Oklahoma improved to 9-0 on the season with an exciting win in Tucson, Arizona against the 11th ranked Arizona State Sun Devils. Playing a ranked opponent for the first time this season, there were questions as to how good Patty Gasso’s squad was after a hot start to the season saw them rise to the #2 ranking. Those questions seem to have been answered Friday night in the desert.
The Sun Devils very much looked the part of a Women’s College World Series contender and this game very much looked like a high stakes postseason contest. After two scoreless innings ASU took its only lead of the night when Makenna Harper went deep to right field in the bottom of the third. It was the first hit in a 3-for-3 night for Harper from the plate.
Freshman Tiare Jennings sent a two-run blast over the the left field wall, in the top of the fourth, to put the Sooners on the board and in front 2-1. The score would remain that way until the two powerhouse programs slugged their way to a furious finish in the seventh.
Nicole Mendes and Jocelyn Alo each homered in the top of the seventh. Mendes went deep to right field while Alo drove one deep to left center. It was the only hit of the night for both seniors and, for Alo, it extended her hitting streak to 23-consecutive games.
Taking a 5-1 lead into the bottom half of the seventh, Arizona State had one last opportunity and nearly took full advantage of it. DeNae Chatman drove in Jazmine Hill with a double to center field to cut into the Sooner lead. Then the Sun Devils got into striking distance when Harper posted her third hit of the night, an RBI single that scored Chatman.
With Chatman representing the tying run at first base, and no outs recorded, Gasso relieved former ASU standout Giselle “G” Juarez from the pitching circle and went with Shannon Saile to close it out. Saile squashed the rally by recording two strikeouts and getting senior Bella Loomis to pop up to second base after an epic battle that saw her foul off seven consecutive pitches.
Juaraz was triumphant in her return to Arizona State. The senior hurler picked up the win after throwing six full innings. She was responsible for all three of the Sun Devil runs but also struck out 10 batters while improving her season record to 2-0.
The Sooners will remain in Arizona for the weekend but will move to Phoenix where they’ll play New Mexico and Grand Canyon on Saturday before capping the weekend with Portland State on Sunday.
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