By Arnie Leshin
Bedlam in Sooners softball land as top-ranked University of Oklahoma is looking to continue its decade of dominance in the Big 12 Conference.
Game one of the best-of-3 series before another packed house at Marita Hayes field in Norman Thursday night against state and conference rival Oklahoma State brought a 6-1 win for the Sooners and left them to need one more victory and clinch a 12th straight conference championship that would keep them playing in their own state throughout the post-season.
The defending national champions have won four titles and now stand at 46-1 overall and 13-1 in the conference as freshman phenom Jordy Bahi, the national high school player of the year, pitched the distance of seven innings with six strikeouts while allowing three hits and issuing just one walk for her 22nd triumph in 23 outings, the loss in the 4-2 defeat at Texas.
OSU, which dropped to 38-10 and lost to its rivals for the 12th straight time, sent No. 1 southpaw starter Kelly Maxwell to the circle. She hung in there for three scoreless innings before Oklahoma put together a 4-run fourth and added two more in the fifth. and she finished by allowing six hits, striking out two and walking three.
But the fourth frame did the damage.
Jana Johns walked with out and advanced to second after second baseman Brianna Evans made an overthrow to first on a grounder by Ryle Boone. Four straight hits followed with the big blast sophomore Tiara Jennings’ 3-run opposite field home run over the fence in right to make it 4-0. For Jennings, last year’s national freshman of the year, it was her fourth home run in the last five outings.
Oklahoma left two on and two out in the fifth and came close to posting yet another run-rule victory, but did add two more runs in the sixth.
Tonight the Sooners will send undefeated senior Hope Trautwein (13-0) to the circle, and her gaudy 0:09 earned run average leads the country. In game three it will be unbeaten sophomore Nicole May (11-0) whose ERA of 0:64 ranks fourth.
But for the Cowgirls it’s more bad news. Their No. 2 hurler Miranda Elish played the field Thursday, but a bicep injury will keep her from pitching and will be replaced by Morgan Day, their No. 3 pitcher who is not on a par with Maxwell and Elish.
But the ball does take funny bounces and OSU is hoping it works its way this time.