CNHI News Services
After several near-misses, the Sooners’ mistakes finally caught up to them in fourth inning of Saturday’s game against Texas.
Oklahoma allowed Texas to load the bases with an out or less in the first and third inning on a combination of hits, walks and errors before escaping the jam, but there was no escaping the Longhorns in the fourth inning. Taylor Thom singled off Michelle Gascoigne to bring in two runs and put Texas up 3-0, and the Longhorns added another before the Sooners got out of the inning.
But the biggest mistake came on the final play. With Texas ahead 4-1, the Sooners put two runners on base with two outs for Jessica Vest, who in just her 21st at-bat of the season lined a double to left-center that brought in a run. But coach Patty Gasso waved around Jessica Shults, who was easily thrown out to end the game
Gasso didn’t shy away from the decision after the 4-2 Texas victory that evened the series at one game apiece.
“I have to apologize for making that call,” she said. “I love the fight in the seventh from this team. I just got excited and let my arm swing too long.”
The play bailed out Texas ace Blaire Luna, who was struggling in the game’s final inning. But she was good enough to return to the circle a day after being forced out early and pick up the win, striking out eight and walking just three.
For the second straight day, the top of the Sooners’ lineup couldn’t get going, and on Saturday the bottom half didn’t bail them out. OU’s top four hitters combined to go 1 for 9, with Georgia Casey’s solo home run in the sixth inning the only highlight.
“We were ready to play today, but they just weren’t as sharp as yesterday,” Gasso said. “Michelle wasn’t at her best today; six walks isn’t her. The bases on balls really hurt us, just like they did to Luna yesterday. But Michelle did a good job working out of the bases-loaded situations.”
Gascoigne delivered 10 strikeouts — seven with a runner on a third base — while going the distance, giving up just three earned runs. But Oklahoma’s biggest problem on Saturday was that, for one of the first times this season, the Sooners (38-3, 7-1) were the ones making costly mistakes. A throwing error in the first inning allowed Texas (39-5, 9-1) to get on the board, and it didn’t’ get much better. Oklahoma finished officially with two errors, but several fly balls glanced off of or fell inches from Sooner gloves, giving Texas extra swings that the Longhorns didn’t waste.
And the Longhorns carried that early momentum throughout the game. Luna was efficient in her second outing against OU, allowing just four hits in the complete game. And the Texas defense was excellent, with several highlight-reel plays shutting down possible Oklahoma rallies. Brejae Washington led the way for the Longhorns, going 3 for 4 at the plate and making one of those plays on a sliding catch in center field in the sixth inning to help preserve the lead.
With the win, Texas evens the series at one apiece after OU’s 6-1 win on Friday, setting the stage for a 3 p.m. game today that Gasso described as “winner take all,” with the prize being the Big 12 championship. At one loss apiece, both teams are four games ahead of the nearest competitor, turning today’s game into a virtual title game.
“We can’t get too down on ourselves,” said Keilani Ricketts, who likely will start in the circle today. “They’ll be confident, and they take of advantage of mistake pitches well. I’ve just got to get ahead in the counts and stay focused.”