MuskogeePhoenix.com, Muskogee, OK

OU

May 26, 2014

OU unleashes long ball for trip to WCWS

NORMAN – There was no weather delay Sunday, and there wasn’t any stopping the Oklahoma softball team, either.

Five home runs, including two from Lauren Chamberlain, backed a strong performance in the circle from Kelsey Stevens led to the Sooners 8-2 victory over Tennessee to win the Norman Super Regional on Sunday and earn their fourth straight trip to the Women’s College World Series.

The Super Regional was a rematch of the 2013 national championships series which saw the Sooners (50-11) sweep the Volunteers (46-12) for the school’s second national title. Oklahoma will have another rematch in its first game of the WCWS at ASA Hall of Fame Stadium as the No. 7 seeded Sooners square off against No. 2 Alabama, who defeated Oklahoma for the 2012 title.

“I have to start by saying we give God the glory for this win and this opportunity to play on a day of such tough competition,” OU coach Patty Gasso said. “We saw this team come together and give it all they had freely and with determination. I’m very proud of the effort.”

The top of the order provided the power as the five home runs tied an OU postseason record, but the bottom of the order was just as vital to the win.

The 6-7-8 hitters of Erin Miller, Callie Parsons and Javen Henson each collected two hits and combined to go 6-10 with a run scored and two runs driven in.

“The unsung hero is Erin Miller this weekend,” Gasso said. “She swung very well... she made two big plays yesterday – offensively she’s on fire. Moved her up to the sixth spot and she kept doing her thing.

“We made an adjustment with Javen Henson today and it seemed to really help her quite a bit. Callie Parsons is just another performer who loves postseason and will do anything for her team.”

Tennessee took advantage of an Oklahoma error to score the game’s first run.

Megan Geer was hit by a pitch with one out. After a foul out, Geer got into scoring position with a stolen base. The swipe proved big as Haley Tobler’s fly ball to left field with two outs was dropped by Destinee Martinez, which allowed Geer to score.

Tobler ended up at second on the play but she was erased when Whitney Ellis threw behind her to record her sixth pickoff of the season.

One inning later, the Sooners answered the Tennessee run as Chamberlain led off the frame with a solo homer to the bleachers in left center. Two batters later, senior Brittany Williams walked and then moved to second on a groundout.

Miller then collected her second hit of the game with a chopper back up the middle, driving home Williams to give OU a 2-1 lead.

Tennessee tied the game up at 2-2 in the fourth when Melissa Davin lined a homer to left field with one out. The tie did not last long though as OU took a 3-2 lead in the bottom of the fourth.

Martinez led off with a single to center field and Chamberlain followed with a single of her own and Tobler misplayed the ball in center field, allowing Martinez to reach third. Shelby Pendley came up with runners on the corners and put down a perfectly executed squeeze bunt to allow Martinez to score.

“My first at-bat I walked and my second I just hit a ground ball so I was just thinking that I wanted to do the squeeze bunt,” Pendley explained. “I told Coach Gasso, ‘Let’s just do a squeeze right here.’ I’m very confident in my bunting even though I don’t do it that much.”

That proved to be enough run support for Stevens, who improved to 37-8 to tie the OU record for wins in a season. She struck out five and allowed two runs, only one of which was earned, on three hits and two walks.

“I felt like I was keeping the hitters off balance and making them work for every out,” Stevens said. “It was really the same gameplan coming in and just controlling the at-bat. I just felt really confident.”

Oklahoma got an insurance run in the bottom of the fifth thanks to Henson, who connected for her fifth home run of the season when she tagged a 1-2 pitch to left center field, giving OU a 4-2 lead.

Three more home runs in the sixth inning, Chamberlain’s second of the game followed by a two-run blast by Georgia Casey and a solo shot from Williams, gave the Sooners a comfortable cushion heading into the seventh.

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