AUSTIN — Give round one to Oklahoma.
Top-ranked Oklahoma showed its depth in a 6-1 victory over No. 6 Texas on Friday in the first of a critical three-game series.
Though the power eventually came, it wasn’t the deep-ball hitters that carried the Sooners on Friday. Instead, the slap-hitters at the bottom of the lineup came through for OU, with 7-9 hitters Destinee Martinez, Callie Parsons and Brianna Turang coming up huge early to give Oklahoma control of the contest.
The trio combined to go 7 for 9, and all three reached base in the second inning with two outs to allow OU to get on the board first on Turang’s infield single.
And after Texas’ Karina Scott tied the game in the bottom half with a solo home run, they did even more in the third. With the bases loaded and two outs, Martinez fouled off three straight pitches before singling to put OU on top 2-1. Parsons then followed that up with an RBI single to right field, and a fielding error on the Longhorns pushed the score to 4-1.
“I was just looking to get a hit and do my part,” said Parsons, who finished 2 for 2 in just her 13th start of the season. “I was able to get a good piece of it, which was good.”
Good enough to ensure OU would stay on top. Parson’s big hit was one of just two Sooner hits to reach the outfield, with the other six coming without leaving the dirt.
Parsons’ burst was enough to chase Texas starter Blaire Luna, who threw 102 pitches in three innings of work. She struck out nine but also walked six batters as the Sooners were patient and worked deep into counts. It was also more than enough to offset an off-day from the top of the lineup, with Lauren Chamberlain going 0 for 5 and Shelby Pendley going 0 for 3.
“The top of the lineup wasn’t at its best today, but I like that the rest of the order stepped up and said ‘Okay, we got this,’” coach Patty Gasso said. “We saw before the game the way this field works and how high it bounces, and you can’t defend against the slap if it’s up in the air unless you can fly.”
The strategy worked perfectly for OU (38-2, 7-0), and once Luna went out the Sooners were able to add two more runs against reliever Holly Kern, with Jessica Shults leading the way with a solo home run over right-center. That was more than enough as Texas (38-5, 8-1) failed to get back on the board.
In what was expected to be a pitcher’s duel, OU ace Keilani Ricketts got the better of Luna throughout. After giving up the home run early, Ricketts settled in and got stronger as the game went on, dominating Longhorn batters in the complete game to move to 21-1 on the season. She finished with a season-high 15 strikeouts, many of which came at critical moments to shut down Longhorn rallies.
The win gives OU control of the Big 12 and the early advantage in a series that is expected to crown the conference champion. If Texas can’t hold serve and return with a win at 5 p.m. today, the Sooners will hold a commanding lead in the Big 12 race.
“It’s always great to come out on top, especially in the first game of a series,” Parsons said. “Texas is a good team and they’ll make adjustments. We have to come out again and stay focused.”
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