On Sunday afternoon, the No. 1 seeded Oklahoma Sooners (48-2) handled the upset-minded Wichita State Shockers to the tune of a massive 24-7 victory. With the emphatic win, OU claims the Norman Regional title and advances to the Super Regional round.
— Oklahoma Softball (@OU_Softball) May 23, 2021
1️⃣1️⃣ straight Super Regional appearances. We’ll see you back at Marita Hynes Field next week! #ChampionshipMindset | #RoadtoWCWS pic.twitter.com/vKFbrfciqR
Patty Gasso made the interesting decision to start sophomore Olivia Rains in the circle on Sunday, and it cost the Sooners early as WSU quickly built a 3-0 lead. The Hall of Fame head coach then made another questionable call by pulling Rains for sophomore Alanna Thiede, who eventually gave up another run. While both players have the talent, their collective inexperience coming into the day proved to be a bad mix for such an important stage.
Fortunately for the top-ranked Crimson & Cream, freshman righty Nicole May was finally called upon to quiet the Wichita State bats and calm things down for her team. In 6.1 innings pitched, May recorded four strikeouts while facing 26 batters and gave up three runs on six hits.
In the top of the second, the Oklahoma offense responded to a 4-0 deficit in a major way. To get things started, senior Lynnsie Elam was hit by a pitch before sophomore Mackenzie Donihoo singled to left. Another HBP sent senior Jana Johns to first to load the bases, and senior Nicole Mendes logged a two-RBI single to put the Sooners on the board. Freshman Tiare Jennings followed her up with a two-RBI double of her own, tying the game up at four runs apiece.
Next, National Player of the Year finalist Jocelyn Alo was walked, and sophomore Kinzie Hansen singled to plate Jennings and give Oklahoma its first lead of the day. At this point, the Shockers switched pitchers, but immediately gave up yet another run on a wild pitch. Later, junior Grace Lyons and Elam each recorded an RBI on a double and single, respectively, extending their lead to 8-4 going into the bottom of the frame.
In the top of the third, Alo and Hansen each reached on singles before freshman Jayda Coleman plated one of her teammates on a groundout to second. Star shortstop Lyons then went yard with this two-run bomb to left.
!!@grace_lyons5 with her 1️⃣3️⃣ homer of the season!— Oklahoma Softball (@OU_Softball) May 23, 2021
MID 3 | OU 11, WSU 4 | ESPN pic.twitter.com/Q2vTLOasu4
In the top of the fourth, Jennings — the Big 12 Freshman of the Year — launched this three-run bomb after Donihoo and Mendes reached the bases in their respective at-bats to give the Sooners their biggest lead of the game.
️ She's a ️@_tiarejennings with a three-run shot for her 2️⃣5️⃣th home run of the season!— Oklahoma Softball (@OU_Softball) May 23, 2021
T4 | OU 14, WSU 5 | ESPN pic.twitter.com/wdYxg22LdQ
A pair of homers in the bottom of the third and fourth innings added three runs to Wichita State’s score, but it simply wasn’t enough to keep up with the scorching hot OU bats. For good measure, senior Taylon Snow, Lyons, Elam combined for three homers and five RBI in the top of the seventh. After a bases loaded walk plated another Sooner, sophomore Rylie Boone came in to pinch and hit a grand slam to send the Shockers home with a record-setting loss. In the end, Patty Gasso’s group did its job to win the Norman Regional.
The had to get in on the fun— Oklahoma Softball (@OU_Softball) May 23, 2021
Back-to-back homers for the #Sooners, third of the inning and Elam's third of the weekend!
T7 | OU 19, WSU 7 | ESPN pic.twitter.com/0LY8Y1UjHS
Next weekend, Oklahoma will face the winner of the Seattle Regional in the Norman Super Regional, meaning either the 16-seeded Washington Huskies or the Michigan Wolverines will be headed to Marita Hynes Field for the Norman Super Regional.
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