No. 4 Oklahoma claimed its ninth outright Big 12 title Saturday in run-rule fashion as it defeated Iowa State, 12-1, in five innings in a game that saw freshman Lauren Chamberlain break the Big 12 single season record for home runs with two of Oklahoma's three shots on the day. The win moved Oklahoma to 44-8 overall and 18-5 in the Big 12 while Iowa State fell to 14-38 and 2-21.
The Sooners exploded for 11 runs on eight hits and three errors in the fourth inning to shut the door on Iowa State and seal its ninth conference crown. This weekend's crown is the fifth regular season Big 12 title, all under Patty Gasso, as Gasso's teams have added four Big 12 tournament crowns.
Saturday's game marked the 13th this season that the Sooners have hit at least three home runs in a game as they upped their season home run total to 84, just one shy of the program's single-season record set by the 2000 National Championship squad. The 84 are the third-most ever by a Big 12 team as the 2010 Texas team holds the Big 12 single season record with 88. The Sooners are undefeated in their 13 games with at least three home runs.
Of the 84, 25 have been hit by Chamberlain who broke the Big 12 single season record of 24 previously set by Texas A&M's Meagan May in 2010. Chamberlain sent shots out of the park in the third and fourth innings and was joined in the home run stat column by Javen Henson, who sent a home run out in the fourth.
"It was an absolute mission and goal at the beginning of the year to win a Big 12 title," said Gasso. "We felt this Big 12 title would mean a lot with the Big 12 changing. To be a part of history is something we set as a goal at the start of the year. Lauren Chamberlain's record is just a testimony of her hard work and her contributions throughout the year. Today was a total team effort as everyone came through with clutch performances. To say that just one team won every series, and we were that one team, says a lot."
Michelle Gascoigne got the start in the circle for the Sooners, picking up the win to move to to 16-1 on the year. The junior pitched three innings, allowing just one run and two hits before being replaced by Kirsten Allen who did not allow a hit in two innings of action.
Iowa State opened the scoring in the bottom of the second as ISU's career home run leader, Tori Torrescano, lifted a solo shot over the left field fence for a 1-0 Cyclone lead.
The Sooners quickly responded in the third as Chamberlain sent a solo shot over the right-center field fence to tie the Big 12 record and tie the game.
The 11-run fourth inning was started by a Destinee Martinez single and steal of second. The next OU batter, Jessica Vest, reached first before advancing to second on a throwing error by the Iowa State pitcher on an attempted sacrifice bunt. As the ball rolled down the right field fence, Martinez scampered home for OU's second run of the game. The Sooners next batter cleared the bases as Henson sent her ninth home run of the season over the left center fence to boost OU's lead to 4-1.
After an ISU pitching change, the same error/home run sequence stung the Cyclones as Brianna Turang reached first on an error from the ISU third baseman before Chamberlain sent her record-breaking home run to left center. Keilani Ricketts and Georgia Casey hit back-to-bac singles before Jessica Shults reached on a fielder's choice to load the bases for Brittany Williams who responded for a single to left center to score Callie Parsons, who pinch ran for Ricketts.
Casey and Shults scored on the next at bat as Katie Norris singled to right center that sent pinch runner Erica Sampson to third. After back-to-back fielder's choices that allowed Allee Allen and Henson reach base while Sampson and Norris were tagged out heading home, Kelley Reeves sent a deep shot to just in front of the left field fence that popped out of Iowa State's leftfielder's glove and over the fence to score all three Sooners and bump OU's lead to its final lead of 12-1.
The Sooners and the Cyclones close out their three-game series on Sunday at 12 p.m. The game is the final game of the regular season for OU who will find out who they will face in an NCAA Regional as the selections are announced on ESPNU Sunday at 9 p.m.