By Corbin Hosler
The Norman Transcript
NORMAN — Oklahoma’s lineup is considered one of the most powerful in the country, and the Sooners showed Baylor exactly why on Friday in the first game of a weekend series.
It didn’t take the Sooners long to turn a nailbiter into a blowout. Through four innings, the 17th-ranked Bears held No. 1 Oklahoma to just three hits and were controlling the flow of a game tied at 2 apiece.
A few timely hits and Baylor errors later, and the Sooners had suddenly put five runs on the board on their way to an 8-3 win.
“It’s a game of momentum, and this team knows how to create it and run with it,” coach Patty Gasso said. “We talked about owning the strike zone tonight and they did a good job of that. We had some quality at-bats and they found ways to get on base. They did all the little things.”
The deciding inning started with a Jessica Shults single followed by an infield single by Keilani Ricketts. After a passed ball moved the runners, an error by Bears first baseman Holly Holl allowed a run to score and put the Sooners back on top.
Jessica Vest then stepped to the plate and laid a perfect bunt down the first-base line that brought in another run. That then set the stage for Lauren Chamberlain, who delivered her 17th home run of a year, a 3-run blast over the center field wall that broke open the game for the Sooners (32-2).
“We worked on just being patient and getting good pitches to hit,” said Chamberlain, who finished 1 for 2 with 4 RBIs. “Just trusting that we’ve worked on this and are ready.”
The Bears (29-8) couldn’t recover after that. Despite loading the bases against Ricketts in the sixth inning, they managed just one run as Michelle Gascoigne came on in relief and finished out the game.
In the first game between two teams expected to compete for the Big 12 title, it was errors that defined the meeting. Baylor walked in OU’s first two runs, two of the nine walks the Bears issued, and received some help from the Sooners as well. Ricketts, who wasn’t at her best on Friday, walked three and hit a batter.
But she still did more than enough to earn the win, striking out eight to move her record to 17-1 on the season and earn her 115th career victory, tying her with Jennifer Stewart for the most in school history.
The Sooners got on board first in the second inning, loading the bases before scoring two on walked batters. But Baylor responded in the third, with Sarah Smith’s two-run double to tie the game at 2, a score that held until the Sooners’ big fifth inning.
Next is the second game in the series at noon today at Marita Hynes Field and Shults, who was visibly fired up throughout Friday’s game, said the Sooners will bring the same energy to the field.
“The Big 12 is just a different mentality,” she said. “They came out ready to play and so did we. Twenty-one of us strong, that’s what we’ve been saying, and we just want to bring it.”
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