June 03, 2017

OKLAHOMA CITY (AP) Sydney Romero bounced back from an atypical performance and helped Oklahoma take a critical step in its hopes for a repeat.

Romero hit a solo homer to help the defending national champion Sooners defeat Washington 3-1 on Friday night in the Women's College World Series.

In Thursday's win over Baylor, the normally unflappable Romero committed two errors at third base. Against Washington, things were back to normal - she went without an error and had the big hit.

''I knew I had to step up my game a lot more and I needed to help my team in any way I could, and I felt like I did that today,'' she said.

Paige Parker (25-5) gave up three hits and one run in 6 1/3 innings for the win. Paige Lowary got the save for the Sooners (58-9), who advanced to Sunday's semifinals and now are one win from reaching the championship series again.

The Sooners have the day off Saturday, and they would have to lose twice on Sunday to be eliminated.

''I think going into Sunday, everybody else is going to beat each other up, and then we get into Sunday, and we'll be rested and ready for whoever comes our way,'' Oklahoma coach Patty Gasso said.

Oklahoma's Fale Aviu scored in the second inning when she avoided a tag from Washington catcher Morganne Flores at home. There was some concern as to whether Aviu strayed too far from the third-base line before scoring.

''Yeah, I wasn't expecting it,'' Flores said. ''I thought she was a little far outside of the baseline, but that's not my call, that's the umpire's call, and I can't control that.''

Oklahoma's Kelsey Arnold reached on an error in the fifth and scored a single by Aviu. Romero's blast pushed the lead to 3-0.

Ali Aguilar's solo homer in the sixth put Washington on the scoreboard and made the crowd of mostly Sooners fans a bit nervous.

Lowary entered the game in the seventh and used her blistering fastball to help claim her ninth save of the season.

Washington pitcher Taran Alvelo (32-8) went six innings and gave up five hits and two earned runs for the Huskies (49-13).

''I thought Taran threw well enough to win, just collectively as an offense we can be better,'' Washington coach Heather Tarr said. ''We can be tougher, and we'll be tougher.''

Washington will play Texas A&M or UCLA in an elimination game Saturday.

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Follow Cliff Brunt on Twitter: www.twitter.com/CliffBruntAP .

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