Absent of ace pitcher Paige Parker in the circle, Oklahoma’s softball team saw Auburn scatter three runs over seven innings to build a 3-0 lead. The Sooners rallied in the bottom of the seventh but came up just short as second-ranked Auburn escaped in the opener of the Puerto Vallarta College Challenge.
After dropping two of three games to Oklahoma in last summer’s Women’s College World Series championship the Tigers received a measure of revenge on Thursday afternoon.
Auburn got on the board in the top of the first when Courtney Shea singled to center scoring Carlee Wallace. Kendall Veach went yard in the top of the third, and then again in the top of the seventh, to eventually give Auburn their 3-0 lead.
The defending national champions didn’t go away quietly though as Oklahoma turned the seventh inning into a nail-biter. Nicole Pendley and Sydney Romero led off the bottom half of the frame with back-to-back singles and then advanced to second and third on a sacrifice. Freshman Vanessa Taukeiaho entered the game as a pinch hitter and delivered a two-RBI single to right, pulling the Sooners to within 3-2. However, back-to-back strikeouts by Kelsey Arnold and Caleigh Clifton left Taukeiaho stranded and ended the contest.
Paige Lowary went the distance for the Sooners, who supposedly didn’t want to throw Parker against the Tigers in light of potential postseason match-ups, and fared pretty well in her debut. She walked five batters, gave up the three runs, but also struck out eleven. Despite taking the loss, her performance goes a long way in adding quality depth for Oklahoma in the pitching circle.
Up next for the Sooners is BYU (1-0) at 4:00 PM (Central).