Being in the position to overcome isn’t something Oklahoma Softball has shied away from. The Sooners dropped their opener in the Norman Regional to North Dakota State and since then have found themselves with their backs against the wall multiple times. That’s why it took just the swing of a bat to stave off elimination for the third time in two days on Sunday evening.
— Oklahoma Sooners (@OU_Athletics) May 22, 2017
Having been forced to win out or go home, Oklahoma began its uphill climb by sending Arkansas packing, by a final of 5-3, on Saturday. The Sooners trailed in that game 3-2 after the opening frame but battled their way back to play on Sunday.
Next up was a rematch with NDSU early Sunday afternoon. After falling to the Bison in extras on Friday, OU set the pace early and bounced the Herd, by a final of 10-2, setting up a clash with in-state foe Tulsa.
This would be different though. The Golden Hurricane were perfect in the regional and Oklahoma would need to beat them on Sunday evening just for the opportunity to play them again on Monday for the regional championship.
Playing in their second game of the afternoon, OU found themselves down 2-0 after two frames and had seen their ace pitcher already pulled. Two errors in the first inning led to Maggie Withee crossing home plate and a solo home run by Shelby Estocado in the top of the second had Tulsa rolling and Oklahoma reeling.
A pitching change from Paige Parker to Paige Lowary, with two outs in the second, quieted the Tulsa offense but it took the Sooners until the fifth inning to push a run across. That run came off the bat of Nicole Pendley who sent a solo shot over the fence in right-center field. OU then tied the game at 2-2 in the bottom of the sixth when Caleigh Clifton scored off an RBI single from Sydney Romero. It certainly wouldn’t be the last we’d hear of Romero though.
With the game knotted at 2-2 at the end of regulation, it would that three extra innings to determine Oklahoma’s fate. A solo home run from Withee and an RBI single from her twin sister Maddie eliminated OU’s rally and put the Golden Hurricane back up by two runs.
Once more on the brink of elimination, the Sooners attacked with violence from the plate in the bottom of the tenth. It would take only four at bats for OU to force one more game. A lead-off single from Nicole Mendes rocketed into right field and then a blast over the left field fence from Clifton tied the game back up at 4-4. Next up was Shay Knighten who singled through the right side, bringing Romero to the plate. Jumping on the first pitch that came her way, Romero sent the Sooners into Monday’s championship game with a two-run homer to left field.
Overcome. It’s certainly not an enviable necessity but Oklahoma sure has made it look easy. Now they’ll face Tulsa one last time on Monday with a ton of momentum behind them and a Super Regional berth on the line. I’m not betting against them!