Oklahoma softball: Sooners defeat Oregon 6-3 to advance to Norman Regional championship


Tiare Jennings blasted a long home run in the fifth inning to break up a close game, and starting pitcher Kelly Maxwell did the rest as the No. 2 overall seed Oklahoma softball defeated Oregon 6-3 on Saturday to advance to the championship game of the NCAA Norman Regional.

There is a pretty good chance that the Sooners (51-6) will face Oregon again on Sunday for the regional championship, but whichever team survives the two elimination games still to be contested on Saturday at Love's field on the OU campus in Norman will have to beat Oklahoma twice on Sunday to capture the regional title.

Maxwell was brilliant in the circle for the Sooners, allowing just one hit, a first-inning home run to Ariel Carlson, over 6.0 innings. Karlie Keeney entered the game in relief in the seventh, but gave up three straight hits and a couple of runs without getting an out. At that point, with a runner on first and no one out, Maxwell came back in the game and retired the three batters she faced to close out her own game and put the win in the books for Oklahoma. Maxwell recorded eight strikeouts in her 7.0 innings of work and did not walk a batter

Oregon, the No. 2 seed in the Norman Regional scored first on Carlson's home run to left field in the first. The Sooners responded with two runs of their own in the bottom of the first on a leadoff walk to Jayda Coleman, a double down the left-field line by Tiare Jennings and a single by Alyssa Brito.

The score remained 2-1 until the bottom of the fifth inning when Jennings' two-run jack gave Oklahoma a 4-1 lead and some breathing room against a good-hittlng Oregon team whose bats had been silenced until the brief rally in the final inning, Kasidi Pickering, who hit two home runs in OU's 9-0 win over Cleveland State on Friday, crushed another one in the Sooner half of the sixth to widen the Oklahoma margin to 6-1.

Oregon was held hitless from the second to the seventh inning and only hit four balls into the outfield

The first three hitters in the Oklahoma starting lineup were responsible for five of the Sooners' six runs and six of their nine hits. With two more RBIs by Jennings, she moves into fourth place in Division I softball history with 306 career runs batted in.

Oklahoma has now won 12 consecutive NCAA regional games. One more will send them to the super regionals, which will also be held in Norman.