One thing coach Patty Gasso doesn’t like to do is give her team a day off before a game. In fact, it’s an exceedingly rare occurrence. But due to NCAA regulations and a full slate of games last weekend, that’s just what she had to do before the eighth-ranked Sooners hosted Austin Peay on Tuesday.
Gasso didn’t need to worry. Behind a strong performance by Kirsten Allen in her first start of the season, the Sooners easily cruised to an 8-0, five-inning run-rule victory over Austin Peay.
“They came out ready to play,” Gasso said. “Kirsten Allen was definitely a spark to a team that still looks a little flat after last weekend.”
Allen dominated the Lady Govs from the start. She struck out seven and carried a no-hitter all the way down to the last batter, when Austin Peay’s Amy Mills doubled to left field to break it up.
“What fired me up was watching her prepare before the game,” Gasso said of Allen. “She’s been waiting for this opportunity, and she nailed it. That was a senior absolutely controlling the game.”
Allen had pitched four innings without giving up a run this season for the Sooners before Tuesday, and continued to excel in the Sooners’ sixth-straight victory.
“I was just feeding off the energy of the girls around me,” she said. “Feeding off them allowed me to stay focused.”
As good as Allen was in the circle, the Sooners were just as strong at the plate. They posted eight hits in 19 at-bats and blasted two home runs in a game marked by stiff wind. The first came courtesy of shortstop Javen Henson in the bottom of the second inning when the sophomore knocked one well over the wall in left-center for her first career home run. Lauren Chamberlain added her fifth home run of the season on a solo shot in the third.
“It felt good for sure to get that first home run,” Henson said. “The whole at-bat I focused on staying back, and it felt great to get it.”
The Sooners led 4-0 after three innings but exploded for four more in the fourth to set up the run-rule victory. Jessica Shults singled to start the inning and Keilani Ricketts doubled before Austin Peay brought in relief pitcher Morgan Brewer.
Brittany Williams, who finished 2-for-3 with two RBIs, doubled to bring in Kelley Reeves and a string of illegal pitchers by Brewer brought three more Sooner runs in to push the lead to 8-0.
The Sooners will have two days of practice before hosting Indiana at 6 p.m. Friday at Marita Hynes Field as part of the Oklahoma Spring Festival. They will play both Indiana and Wichita State twice this weekend.
Corbin Hosler 366-3528 firstname.lastname@example.org