Aviu and Clifton recorded back-to-back singles. Knighten flied out to center, but not before successfully advancing both runners. Green would then knock a single to bring home Aviu, making the lead 3-0, Oklahoma.
The Utes would immediately answer the hot Sooner lineup in the bottom of the third frame. A lead-off walk for Utah’s Faulk was followed up by a Noskin triple and a Dickman sac fly, ultimately culminating in two runs scored before Lopez and the Oklahoma defense clamped down for good. Oklahoma took a 3-2 lead into the fourth.
The flood gates burst open in the top of the fourth for the Sooners. Alo got the party started with a lead-off solo home run. Next, Mendes hit for a single before advancing to second on a wild pitch. An Elam walk and Lyons sac bunt then put two runners in scoring position. Romero quickly made them both count with a triple to center. Next, Aviu singled to right, plating Romero. Following Aviu, Clifton kept her bat on fire by smashing her third two-run homer of the day. The scoring festivities weren’t over yet, as the inning came to a head when Rogers, Green and Alo loaded up the bases, giving Mendes the opportunity for a grand slam. One dinger up the center later completed the 10-run inning for Oklahoma, extending OU’s lead to a commanding 13-2.
The Utes would score once more in the bottom of the fourth, but the day undoubtedly belonged to the Sooners.
Caleigh Clifton had herself quite a Sunday with her three separate two-run homers. Through 34 games, Sydney Romero maintains her team lead in home runs (13), batting average (.442), and total RBI (34).
Up next, Oklahoma returns to Norman for a three-game series against Baylor beginning this Friday, April 5th. The Bears are the last team to beat the Sooners at Marita Hynes Field during the regular season (2017), but OU has since won six straight meetings with BU overall.
Follow Crimson & Cream Machine on Twitter!