Sooners advance to Super Regional with 11-6 win over Texas A&M Written By Bill Plummer
NORMAN, Okla — When 7th seeded Oklahoma fell behind 2-0 against Texas A&M in Sunday's Norman Regional Championship, some might have wondered if the Aggies had the Sooners' number and were going to force a second game before a crowd of 1,252
The Sooner Nation knew otherwise, however, and sat back and watched OU score five runs in the top of the second en route to a 11-6 win and its tenth consecutive Regional victory since 2010 and its 30th win in its last 32 games. Overall OU is now 48-10 and has won its last 15 games in a row, which is tied for eighth longest in school history.
Certainly one of the nation's hottest teams right now, the Sooners advance to the Super Regional next weekend against the 10th seeded TheseTennessee Volunteers, who defeated Lipscomb, 2-0, in Knoxville. These two teams aren't strangers. Last year the Sooners and Lady Vols met in OKC with OU winning two of three games to earn its second NCAA national title. This year, a trip to Oklahoma City for the WCWS will hang in the balance when the Sooners and Lady Vols square off at Marita Hynes Field in one of eight Super Regionals.
A&M catcher Nicole Morgan, one of eight seniors playing in their last game, put the Aggies out in front by hitting her 15th homer of the season–a two-run shot in the bottom of the second. But the Sooners responded with a five-run second. The last time the Aggies won two games to win a regional was when it hosted in 2007. A&M finished 2-2 in the Regional and concluded the season 37-22 and has lost seven times in its last eight games against the Sooners who are now 55-17 in Regional play and are headed for the fifth straight season to the Super Regional and eighth time overall.
Rachel Fox (15-11) started for the Aggies and hurled the first four innings, allowing seven hits and seven runs.six six She was replaced by Katie Marks who allowed three hits with Abby Donnell hurling the last two innings, allowing four hits. Kelsey Stevens went the distance for the Sooners to earn her 35th win of the season against seven losses, allowing six runs on seven hits while walking one and striking out six. Besides allowing the home run by Morgan, Stevens allowed a two-run homer by Jenna Stark in the third inning, cutting the deficit to one run, 5-4
Top to bottom, the Oklahoma lineup could not be stopped Sunday as every batter recorded at least one hit and scored at least one run.
Senior Destinee Martinez led the way at the top of the order as she was 3-5 and set a career high with four runs batted in. Meanwhile, in the No. 7 spot, junior Callie Parsons went 3-4 with a run scored to tie a career high in hits.
“Destinee is on fire right now and we kind of put her down in the lineup to start things up in the 7, 8, 9; but Parsons is on fire right now,” head coach Patty Gasso said. “With Destinee at the top, she’s doing a really good job of table setting. She always, since she’s been here, has been really, really effective in the postseason and Parsons is starting to become the same way.
“Callie and Destinee had okay, good seasons but not great and no one cares, they care about what they’re doing right now and it’s the only thing that matters.”
The middle of the order did its part, too, as the 3-5 hitters, juniors Lauren Chamberlain and Georgia Casey and senior Brittany Williams, all homered.
Playing as the home team, Texas A&M struck first in the bottom of the first as Amber Garza hit a one-out single and, two batters later, Morgan hit a two-run homer to left center field for her 15th of the season. But OU came right back.
Like they did all weekend, though, the Sooners had an answer.
Through two games in the Regionals, opponents had scored in four separate innings against the Sooners. Oklahoma had responded with runs in their next at-bats on three occasions, and Sunday saw more of the same comeback attitude from OU.
Junior Georgia Casey immediately responded to the two Aggie runs with a solo home run to left field to lead off the top of the second. Coming on a 2-1 pitch, it was Casey’s 12th home run of the season and the 28th of her career.
Two batters later, Parsons hit a chopper to first base and dove around the tag of Jenna Stark to reach safely. Sophomore Erin Miller followed with a four-pitch walk, while senior Javen Henson coaxed a walk of her own on a 3-2 pitch to fill the bases.
Turning back to the top of the order, Martinez cleared the bases as she laced a triple that ran to the wall in left center. It was her second triple of the season and the fifth of her career.
“One of my jobs is to get the ball on the ground and move runners, but with bases loaded it’s kind of hard to move runners when it’s on the ground,” Martinez said of her triple. “I was kind of just looking for an up pitch and that’s what I got.”
Junior Shelby Pendley then followed Martinez with a run-scoring single through the left side to give OU a 5-2 lead.
The Aggies cut the Sooners’ lead to 5-4 in third when Stark hit a two-run homer off the foul pole in left field, but again Oklahoma had an answer.
Henson led off the top of the fourth with a bunt single up the first-base line and moved up to third after a pair of groundouts. That brought Chamberlain to the plate and, on a 2-0 pitch, she went the opposite way for a two-run homer to right center.
Chamberlain’s blast was her 10th of the season and the 70th of her career, tying with Louisiana-Lafayette’s Christi Oregeron (2009-12) for 13th in NCAA Division I history.
After giving up her second two-run homer of the day in the third, OU starter Kelsey Stevens got in a groove and only allowed one baserunner until the seventh inning. She retired eight in a row, including back-to-back 1-2-3 innings in the fourth and fifth, before Stark reached on a strikeout wild pitch.
Stevens picked up her 35th win of the season, which is tied for the fourth most in OU history. She allowed six runs on seven hits, including three two-run homers, but also struck out six and walked only one.
Oklahoma padded its lead with two more runs in the fifth.
Sophomore Whitney Ellis started things with a single to center field. Two batters later, Miller cranked a drive over the head of center fielder Emily Albus for a double. Ellis sped around the bases from first and slid around the tag of Morgan to make it 8-4.
A flyout to right field by Henson enabled Miller to move up to third base, and Martinez cashed in with a chopper through the right side for her career-best fourth run batted in of the game, giving Oklahoma the 9-4 lead.
Oklahoma added two more runs in the seventh when Williams launched a two-out, two-run homer off the batter’s eye in center field to give OU the 11-4 cushion. It was Williams’ 12th of the year and 37th of the season.
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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