The No. 1-ranked Oklahoma Sooners had been looking forward to their matchup with the No. 7/8 Texas Longhorns.
But Friday night, they didn’t wait to pounce on their Red River rivals.
Opening with back-to-back home runs, the Sooners exploded for five first inning runs to run rule the ‘Horns 11-1 at Marita Hynes Field.
“I thought that was one of the most exciting first innings I’ve seen in a long time,” head coach Patty Gasso said. “Scoring five runs on Texas in one game is a feat, but in one inning is a whole another level so this team came ready to play.”
Giselle Juarez struck out the side in the top of the first, clearing the way for a hot start for the OU bats.
Turning on a full-count pitch, freshman Tiare Jennings launched a line drive over the fence in center field to start the Sooners on the right foot. Just a few pitches later, Sooner slugger Jocelyn Alo hit a homer of her own.
It would again be a freshman, this time Jayda Coleman, who would drive in the next run three batters later. Smoking a grounder to the right field fence, Coleman’s one-out triple brought Grace Lyons around the bases from first base, and the Sooners never looked back.
Lynnsie Elam and Nicole Mendes would each drive in a runner of their own to complete the five run inning.
Gasso said her team had some extra motivation headed into their first top-10 matchup.
“Something that is ignited this team a little bit is people just don't believe that we're playing a tough enough schedule,” Gasso said. “There was some words, I guess about, “they're too rested and untested,” and that did not bode well with this team at all. So they had a little bit of proving to do.”
The Sooners got plenty of help from the Longhorn defense all night, too.
Texas pitchers hit six OU hitters, and committed three fielding errors, giving an already explosive lineup free baserunners and extra motivation to put the Longhorn fielders under pressure on the base paths.
Jennings scored on one such fielding error in the third inning as Texas shortstop McKinzie Parker overthrew first baseman Colleen Sullivan to plate OU’s second run.
Given plenty of run support, Juarez silenced the Longhorn hitters for the most part, allowing a lone home run to third baseman Brianna Cantu in the third inning.
“I felt really good tonight. And it was like, I don't know. It was like me and like I felt in it and like just like competing tonight,” Juarez said. “My adrenaline was going so that played a factor but like i think i was like huge for me to just like, do me and just, that's what I did.”
The OU ace struck out four batters and allowed three hits in her four inning appearance.
“I thought she, she had a different look about or just on our face. Her body language was really, really something that I remember from 2019,” Gasso said. “Just very much in control. Very confident, very in rhythm.
“I feel like she's continuing to take some giant, enormous steps for us as we are going into towards the finish line here.”
Already up 8-1 in the fifth inning, Mackenzie Donihoo's pinch hit three-run blast to run rule Texas.
“My second pitch that I fouled off that I was super early, and I was like, "oh, my gosh, I would have settle down because I must find out because I'm playing too hard." And then I took a deep breath and just slowed everything down and just hit the ball,” Donihoo said. “But after that, I felt great.”
Game two between the Sooner and the Longhorns is scheduled to start at 3 p.m. on Saturday at Marita Hynes Field. The game will be broadcast on ESPN2.
“I don't think the score without question is not indicative of what Texas is made of, and I know that we all know that,” Gasso said. “So we're not celebrating this. We got one and we're gonna keep fighting.”