NORMAN — Oklahoma survived a strong test from the Texas A&M Aggies on Saturday afternoon.
With the Sooners up 3-0 in the sixth inning, Aggie catcher Haley Lee stepped into the batter’s box and delivered for her team.
Lee launched a two-run bomb to left field off of OU pitcher Hope Trautwein, which was only the second home run Trautwein had surrendered all year.
Still clinging onto a one-run lead, Trautwein returned to the circle in the seventh inning and finished the job for the Sooners, firing Oklahoma into Sunday’s regional final at Marita Hynes Field with the 3-2 win.
“Good all around game for us,” OU head coach Patty Gasso said after the game. “Hope threw really well and the defense was just superb.”
Other than the home run, Trautwein continued to roll in the circle for the Sooners (51-2). Trautwein only allowed a pair of hits, striking out two Aggie (30-27) batters and surrendering no walks en route to the win.
Despite giving up the home run, Trautwein said she was still incredibly confident she’d be able to battle right back in the seventh inning.
“It doesn’t change anything that I’m doing in my process,” Trautwein said after the game. “And that’s something that I’ve learned over the past couple of weeks is that every pitch is a new pitch and to just take it one pitch at a time.
“… When you get beat, you’ve just got come back right the next pitch. And that’s what I tried to do.”
The chilly weather that blew into Norman overnight appeared to cool off the OU bats, as sophomore Jayda Coleman was the biggest offensive spark for the Sooners.
Coleman drove in a pair of runs, including a leadoff home run in the bottom of the first, to help lift Oklahoma to the win.
The Sooner sophomore is feeling right at home so far in the Norman Regional, as she’s hit 4-for-5 with three RBIs and a walk through two games.
“I’m very comfortable,” Coleman said after the game. “I’ve been playing this game since I was 4-years-old, so I’m just trying to remember that it’s the same game I’ve been playing forever.
“It’s really nice to have people around you that always have your back and ease your mind a little bit.”
On top of Coleman’s home run to start things off for the OU offense, the Sooners strung together a series of hits to extend their lead over the Aggies in the first inning.
Jocelyn Alo and Tiare Jennings both recorded singles, setting the table for shortstop Grace Lyons to drive home Alo with a double off the outfield wall.
But after the two-run first inning, Oklahoma’s offense hit a bit of a dry spell.
Patty Gasso’s team stranded base runners in both the second and third innings before Coleman returned to drive in Rylie Boone in the bottom of the fourth inning to extend the lead to 3-0.
Lee gave the Aggies life in the top of the sixth inning with her two-run shot, but the Sooners were unable to find an answer in the bottom of the inning.
Boone reached base on a catcher’s interference in the bottom of the sixth, but the OU offense was again unable to plate the baserunner.
In total, the Sooners hit just 1-for-8 against the Aggies with runners in scoring position on Saturday.
Gasso credited the Texas A&M pitching staff for continually mixing pitches to help keep her Sooners on their toes.
“There’s change ups, there’s 70-mile per hour drop balls, I mean they’re good,” Gasso said. “… We’ve got to do a better job of swinging at pitches we want to swing at. I think we could have induced some walks. I felt like we were chasing things.”
The Sooner head coach had no qualms about tossing Trautwein back into the fire in the seventh inning, as she’s seen the super senior respond time after time to adversity this year.
“If I go from what we do at practice,” said Gasso, “if she gives up a home run, she comes back that much stronger. And I felt that. I had no concerns because I know what she’s like at practice and she responds immediately.”
Oklahoma will now have the rest of Saturday off while the loser’s bracket works itself out at Marita Hynes Field.
Minnesota and Prairie View A&M will face off in an elimination game, and the winner will have to immediately turn around and again fight for their tournament life against Texas A&M Saturday night.
Whoever emerges out of the loser’s bracket will have to beat the Sooners in two straight contests on Sunday.
The Sooners will return to action at 1 p.m. on Sunday, and a win will advance Oklahoma into next weekend’s Super Regional in Norman.
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