Oklahoma run-rules Arkansas 14-1 to capture Norman NCAA Softball Regional

Oklahoma run-rules Arkansas 14-1 to capture Norman NCAA Softball Regional

Arkansas got to within a run of OU in Saturday’s Regional game at Marita Hynes Field before losing 10-5. In Sunday’s regional final, there was nothing close about the game as the Sooners completed a three-game sweep in a five-inning run-rule victory in defeating the nationally-ranked Razorbacks, 14-1.

OU outscored the opposition 41-6 in repeating as Regional Champs and will host one of the Super-Regionals next week, playing Texas A&M.  Super would describe how the Sooners played for the most part on the weekend, although Arkansas was the only nationally ranked team  besides OU in the Norman Regional of the 2013 NCAA Tournament.

OU went undefeated in regional play for the second year in a row and has won 12 of its last 13 regional games.  OU is 52-17 all-time in regional play and Sunday’s win increased the 2013 record to 50-4 and its consecutive win streak to six.

"I'm very proud of this team and their performance today," Oklahoma head coach Patty Gasso said. "They came out ready to play. Our goal was to make it one game. That was our focus and our commitment, and we were locked in and ready to go. I'm very proud of them."

The Sooners tallied 11 hits in the win, but also took advantage of four Arkansas (36-20) errors. Of the team's 14 runs, only five were earned.

"I think that's what they see, is an opening," Gasso said. "The [Sooners are] a big momentum team. They won't say that they know they're good, but they know they're good. They love to pass the bat, or what we call pass the torch. They love to keep the inning alive and respond with two outs."

In increasing its overall record against Arkansas to 18-2 and 4-0 in Regional action, OU got power pitching and power batting in ousting the Razorbacks, who scored their only run in the bottom of the fourth inning. By then the score was 12-1 as the Sooners closed out the run rule with a pair of runs in the top of the fifth before Michelle Gascoigne retired Arkansas in the bottom half of the fifth for her 18th win against three losses. OU left-hander Keilani Ricketts, who had trouble holding the ball Saturday because of  the humid heat, hurled two and two-thirds, allowing two hits with three walks and four strikeouts. Gascoigne allowed one hit, one run and walked one and struck out three.

Although the game was only five innings, Arkansas used three hurlers in an effort to stop the Sooners with starter and loser Kimmy Beasley (12-9) going two and two-thirds followed by Hope McLemore (two-thirds) and Kelly Young (one and two-thirds).

The Sooners hit three homers with super soph Lauren Chamberlain smacking her 27th homer of the season, a three-run blast to center field, to highlight a five run OU third inning. Arizona transfer Shelby Pendley hit her 20th to right center leading off the fourth inning and Javen Henson accounted for the two runs in the fifth inning with her round-tripper to left center. It was her first homer of the season and 10th of her career. Henson and Pendley had two hits apiece to lead the Sooners. Chamberlain finished the weekend with 13 RBI and the homer was the 57th of her career with the national record 90 by former UCLA standout Stacey Neumann. She had 30 homers last year in her freshman season.

Arkansas, which finished the year 36-20, scored its only run on a solo homer by Devon Wallace in the fourth inning and she finished the season with a .376 batting average. “I am very proud of our team,” said Arkansas head coach Mike Larabee.  “We are building a program. This is something that we are going to build on. We set a lot of records this year and we have to take the next step next year. Oklahoma is a great team. You cannot give them opportunities or it will snowball. They have a good lineup and will make you pay. Next year hopefully we will be playing a regional in Fayetteville and we will have an easier draw.”