OU tops Tennessee 9-0 to win 50th straight, advance to Women’s College World Series semifinals
The Associated Press - June 4, 2023 7:26 am
Oklahoma players cheer for Tiare Jennings, not pictured, at home plate after Jennings hit a 3-run home run against Tennessee during the second inning of an NCAA softball Women's College World Series game Saturday, June 3, 2023, in Oklahoma City. (AP Photo/Nate Billings)
By CLIFF BRUNT AP Sports Writer
OKLAHOMA CITY (AP) — Oklahoma claimed its 50th straight win in style.
Tiare Jennings and Kinzie Hansen homered, and No. 1 seed Oklahoma rolled past No. 4 Tennessee 9-0 in five innings on Saturday to advance to the Women’s College World Series semifinals.
The Sooners (58-1) inched closer to a possible third consecutive national title and extended their Division I record for consecutive victories.
Oklahoma coach Patty Gasso said the Sooners aren’t worried about the record.
“We don’t talk about it,” she said. “We don’t. We really don’t. Because what we want to do is bring a national championship back to the University of Oklahoma and the state of Oklahoma because that will never be taken away from us. You can never take that away. It will live forever.”
Oklahoma played like a team on a mission. Starter Jordy Bahl allowed one hit — a double to Kiki Milloy, the game’s first batter. Bahl went 3 2/3 innings, walked one and struck out three to earn the win. Relievers Alex Storako, Kierston Deal, and Nicole May did not allow a hit.
“Extremely proud of this team and the way they played pretty flawless, attacking offensively, pitching staff — all of them, on point,” Gasso said.
Tennessee (50-9) will try to bounce back in an elimination game against No. 6 Oklahoma State on Sunday. The Lady Vols will try to forget about being completely dominated by the Sooners, save for a few spectacular plays by Milloy.
“Certainly not the way we wanted to play or expected to play today,” Tennessee coach Karen Weekly said. “I’m still very proud of my team and have a lot of confidence in my team. That wasn’t us out there.”
Tennessee chose not to throw Ashley Rogers, a National Fastpitch Coaches Association first-team All American. She and No. 2 pitcher Payton Gottshall watched as hard-throwing freshman Karlyn Pickens got the nod.
“We planned to throw different people at them,” Weekly said. “The people we put in there, I thought, had the pitches in their arsenal that would be most successful. We didn’t execute in a lot of those instances, but ultimately that decision is on me.”
The decision paid off early. Pickens escaped a bases-loaded jam in the first and didn’t allow a run.
She couldn’t escape in the second. Jennings drove a change-up over the left-field fence to put the Sooners up 3-0, and Pickens was replaced.
Hansen’s line drive went over the fence in the third for a two-run homer that put Oklahoma ahead 5-0.
“Once we got down three, we were fine,” Weekly said. “Once we got down five, then I think there was a little bit of, you know, just lack of energy. That’s hard to do. I mean, my gosh, these athletes, that’s the hardest thing in sports I think is to keep your energy, your intensity, your focus at the level you want it to be at when you get punched pretty hard.”
The Sooners would have had more, but Milloy caught one against the fence to rob Sophia Nugent of a homer in the fourth.