Stevens Hurls Six-Hitter As OU Defeats Tennessee 8-1 In Super Regional Opener Written By Bill Plummer
NORMAN, Okla – What a difference a week can make. Just ask OU softball pitcher Kelsey Stevens.
A week ago, she hurled two of OU's three wins in the Norman Regional, but she allowed 16 earned runs and six homers, including a pair of grand slams.
Friday night at a standing-room only crowd of 1,718 at Marita Hynes Field, Stevens equaled her season-high of 11 strikeouts for the fourth time as OU turned back the University of Tennessee Lady Vols, 8-1, in the opening game of the Norman Super Regional.
The second game of the of Super Regional will be played Saturday at 4 with OU seeking its second win in a possible three-game series and a berth in the Women's College World Series. If the Lady Vols win, the if necessary game will be played Sunday at 7 p.m.
Right-hander Stevens allowed only six hits, no walks and only one run as OU won its 16th game in a row and its 31st win in 33 games in improving its season record to 49-10. It was Stevens' 36th win of the season against only seven losses. She mixed her pitches well and got key strikeouts when she needed them to keep one of the nation's best offenses off the base paths. The Lady Vols stranded six base runners and the only inning they left more than one runner on base was in the fourth inning scoring its only run.It was the third time this season that the Lady Vols (45-11) scored only one run in a game.
Stevens opened the game in an impressive manner, striking out six of the first 10 Tennessee batters. But in the fourth, with OU leading 2-0, Tennessee cut the deficit to one with an RBI single by Lexi Overstreet, scoring freshman catcher Annie Aldrete with the first and only Lady Vols' run. Stevens got Tennessee's top hitter, shortstop Madison Shipman, to pop out to third before she gave up a double to Aldrete, a single by Melissa Davin and Overstreet's single, which hit the top of the right field fence and bounced back toward OU right fielder Brittany Williams. After Overstreet's hit, Stevens bore down and struck out the next two batters to end the inning and the threat. Tennessee never put together a threat the remainder of the game, stranding three base runners over the last three innings.
The game was stopped for 2:37 minutes in the bottom of the third because of lighting with OU catcher Whitney Ellis having a 2-2 count against Lady Vol starter and loser Ellen Renfroe (29-7) with two outs. OU had taken a 2-0 lead against Renfroe scoring once in the first on an RBI single by Georgia Casey in the first and a sacrifice fly RBI to center field by Erin Miller. When the game resumed at 9:45 p.m. Ellis popped out to shortstop to end the inning with OU stranding a pair of runners.
OU expanded its lead to 3-1 with a run in the fourth before putting the game away with a run in the fifth on a long homer by Williams to right center field and four runs in the sixth inning highlighted by a opposite field homer by third baseman Shelby Pendley over the left field fence. It was Pendley's 17th homer of the season and her 72nd and 73rd RBIs. After Pendley's homer, Renfroe was replaced in the circle by Erin Gabriel.
Parsons led off the fourth by reaching on a fielder error by second baseman Megan Geer. Henson laid down her second sacrifice bunt of the game to push Parsons to second, while a walk to Miller put runners on first and second for Martinez. She hit a grounder to Madison Shipman at shortstop, but Shipman’s throw was low and Cheyanne Tarango dropped it for an error at first base.
With the bases loaded, junior Lauren Chamberlain dropped a single into shallow center field to enable Parsons to score and give Oklahoma a 3-1 lead. Chamberlain was 3-for-4 for the Sooners who are seeking their fourth consecutive WCWS berth.
One inning later, senior Williams led off the frame with a monster home run to center field. It was her 13th of the season and the 38th of her career, putting her eighth on the OU career home run list. Williams, however, injured her left arm going for a fly ball in the seventh inning and was taken out of the game, but OU coach Patty Gasso said it was too early to tell what was the extent of Williams' injury. Williams was 2-for-3.
Leading 4-1, Oklahoma broke the game open with a four-run sixth inning thanks to a pair of Tennessee errors.
With one out, Miller reached safely as Geer committed her second error. Martinez then reached on another error, this time a throwing mistake by Tennessee starter Ellen Renfroe. Miller took third on the play and scored on the next at-bat as she teamed with Martinez on a double steal.
Chamberlain came up next with one on and stroked her third hit of the game, an RBI double to the wall in left center to make it 6-1. Pendley followed and despite falling behind 0-2, she rocketed a two-run homer to left field to give Stevens one of her most impressive wins of her first season with the Sooners after transferring from Stanford following her freshman season.
“Kelsey really started out strong and she finished strong,” Gasso said. “That’s a really tough offense. When we came out after the rain delay, they came out a little more aggressive and a little more in tune.
“We’ve been waiting to see that loose competitive spirit back out there (from Stevens). She took last weekend and said, ‘I’m better than this.’ This is an explosive Tennessee offense. For anybody to hold them to one run is an impressive achievement.”
Bill Plummer A 1973 graduate of Indiana University, Ind. Bill has been involved in softball for more than five decades. For 30 years he was a fixture at the ASA National Office in Oklahoma City as a communications coordinator, manager of the ASA National Softball Hall of Fame and historian.
In addition, he also served as the editor of the ASA official newsletter, The Inside Pitch, and as the Trade Show manager. He has written widely about the sport and has contributed to 14 books. In 2008, he authored “The Game America Plays.” In 2012, he co-authored “Best of the Best-Women’s Fastpitch.” In 2013 he co-authored “A Series Of Their Own”. Visit his website at PlummerSoftball.com.
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