College softball: Sooners make history with 18-0 Big 12 record
NORMAN – No. 3/3 Oklahoma softball became the second team in Big 12 history to finish conference play undefeated, earning a 7-0 victory over RV/No. 22 Oklahoma State on Friday night at Marita Hynes Field to seal a perfect Big 12 record.
The Sooners' 18-0 finish was its best conference performance in program history, with the previous best being 17-1 records in 2000, 2016 and 2017. OU joins the 1998 Nebraska team as the only squads to be undefeated in conference games in a season.
“A big night tonight for the Sooners,” OU head coach Patty Gasso said. “I’m very proud of what they accomplished. It’s something that a lot of very good Sooner teams have been tyring to do, and coming up maybe that one loss short. To ride through a tough conference like this on the road and at home and to go undefeated is something that will stay in our history books forever.”
Oklahoma finished regular season competition 47-3 overall, good for the best 50-game record in school annals. Its 0.94 regular season winning percentage is the best in program history.
Additionally, OU has won 25 consecutive regular season games in conference play, which matches a program record, and 29 straight home games, which ranks fourth in school history.
The Sooners have now won their last 20 meetings with the Cowgirls, a streak dating back to 2012.
“What’s really grabbing to me is that it was this senior group,” Gasso said. “They’re the ones that kind of got the whole thing started back in their sophomore years winning a national championship. Their junior year, just everything that they have been doing. Everything they touch turns to gold. They do it effortlessly. They do it the right way. It was icing on the cake tonight.”
Seniors Paige Parker and Paige Lowary shined on their senior night, combining in the circle on OU's 24th shutout of the year. Parker moved to 24-2 on the season, allowing no runs on two hits while striking out eight batters over 5.1 frames. Lowary closed the final 1.2 innings, fanning two batters while surrendering no hits or runs.
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Offensively, the Sooners tallied double-digit hits for the 15th time in 2018, led by two-hit performances from Sydney Romero, Caleigh Clifton, Jocelyn Alo, Shay Knighten and Kelsey Arnold. Romero led the team with three RBIs while Knighten, Alo and Hannah Sparks all drove in one run.
The Sooners opened scoring with a pair of runs in the first. With runners on the corner, Alo singled to right to drive in Romero. Knighten then doubled off the right-field wall to bring Clifton home from second.
OU added three more runs in the fourth. Romero hit her 11th home run of the season, a two-run shot to left field, to double the Sooners’ advantage.
Later, the Sooners loaded the bases before Clifton raced home on a wild pitch.
In the fifth inning, Sparks singled to center field to drive in Nicole Mendes from third. In the sixth, Romero drew a walk with the bases loaded to seal the 7-0 victory.
The Sooners begin postseason play next week at The Phillips 66 Big 12 Softball Championship on May 11-12 at USA Softball Stadium in Oklahoma City. The Sooners will be the No. 1 seed, and a full event schedule is available on Big12Sports.com.