Story by Nathan Keil | Sports Editor, Video by Meredith Aldis | Broadcast Reporter
Looking to take the final game of a lopsided series, Baylor junior Gia Rodoni had laser-focus in the circle.
Rodoni allowed just four hits against the high-powered Sooners’ offense, while striking out four.
But No. 2 Oklahoma (31-2, 6-0) was a bit too powerful, a bit too clutch and still too dominant in the circle, as the Sooners swept a three-game series from Baylor by taking Saturday’s finale 4-1. The win extends Oklahoma’s winning streak to 22-straight games.
Baylor head coach Glenn Moore said that his team answered the challenge after Friday’s 9-0, no-hit loss and despite not getting the win, competed at a high level.
“We had to have a checkup after that game last night. That was one of the worst defeats I’ve been a part of. When a team hits you that hard for that long and doesn’t let up, you don’t know what’s going to show back up,” Moore said. “I challenged them to put that behind you quick and move forward. And we did that. We came out and competed.”
Rodoni (12-6), who took the loss on Friday, created mostly weaker contact, getting six flyouts and 11 groundball outs.
She also got some help from her defense. With two outs in the fourth, junior infielder Caleigh Clifton hit a rocket down toward senior Caitlin Charlton at third base.
Charlton dove to her left, scooped it on one hop and much to the chagrin of the Sooner faithful, threw out Clifton from her knees.
Rodoni said that she had better command of her pitches tonight and that her defense helped keep them in the game.
“I felt like I had my stuff a lot better than I did Thursday night and I felt like I had better control of their offense and my pitches,” Rodoni said. “Considering how we played the last two days offensively and defensively, I couldn’t be more proud of them defensively and they put a fight up. I’m proud of that and ready to move forward with them.”
But despite better pitching and several scoring opportunities, the luck remained on the side of the Sooners, as two of Oklahoma’s four hits left the ballpark.
On the second pitch of the game, Rodoni left one over the plate that junior third baseman Sydney Romero launched her ninth home run of the season over the wall in left field for an early 1-0 lead.
After retiring the next 12 hitters in order, senior outfielder Nicole Pendley turned on an inside pitch and delivered her eighth home run of the season off the ESPN van in right field.
The Sooners then strung together a pair of singles and a walk in the top half of the seventh, including a pinch-hit two-run single from junior outfielder Kylie Lundberg to extend the lead to 4-0.
Oklahoma senior Paige Parker (17-1) picked her second win of the series. Parker went the first four innings, allowing four Baylor hits with no walks and four strikeouts.
Parker gave way to fellow senior lefty Paige Lowary for the final three innings. Lowary allowed one hit and the only Baylor run while striking out three including the heart of the Baylor lineup in the sixth inning.
Unlike Saturday where Baylor only had two base runners and did not get a hit, the Lady Bears had two opportunities to answer the Sooners against Parker.
In the first, sophomore second baseman Nicky Dawson pulled a pitch through the hole between first and second for a leadoff single. Dawson was moved to second on junior outfielder Kyla Walker’s sacrifice bunt. Senior outfielder Jessie Scroggins then laid down a perfect bunt down the third baseline for an infield single.
Then in the bottom of the fifth, sophomore outfielder Maddison Kettler drilled a double over the head of the left-fielder and made it to third on a sacrifice bunt.
But Lowary retired the next two hitters to end the threat.
Sophomore first baseman Goose McGlaun said Lowary was incredible in the circle, but that facing her and Parker, will benefit the Lady Bears as the season progresses.
“She was definitely bringing it,” McGlaun said. “It’s just going to make our hitters better going into the rest of conference and into postseason, seeing a staff like that is something that will prepare us for the postseason for sure.”
Baylor did get on the board against Lowary in the seventh inning, snapping a streak of 18 straight scoreless innings. With one out in the frame, McGlaun found a way to get around on a fastball to beat the Sooner shift, tripling to no-man’s land in left field.
McGlaun said that she was surprised to see a pitch inside and was determined to get her bat through the zone quick enough to pull it.
“I saw they were in their shift so I was expecting something outside based on how they were playing and so I knew when she came in, to get my barrel through and run for days. So that’s what I did,” McGlaun said.
Kettler then brought in the lone run on an RBI groundout to second base.
Moore said that the Oklahoma pitching staff was phenomenal all weekend, but that he still has faith in his offense moving forward.
“We just couldn’t get timely hitting. We didn’t have many opportunities, but we couldn’t get the hit when we needed it,” Moore said. “We did push a run across. To go three games without scoring a run is just amazing to me what they did to our offense. I still think we have a great offense. Our batting average is proof of that. It’s one of the highest we’ve ever had in the history of our program against some good teams. I think we’ll hit people down the stretch, but that’s a very good team.”
No. 15 Baylor (20-9, 0-3) will hit the road Wednesday for a 6 p.m. game against Abilene Christian.