A Friday night rainstorm washed away the second half of the Big 12 Softball Championship, but the Oklahoma Sooners still came away with the automatic bid for the NCAA Softball Tournament (not that they needed it).
With just one victory logged over the weekend, the Sooners improved to 49-2 on the year and extended their winning streak to 39 games. It’s the best stretch within a single season in Division I history.
This was supposed to be a weekend recap, but here’s the quick rundown of what happened in the limited action:
Big 12 Pitcher of the Year Giselle Juarez received the start in the circle against Texas Tech, and through five innings pitched, she notched 11 strikeouts to just one hit. Shannon Saile stepped up in relief to close it out, recording two K’s for herself and preserving the shutout.
Both OU and TTU were scoreless through the first frame, but in the bottom of the second, Lynnsie Elam’s squeeze bunt plated Big 12 Freshman of the Year Grace Green. A subsequent wild pitch allowed an opportunistic Nicole Mendes to also come home, giving the Sooners a 2-0 lead going into the third.
Oklahoma loaded up the bases in the third with Fale Aviu, Jocelyn Alo and Big 12 Defensive Player of the Year Caleigh Clifton. Another Red Raiders wild pitch gave Aviu the green light to run home, extending OU’s lead. Shay Knighten then paid off the rest of the baserunners with a two RBI double to left center, making it 5-0 Sooners at this juncture of the contest.
Following a Clifton walk and Alo single to center in the sixth, Green recorded the first triple of her young career to put the Sooners squarely in run-rule territory. The game would indeed end earlier than originally planned as Knighten stepped into the box and singled to left, capping this one off at 8-0, Oklahoma.
Win column, #Sooners!— Oklahoma Softball (@OU_Softball) May 10, 2019
Oklahoma takes down Texas Tech to extend its winning steak to 39 games, marking the longest streak in NCAA Division I history over the span of one season! #ChampionshipMindset pic.twitter.com/yyHRLlOQqO
OU’s second opponent in pool play was Kansas, and although the game went unfinished, the Sooners looked to be well on their way towards another successful outing. Mariah Lopez started this one, and through three innings pitched, the junior recorded seven strikeouts with just two hits allowed.
OU opened up the scoring in the top of the first with back-to-back doubles from Big 12 Player of the Year Sydney Romero and Aviu. Then in the second, a string of hits from Grace Lyons, Romero and Aviu netted four RBI, pushing Oklahoma out in front 5-0.
In the top of the fourth, the Sooners would load the bases after a Kansas error allowed Aviu to reach first. Clifton and Alo followed her up with back-to-back walks. At this point, the light rain had developed into a heavy downpour, leading to the game’s suspension for the night. On Saturday morning, the poor field conditions ended any chance to resume this game, as well as any further tournament play. Also, all stats accumulated from the suspended contest have been nullified, on account of the game not going the required length of at least five full innings.
Ultimately, the Big 12 ruled Oklahoma — the regular season conference champion — as the automatic bid qualifier for the NCAA Softball Tournament.
Up next, Oklahoma will find out which teams will be joining them in the Norman Regional bracket on ESPN2’s Selection Sunday show beginning at 8 p.m. CT. In all likelihood, the Sooners will enter the NCAA Softball Tournament as the No. 1 overall seed. Regional play will run from May 17-19.
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