PALM SPRINGS, Calif. -- The No. 2-ranked University of Michigan softball team knocked out four home runs, including two as part of a seven-run sixth inning, to claim a wild 16-9 slugfest against No. 12 Oklahoma in its Mary Nutter Collegiate Classic opener on Friday morning (Feb. 26) at the Big League Dreams Complex.
The Wolverines posted a season-high 13 hits -- the bulk coming from the heart of the order as their third, fourth, fifth and sixth batters combined for eight hits and 15 RBI. Sophomore first baseman Tera Blanco and junior leftfielder Kelly Christner posted three hits apiece and matched their career-best RBI tallies with four and five, respectively. Senior second baseman Sierra Romero and senior rightfielder Kelsey Susalla also registered three RBI apiece.
The game featured two lead changes and a tie through the opening five innings, sending the teams deadlocked at 7-7 heading into the sixth. With one down and the bases loaded, Romero smacked a first-pitch two-run single into 5-6 gap, just past the extended glove her younger sister, Sydney, at third base. Just three pitches later, Susalla bombed out a three-run, no-doubt blast to rightfield -- her third long ball of the season. Christner followed suit after a Sooner pitching change and Blanco roped single, launching a two-run shot deep over the right centerfield fence.
Christner drove in two more after another Oklahoma pitching change in the top of the seventh; with the bases loaded after three walks, the Wolverine captain smacked the 3-2 pitch back up the middle for a two-run double -- her fourth and fifth RBI of the game.
The Wolverines had built up a sizable 4-0 lead after plating two runs apiece in the first and third frames. Senior centerfielder Sierra Lawrence led off and scored in both innings, posting an infield double -- on an awkward spinning grounder -- in the first and a solo homer in the third.
Oklahoma responded with five runs in the bottom of the third and another in the fourth to steal a 6-4 advantage, largely off the bat of Shay Knighten, who knocked out a three-run homer in the former frame before adding another solo shot to tie the game in the sixth.
Senior RHP Sara Driesenga (6-0) earned the victory in relief, allowing three runs off of three hits and six walks with three strikeouts. After walking the leadoff batter in the home half of the seventh, she retired the next three faced on a flyout and a pair of groundouts to end the game.