By Michael Kinney
No. 1 Oklahoma finds itself one step closer to getting an opportunity to defend its national championship after cruising through the Norman regional tournament over the weekend.
The Sooners crushed their opponents by a combined score of 38-3 during three days of competition at Marita Hynes Field.
OU saved their biggest scoring output for the Regional Championship game Sunday when they took on California. After taking a 14-0 lead, they rolled to a 16-3 victory to advance to this weekend’s Super Regional.
The victory marked the Sooners’ (54-1) 46th straight win, extending the program record and moving one win shy of tying the NCAA record set by 1996-97 Arizona. The performance was also the 19th time this year that OU scored double-digit runs and secured the 27th run-rule victory of the season.
“Great start for us. The team came in ready,” OU coach Patty Gasso said. “We knew that this is the day that a lot of teams season’s end, and we just decided it wouldn’t be ours today. They came out and punched really quickly and just kept it going throughout the entire game.”
Oklahoma set the tone in the first inning when they jumped out to a 6-0 lead. Tiare Jennings, Alyssa Brito, Cydney Sanders and Jocelyn Erickson each blasted homers off the California hurlers.
Another Jennings home run in the second inning made it 7-0 Sooners. It marked the two-time All-American’s first multi-HR game of 2023 and the second in her postseason career.
“The energy was super high,” Jennings said. “It was kind of a pass-the-bat mentality. Each person came up and hit the ball hard, so it was a great start. It started the momentum for the rest of the game.”
Oklahoma added seven more runs in the third inning to put the contest away. Doubles from Jennings and Jayda Coleman, paired with a second home run from Brito pushed the Sooner’s advantage to 14-0. The second Brito blast marked her second multi-homer game of the season and the fifth of her career.
Jennings paced OU at the plate in a perfect 4-for-4, four RBI performance, tying a program NCAA tourney record for single-game hits (done nine times). Brito finished 2-for-3 with a team-best and career-high five RBIs. Twelve Sooners recorded a hit in the game with seven bringing in at least one run.
Alex Storako got the start in the circle, throwing two and two-thirds innings, surrendering five hits and three earned runs with one walk and one strikeout. Nicole May (18-0) picked up the win.
“All parts of the game were working well for us,” Gasso said. “There was a little hiccup with Alex, but it wasn’t anything that was concerning,” Gasso said. “ May came in and did the job. Everything worked really well today.”
The Sooners advance to their 13th consecutive and 15th overall NCAA Super Regional and will host the No. 16-seed Clemson Tigers (49-10, 18-6 ACC). Game 1 is set for Friday at 1 p.m. Game 2 is Saturday at Noon.
If a third game is needed, it will be played Sunday. The winner will advance to the Women’s College World Series.
“I think any stage we’re on, we’re just taking advantage of it,” said Brito, “I think living in that moment and not looking too far ahead is what we always try to hone in on. We’re excited every time we get to come out and play, because that’s another opportunity to just glorify God, have fun and enjoy each other.”
Youtube: Michael Kinney Media
Photo: OU Athletics
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