NORMAN, Okla. – With a one-run lead and a no-hit bid through five innings, one swing of the bat in the sixth changed the momentum and catapulted the No. 22 Oklahoma Sooners to a 2-1 win with a walk-off single in the bottom of the seventh to defeat the LSU softball team at Marita Hynes Field in Norman Saturday afternoon.
With Sahvanna Jaquish’s ninth home run of the season in the top of the fourth inning, LSU (19-11) was looking to close the curtains on the 22nd-ranked Sooners (20-8), but OU’s Shelby Pendley helped spark the home side in the final two frames as she broke up Baylee Corbello’s no-hitter in the very first at bat with a solo home run to tie the game in the sixth, then connected on the single to right center to plate the winning run in the end.
The Tigers outhit the Sooners 8-4, as Oklahoma got all four in the final two innings alone. Sandra Simmons and Allison Falcon each had two hits on the day for LSU, but as a team the Tigers would strand 12 runners on base over the length of the contest.
“We just have to get the timely hit,” head softball coach Beth Torina said. “They had less hits than we did, but they were able to get the timely one. Ultimately, that’s the one that matters. We’re just missing that one moment where we capitalize on our opportunities. I think when we figure that out we’ll be in a really good spot.”
Corbello was untouchable for much of the contest, and had her way with Sooner batters to the tune of five strikeouts, but suffered the loss after giving up both runs in 6.1 innings of work with five walks. Even after running into a pair of jams in the opening frame and the third, the defense stood strong and kept the Sooners off of the board until the very end.
The Sooners used three pitchers on the day, as starter Kelsey Stevens moved to 13-5 after initially being on the hook for the loss after giving up the home run to Jaquish, but that was all as she allowed the one run on six hits with five walks and three strikeouts in 5.1 innings of work.
Pendley, who also had an inning in the circle and allowed two hits with a walk, did her damage late as she finished 2-for-3 with two RBI and a run scored for Oklahoma.
A.J. Andrews led off the game with a walk to put the first LSU runner on for the day, as Bailey Landry followed that up with a fielder’s choice that kept everyone safe as Andrews beat out the throw at second. From there, Andrews got picked off while a strikeout and Landry caught trying to steal second ended the inning.
With two outs in the second, the Tigers went on a small, two-out rally as Simmons took first with a walk, while Falcon garnered the first hit of the game for either side with a single to left to put two on for LSU, but the inning ended with a pop up to the pitcher to keep the game scoreless midway through two.
LSU finally got something going in the top of the third, as a grounder by Jacee Blades for the first out gave way to Andrews who nearly drilled one out of the park but settled instead for the triple to center to sit 90 feet away from giving LSU the lead. Although she extended her season and career-long hitting streak to 12 games, consecutive strikeouts ended the frame with the centerfielder stranded at third.
Oklahoma put the Tigers in a big jam in the third, as the Sooners went from ending the inning with a whimper to loading the bases. After Corbello hit the first batter, a sac bunt and infield popup gave the Sooners two outs, as the inning looked to end on a grounder to Bianka Bell at short until the throw went high and put runners at the corners. Another walked stacked the deck for OU, but a strikeout ended the threat.
Needing a spark, Jaquish crushed a pitch and sent it to the bleachers in left center for the game’s first run to put LSU up 1-0 over Oklahoma. Kellsi Kloss followed up with a single to left, with Simmons reaching on a bunt single to put two on for the Tigers. After an infield popup, Corbello garnered a walk to load the bases, but the inning ended with another infield popup and fielder’s choice forcing out Kloss at home ended the inning.
“Sahvanna is a talented athlete and hitter,” Torina said. “I expect her to continue to have those kinds of at-bats and put up those kinds of numbers for us.”
Second hits of the day by Simmons and Falcon opened the Tiger sixth. After another Oklahoma pitching change, Corbello grounded out to third advancing the two to second and third. Another infield grounder by Blades kept the runners at bay, as Andrews was intentionally walked to load the bases. It looked like LSU might get another run walked in, but a fly ball out to left ended the inning.
Pendley knotted the game at one on the first swing of the sixth for the Sooners, lacing a shot down the left field line over the fence to make it a 1-1 game late.
After a walk to open the bottom of the seventh, a foul out to Tammy Wray at third put one out on the board for the Sooners. However, another walk and back to back singles drove in the game-winning run to make it 2-1 Oklahoma.
“We saw all of their pitchers, so we know exactly what they have,” Torina said. “They did a good job of making moves and making changes to try and keep us off balance. Obviously they were successful today. Hopefully our players have a good understanding of what’s coming, and that they will be prepared for tomorrow.”
The series concludes on Sunday with first pitch set for noon at Marita Hynes Field at the OU Softball Complex.