Oklahoma softball finishes off shutdown week with another shutout, series sweep


Oklahoma softball pitcher Kierston Deal commanded the pitching circle this past week for the Big 12-leading Sooners' She opened the week with a no-hit shutout and book-ended it on Sunday with another shutout, this time yielding just two hits.

The Oklahoma lineup, top to bottom, is one of the top-three offenses in NCAA Division I softball (No. 1 in batting average and on-base percentage and No. 2 in scoring), but last week it was the pitching staff that took center stage.

Deal pitched a gem on Tuesday, beating Tulsa 8-0 in six complete innings and allowing just two base runners (a hit batter and a catcher interference). It was the second no-hitter of the season by the Oklahoma pitching staff. Kelly Maxwell tossed a no-no on March 12 in a win over Tarleton State.

The sophomore southpaw was followed to the circle by OU ace Maxwell, The Oklahoma State transfer pitched a three-hit, 8-0 shutout in Game 1 of the series with Houston on Friday. Nicole May took care of business for the Sooners on Saturday, going 4.1 innings and allowing two runs on four hits and striking out four in a 10-2 run-rule win.

Deal returned to the circle for the second time in the same week on Sunday, going the full seven innings in a 5-0 Oklahoma victory She yielded no runs on two hits, both singles, and struck out a career-best 10 batters in earning her 10th win of the season against one loss. Not a bad week of work for the Sooner sophomore: no runs on two hits, 14 strikeouts and one walk in 13.0 innings pitched.

In her last 11 starts, Deal has allowed just three earned runs over 50 innings pitched for a highly impressive 0.42 earned run average. For the season, she has limited opponents to a .113 batting average.

The Sooners' nation-leading shutout totals improved to 21 with three in the same week. Over the last four games, Oklahoma outscored its opponents 31-2 and outhit them 37-9. For the season, OU, which averages 8.44 runs per games) has outscored its 46 opponents 386 to 69.

Oklahoma is off until next weekend, when they will take their final road trip of the regular season to face Big 12 newcomer UCF (26-18, 10-11). The Sooners will close out the regular season the week after next with three games at home against Bedlam rival Oklahoma State.

With six contests to go in the regular season, Oklahoma holds a one-game lead over Texas in the conference standings and is seeking its 12th consecutive regular-season championship and 16th overall in its final Big 12 season.