Things didn’t start off as quickly for Oklahoma on Friday night as it did in their Women’s College World Series opener on Thursday. The Sooners actually had to wait until the second inning to plate a run this time around, and they wouldn’t equal their first inning scoring against Baylor in seven total innings against Washington. The end result was the same though as OU walked off the field with a win over sixth-seeded Washington and earned a much deserved day off on Saturday.
After getting sat down in order to lead off the game, Fale Aviu became the game’s first baserunner when she was hit by a pitch to lead off the second. She would eventually make her way to third, off a Nicole Pendley single and a fielder’s choice from Sydney Romero, and then come home on a bunt single from Lea Wodach.
In one of the crazier plays of the tournament, Washington catcher Morganne Flores appeared to field the ball inside the batter’s box and then had to make a diving attempt at Aviu who cut way inside of the base path to avoid the tag.
“I work on it in practice every day, so me and Lea, she always gets mad at me, and even today they all got mad, but I mean, it worked out today, so just trying to score” Aviu said of her tip-toe scoring play.
“I’ll have to look back at the film,” Washington head coach Heather Tarr said. “I don’t even know if it was fair or foul, but I thought it was a good instinct given the case. She saw the runner coming right at her, to try to pick it up and just take the easy out there, but the runner found a way to avoid the tag, and unfortunately they scored first.”
“Yeah, I just picked up the bunt, saw her coming at me, and you know, like Coach Tarr said, just my instincts, I wanted to tag her,” Flores said as she recanted her version of the play. “She just fooled me going around me. That’s pretty much it.”
“But you know, that wasn’t the game,” Tarr emphasized.
Meanwhile, Paige Parker was working her magic from the circle as she paced through the first eight batters she faced by striking out four of them. The Huskies finally recorded their first hit, with two outs in the third, off the bat of Kelly Burdick who was hitting in the #9 spot. The single to shallow center field would be wasted though as Ali Agular would fly out to right in the next at bat to end the inning.
“Paige thrives in this situation, in this setting,” Oklahoma head coach Patty Gasso said about the decision to start Parker on back-to-back nights. “This was a big game. She’s a hot pitcher right now. We knew that we had everybody — everybody was hot and ready to come in, Mariah (Lopez), Paige Lowary, but Paige Parker was handling her business and did a great job doing it, so it was really a no-brainer at this point.”
It was pretty quiet on the base paths for both sides until the Sooners struck again in the top of the 5th. Kelsey Arnold led off the frame by reaching on a fielding error from Washington third base Taylor Van Zee. A two-out single from Shay Knighten moved Arnold to second and then she scored on a Fale Aviu single to right field to give OU a 2-0 lead.
An inning later Sydney Romero made it a 3-0 game with a solo homerun to left field that led off the inning. It was just an insurance run though as the Huskies would never be able to overcome Oklahoma’s second run of the game.
Romero made it 3-0 with a home run to left
Aguilar sent a solo shot over the fence in right field in the bottom of the sixth to put Washington on the board but that would be it for their scoring. Taylor Van Zee would lead off the bottom of the seventh with a single to left but Parker got Julia DuPonte to fly out to center before giving way to Paige Lowary to close out the game. Lowary made quick work of the two batters she faced, striking out Trysten Melhart and getting Kirstyn Thomas to ground out to first end the game.
The Sooners will play next at 2:30 on Sunday afternoon against one of the two winners of Saturday’s elimination games. Options for Oklahoma’s next opponent are Oregon, Baylor, or LSU, with the Tigers having the inside track, needing only to win once.