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Oklahoma Sooners Softball: OU run-rules UMBC in the Norman Regional

OU pitchers Juarez, Lopez and Saile combined to throw a perfect game on Friday.

Coach Patty Gasso

The No. 1 seeded Oklahoma Sooners put on a softball clinic against the UMBC Retrievers, winning 12-0 in the nightcap of the first day of the Norman Regional. With the win, OU improves to 50-2 on the season and extends the nation’s longest winning streak to 40.

After the game, Patty Gasso said she was especially pleased with Nicole Mendes and Grace Lyons, who bat seventh and ninth, respectively. On the night, Mendes went 2-3 at the plate for 3 RBI, including a two-run blast in the third. Lyons also went 2-3 for 2 RBI with a two-run homer of her own.

“We need (Mendes and Lyons),” Gasso said. “They’ve been working really hard to help contribute to our offense. When we get our 7, 8, 9 in a groove, then there are no weaknesses in this lineup.”

Just how remarkable and dominant were the Sooners? All three pitchers Gasso employed against UMBC combined for a perfect game, which marks the first this instance of this ever happening in program history.

Junior lefty Giselle ‘G’ Juarez received the start in the circle for the Sooners on Friday night, and through three innings she recorded six strikeouts. Mariah Lopez and Shannon Saile stepped into the circle in the fourth and fifth innings, respectively and each notched three K’s to put the Retrievers to bed. With no hits or baserunners allowed, a perfect game was captured.

In the bottom of the first, after a successful Sydney Romero bunt and Fale Aviu sac bunt, Jocelyn Alo popped a ball up down the right field line for what looked like an inning-ending fly out. The UMBC first baseman misplayed the ball and it landed fair, allowing Romero to cross the plate and give the Sooners an early 1-0 lead.

Following a quick outing for UMBC in the top of the second, Oklahoma returned to the plate. Shay Knighten reached first after a lengthy at-bat, and two outs later, Grace Lyons drove a pitch to left center for a two-run homer. The Sooners would lead 3-0 after two.

In the third, Aviu doubled to center in the lead-off, then team captain Caleigh Clifton drilled a 2-2 pitch to left center for the second two-run dinger of the night for the Sooners. Later in the inning, Grace Green reached first on a fielder’s choice before stealing second. Nicole Mendes then stepped up to the plate and absolutely crushed the ball to right for the third two-run swing of the contest. Oklahoma would lead by a commanding score of 7-0 going forward.

The flood gates opened up completely in the fourth. With the bases loaded, Alo was walked to add a run to the Sooners’ lead. Then Kylie Lundberg singled to left to plate two more of her teammates. Next, Mendes singled to right to tack the 11th run on the board. Finally, Eliyah Flores’ ground out gave Lundberg enough room to come home, where the game’s final score of 12-0 was achieved.

Up next, Oklahoma is headed to the winners bracket to play Wisconsin on Saturday at 3 p.m. CT. The Sooners and the Badgers took polar opposite routes in Friday’s games to reach this point, but the winner in that one will advance to Sunday’s regional final, while the loser will have to take the field later in the day in an elimination match versus the UMBC-Notre Dame victor.

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