No. 1 Oklahoma softball returned to Marita Hynes Field on Sunday for the final of the Norman Regional against Wichita State with the Shockers needing to defeat the Sooners twice after Patty Gasso’s squad won a close one between the two teams on Saturday.
In a surprising decision, Gasso elected to give the start to sophomore Olivia Rains and she would struggle allowing three runs and only recording one out in the opening frame before being removed in favor of fellow sophomore Alanna Thiede. Thiede would only get one out herself and allow another run before freshman Nicole May (13-1) stepped into the circle to get the final out and end the inning at 4-0 Wichita State.
But, after an empty first trip to the plate, Oklahoma would cut loose in the second frame striking for eight runs. Right fielder Nicole Mendes got it started with a two-run single followed by a two-run double from second baseman Tiare Jennings. First baseman Kinzie Hansen then picked up a run-scoring knock and designated player Jocelyn Alo came across on a wild pitch. Shortstop Grace Lyons and catcher Lynnsie Elam would both tack on RBI hits before inning’s end to have the Sooners out in front 8-4.
Oklahoma would go for three more runs in the third with one coming across on a fielder’s choice and Lyons connecting on a two-run home run to left field. The Sooners led 11-4 at the midway point of the third frame.
After the Shockers got a run on a solo home run by designated player Lauren Mills in the bottom of the third, Oklahoma would get it right back and then some in the fourth on a three-run shot by Jennings to push the Sooners’ lead out to 14-5.
Wichita State first baseman Neleigh Herring would connect the following inning on a two-run blast off of May to cut the deficit to 14-7 at the end of four innings.
The score would remain there into the seventh when the Sooners would add onto their lead in big fashion starting with two two-run home runs from Jennings and Lyons to balloon the lead out to 18-7. Oklahoma wouldn’t stop there by any stretch striking for six more on another home run, a solo shot from Elam, a bases loaded walk from Jennings and then a grand slam from Rylie Boone – all still without a single out recorded.
May would then record the final three outs to finish the game off with the Sooners winning by the lopsided margin of 24-7.
The win pushes Oklahoma to 48-2 on the season and punches their ticket to the Super Regionals for the eleventh straight season. After a rough early start, this game was domination from the second inning on. This Sooners team continues to meet every challenge in front of them as they get one step closer to reaching their ultimate goal.
Oklahoma will now await the winner of the Seattle Regional in either No. 16 Washington or Michigan next week in the Super Regionals. Sooners Wire will provide more information on opponent and start times when they become available.