By Cody Soto
UPDATED: 12:06 a.m. April 17, 2015
No. 17 Baylor softball played one of their most impressive games of the season Thursday night as it run-ruled No. 5 Oklahoma in six innings to take a big 8-0 shutout in Norman, Okla. It’s the first time the team has beaten a top five opponent on the road since topping Arizona State in 2013.
The Bears (31-9, 6-1 Big 12) handed Oklahoma its first conference loss and home loss of the season behind a terrific effort all around. Baylor was able to use junior Heather Stearns as the gut punch in the 8-0 beat down, and she played a solid game through six innings.
Stearns had nine strikeouts, including three against Oklahoma’s Lauren Chamberlain. Chamberlain is one home run away from tying UCLA’s Stacey Nuveman as the all-time home runs leader in NCAA softball history, but Baylor didn’t let up one bit.
The top of the first inning looked a little shaky for Baylor at times, but it only took them two more innings to scratch the board. Sophomore Lindsey Cargill drove in the first run as she singled to bring in junior catcher Robin Landrith, but the Bears weren’t done yet.
Sophomore second baseman Ari Hawkins stepped up to the plate and drove in two more runs with a double down center field, pushing Baylor out to a 3-0 lead over the Sooners. Oklahoma couldn’t pick up pace on their offensive end as Stearns continued to retire the Sooners’ lineup.
Landrith fired away in the fifth inning for the Bears as she drilled a solo home run, her first homer of the year, and Baylor lead 4-0 heading into the bottom of the fifth inning. With no luck swinging Oklahoma’s way, the sixth inning ultimately doomed the Sooners.
“I don’t think we can brush it off,” Oklahoma coach Patty Gasso said. “We’ve got to learn from it. We missed big opportunities. We got absolutely owned.”
The Bears put the game away at the top of the sixth starting with senior shortstop Jordan Strickland. The Princeton native fired a single past Oklahoma’s third baseman to bring in freshman infielder Shelby Friudenberg, but the Bears still weren’t done. The final three runs for the Bears were brought in after sophomore outfielder Christy Lisenby popped a home run out of the park for the 8-0 lead.
Oklahoma had to score a run in the bottom of the sixth inning in order to extend the matchup, but Stearns retired all three runners for the final punch. The pressure didn’t look to startle the Bears throughout the entire game, and a tough softball environment doesn’t shake them, coach Glenn Moore said.
“I don’t think [the pressure has] been a big deal for us,” he said. “We’ve played in pretty tough environments. This is a great softball environment, but we’ve prepared a tough schedule, so we’re prepared for this.”
The Bears win the series against the Sooners with a victory in one of the two remaining games this weekend. Baylor and Oklahoma face off in game two at 6:30 p.m. today in Norman, Okla. The top 20 matchup will be televised on Fox Sports Southwest.