Heading out west for the Mary Nutter Collegiate Classic, ranked teams awaited an opportunity to prove themselves against non-conference foes. Taking to the diamond for the first game of a double header, the No. 4 Oklahoma Sooners stepped up to the plate against BYU. Looking to strike first and take control of the game, Grace Green singled to score Sydney Romero. Claiming a 1-0 lead, the defense stepped onto the field backing up Giselle Juarez in the circle.
Committing a single error on the defensive side of the ball, the Sooners refused to give up a run through a complete seven inning game. Consistently making the correct decision, Juarez propelled the team to the first win of the classic and continued to sustain her undefeated record.
Although the game remained a one run affair through four hard fought innings, Oklahoma flashed a bit a experience and that championship mindset in the final three frames. Tacking on a run in the fifth off a wild pitch, Romero crossed the plate for the second time and would later add another to complete the trifecta in the sixth on another wild pitch. Between her two runs, the Sooners plated another two to build an insurmountable lead.
Putting the Cougars away, Patty Gasso drew the task of focusing her team on the next challenge — the No. 2 UCLA Bruins.
Stepping up to the plate as the visiting team once again while facing Rachel Garcia, the hurler earned three quick outs for the Bruins. Switching to the defensive side of the equation, Mariah Lopez trotted out toward the circle. Picking up the ball, the Sooner returned the favor setting up a pitcher’s dual.
Scoring the first run of the evening, Fale Aviu blasted the ball up and over the wall with two outs to give OU a narrow 1-0 lead and a bit of momentum in the second inning. Ending any chance of scoring again Garcia struck out Nicole Mendes as the two traded sides. Once again, Mariah Lopez appeared unfazed with the challenge that lie ahead. Returning to the circle, the right-handed pitcher faced three batters before retiring the side as the game barreled into the third inning.
It was here that the tide changed. Figuring Lopez out in the circle, the UCLA offense came alive. Manufacturing a bit of offense, the Bruins scored three runs in the bottom of the frame. Doubling up in the bottom of the fourth, Patty Gasso stared down a growing 6-0 deficit but decided to let Lopez work out of the trouble. Unfortunately, the damage had been done as Nicole Mendes and Shannon Saile offered up a relief effort to finish the game.
Coming up short on the offense, the Sooners dropped their second game of the season to a top five opponent, this time 7-1 at the hands of UCLA. The road ahead remains a difficult one as No. 13 Arizona waits in the wings.