OU Softball clinches Bedlam series


Sophomore Shay Knighten kept up her hot hitting at the plate with two more home runs and No. 6/7 Oklahoma (46-8, 16-1 Big 12) kept possession of the Bedlam Cup as the Sooners won the series from Oklahoma State (33-21, 12-5) Friday night with a 6-2 victory at Marita Hynes Field.

The Sooners have won the Bedlam Cup 15 times in the 17 years since the official start of the Bedlam Series in 2001. The trophy has not left Norman as OU retained it in 2003 and 2010 with series splits. Since the Big 12's inception, OU has done no worse than a split against OSU in the regular season and claimed in-state bragging rights in 19 of the 22 seasons. OU has won 15 straight over OSU, outscoring the Cowgirls 98-17 in the process.

Oklahoma is also undefeated in its past 43 regular season series, going 39-0-4 in that span. No other Big 12 team has a streak longer than 1-0-0 as of Friday night.

Knighten hit her eighth and ninth home runs of the season, hitting a two-run homer in the second inning and a solo shot in the fourth. Eight of her nine homers on the season have now come in league play. It was her third career multi-homer game and her second in the last three contests. She's hit six home runs in her last five games, the best stretch by a Sooner since Shelby Pendley hit eight in a five-game stretch in March of 2015.

In addition to her six home runs, over her last five games Knighten is hitting .526 (10-19) with 10 runs scored and 13 RBI. She's slugging 1.474 with 28 total bases in 19 at-bats.

Oklahoma's 1-2-3 hitters combined to go 6-11 with six runs scored and four RBI as freshman Nicole Mendes, sophomore Caleigh Clifton and Knighten each had two hits and scored twice. Mendes' two hits extended her hitting streak to 11 games (a career best) and her on-base streak to 25 contests (the longest by a Sooner this year).

Freshman Mariah Lopez improved her record to 15-1 on the season as she got the start and the win. She struck out six in 4.0 innings and allowed two runs on five hits. Juniors Paige Lowary and Paige Parker combined for 3.0 shutout innings as neither gave up a hit and both struck out a batter.

The Sooners only needed two batters to get a run on the board in the first inning.

Mendes led off with a bunt single and took second on a wild pitch from OSU starter Shea Coats. Clifton followed Mendes and drove her in with a double to the gap in left center. Two batters later, sophomore Sydney Romero fell behind in the count 0-2, but fouled off consecutive pitches before doubling the Sooners lead to 2-0 when she singled to center field.

The lead grew to 5-0 after a three-run second inning.

Mendes reached on a one-out single to short and then stole second, matching Clifton for the team lead with 18. Clifton batted next and pulled a single through the left side, but Alex Edinger couldn't field the grounder cleanly in left field and it skipped past her to allow Mendes to score. The error wouldn't end up mattering as Knighten followed Clifton with a two-run homer to the bleachers in right center.

The Cowgirls got two runs back in the top of the third on back-to-back RBI doubles by Edinger and Vanessa Shippy, cutting the OU lead to 5-2.

Knighten gave the Sooners an extra cushion in the fourth when she crushed a 1-0 pitch over the fence in left field for a solo blast.

Oklahoma wraps up the regular season Saturday in Stillwater. First pitch is scheduled for 4 p.m. and the game will be shown on ESPN.

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