Oklahoma softball: Five-run Oklahoma State 6th inning dethrones Sooners


There will be no Big 12 championship for the Oklahoma softball program this season and likely no four-peat at the national level, either.

In-state rival Oklahoma State made sure of that this weekend, taking the first two games in the 2024 Bedlam series with a 6-2 win on Saturday. That followed a 6-3 win by the Cowgirls in the series opener on Friday.

Saturday's series-clinching win over the Sooners was the first time Oklahoma State has won a series in Norman since 1993, four years before the Big 12 was formed. It also marked the first time Oklahoma has lost a series at home in 18 years

The game was delayed for three and a half hours because of lightning in the area. After a scoreless first three innings, Oklahoma broke into the scoring column first with a single by Kasidi Pickering in the third inning scoring Alyssa Brito from second for a 1-0 Sooner lead. The OU advantage was short-lived, however, as OSU's Caroline Wang blasted a home run off of Oklahoma starter Nicole May over the left field fence with two outs in the top of the fourth to tie the game.

With the score tied going into the home half of the fifth inning, Oklahoma State changed pitchers, bringing in their ace, Lexi Kifoyl, in relief of starter Ivy Rosenberry , who had held the high-powered OU lineup to just one run on four hits over the first four innings. The Sooners loaded the bases and managed to get a run home when Kilfoyl walked in a run to put Oklahoma back in the lead. The damage could have been much worse, but Kilfoyl struck out the next two OU hitters to end the threat and leave the bases loaded.

In retrospect, that was the turning point in the game. Sooner head coach Patty Gasso, who has overseen all 15 of OU's 15 Big 12 championships and all seven of the team's seven national titles, elected to leave starter May in the game despite having thrown over 90 pitches through four innings. The senior pitcher surrendered solo home runs to the first two Oklahoma State hitters she faced in the fifth, giving the Cowgirls their first lead in the contest, 3-2.

The back-to-back home runs chased May from the game, and Gasso summoned former Oklahoma State transfer Kelly Maxwell and Game 1 starter from the bullpen. Maxwell hit the first batter she faced, That was followed by a bunt single by Megan Bloodworth, the ninth hitter in the lineup. Then it was back to the top of the order, and Jilyen Poullard, who hit a home run on Friday, knocked one over the left field wall with two aboard for a 6-2 OSU lead.

The Sooners went quietly in the sixth and seventh, and that was the game. OU was 35-2 before losing two of three to Texas. The Sooners have won 10 games since then, but they've also lost four times and are now tied with Oklahoma State for second place in the Big12 standings.

Oklahoma is the best power-hitting team in the Big 12, leading the conference and No. 3 in the country with 95 home runs and an average of 8.2 runs per game. In the first two games of the Bedlam series, the Sooners have been held to five runs and no home runs. Ten of Oklahoma State's 12 runs, meanwhile, have been scored on seven home runs (three on Friday and four more on Saturday).

Make no mistake, this is still a very good Oklahoma team with talent all over the field and throughout the lineup, but ever since the Sooners lost the series against presumptive Big 12 champion Texas the weekend of April , this OU team has not been the same, perhaps a daunting signal that the Oklahoma softball dynasty is coming to an end.

Pitching has made the difference in this series so far. Oklahoma State has had it, and Oklahoma has not. Great pitching trumps great hitting every time out. And that's why the Cowgirls sit 2-0 in this series with one more game to go on Sunday.