OU's Final Inning Surge Completes Rally Over Texas A&M
You just can't count out these Sooners.
Trailing 8-6 entering the bottom of the seventh, the seventh-seeded Oklahoma softball team rallied for three runs to claim a 9-8 win over Texas A&M (36-21) and earn a spot in the Regional Championship on Sunday. OU (47-10) will face the winner of Saturday night's elimination game between Texas A&M and the winner of the Hofstra-Bryant contest.
"An opening statement cannot do justice to what you just witnessed," OU head coach Patty Gasso said in the postgame press conference. "This team is a team that did what they're capable of doing. As long as they have one strike left in their arsenal they're going to use it and that's what they did."
Oklahoma led 4-0 through four innings, but the Aggies scored seven runs over the fifth and sixth innings to take a 7-4 lead. OU got two runs back in the bottom of the sixth, but Texas A&M added one more in the seventh to set the stage for OU's first win when trailing after six innings this season.
"There was so much positive talk," junior captain Lauren Chamberlain said about the mood in the dugout before OU's rally. "There wasn't a second that we though we were going to lose that game. That's what makes this team special. You talk things into existence and they start happening. This undeniable attitude is what we're going to carry through this."
The Sooners got a leadoff single from junior Callie Parsons. Two batters later, senior Javen Henson singled through the left side, while a walk to senior Destinee Martinez filled the bases with one out. A five-pitch walk to junior Shelby Pendley then made it an 8-7 game.
After a foul out, senior Brittany Williams hit a chopper to first base that was misplayed for an error by Texas A&M's Jenna Stark. Henson scored from third as the tying run, while Martinez hustled all the way around from second to score the game-winning run and set off a wild celebration.
"Callie Parsons was the catalyst of that inning," Gasso said. "She made all that happen and Javen Henson as well. They turned it over to (Destinee) Martinez and then they made that pitching change, and how would you like to come to the pitching circle and face Shelby Pendley, Lauren Chamberlain and Brittany Williams?
"Once Brittany hustled down the line and found a way to be safe, what a heads-up play by Destinee Martinez not to stand there with two outs. We had just tied the game so why not? The confusion and everybody turning their backs to home play allowed it to happen, so that was a really heads-up base running decision. I'm so proud of this team and how they find ways to somehow do the impossible."
Oklahoma got the scoring started, pushing across one run in the bottom of the first.
Playing in her first game since suffering a partial tear of the PCL in her right knee on May 10, junior Lauren Chamberlain stroked a single into left center with one out and fellow junior Shelby Pendley on first. Pendley reached third base on the play, which paid off for OU one batter later.
Senior Brittany Williams hit a grounder to Jenna Stark at first base. Stark hesitated initially, which was just the break Pendley needed as she hustled home and dove in ahead of the tag to put Oklahoma on top 1-0.
After a scoreless second, Oklahoma used a pair of long balls to extend their lead.
Senior Destinee Martinez led off with a single back up the middle, bringing Pendley to the plate. Facing a hitter's count of 3-1, Pendley drove a two-run homer to the bleachers in left center for her second long-ball in as many games at the Norman Regional.
It was Pendley's team-best 15th home run of the season and 56th of her career. It was also her 37th as a Sooner, tying with Lisa Carey (1998-01) and Kelli Braitsch (2000-03) for eighth in OU history.
Chamberlain followed Pendley and helped the Sooners hit back-to-back homers for the fourth time this season and the first since sophomores Whitney Ellis and Paris Townsend did it against Texas on April 19.
After falling behind 0-2, Chamberlain took a pair of pitches to even the count. After sandwiching a pair of fouls around ball three, Chamberlain turned on the full-count pitch and cranked a solo shot to left field.
The home run was Chamberlain's ninth of the season and the 69th of her career. She is now tied with three other players for 14th in NCAA history.
Texas A&M cut into the Sooners' lead in the fifth when Amber Garza hit a three-run homer to center field, making it a 4-3 lead for OU. The Aggies then grabbed the lead in the sixth thanks to a pinch-hit grand slam by Cali Lanphear.
The Sooners got two of those runs back in the bottom of the sixth thanks to two more home runs.
Pendley connected for the second time in the game, pulling a solo shot to right field with one out. It was the 11th multi-homer game of Pendley's career, and it marks the third time an OU player has homered twice in an NCAA Regional game.
Two batters later, senior Brittany Williams connected on a solo homer of her own to left field. It was her 11th of the year and 36th as a Sooner.