By Nathan Keil | Sports Editor
Playing just 30 minutes from its campus in Norman, Okla., No. 10 Oklahoma certainly felt at home.
Junior center fielder Nicole Pendley hit a three-run home run and junior Paige Parker limited the Lady Bears to just one run on five hits in six innings as Oklahoma bested conference rival No. 15 Baylor 6-3 on Thursday night.
The Lady Bears did add two more in the seventh inning off of junior Paige Lowary but it was not enough to produce another come from behind win.
Oklahoma found its offensive groove early on against Baylor senior Kelsee Selman, tagging her for four runs in the first inning, something that head coach Glenn Moore believed to be the difference in the game.
“I thought the first inning really doomed us,” Moore said. “Playing a team like Oklahoma, you’ve got to keep the score close to have a chance to win. Their pitching is too good.”
Freshman left fielder Nicole Mendes lead off the Sooners first inning with a single to left field on the first pitch she saw from Selman. Mendes then moved to second on a sacrifice bunt. After an infield single and a walk loaded the bases, sophomore designated player Fale Aviu brought in the game’s first run with a sacrifice fly to center field, scoring Mendes. But it was Pendley’s at bat that set the tone for Oklahoma, as she launched a 1-1 rise ball over the fence in left field, putting the Sooners in front 4-0.
Baylor got one back in the second inning thanks in part to a pair of Sooner miscues in the field, but the Sooners had the answer in the third as Aviu drove a Selman rise ball into the gap in right center field, brining home another run and one more in the fourth on a bases loaded hit by pitch.
Parker was extremely efficient in the circle for the Sooners. In six innings, she only threw 68 pitches, getting swings from the Lady Bears early in counts and not allowing a single walk. She finished with just two strikeouts and Baylor did put some solid swings on the ball but every time the Lady Bears made a solid contact, a Sooner was right there to make the play.
On the other side, Selman settled down after a rough first inning, holding the Sooners to two runs on six hits over the next four innings before giving way to sophomore Gia Rodoni, who tossed a perfect inning in the sixth.
After coming up big last weekend in Tucson, Ariz. the Shelby combo of junior first baseman Shelby Friudenberg and freshman designated player Shelby McGlaun were a combined 0-6 at the plate and sophomore outfielder Kyla Walker, who leads the team in hits with 87 on the season, went 0-4.
With the amount of resiliency Baylor has showed all season long, Moore expects his team to keep that same attitude and keep fighting until the final out.
“We’re not going to give up. I’ve never seen this team quit fighting, and they fought hard and we made a little run at the end, but we dug too deep of a hole to come out of it,” Moore said. “I expect this team to fight like crazy to be able to do that and make a run for it.”
No. 10 Oklahoma will take on No. 6 Washington at 8:30 p.m. Friday.
No. 15 Baylor (48-15) will now take on No. 3 Oregon (52-7), the team who eliminated them from regionals in 2016, in an elimination game at 1:30 p.m. Saturday.