Oklahoma can hit. Oklahoma can pitch. Everyone knows that.
But the Sooners also lead all of college softball in defensive fielding percentage — a fact not lost on Baylor’s talented but frustrated squad on Tuesday at Getterman Stadium in Waco.
OU got a series of defensive gems, including back-to-back outs at home plate in the third inning, and came away with a 7-1 victory over the Bears in the opener of a Big 12 Conference doubleheader.
The Sooners (38-1 overall, 13-0 Big 12) haven’t lost a Big 12 series since 2011 and haven’t lost a Big 12 regular-season game since falling to Baylor back in 2017, a stretch of 56 in a row. Baylor fell to Baylor 24-14 and 5-5.
Nicole Mendez hit a two-out grand slam in the top of the fourth inning to give No. 1-ranked OU a 4-1 lead, and Jocelyn Alo and Tiare Jennings each added home runs in the fifth and sixth innings, respectively.
But it was the Sooners’ defense that rose up to win this game.
In the third inning, with Baylor clinging to a 1-0 lead, the Bears’ Lou Gilbert hit a one-out triple to left field under the glove of a diving Jayda Coleman. As the ball rolled to the fence, Nicole Mendez came over and made a strong throw in to keep Gilbert at third.
But Gilbert that’s as far as she’d go. Emily Hott hit a sharp ground ball to Jennings at second base, but Jennings made a snap throw home to Kinzie Hansen, who easily applied the tag to Gilbert for the second out.
The drama was only just beginning to unfold.
With Hott at first base, Goose McGlaun ripped a double down the left field line. Coleman, however, quickly picked the ball off the wall in foul territory and fired in to Grace Lyons, who relayed home to Hansen. Hansen reached across the plate to tag out a sliding Hott for the final out.
Third baseman Jana Johns also turned in a couple of defensive jewels — one in the second inning, catching a foul ball up against the net all the way behind home plate, then closing things down in the fourth inning when she rushed in to make a diving catch off a wayward bunt attempt.
Alo’s leadoff home run in the fifth was her nation-leading 25th of the season and put the Sooners up 5-1, and Jennings’ two-run blast to right-center field in the sixth inning, with Mendez on first base, was her 22nd this year.
Giselle Juarez (15-0) pitched a complete game by scattering five hits and allowing just one run. She struck out six and walked two.
OU finally had a defensive miscue in the bottom of the seventh inning when shortstop Lyons made a high throw on a routine grounder — OU’s first error since March 26, a string of 15 straight error-free games.
The nightcap is scheduled to begin at approximately 6:40 p.m.