It took an extra game to do it, but after dropping the first game on Sunday, 2-1, the No. 1 seeded Oklahoma Sooners beat the Wisconsin Badgers, 2-0, in a winner-take-all match for the Norman Regional Title. With the victory, OU advances to the NCAA Super Regionals.
Although Wisconsin’s 2019 season has come to an end, the Badgers were able to snap Oklahoma’s 41-game winning streak, marking the end of the longest in-season run in Division I history. All credit goes to the Badgers, who were clearly not intimidated by the sport’s most dominant program.
In Sunday’s Game 1, Mariah Lopez received the start in the circle for the Sooners. Through 4.2 innings, the junior amassed six strikeouts and gave up two hits before Shannon Saile and Giselle Juarez both stepped into the circle. Eventually, the Badgers made Oklahoma pay for their unusually inconsistent pitching.
In the bottom of the first, Sydney Romero took a swing at the very first pitch she saw and sent it flying to left for a lead-off solo home run. Right away, Oklahoma led Wisconsin 1-0 after one. Unfortunately for the Sooners, that’s all the run production that would come their way for the remainder of the game.
Wisconsin finally put together a productive inning against the Sooners in the sixth with the successful execution of two separate squeeze plays. ‘G’ Juarez replaced Saile in the circle, but was unable to keep the Badgers from crossing home plate. Oklahoma’s final comeback attempts in the bottom of the sixth and seventh innings were ultimately stymied for a 2-1 loss.
In Game 2, Oklahoma played as the designated away team, and this time the pitching and defense turned in a much more focused performance. Also, Juarez started for the third time of the regional and proved why she’s the Sooners’ ace in the circle with eight strikeouts and no runs allowed. ‘G’ is now 24-0 on the season when she starts for the Sooners.
In the top of the third, a Lynnsie Elam lead-off double and Grace Lyons sac ground out put pinch runner Raegan Rogers on third. Romero then flew out to deep left to give Rogers enough room to race home, giving Oklahoma a 1-0 lead.
With two outs in the fourth, Grace Green absolutely hammered a pitch to left to double the Sooners’ lead. This was the sixth home run of the regional for Oklahoma.
While Wisconsin never seriously threatened Oklahoma like they did in the early contest, OU had a chance to add to its score in the top of the seventh with two runners in scoring position and no outs. The Badgers’ pitching and defense held firm and kept the Sooners at bay, as the final rounded out to a 2-0 regional-clinching victory for OU.
Up next, Oklahoma is headed to the Super Regional round of the 2019 NCAA Softball Tournament, where the Sooners will host the winner of the Evanston Regional. The opponent and schedule are still TBD.
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