The Sooners return to the site of their back to back National Championships for the first time this season. Hosting the Hall of Fame Classic with Auburn (2 Games), Northwestern (1 Game), and Weber State (2 Games).
Game 1: Weber State 9-1 (W)
The Sooners started true freshman Kiersten Deal in the circle against Weber State. I absolutely love the trust Patty Gasso showed in Deal to start her in the first game of the weekend. Not the ideal start for the freshman as McKell McCuistion turned on a pitch and hit the right field foul pole for a leadoff home run. Pitching from behind in counts was the issue early for Deal. After an early circle visit from pitching coach Jenn Rocha, Deal started attacking the zone early in counts and immediately had more success. After getting two quick outs, Deal issued a walk but attacked the next hitter striking her out for the final out of the frame and only allowing the one run. Only notable lineup change to start the game is Cydney Sanders at 1st base. After two quick outs, Jennings hit a single to right for the first hit but a groundout by Hansen ended the first.
Working around an early base runner Deal settled in nicely and worked a much better 2nd inning. The Sooners got another single but couldn’t get anything going against Finch. Entering the game in the 3rd was Alex Storako. Deal’s line was 2 innings, 1 run, 2 hits, 2 BB, and 4 K. Moving from the DP slot Hansen to catch as Lee was having some issues squeezing it. A strikeout of the first hitter but then a double off the wall in center by Chong. Finishing with 2 more strikeouts Storako she was fired up as the Sooners just looked flat early. Leading off the 3rd Lilio smoked a line drive to right for a single. She advanced to 2nd on the sacrifice bunt by Coleman that she nearly beat out. Sophia Nugent pinch hit for Lee with one out but grounded out to 3rd. Moving the line Jennings worked a walk to put 2 on for Hansen. After working a full count and fouling off several pitches with 2 strikes, Hansen drove a pitch in the gap scoring Lilio and Hansen to take the lead for the Sooners. There may not be a hotter hitter in the country than Alyssa Brito as she smashed a 2 run home run into the headwind dead center field for her team leading 6th of the season.
Entering on defense in the 4th inning was Grace Lyons. The Sooners shortstop missed the last 7 games and was excellent to see her back on the field. Storako continued to dominate as all 6 outs she recorded to this point were via the strikeout. A single by Sanders (good sign hopefully) and Boone proved fruitless as the Sooners continue to strand runners on base. Grace Lyons swung at the first pitch she saw and flew out but was greeted by a nice ovation from the Sooner fans. A couple of nice plays from Lyons and the 7th strikeout from Storako ended the 5th. Tiare Jennings with her 2nd hit of the game. She hasn’t made as much noise as we might have expected but she is having a really nice season so far statistically. Hitting for Hansen, Jocelyn Erickson grounded out to first but advanced the runner. Smashing her 2nd 2 run HR of the game for a 6-1 lead was Alyssa Brito. Normally you’d consider home runs rally killers, not so with Oklahoma. Alynah Torres hit a single to right, and was pinch ran for by Avery Hodge. Followed by a walk from Sanders and another pinch hitter in Grace Green. Green came in and faced a new pitcher in Madison Peterson. A line drive right back at Peterson retired Green and nearly doubled off Hodge. With her first hit since returning Grace Lyons singled to left and loaded the bases for Jayda Coleman. A long at bat ends in a flare base hit that because the center fielder dove it allowed all 3 runners to score and end the game in run rule fashion 9-1.
Game 2: Northwestern 2-1 (W)
Right back to it about 20 minutes after the Weber State game the Sooners faced Nortnwestern. Nicole May in the circle to start for the Sooners. Starting the game at short, Grace Lyons and back at first was Cyd Sanders. After two quick outs, May allowed a pair of hits, the second being a double but getting a strikeout to end the inning and the threat. Wasting yet another opportunity with a runner in scoring position with no one out the Sooners didn’t score after a leadoff double from Coleman. May looked much sharper in the 2nd even though she issued a one out walk but kept the game scoreless. After fouling off several pitches, Grace Lyons hit a solo home run to start the scoring for the Sooners.
Flashing the leather, Lyons made another nice play up the middle, a strikeout and a line out to Brito end the 3rd. Striking out the side in the 4th, Nicole May just seemed to be getting better the longer the game went. The Sooners were also retired in order in the bottom of the 4th. A failed bunt attempt and a couple of strikeouts sent us to the bottom of the 5th. A 2 out walk from Torres was the only thing the Sooners could muster in the 5th. After pinch running for Torres, Avery Hodge remained in the game in right. Coming in defensively at first Jocelyn Erickson took over for Cydney Sanders.
Casual might be the word to best describe Nicole May in the circle, as she continued to shove. After a long battle to lead off the inning she casually snagged the come backer right at her. Adding her 9th strikeout and a foul out to 3rd, May kept the Cats off the board again. A leadoff triple for Jayda Coleman brought the fans to their feet as the Sooners were looking for some insurance. Job done by Tiare Jennings hitting a fly ball to right and scoring Coleman to make it 2-0. Out to finish the job went Nicole May, unfortunately the first pitch was hit out for a home run by Hannah Cady. The home run ended May’s no earned runs streak to start the season ending at 46 innings. Coming right back she worked an 0-2 count and eventually got a pop up to Nugent. Adding another strikeout to get her total to 10 on the day which was only one away from her career high she set earlier this season. Inducing a pop up to Boone in right gave May her 8th win of the season.
After the game Coach Gasso said “Good game, close game, something we always need.” Asked about their approach at the plate in the Northwestern game “We kept doing the same thing over and over.” Grace Lyons was excited to be back in the dugout with her teammates and was happy to make an impact on the field.
Game 3: Weber State 16-0 (5) (W)
The Sooners hoping to come out with some better energy will start with what brought them energy yesterday in Alex Storako. More lineup changes to start with Erickson in at 1st, Nugent in Left and Hodge with her first start in a while at 2nd base. Starting the game with 10 straight strikes Storako got a strikeout and 2 groundouts. Facing Weber State’s Mandy Johnson, Coleman once again lead off with a walk to extend her on base streak. She stole second on a 2-1 pitch to Jennings and put a runner in scoring position. After a pop up in foul territory that was dropped, Jennings also took the walk. The pair of runners stole 2nd and 3rd respectively and set themselves up to score on the double from Lee. She advanced to third and scored on consecutive passed balls. A single by Erickson and a double down the line by Brito set up the Sooners again still with no one out. A single up the middle from Hansen scored both runners. Early on the energy level from the Sooners was a noticeable change from the previous day. Coach Gasso promised in the presser that you would see a different team, she was right. Weber State was having extreme difficulties on defense dropping a pop up from Torres and allowing Hansen to score and runners to 2nd and 3rd. Batting all the way around, Coleman with an RBI groundout to make it 7-0 still in the first. Somehow the wind knocked down a smash from Jennings that still hit the wall. Another pop up from Lee pushed back by the wind turned into a double and scoring Jennings. Scoring 9 runs in the bottom of the first, the Sooners have made several adjustments already but are taking advantage of the gifts given.
A very quick top of the 2nd for Storako brought the Sooners back to the plate. A double by the red hot Alyssa Brito was followed by an RBI single by the streaking Torres. Sophia Nugent made it a real party by taking a pitch the other way and over the fence for the first home run of the game and making it 12 to nothing. Turning on a pitch Riley Boone hit a 2 out double down the right field line. A pinch hitting Grace Lyons smoked a single to left. A walk to Lee loaded the bases and a walk to Sanders pushed another run across. A groundout by Grace Green ended the inning. Striking out the side again Storako continued to overmatch the cats.
After a leadoff single and a pair of fielder’s choices, Jordy Bahl hit a single up the middle. An error by the shortstop allowed the 14th run of the game to score off the bat of Boone. The inning finally ended on a groundout to the pitcher by Lyons. Kiersten Deal got another crack at Weber State this time in relief. Attacking the zone early in the count there was a noticeable change in demeanor from Deal. 2 quick outs but a tough play for Lilio she was unable to make broke up the combined perfect game. Ruled a single it also took off the no hitter. Deal has seemed to struggle with 2 outs and trying so hard for the strike out she issued a full count walk. Inducing a pop up to Lyons finally ended the inning.
Just everything going the Sooners way, a jam shot off the bat of Lee hits just in front of the short stop and died for a single. A rocket off the bat of Sanders glanced off the pitcher for a scary moment but she shook it off and stayed in the game. A single by Hansen loaded the bases with one out. A two run double for Torres down the left field line made it 16-0. Looking much better in her second inning of work, Kiersten Deal finished off the run rule with a pair of strikeouts to end it in style.
Game 4: Auburn
The big question coming into this game for the Sooners was how would they come off of an absolute blowout of an inferior opponent. Jordy Bahl in the circle for the Sooners started the game with a two strikeouts and a groundout. She had a couple of hitters she started from behind on but reigned it in to work a clean inning. If you watched the whole at bat it somehow felt inevitable with the foul ball down the line and she cranked her 6th home run of the season. Auburn followed suit with Weber State and let a pop up in the infield by Haley Lee fall and she ended up on second because she ran hard out of the box. You absolutely cannot pitch Tiare Jennings up, she made Auburn starter Annabelle Widra pay with a smash to left field making it 3-0 Sooners. 2 out damage has become a staple of this offense and Kinzie Hansen continued that with a crushed HR to left center. A walk to Lilio brought up the Sooners 8th batter in the first inning in Lyons who flied out and end the inning.
For those who thought Jordy Bahl wasn’t the same pitcher as last year, she has really cranked it up a notch in the last week or so. She notched two quick strikeouts in the 2nd but a check swing single just out of reach for Tiare and a walk extended the inning. Inducing a pop up to Brito that made everyone hold their breath ended the inning with no damage. The Sooners went quietly in order in the bottom of the 2nd. Another very good inning for Bahl that the only base runner was a single that should have been ruled an error by Brito. After 2 quick outs for Widra, Brito smoked another double in the gap. A walk to Hansen and advancing to third on ball 4 was Brito. After ball 4 to Lilio an ill advised back pick to third got away and allowed Brito to score. An odd play on a ground ball to second by Lyons, the second baseman tried to tag Lilio and missed (somehow) and was too late on the throw to first to get Lyons and loading the bases. Cydney Sanders seems to be finding her stroke as she hit a 2 RBI double in the gap. This was the last straw for Widra and the Tigers brought in Icess Tresvik to pitch. Singling up the middle to score both runners Coleman with her second hit of the night.
A leadoff single by Bryant and a sac bunt by Packer, the Tigers just trying to get anything going against Bahl. A strikeout of McCondichie and Lisenby was the response by Jordy. A one out double by Tiare Jennings was the end of her night as she was pinch ran for by Avery Hodge. Smoking one so hard it couldn’t stick in the 3rd baseman Brito brought home Hodge from 2nd. Another hard hit ball right at the first basemen from Hansen for a single put runners on the corners for Lilio. The 11th hit of the night belonged to Lilio and driving in the Sooners 11th run. The romp continued as Grace Lyons hit her second home run of the weekend for a 3 run homer giving the Sooners more runs than hits.
Out to finish off the romp of the Tigers Jordy Bahl was throwing to Sophia Nugent as several other of the pinch hitters and runners stayed in the game. A one out double that Jayda nearly threw out the runner at second base was the only batter to reach. Ending the game on a called strike three Bahl finished off the shutout with a punctuation. Postgame Coach Gasso’s opening statement: “I thought our pitching today was so on point.” “ I really loved what Jordy looked like tonight”. “The first game moving really slowly, we were worried about it becoming our downfall against Auburn.” In reference to a question about responding to either a loss or a performance they aren’t happy with. “We are all on the same page” Jayda mentioned on her re-run of the bases she had to make sure she airplaned in to home plate joking that Jocy (Jocelyn Alo) would have been mad at her. I asked her how much of what they do is influenced even subconsciously because of legacy “Almost everything we do is because of the legacy.”
Game 5: Auburn
For the second time this weekend the leadoff batter of the opponent hit a leadoff home run. This time it was off of Alex Storako making her 3rd appearance of the weekend and 2nd start. Making the response you want to see striking the next two and getting a fly out. The Sooners had a leadoff single by Coleman but was unable to score. Another solid inning by Storako capped by her 3rd strikeout of the game in the second send the Sooners back to bat. With her single to right Grace Lyons has had a hit in every game since her return to the lineup. 2 hard hit balls that were outs in the inning and the Sooners stranded Lyons at first.
Alex Storako since the home run was electric, only allowing one further hit and 6 strikeouts through the 3rd inning. Following a leadoff walk to Cyd Sanders, Jayda Coleman smashed a 2 run home run and took the lead for the Sooners. After ringing up her 3rd strikeout of the inning and the 9th of the game through 4 Storako she came jumping and skipping to the dugout with a shout. After back to back strikeouts of Lee and Lyons, Alyssa Brito smoked a single to left. A slow roller off the cap of the bat by Boone that she beat out and aggressive base running by Brito put her at 3rd base. The third strikeout of the inning by Sanders ended the Sooner threat.
To start the 5th a line drive right at Boone in left for the out. Then back to back strikeouts to bring her total to 11 on the day for Storako. Her third hit of the day making her 3 for 3 Coleman hit return to sender and hit a laser back up the middle. For the second time this weekend Tiare Jennings she has proved you cannot pitch her letter high with a rise ball. She sent the pitch from Penta beyond the left field wall for a 2 run home run. A single to Torres was enough to chase Penta in favor of Shelby Lowe. She was greeted by a laser of a 2 run home run by Kinzie Hansen making the game 6-1. A sharply hit ball from Lee was too tough for the new 3rd baseman for Auburn and she reached them was pinch ran for by Nugent. A line drive by Lyons kept the train rolling. With a chance to end the game, the Sooners had a pop up, strikeout and a line out to end the 5th.
Entering the circle for the Sooners to Narcos (Edwin Diaz trumpet entrance) was Jordy Bahl. A very quick inning for Bahl as she struck out the first, a groundout and a pop out both to 3rd. With her 4th hit Jayda laid down a perfect bunt to lead off the 6th against the new Tiger pitcher Emmah Rolfe. Advancing to 3rd on a pair of wild pitches and brought in on a sac fly from Jennings. Wrapping up the 7th Bahl put the cap on the weekend and looked very sharp doing it.
On the weekend, Sooner pitching compiled 52 strikeouts while only allowing 3 runs on the weekend. All 3 runs were solo home runs. Dating back to last season the Sooners gave up the long ball some but if they were able to keep them to solo shots they typically won the game. The Sooners open BXII play next weekend at Iowa State.
Barry, and Damian, talk about Oklahoma’s 28-11 victory over SMU and how the Sooners looked against the Mustangs in the contest. Is there more maturing that must take place for Offensive Coordinator, Jeff Lebby, to take those next steps? The fellas also discuss how OU’s defense continues to show promise even in the midst of a game that hung in the balance for a little bit. Did Dillon Gabriel show the ability to win the clutch games, how did the linebackers perform, and who is RB1 for the Sooners? Do not miss the postgame podcast episode!
Barry, and Damian, have a conversation with former-Sooner RB, Kejuan Jones.
Barry, and Damian, give a complete preview of the offensive depth chart as the Sooners continue through fall camp. They dive into each position along the offense and who may surprise at various positions this upcoming season. They also talk about the impact of NIL as of late and the Sooners’ most recent recruiting “miss.”
Barry, and Damian, provide their reaction to the photos and videos of the current rosters’ summer results from working with Coach Jerry Schmidt, and his staff, over the summer. They also discuss the recent crumbling of the PAC-12, as well as Coach Venables’ comments about not comparing his current Sooner defense to his past teams. The guys also talk about the battle at guard across the offensive line and how coaches are transparent with the players in their position group.