No. 1 Oklahoma softball returned to the diamond at Hall of Fame Stadium in Oklahoma City on Saturday afternoon looking to complete the clean sweep of conference titles by winning the Big 12 tournament final against No. 9 Oklahoma State.
After a highly contested and emotional three-game set in Stillwater last weekend, the anticipation was high for this one and the atmosphere represented that to be a big crowd that had a significant Sooners lean.
Senior Shannon Saile (16-0) would get the start and do a good job working out of trouble through the first four innings, frequently leaving runners stranded on base in key moments. She would exit in the fifth after allowing a pair of solo home runs, with freshman pitcher Nicole May relieving her to record the final four outs of the game.
Oklahoma wouldn’t wait long to get the bats going as they struck for three runs in the bottom of the first. Center fielder Jayda Coleman got the scoring started coming across on a wild pitch followed by RBI hits from second baseman Tiare Jennings and first baseman Taylon Snow later in the inning. The Sooners would go on to hold a 3-0 lead at the end of two frames.
Oklahoma would add onto their lead in the third with a solo home run from catcher Kinzie Hansen, her fifth of the tournament and 20th of the season, and a run coming in on a squeeze bunt from shortstop Grace Lyons. They would tack on another with a run coming across on a fielder’s choice in the fourth to have the advantage sitting at 6-0 heading into the late innings.
The Cowgirls’ bats would finally come to life in the fifth with a pair of solo home runs from shortstop Kiley Naomi and first baseman Alysen Febrey. Second baseman Hayley Busby looked to have made it a third with a drive to center, but Sooners center fielder Jayda Coleman went up and over the wall to rob the home run. Freshman Nicole May would then enter for Saile to record the final out of the inning.
Oklahoma would go on to get those two runs right back in the bottom half of the inning on run-scoring hits from the two leading RBI getters on the team in designated player Jocelyn Alo and second baseman Tiare Jennings. The Sooners had the bases loaded with two outs, threatening to run-rule, but were unsuccessful and the game headed to the sixth sitting at 8-2.
After May kept Oklahoma State off the scoreboard in the top of the sixth, Oklahoma would finish the job this time around in the bottom half of the inning. With runners on second and third and two outs, designated player Jocelyn Alo grounded a ball right up the middle to plate the two runners and give the Sooners the 10-2 run-rule win.
The win improves Oklahoma to 45-2 on the year heading into postseason play with a strong argument to be the No. 1 overall seed in the country when the brackets are revealed on Sunday. This was a totally dominant outing against a top-10 opponent, there isn’t a much better way to cap off your tournament resume than with that. What an incredible year it has been for Patty Gasso’s team.
The Sooners will now await further instruction on who their next opponent will be next weekend in Norman. The NCAA Tournament selection show is set for 8:00 p.m. CT on Sunday night and will be broadcast on ESPN2.