One of the intriguing storylines leading up to the super-regional game between Oklahoma and Clemson was how well the Tigers were able to control the Sooners’ long ball.
Clemson’s pitching staff arrived in Norman and allowed just 15 home runs all season. Oklahoma had hit 104 home runs during the season. would give something.
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In game one, it was the Sooners’ power stroke that made the biggest difference in the game.
Even in the first inning, though they failed to hit a home run, it was shots on the caution lane that enabled Oklahoma to get on the board first. A lead-off double by Jayda Coleman followed by back-to-back caution attempts on court scored Coleman to put the Sooners 1-0 at the start.
Clemson had made noise for the first four innings, though they had yet to reach Jordy Bahl. Clemson starter Valerie Cagle held Oklahoma to just one hit in three innings and none after Coleman’s leadoff double.
In the bottom of the fourth, Cydney Sanders hit her third home run in as many games to give the Sooners a more comfortable 4-0 lead. That bombshell was just a taste of the fifth-inning celebration Oklahoma would have on the plate.
The Tigers responded in the top of the fifth, eventually pushing a few runs over the plate off Oklahoma’s ace.
But that seemed to wake up Oklahoma’s lineup at the bottom of the frame. Rylie Boone led off the inning with a bunt-single down the first baseline, and Coleman and Tiare Jennings followed with back-to-back singles. Then came Haley Lee with the grand slam, followed by Alyssa Brito’s bombshell to give Oklahoma a commanding 9-2 lead.
And just like that, any chance Clemson had to steal game one from the Sooners was over.
That’s what the Sooners do. They can score very quickly and do so in an emphatic way. Just as Clemson roared back into the game in the top of the fifth, the Sooners flipped a switch and turned off the Tigers’ lights.
That’s one of the reasons the Sooners are so hard to beat. They don’t have an easy putout in the lineup, and they can burst out of nowhere and put together a big inning to wipe out games, as they did against Clemson on Friday.
Now the Sooners are set to take on the Tigers in game two to earn another spot in the Women’s College World Series and set a new record for consecutive wins. But to do that, they need to find the same “pass the bat” mentality that has carried them all year.
Here’s a look at some of the best photos from Saturday’s 9-2 victory over Clemson.