Oklahoma softball squeaks by UCF 2-1 for Sooners' 7th 2024 Big 12 series win


It doesn't get much closer than this. The potent Oklahoma softball lineup was held to just two runs on two hits and then survived a seventh-inning rally to edge the UCF Knights 2-1 ion Saturday in Game 2 of the three-game series in Orlando.

Oklahoma (44-4, 20-3) scored both of its runs in the fourth inning on a solo home run by Tiare Jennings, her Big 12-leading 17th of the season and a double by freshman Ella Parker that scored Kinzie Hansen from first base. Those were the first two and only hits of the game for an OU team that averages 9.5 hits and 8.3 runs per game.

Sooner sophomore Kierston Deal had another outstanding outing. Through six complete innings, she had pitched a shutout, allowing just one hit, a single in the second inning, allowing just one hit and two UCF base runners. Deal ran into her only trouble of the game in the bottom of the seventh, when Kennedy Searcy of the Knights scored from first on a double by Sona Halajian with two outs to cut the OU advantage to just one run.

Deal got the next UCF hitter to ground out, ending the game. The Sooner starter, who leads the Big 12 with a 0.90 ERA, won her 11th game of the season with just one loss and recorded her fifth complete game of the season. She has won 11 of her last 12 games and posted an ERA of 0.37 in 57.0 innings during that span.

As brilliant as Deal's performance was for Oklahoma, Sarah Willis was her equal in the circle for UCF. Willis allowed just two runs on two hits in a seven-inning complete game. The junior right-hander struck out five and walked four and, unfortunately, was charged with the loss, evening her season record at 8-8

The win gives head coach Patty Gasso her 1,500th win in a 30-year career at Oklahoma.

The two teams will play the series final on Sunday afternoon. With the win, Oklahoma's magic number to win its 16th regular-season Big 12 championship and 12th consecutive conference crown is four games. Any combination of Oklahoma wins or Texas losses that equals that number guarantees the Sooners an outright Big 12 title in their final season in the conference.