NORMAN — Coach Patty Gasso said suspect fielding was one of the Sooners’ biggest weaknesses early in the season.
It was something the coach focused on improving as the Sooners entered conference play, and something her players responded to. OU posted a .984 fielding average in the Big 12, and it was the defense that came up big for the Sooners again on Saturday.
The most vital defensive plays came in the first inning. Lauren Chamberlain backhanded a hard-hit ground ball at first base to earn the first out of the inning, and Shelby Pendley then made a running grab and throw from third to secure the second out.
The Razorbacks then loaded the bases, threatening to draw first blood. Sierra Bronkey lined a hard hopper down the third base line that looked like it would go foul. But the ball took a hard hop toward the infield just before the bag, and Pendley was able to make the quick adjustment to snag it and tag third base for the force out just before the runner arrived. That set the tone for the Sooners, who responded by plating two runs in the first inning to take control of the game.
Another great defensive play helped to close out the game, when Georgia Casey fielded a hard one-hopper at second base in the seventh inning and tagged out the baserunner before completing the double play at first base.
“They talk about pitching wins championships and defense wins championships in every sport, and I’m an advocate of that,” Gasso said. “I love it. Everyone just got their job done. When you give a team an extra out, especially in the postseason, that can come back and bite you.”
Chamberlain sets single-season mark: Chamberlain etched her name into the record books yet again on Saturday, setting the school and conference mark for runs scored in the first inning of a 10-5 victory over Arkansas.