The No. 1 Oklahoma Sooners have swept No. 10 Texas in Austin to improve to 41-2 on the season and 12-0 in Big 12 play. With Saturday’s win, OU extended its current winning streak to 31, which not only leads the nation, but also ties the program’s best mark.
Factoring in this weekend’s games against Texas, Oklahoma has won each of the last seven series against the Longhorns. OU has also won the last 18 overall meetings versus its Red River rival. Here’s how the three contests from this latest series went down.
On Thursday, the Sooners defeated the Longhorns, 3-1 after holding surviving a Texas surge in the final inning. Freshman Grace Lyons displayed some timely heroics to finish the job.
Junior Giselle Juarez received the start in the circle for the Sooners on Thursday night. Through 7.0 IP the Arizona State transfer recorded 10 strikeouts and allowed just five hits versus 26 batters faced on the evening.
Now here’s how the first four innings went for the Sooners. Senior Caleigh Clifton was hit by a pitch in the first, then sophomore Jocelyn Alo singled up the middle for a single in the second. Next, Clifton doubled to left corner before advancing to third on a wild pitch in the fourth. In the same inning, Alo later walked to put OU runners on the corners. Unfortunately for Oklahoma, all four of those base runners were ultimately left stranded.
It wasn’t until the fifth inning that the hits finally started paying off for the Sooners. Pinch-hitter Eliyah Flores singled up the middle, then Lyons was able to reach second after a throwing error to first, putting two runners in scoring position. Finally, Sydney Romero, who’s been clutch all season, came up big once again with a single to right, plating both of her teammates to give her team a 2-0 lead.
In the fifth, fireworks started popping off for both teams. For the Sooners, senior Fale Aviu singled through the right and was subbed out for Audrie LaValley. The pinch-runner then advanced to second following a Clifton groundout. The cherry on top was pinch-hitter Kylie Lundberg’s RBI double to right center to add a bit of insurance to Oklahoma’s lead.
The Longhorns had one last gasp and were nearly successful in their comeback attempt. Texas landed a single and a double in back-to-back at-bats before a wild pitch from Juarez allowed the first run given up by the Sooners since April 5th against Baylor. Then, with one on and two outs, UT’s MK Tedder was robbed of a hit because of this sensational diving catch made by Lyons to end the ball game, 3-1 OU.
On Friday night, Texas forced Oklahoma into its first extra-inning game of the season. Once again, it was a furious frenzy to the finish, but the Sooners survived to claim the series.
Mariah Lopez got the start in the Sooners’ circle, and through 4.0 innings pitched, the junior struck out five Longhorns while giving up one earned run on six hits. In relief, Juarez returned to the circle after her monster game on Thursday and added two more K’s to her season total while only giving up one earned run.
Texas would strike first this time. In the bottom of the first, a lead-off bunt followed by a sac fly and an RBI single culminated in a quick 1-0 advantage for the Longhorns.
In the top of the second, Shay Knighten fouled a ball off the front of her helmet that also caught part of her face. It was a tense moment as the senior was down for a minute while being tended to by trainers. Eventually she walked back to the dugout on her own power. For the rest of the game, pinch-hitter Flores would replace her in the lineup while freshman Grace Green assumed her role as the Sooners’ first baseman. Knighten was seen later in the dugout a little bruised up but in healthy spirits.
The fourth inning is where the Sooners finally made their move on the scoreboard. Clifton drove a pitch to right center for a stand-up triple, followed by an Alo walk to put runners on the corners. Raegan Rogers replaced Alo at first, then the Texas catcher tried to thwart the pinch runner’s steal attempt. The throw to second was mismanaged, allowing Clifton to come home from third and tie the game. Green would step up next to plate Rogers with an RBI single after the UT outfielder stumbled in her pursuit of the pop up. OU would lead 2-1 until the bottom of the sixth.
Texas opened the sixth with a double and a single to put runners on the corners with no outs. Then a perfectly executed squeeze bunt allowed the Longhorns to tie the game up at two runs apiece. There would be nothing going for both squads in the seventh, sending this game into extras.
In the eighth, Romero and Aviu used back-to-back doubles to put two runners in scoring position. Team captain Clifton flew out to right, giving Romero enough time to cross the plate. While Texas was protesting the call, Aviu stealthily approached home before sprinting down the line. By the time the Longhorns realized their mistake of not calling a timeout, it was too late, and the fourth Sooner run would go down as a stolen base, and at home of all places. Oklahoma took a 4-2 lead into the bottom of the final frame.
UT refused to go down quietly, but ultimately its rally attempt came up just short. After a throwing error led to a Longhorn run, the Texas coach elected to go for the tie, sending another runner home. Oklahoma catcher Elam was in the right place at the right time, and tagged out the last remaining threat to finally put Game 2 to bed. Sooners prevailed, 4-3.
Grace Lyons also came up with another huge play in the final inning for the second night in a row. This freshman is quickly becoming a household name with her big plays in big moments.
For Game 3 on Saturday, Shannon Saile got the start in the circle for the Sooners. The FIU transfer fanned five of the 27 batters she faced, and gave up only two runs on four hits. The combination of Saile’s strong performance and Oklahoma’s power at the plate led to a dominant 9-2 victory.
The day’s scoring began in the top of the second. Alo singled up the middle and was followed up by Green’s two-run shot to left. The home run was Oklahoma’s first of the weekend, but it wouldn’t be the last. OU led 2-0 after the side retired.
Texas would quickly answer in the bottom of the second frame with back-to-back doubles, bringing UT’s Iakopo home. The game would remain 2-1 in Oklahoma’s favor through four.
In the fifth, after an Aviu single and a Clifton walk, Alo put her back into her swing and left no doubt as soon as she made contact. The three-run bomb landed in the street beyond the stadium, and extended Oklahoma’s lead over Texas, 5-1.
If they weren’t already open, the flood gates were blown off their hinges in the seventh. First, Lyons doubled to right, then Romero drove her in with a triple to left center. Aviu singled to center, plating her fellow senior. Next, Clifton and Alo were walked to load the bases before Green singled to left, as seen below. The resulting lead at this point was a whopping 9-1.
After its second pitching change of the game, Texas would finally put an end to the Sooners’ onslaught. The Longhorns also managed to plate another run on the board in the seventh before it was all said and done. Still, OU proved how far the gap between the two programs is in Game 3, winning by seven.
Up next, top ranked Oklahoma travels to Wichita State to take on the Shockers this coming Wednesday, April 24, at 6 p.m. CT. Last season in Norman, WSU led OU 6-0 in the sixth inning, but a furious Sooners rally in the bottom of the penultimate frame resulted in an epic 7-6 comeback victory. On paper, this game figures to be a well-earned reprieve after a challenging yet successful series in Austin.
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