The No.7 Sooners rode sophomore pitcher Kelsey Stevens to an 8-1 victory against No.10 Tennessee in Game 1 of the Super Regional series on Friday night.
Stevens pitched a complete game. She struck out 11 batters and gave up just six hits, one earned run and didn't walk a single hit at Marita Hynes Field.
"She threw really well," said Sooner coach Patty Gasso. "This is an explosive Tennessee offense, and to shut them down to one run is a huge triumph for any pitcher. So I'm very pleased about that."
With their season on the brink, the Lady Vols will have an opportunity to avenge tonight's loss at 4 p.m. on Saturday at Marita Hynes Field.
Stevens kept the Tennessee batters at bay through the first three innings after her hitters quickly gave her a 2-0 lead to work with. The bottom of the third seemed to have the makings of a big inning when the public address announcer halted the game due to lightning spotted in the area.
The mandatory 30-minute rain delay turned into a two-hour and 36-minute weather delay after a torrential downpour. When play began again at 9:45 p.m., UT pitcher Ellen Renfroe had settled down and ended the inning by getting sophomore catcher Whitney Ellis to line out to the shortstop without any damage being done.
Tennessee (45-11) followed Renfroe's lead and put its first run on the board in the top of the fourth inning. But Renfroe's reprieve was short-lived.
After the Sooners (49-10) countered the Lady Vols' run with one of their own, Stevens prevented UT from scoring in the fifth. OU gave Stevens a bigger cushion with another run scored in the bottom of the fifth inning, making the score 4-1 with two innings left to play.
Oklahoma put some distance between itself and the Lady Vols in the bottom of the sixth with a four-run inning that included three Lady Vol errors. The errors, compounded by timely hitting, were too much for Renfroe.
She was pulled in the sixth inning after giving up eight hits, three walks and three earned runs in 5.1 innings. She struck out just four Sooners.
"That was a game that was one of the toughest we've ever had," said UT coach Ralph Weekly. "Most of that is do to Oklahoma. Oklahoma is a very good team and very well-coached. But you can't give up 10 hits, make four errors and walk four batters and be successful."