Oklahoma 6, Louisiana-Lafayette 3

May 21, 2005

NORMAN, Okla. -- When the Oklahoma softball team (49-15) needed a clutch hit on Saturday afternoon, it was two freshmen who stepped up and led the Sooners to a 6-3 win over Louisiana-Lafayette (51-9). The win sent the Sooners to the Sunday Regional Championship, where they will face an opponent that is yet to be determined.

OU starting pitcher Kami Keiter was wavering on the brink of dehydration in the 100 degree heat when she allowed a game-tying, three-run homer to ULL center fielder Jill Robertson in the bottom of the fifth inning.

The Sooners needed a big hit in the worst way. Providing the heroics was freshman Alison Horne, who pinch hit for Keiter and laced a two-run double in the Sooners next turn at the plate. The run-scoring two bagger put the lead back in her team's favor at 5-3.

"It was obvious that Kami (Keiter) was fading out in the fifth inning," said OU head coach Patty Gasso. "She was getting woozy and we had to make a decision if she should bat or not. Thankfully, Alison Horne came through for us in a big way stepping in for Kami at the plate. We desperately needed it from her in a clutch situation. It was a great answer back for the Sooners and for Kami after Lafayette came back and tied it up. That was huge for us."

Horne is hitting .386 (5-for-13) as a pinch hitter this season.

"I just did what I was supposed to do," said Horne. "We needed to give Kami (Keiter) a break and I just wanted to back her up and do what she would have done at the plate. I was looking to hit it on the ground because a base hit would have scored the run at second. Obviously it worked out a little better."

Putting the game away was fellow rookie and Lafayette native Tayl'r Hollis. Hollis crushed a solo home run to centerfield in the top of the seventh to run the score to its final tally of 6-3. It was the second HR for Hollis in two games against the Ragin' Cajuns this season.

"It always feels good to hit a home run against any team," said Hollis. "I was leading off the inning so I wanted to hit it hard. It felt especially good to hit a home run against my hometown (team)."

It was quite an afternoon for Keiter (31-6), who earned the 100th win of her career in the sweltering heat. Keiter allowed three earned runs on just three hits. She persistently worked the outside corner en route to 12 strikeouts, which tied a season high and is just two off her career best.

The Sooner offense was able to accomplish something that no ULL opponent could all season. They defeated unblemished freshman Heather Bobbitt, who entered with an 18-0 mark and was 15-0 with a 0.64 ERA since the two teams met at the KIA Klassic on March 17.

The win places the Sooners in the driver's seat on Regional Championship Sunday, when a team will have to beat them twice to claim the title. OU is 22-1 in the regional format since 2000, when the Sooners won their first and only National Championship.

The Sooners will play the survivor of Saturday afternoon elimination contests on Sunday at 1 p.m. The "if necessary" game, which would be needed if OU lost the opener, will be played at 3:30 p.m.

The game/s will be broadcast throughout the state on KOKC (1520 AM) with the voice of OU softball Brian Brinkley on the one-man show. Live stats will provided solely on NCAASports.com.

Game Notes
* OU is 22-1 in the NCAA Regional format over the last six seasons. The Sooners advance to their sixth consecutive Regional Championship. OU is 5-1 on championship Sunday during that stretch.
* Heather Scaglione is now tied for seventh on OU's all-time single-season RBI list with 59 and is one homer shy of the career HR record.
* OU's Alison Horne is hitting .385 (5-for-13) as a pinch hitter. * Tayl'r Hollis' HR is the seventh of the season and second this season against Lafayette, her hometown.
* Keiter's win against Lafayette marked the 100th of her career. She has a career mark of 100-37.
* Keiter struck out 12 batters, marking the eighth time this season she has reached double digits and the first time she has done it in consecutive games.
* Kristin Vesely has 94 hits on the season, which ranks second on OU's single-season list.
* The Ragin' Cajuns are now 1-6 against Oklahoma under co-head coaches Stefni and Michael Lotief.

QUOTES

ULL co-head coach Stefni Lotief On the game: "It was a hard fought game. The momentum swung back and forth. We did the best we could given the environment and the situation we were faced with."

On playing another game Saturday: "This is a well-conditioned team. We're used to playing a lot of games. It is hot, but we're used to the heat. It's do-or-die for us, and you can't underestimate what you're going to come out and do when your back is against the wall. This team has proven on countless occasions that when they're backed against a wall, they can make it happen."

ULL center fielder Jill Robertson On the game: "We fought every pitch. It's a tough loss for all of us because we wanted this really bad, but we're going to come back and fight in the next game."

Oklahoma Head Coach Patty Gasso: On the game: "Internal fortitude is the phrase to describe this team today. We knew we were going to be in a battle. I loved the way we started the game with Norrelle (Dickson) and (Kristin) Vesely getting the job done at the top of the lineup. It was important to get on the board early. I just thought it was a total complete team effort by everyone."

On Alison Horne's pinch hit 2 RBI double: "It was obvious that Kami (Keiter) was fading out in the fifth inning. She was getting woozy and we had to make a decision if she should bat or not. Thankfully, Alison Horne came through for us in a big way stepping in for Kami at the plate. We desperately needed it from her in a clutch situation. It was a great answer back for the Sooners and for Kami after Lafayette came back and tied it up. That was huge for us. Also, Tayl'r Hollis added a little insurance with her home run as well.

Freshman Alison Horne On her pinch hit double: "I just did what I was supposed to do. We needed to give Kami (Keiter) a break and I just wanted to back her up and do what she wouild have done at the plate. I was looking to hit it on the ground because a base hit would have scored the run at second."

Freshman Tayl'r Hollis On her home run: "It always feels good to hit a home run against any team. I was leading off the inning so I wanted to hit it hard. It felt especially good to hit a home run against my hometown."

-- Courtesy Oklahoma