STILLWATER — With a championship on the line, it was a trio of freshmen who delivered for the Oklahoma Sooners.
Splitting the first two games of the Bedlam series, Sunday’s rubber match would decide the Big 12 regular season title.
After a back-and-forth affair, No. 1-ranked Oklahoma’s historic offense delivered the 11-8 win over No. 7 Oklahoma State inside Cowgirl Stadium.
Just as she did in the seventh inning on Saturday, true freshman Nicole May was again thrown into the fire and had to pull the Sooners out of a jam. The 2018-19 Gatorade California Softball Player of the Year allowed only one run through the final 4 1/3 innings to clinch OU’s ninth straight Big 12 regular season title.
"It’s a tough environment without question," OU head coach Patty Gasso said after the game. "It’s a good environment though. We need to feel that."
The Sooners didn’t need the long ball to start the proceedings in the second inning, as they took advantage of three OSU fielding errors to bring home their six runs.
Jayda Coleman helped bust things open again for the Sooners, as her two-run single brought home Mackenzie Donihoo and Nicole Mendes.
Perhaps feeling the nerves in the air, Gasso was aggressive on the base paths getting her base runners moving to put extra pressure on the Cowgirl fielders, and Oklahoma was rewarded.
Mendes extended the OU lead with a three-run blast in the top of the third before the Cowgirls found a foothold of their own.
Righting the ship after a nervous start, Oklahoma State gave the capacity crowd something to cheer about in the bottom of the third inning.
In a mirror of Game 1 on Friday night, the Cowgirls hung a pair of two-run bombs on Giselle Juarez in the third inning, flipping the momentum in Cowgirl Stadium. The pair of homers ended Juarez’s outing after the senior pitcher allowed five runs.
In relief, fellow senior Shannon Saile didn’t fare much better. Struggling with her control, Saile walked in another pair of runs, cutting the OU lead to 9-7.
Then Gasso turned to another freshman in May, Saturday's hero, to clean things up.
After throwing three straight balls to Cowgirl center fielder Chyenne Factor, May battled back with three consecutive strikes to get out of the jam.
OU's Tiare Jennings and OSU's Hayley Busby traded homers in the fourth, but Coleman struck back again with a sacrifice fly in the top of the fifth to push the OU lead back to 11-8.
No matter how many times the Cowgirls thought they had closed the gap, Oklahoma's bats always responded to re-extend the lead.
"I thought our leadership was good along the way," Gasso said. "There are times when we’re giving up too much on the pitching side, but our team never let that bother them. It didn’t take our momentum away, they did a really good job of staying locked in the whole way through."
Coleman was sensational for Gasso all weekend with six RBIs across the three-game set.
"I don’t know that we would be holding up a trophy without (Coleman and May) right now," Gasso said. "Really proud of them and to be able to have these experiences as a freshman and come through big over and over is just telling everyone about what our future’s gonna look like which is very bright."
Closing out the game strong, May retired 12 of the last 15 Cowgirl batters she faced, striking out three while only allowing one run.
In the win, Oklahoma clinched the 1-seed for next weekend’s Big 12 Tournament, played from May 14-15 at Hall of Fame Stadium in Oklahoma City.
"Still some things we’ve got to fix," Gasso said. "But they competed like champions this weekend, absolutely."