It’s one down and three to go for Patty Gasso and the Oklahoma softball team. After the Sooners dropped an extra inning affair to North Dakota State, in the Norman Regional Opener, they were forced to take the long road to try and reach their seventh consecutive Super Regional.
That road began on Saturday night, against Arkansas, in what will be the first of four elimination games OU must survive in order to advance. Any loss along the way and it’s off to summer vacation for the defending national champs, but four consecutive wins puts Oklahoma back in the hunt for another trip to the College World Series.
Sydney Romero and Nicole Pendley both knocked in runs in the top of the first inning to produce a 2-0 OU lead but Arkansas answered in the bottom half of the frame to take a 3-2 lead, thanks in part to a two-RBI single from Tori Cooper.
Kelsey Arnold scored on a Shay Knighten sacrifice in the top of the second to even the game. Oklahoma went back in front in the top of the Nicole Mendes reached in the top of the fourth and then worked her way home on three consecutive wild pitches. Knighten then delivered another RBI in the top of the sixth, with an infield single, to boost OU’s lead to 5-3.
Paige Parker, Nicole Mendes, and Paige Lowary would all work their way out of some jams, in relief pitching, to hold the Razorbacks scoreless after the opening frame. Lowary tossed the final 2 1/3 innings to secure the victory and send Arkansas home.
Up next for Oklahoma is a rematch with North Dakota State on Sunday afternoon. Should the Sooners advance past that they would need to beat Tulsa twice to punch their ticket to a Super Regional.