Oklahoma Opens Super Regional With 7-2 Victory Over Arkansas

One adjustment was all it took. Just one minor change put the Sooners a win away from returning to the Women’s College World Series. They just needed a little patience in the batter’s box.

Sydney Romero led off by striking out on a high fastball, and then Jocelyn Alo popped out right after that. It appeared, at first, that Arkansas freshman pitcher Mary Haff was going to frustrate Oklahoma in her Super Regional debut but Alo noticed something after popping out. She stopped to whisper in Shay Knighten’s ear before retreating to the dugout and letting Knighten come to the plate.

Knighten hit the ball to deep left field to end the first inning, but it was the best bat contact Oklahoma had in the opening frame. It was also symbolic of what was coming.

“It was more so just words of encouragement,” Alo said. “I was like hey, you got this. You do you.”

The Sooners barraged the Razorbacks for five runs over the second and third innings, bouncing Haff from the game.

Nicole Pendley led off the bottom of the second inning with a single to center field, and then advanced to second base on a ground out by Caleigh Clifton. A single, through the right side, by Nicole Mendes put runners on the corners. An RBI sacrifice by Fale Aviu scored Pendley, and then Mendes would come home on a wild pitch.

Taking a 2-0 lead into the bottom of the third, Oklahoma was just getting warmed up. Alo led off the home half of the frame by crushing the ball over the bleachers in left field. Whatever she noticed in her first at bat paid off, both for her and Knighten who jacked the Sooners second long ball of the night right after Alo.

“I think it’s just about being mature as a hitter and making in-game adjustments,” Alo said when comparing her first and second at bats.

The back-to-back home runs would end the night for Haff, but Oklahoma wasn’t finished scoring in the 3rd. Sophomore Autumn Storms relieved Haff, and limited the damage in the third, but Mendes would score her second run of the night off an Aviu single through the right side.

After Arkansas scored in the top of the fifth, OU responded by plating two more runs in the bottom half of the frame. It was the first time Oklahoma had been scored on in the NCAA Tournament but it was a long way from being enough to pull the Hogs back into the game.

A two-out run in the bottom of the seventh pulled Arkansas to within five but that would be as far as they would make it, with 7-2 proving to be the final.

From the circle Paige Lowary drew the start and delivered her second dominating post season performance. She allowed just three hits, and one run, while striking out six batters in six innings of work.

“I think we just had a really good plan the whole week. It was just a matter of executing it,”  Lowary said about getting the draw as the starter.

Arkansas was expecting to see Lowary but not necessarily as the starter. “We were expecting her, just not that soon,” Arkansas head coach Courtney Deifel said.

“She’s an intimidating person to be in the box against,” Arkansas’ Hanna McEwen said.

The strategy of starting paid off for Gasso as the Sooners now have ace Paige Parker available for Saturday. Gasso also stated that Lowary would be available again as well.

“Oklahoma was just better than us today,” Arkansas head coach Courtney Deifel said.

Game two of the Super Regional is set for a Noon first pitch tomorrow.







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